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Interview #456: Chapman, Emily E. (1994)

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00:53:16–01:02:25 In 1966, EC began taking part-time courses...

In 1966, EC began taking part-time courses in computer programming. After doing well in the courses, she enrolled full-time in UW's graduate school. EC believes that graduate students were graded easier than undergraduate students.

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00:53:16

EC

And then I took some programming courses at the school. And then, so I started as, I thought I’d take a summer session course in 1966 in calculus. Now this is a long time since I’ve had any math. But it was one of the requirements for a master’s in programming. And that was one that, a summer course of five credits in twelve weeks is a lot of work. And we had moved to Madison by then. So I used to, oh, with the kids, when they were little, I stayed up till they went to bed, and then I studied. When I was in this summer course, I just went out on the back porch, shut the door, turned a lamp on, and said, “Stay away from me.” [laughter] And took this course.

And this is the one that I started in summer school, and then the grad school called me in and said, “Why are you taking a summer course? Why aren’t you in graduate school?”

And I said, “Well, I don’t know. I just thought I’d take a course.

“Well, we think you ought to be in graduate school.” So they told me to be in graduate school.

BT

Interesting. So you had, what did that mean? Did you have to apply for entry into graduate school?

EC

Well, they seemed to think I was already qualified to enter. This was June, ’74. I got one of these for that. They just, the summer session just sent me over to the grad school and they said, “No, you’re enrolled in grad school.” I guess it was because I had a 3.6 GPA or something. And this was the course that I took. And the first, I was in one, I don’t know what, I don’t remember what they call them now. One session, they have different ways of teaching, different people teach the same thing different ways. The first one they put me in was somebody who was teaching in modern math. And I sat there for three days. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. [laughs]

So I went, I’ve forgotten who I went to, and I said, “Can’t I find somebody who is teaching this in old-fashioned math?” [laughter] So they put me in another session. But this is one where I used Schaum’s algebra and went through it before I started the course. I went through algebra. This is based on algebra. This is 221. I had to go right back to the beginning with every problem. Start with the algebra and work up to the thing.

But I did get an honest B. And this is the one that the TA told me afterwards, “If I’d know known you were in grad school, I’d have given you an A.” Oh, gee!

BT

Why would he have given you an A?

EC

Because this was during, when, 1966, this was when they were passing everybody, and giving them high grades, regardless of how well they did. This was during the troubles. [laughs]

BT

Was that something that you observed as coming out of that period? I mean, had it been, it had not been that way before? Is that what you’re saying?

EC

No. I don’t think so. And my idea of graduate school, of course, was I was thinking of my husband, who was a professor, who had twelve grad students. And I thought oh, good, he had, every one of them had a desk in the lab. And they all came over to our house for dinner. And we had parties, and we entertained them. And it was a nice, nice arrangement. I got to know all the grad students, my husband’s grad students. And they used to call me their den mother. [laughs] Can I—I forgot what I said last.

BT

Well, let’s start off with what we were talking about when the mike was off. You said that grad school was a little different here than it was when, with your husband, for example.

EC

Yeah.

BT

Could you explain the differences?

EC

Well, in the Entomology Department, the professors and associate professors all had grad students, most of them. It was essentially a graduate student teaching department. Research, you know, so much research going on. And the, all of his grad students, he had a lab. And they all had a spot in the lab. He had a big lab. He still has a big lab, but he’s not in charge of it anymore. And they all did fieldwork, because this was in ag entomology. He was in the practical end of insect transmission of plant diseases. And so they had to grow plants, and they had to grow insects. And they had to check for microplasma and viruses and damage to plants and yields and how different insecticides worked, and how different fertilizers worked and all this sort of stuff.

They had to do all this so that in the summer they were usually all at—when we were little, we went to Kenosha. At Petrifying Springs Park there was a lab there. And when my husband was a grad student, we went there and we, they were out all the time. His major professor just let him do his own research at that time. When he came back and took classes, he was pretty well under it.

But Tom Allen, who just died now, was a really neat guy. And he said, he just said to Chip, he said, “Well, you know how to do research. This is the problem. You solve it.” So he would go ahead and do it. And there would be as many as six or seven grad students living there all summer, doing the work. And doing the research and taking counts and keeping track of everything.

BT

Now how would that compare with the kind of graduate student life you lived in the computer area?

EC

Oh, well. First of all, I said, “What do I need to take?” Now this was, I said, “I need to know what courses to take.” I was already in calculus, so it wasn’t that I went back. And I said, “Do I have a major professor?”

“Oh, yes.”

I said, “Well, who is he?” I’ve forgotten his name. I don’t think I ever talked to him. [laughs]

BT

Interesting.

EC

And he was supposed to sign my class list. Well, this was, I don’t know if you remember when some girl had, was hit by a bus in the bus lane on University Avenue. Maybe that was before your time.

BT

I’ve heard of it, yeah.

EC

Well, my major professor wanted the buses—

[End Tape 1/Side 2]


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