Oral History Project
“One of Evergreen’s hallmarks is the depth of connections faculty, students, and staff have forged by studying and working together,” said Sam Schrager, the faculty emeritus leading the Evergreen Oral History Project, a collection of audio and transcribed stories from individuals who helped form the college.
Supported by a $120,000 anonymous donation, the Oral History Project hopes to archive and encourage engagement with Evergreen’s rich and storied past. The vision is to include alumni voices as well, and to provide opportunities for the wider Evergreen community.
Once the project is complete, a published compilation of the transcripts will become available, as well as podcasts online. Faculty member Nancy Koppelman ’88 is one of the interviewers, and has been working closely with Schrager to compile and disseminate the information they are collecting.
“Ideally the interviews will offer a fascinating and complex picture of the college, starting from the beginning, through stories from a range of people who have been part of the community,” she said.
For example, Nancy Taylor was the first admissions counselor in 1971 and later joined the faculty. Taylor was instrumental in the college’s success—she directed outreach in high schools, community colleges, shopping malls, Indian reservations, and community centers across Washington.
In her interview, she remembered the first catalog: “It said something about ‘A College for Change.’ It had no curriculum. It just described this place, and it was small. It basically said, ‘take a risk.’”
Larry Eickstaedt, a founding member of the faculty whose teaching career at Evergreen began in 1971, shared a story about construction not being complete in time for the first classes. He described how then-President Charlie McCann told faculty, “You guys were hired to be innovators. You have to figure out where you’re going to meet your students.”
So faculty found other places. He remembers one program met downtown in the legislative building, while Eickstaedt found a Girl Scout camp on Hood Canal.
“The first year it was really challenging to try to carry this off with a very diverse group of students,” his interview excerpt stated. “We as a faculty all came from different disciplines. But it was a great experience and really reinforced the notion that you can tackle these things in an interdisciplinary way and have a good deal of success.”