Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Closing the gap: interview recap
Well, yesterday's oral history interview with Jim Huntzicker, Ph.D., did not disappoint: we recorded two full hours of Huntzicker's nearly non-stop commentary on the history of the Oregon Graduate Center/Oregon Graduate Institute/OHSU OGI School of Science & Engineering and his role in it.
From anecdotes about his early years in Michigan, to stories of his years at Berkeley in the 1960s, to tales from his visiting professorship at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur, Huntzicker captured the (small) audience's attention before we even got to Oregon. Having seen a brochure for OGC in the library at Cal Tech during a stint as a postdoc, Huntzicker formed an impression of the school as a "utopian thing" where faculty could essentially do what they wanted and not have to worry about money. Of course, that sounded pretty good to him, and he joined the group in August of 1974.
For the next thirty years, Huntzicker witnessed the rapid oscillations from boom to bust at the small institute (at one point, the student body numbered exactly one). He recounted stories of palace coups and expansion plans that overreached, trustees that remained committed enough to provide nearly annual bailouts, and stellar faculty who nevertheless were unable to bridge the budget gap with grants alone. The acquisition of OGI by OHSU in 2001 was seen by some as the school's "shot at greatness", but after seven years, it remained financially challenged. Huntzicker talked a little about the process that has begun to integrate elements of OGI within the OHSU School of Medicine, and plans for the future of the Division of Management and its healthcare administration programs.
At the end, we were left wanting more--and it's clear that Huntzicker has more to contribute, to OHSU and to healthcare education in Oregon. We're already thinking about a Part Two....