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COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 200 8 University of South Florida. All rights, reserved. T his oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.
1 USF Florida Studies Center Oral History Program USF 50 th History Anniversary Project Narrator: Ray Cooper Interviewer: Andrew Huse Current Position: Graphic Designer for Location of Interview: Tampa University Relations at USF Campus Library Date of Interview: June 24, 2004 Abstractor: Jared G. Toney Editor: Danielle E. Riley Date of Abstract: August 4, 2004 Date of Edit: August 6, 2004 Final Editor: Jared G. Toney TOPICS OF DISCUSSION Mr. Cooper came to USF as a student in 1964. Background Mr. Cooper came to USF in 1964 after completing his studies at St. Petersburg Junior College. Because of convenience and economic feasibility, he chose to attend USF in Tampa while continuing to reside in Pinellas County. He worked as a student assistant during his time at USF in order to supplement the financial assistance he was receiving from his parents. During the summers, he would take off classes and "work wherever you could get a job to keep all the ends meeting at l east, date money, beer money, and gas money." Undergraduate assistant He worked as an undergraduate assistant in the Division of Education Resources, housed in the basement of the current Student Services building. Student protests Cooper remembers that there, "were not a lot of protests against the Vietnam War in the early sixties" at USF. "Male students lived in fear of the draft ... the protests, I think, began to materialize after the Tet Offensive in early 1968." Military enlistment Despite his con fessed pledge as a "devout coward," Mr. Cooper was enlisted in the United States military. After some negotiations with the recruiter, he settled on joining a signal corps division with the army. Following his training, he wound up as a signal lieutenant i n an artillery battalion in Vietnam just in time for the Tet Offensive in 1968. Student unrest He returned from Vietnam in early January 1969. When he got back to the USF campus, he noticed that the atmosphere had become increasingly socially and politic ally charged. "It had started to hit the fan in terms of student unrest ... there were gatherings ... there were all kinds of concerns ... [about] students in a state of political unrest."
2 Academics Academically, Cooper followed a fine arts curriculum wit h youthful optimism. "At that age, you're out to save the world and do meaningful things and make your mark ... I always had a commercial bent, and this was a route to take ... it was a lot of fun." Graphic Arts Ken Stanton, the only staff member in the g raphics department in 1964, hired Mr. Cooper on as a student assistant. At that time, they had to do all the work by hand because the computer technology had not yet been developed. As an assistant in the fine arts program, he was primarily involved in pri ntmaking. USF Television Mr. Cooper was also involved in putting the USF television station on the air in the summer of 1966, just as he was heading off to serve in the military. In the 1970s, they produced a number of open university courses, a fairly pr ogressive project for the time. "Tom Wilson ... was ... primarily instrumental in bringing that concept to fruition here on campus." As a result of this program, Mr. Cooper had the opportunity to work with a variety of people from departments throughout th e University. Interesting personalities He also met a lot of "interesting folks who drifted through [when] the dinner theatre craze was going." The shows were weekly events organized by a British woman at the University named Sheila Stewart. Dean Kopp o f the Engineering college was an "awfully nice guy," Cooper recalls. "In many instances, you had very one on one contact with a lot of people." He also had the opportunity to work under Elliot Hardaway for some time. Another notable personality Mr. Cooper remembers was Provost Gregory St. Lawrence O'Brien, who drove a Rolls Royce. "At one point I guess he thought that would be nifty to drive onto campus ... People noticed it and said, That's out of place.'" "[USF President] Jack Brown was just a genuinel y nice guy ... you could trust pretty much everything he said. He was ... easy going [and] congenial." Chester Ferguson was "a consummate southern gentleman." President Frank Borkowski, Cooper recalls, was "a very nice guy from my dealings with him." Coo per believes that Borkowski was the scapegoat for a controversy in the athletics department that eventually facilitated his departure from the University. Mr. Cooper also had the opportunity to work alongside USF Professor John "Knocky" Parker in the Uni versity's television station. "He was a character you can't state it any more clearly ... and a charming guy when he wanted to be.
3 Campus development While the fine arts department underwent a great number of technological advancements, the campus itse lf too was evolving over the years. "Well needless to say there was a lot of construction ... There wasn't a lot of trees either ... Nobody worried about parking ... nobody paid for [it]." Registration Registering for classes, Mr. Cooper recalls sarcasti cally, was a lot of fun. "You wound up over there in the gym, going from table to table picking up IBM cards, praying to God it all meshed together ... that was fun!" President John Allen Mr. Cooper remembers one particular occasion as a student assistan t in the fall of 1965 when he met President Allen. "I was the only one in the office [at] about lunchtime ... and in comes John Allen. He pulls up a stool next to mine, and tells me about how he wants his Christmas card done. What he want[ed] [was] picture s of the [University] buildings ... That was fascinating ... [it] came out alright." Cecil Mackey The 1970s, he recalls, were the Cecil Mackey years at the University of South Florida. "He expanded the operation ... He took what was ... a quaint little li beral arts college and turned it into a university, or at least laid all the groundwork." During that period, Cooper and other staff members were put on a project to create a logo for the University. "We came up with a design, [Mackey] in fact approved it. He put it in writing, and then he left ... and ... [it] didn't happen." USF logo The logo that USF eventually adopted, Cooper explains, came largely at the impetus of university athletics. In its original form, it "didn't work" for a number of aesthetic reasons. After some modifications, Cooper and his colleagues were able to develop a fitting logo for the University. Picasso statue During the 1970s, Cooper remembers, there was talk about obtaining a giant Picasso sculpture at USF. On one occasion, Jim Vickery, a member of the planning committee, "made the unfortunate mistake of saying to [a] reporter ... that they were really in the fundraising drive looking for the big money," largely dismissing the value of smaller donations. "That turned off a lot o f people who were the movers and shakers in the city of Tampa. That's probably one of the main reasons why the thing never came to pass. That and the fact that there was certainly a majority that thought the thing was a hideous piece of God knows what anyw ay." President Betty Castor Cooper believes that Betty Castor was "one of the best presidents [USF] has seen." After a distinguished tenure in state politics, Castor was appointed to the highest office at the University of South Florida. "She had a lot o f political acumen ... of course, she was in
4 the wrong [political] party to continue as president, and I think she understood that, and that's why she left." Closing remarks In closing, Mr. Cooper remarked, "I'm glad to see there's more shade on campus particularly during the summer." End of Interview
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interviewed by Andrew Huse.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (79 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 expanded summary (digital, PDF file)
USF 50th (2006) anniversary oral history project
Interview conducted June 24, 2004.
Ray Cooper, a graphic designer for the University, first came to USF as a student in 1964. He discusses his years as a student and his eventual transition from student assistant to full-time employee in the University's graphics department. He also shares his thoughts on some past presidents, campus events and the university's growth.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
University of South Florida.
University of South Florida
Huse, Andrew T.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
y CLICK HERE TO ACCESS DIGITAL AUDIO AND EXPANDED SUMMARY