Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:00 - Interviewer's Introduction 00:00:42 - Path to UW-Madison

Play segment

Partial Transcript: First question is what brought you to UW-Madison?

Segment Synopsis: First came in 1989 as a part-time student, then in 2000 as a part-time employee. Was working as a CPA for a large agribusiness company, which transferred him to Madison in 1989. Took night classes at UW for intellectual curiosity and for library, gym, student union access. Was the only American in the Cricket Club. Decided to pursue a PhD in English. Met his wife in the English Department. In 1996, became an English professor in Louisiana. Returned to Wisconsin in 2000 when his wife got a teaching position at UW-Whitewater. RH got a job teaching freshman composition. Eventually took the newly created position of Instructional Coordinator.

Keywords: Cricket Club; Department of English; Instructional Coordinator; McClain Center; UW-Madison; UW-Whitewater; career change; nontraditional student; student organizations

00:04:17 - Combining Academic and Accounting Backgrounds

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So I think you sort of answered this, but I'm going to ask it directly anyway...

Segment Synopsis: The position of Instructional Coordinator combines CPA experience and academic experience. Two-thirds is academic administration, but he also teaches two classes per year. Academic background helps him relate to the faculty and understand their needs, but sometimes has to adjust his business and accounting knowledge to explain the budget to them.

Keywords: Department of English; Instructional Coordinator; academic administration; accounting; budget

00:06:27 - Role of Instructional Coordinator

Play segment

Partial Transcript: The next question is-- So, when asked, how do you describe what you do?

Segment Synopsis: Manages the "instructional mission" of the English Department. Ensures they are offering the range of classes that undergrad and graduate students need and want to take. Also chooses/manages TAs, academic staff, and faculty to ensure quality of instruction while respecting their individual academic and professional interests. Helps set the curriculum and schedule classes. Assigns graduate assistants to classes, and encourages them to develop teaching skills outside of their narrow academic interests. Deals with emergency hiring situations. Almost every semester someone will quit or take sick leave at the last moment, or the dean will ask the department to open more sections of a class.

Keywords: Department of English; Instructional Coordinator; academic administration; class schedule; course schedule; graduate assistant; teaching assistant

00:09:33 - Organization of the Work Day

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Ron, you sort of answered this when-- but I always like to ask questions directly just to see how they go.

Segment Synopsis: Organizes his day with private time in the morning, public time in the afternoon. Private tasks include reading, writing, class preparation, research, even for administrative work. Afternoon is for meetings, office hours, problem solving for people. Otherwise works on the schedule of deadlines set by the registrar and dean's office.

Keywords: academic administration; work day

00:11:02 - Office in Helen C. White

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, Ron, you mentioned public time and being in the office. Where is your office?

Segment Synopsis: Office is on 7th floor of Helen C. White Hall. Has a view of Lake Mendota. Over 12-13 years, has reclaimed some office space and has moved floors in Helen C. White. The changes have helped facilitate communication among the department.

Keywords: Department of English; Helen C. White Hall; Lake Mendota; academic administration; communication

00:12:11 - New Electronic Information Systems

Play segment

Partial Transcript: I'm going to ask this both as a-- since you were here as a part-time student in the late '80s...

Segment Synopsis: Changing technology created the role of Instructional Coordinator. Writing the schedule used to be done by hand by the associate chair. By the 90s, departments were required to enter their own schedules into the electronic student information system (SIS). Other electronic systems were developed like DARS, the Degree Audit Reporting System. The department developed a position to learn the different systems. Department Chair suggested that he apply for the job.

Keywords: Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS); Department of English; class schedule; course schedule; registrar; student information system (SIS); technology

00:14:43 - Internet Allows Working from Anywhere

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So you've been in-- you've been back since 2000. And since 2000 we've had email.

Segment Synopsis: Wireless communication makes work more constant and immediate. Does not have to leave meetings to use electronic systems on his office computer. Used to come to the office on weekends, but now can work from home. Can access work material from anywhere.

Keywords: email; internet; technology; wireless; work from home

00:17:42 - Academic Staff Governance Experiences

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, Ron, since I don't know this for sure, I have to ask a pretty closed question...

Segment Synopsis: In 2005, joined the Academic Staff Mentoring Committee. Worked on Human Resources Design Team. Served on University Library Committee, and helped transition between print materials and online research by serving as a liaison between libraries and academic staff. Currently working on ad hoc group reviewing salary and benefit compression.

Keywords: academic staff; academic staff mentoring committee; human resources; university library committee

00:19:26 - Academic Staff Mentoring Committee

Play segment

Partial Transcript: But the Academic Staff Mentoring Committee, I became involved in that...

Segment Synopsis: Was called by Jim Farris from Comm Arts, who asked him to take his place on the Academic Staff Mentoring Committee. Felt the committee was not serving new professional staff well, to help them transition from college to the workplace. Staff coming from private industry felt the UW was too slow, do not realize they are ultimately in service to the state government. State purchasing agents are particularly hard to navigate. Became a standing committee of the Academic Staff Assembly.

Keywords: academic staff; academic staff assembly; academic staff mentoring committee; private industry; professional staff; state agency

00:22:58 - On Human Resources Redesign

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So you talked about the mentoring, you talked a little bit about-- a little bit more about the University Library Committee...

Segment Synopsis: In the HR Redesign Team, was interested to work with people outside of academic staff.

Keywords: Human Resources Design; academic staff

00:24:00 - Working with Faculty

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So the next question-- And it's a broad question-- But since I'm academic staff, you're academic staff...

Segment Synopsis: Has to think about relationship between academic staff and faculty. Faculty feels ownership over a department, which makes them take responsibility for improvement. Tries to remind them to see the larger departmental management over individual scholarly questions.

Keywords: Department of English; academic administration; academic staff; faculty; management

00:26:00 - Department of English Reorganization

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --to do. And one of the reasons I can do this is because part of the reorganization in 2002...

Segment Synopsis: Department of English reorganized in 2002. Previously, department governance was done through executive committee of tenured professors. After 2002, junior faculty and some academic staff attend governance meetings and vote as advisory members. RH does his job better when he understands the larger mission and decisions of the department.

Keywords: Department of English; academic administration; academic staff; department governance; executive committee

00:27:09 - University Staff in the English Department

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So I didn't write this question done, but I thought about it between...

Segment Synopsis: Academic staff works closely with university staff. Has a university curricular representative who manages the student information system (SIS) and fields questions from graduate assistants. English Department has 12 other university staff members. Some of those also attend executive committee meetings, including the departmental manager. Previously classified (university) staff had a union representative, but that person does not attend executive committee meetings.

Keywords: Department of English; University staff; classified staff; department governance; executive committee; graduate assistant; labor union; student information system (SIS); teaching assistant

00:29:28 - Memories of 9/11

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, you came back in 2000. As a historian, I always am interested in how people-- memories of events...

Segment Synopsis: Was teaching technical writing when students told him about a plane crash. By 10:30, a television was set up in the office, and they watched all day. Left his 3-year-old daughter at day care, and was glad to shield her from what was happening. On campus, concrete barriers went up in front of the Kohl Center, then a retaining wall. Landscaping seemed to change to protect buildings from attack.

Keywords: 9/11; Kohl center; September 11; landscaping; security; television news

00:33:11 - Receiving Academic Staff Excellence Award

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Alright, so we're getting towards the end here, so I want to ask now...

Segment Synopsis: Was humbled to be nominated by colleagues. Grateful to be noticed doing back-office work. Such awards celebrate the success and performance of the department and the university.

Keywords: Academic Staff Excellence Award; Department of English; academic staff

00:35:31 - Academic Staff Award Reception

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And then, did you go to the reception?

Segment Synopsis: Met Martha Casey, who endowed the award and who developed systems for using statistical analysis to improve department functioning.

Keywords: Martha Casey; academic staff excellence award; statistical analysis

00:36:29 - Freshman Interest Groups

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And I was also very happy that I was able to spend a few minutes to Chancellor Blank about the Freshman Interest Group program.

Segment Synopsis: Spoke to Chancellor Blank to advocate for the FIG (Freshman Interest Group) program. English Department teaches many FIG classes and incorporates them into regular curriculum. Have FIG students study Latin, to prepare them for literature, history, and other humanities courses.

Keywords: Department of English; Freshman Interest Group (FIG); Latin; humanities

00:38:19 - Early Career Award

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So you already talked about the award you won as an early career award...

Segment Synopsis: Was surprised to be nominated for early career award, because he was already 45. Criteria was based on his time in the position, not his full career.

Keywords: Early Career Award; academic staff

00:39:07 - His FIG Class on Myth and Literature

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So a legacy question. So, what do you feel you'll be remembered for...

Segment Synopsis: People who will remember him most are his FIG students, taking Myth and Literature. They begin with myths and stories of the University, particularly of the Humanities Building, and learn to find their own place in the University.

Keywords: Freshman Interest Group (FIG); Humanities building; history of UW-Madison; myth

00:42:04 - Final Thoughts

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Alright, so we've reached 42 minutes, Ron. Is there anything else...

Segment Synopsis: Advice is to step back and look at the big picture, both as an administrator and an instructor.

Keywords: academic administration

00:42:36 - End of Interview