Interview with Dr. Philip L. Hall

by jmattos471 ~ November 24th, 2009. Filed under: Audio, Interviews.

Download Interview with Dr. Philip L. Hall

During this interview with Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean Emeritus Philip L. Hall, Hall recounts how Dr. James Farmer arrived at the University of Mary Washington and became a professor there.  Founder of the James Farmer Scholars Program, Hall also talks about Farmer’s involvement in his namesake program as well as Farmer’s emphasis on education as the solution to civil rights ills.  Moreover, Hall discusses Farmer’s class and relationship with faculty and students.  Furthermore, he elaborates on some of the events surrounding the honors that Farmer received while a Mary Washington professor and the large impact he had on the student body.

Discursive Table of Contents—Philip L. Hall


Introduction; Professor John Pierce’s meeting of James Farmer on bus and pre-university relationship; Farmer and Pierce coming to see Hall; hiring of Farmer through State Council for Higher Education Commonwealth Visiting Professor Program


Beginnings of Farmer’s class; Monroe 104 (106 in interview) location of Farmer’s class; Farmer’s noteless lecture style due to his blindness; institutional use of funds to fund Farmer’s position in order to make his stay permanent; Farmer’s performing of many speaking engagements and receiving of honors while professor when off-campus


Formal curse or series of lectures at start of Farmer’s course inception; settlement of debate between William Crawley’s version of Farmer’s hiring and Professor Timothy O’Donnell’s freshmen seminar class’s version of Farmer’s hiring


Founding of James Farmer Scholars Program; Existence of name for James Farmer Scholars Program prior to being named after James Farmer (not known what name was); Hall’s lack of current involvement in James Farmer Scholars Program; First days of program; unforeseen problems (Stafford County did not join program at first)


Hall and Venita McCall approach Farmer to have James Farmer Scholars Program named after him; great importance of education to Farmer as only effective answer for all civil rights deficiencies; grants received to launch program; Farmer’s excitement with respect to program; Farmer’s giving inspiration talk to scholars and families at fall induction ceremony; Farmer’s talking with scholars during summer program and weekend activities


Farmer not involved with administration of James Farmer Scholars Program, program’s board and director did that; Farmer did not teach in program, inspired participants; very few scholars went to UMW; Hall did not know if anyone was attracted to school because of Farmer; Farmer godfather of James Farmer Scholars Program


Farmer attended and participated in faculty meetings; Farmer did not get involved in on-campus organizations; unremarkable participation in faculty general body meetings; active member of history department; not active in university governance; away from campus a lot giving talks and getting honorary degrees (rich life outside of campus)


Preacher style lectures; warm and approachable in office with students; Farmer had students write papers and have a student assistant read papers to him; talked to students about papers; could not lead a field trip since he could not see; Hall went to a couple of Farmer’s classes; Farmer conveyed sense of involvement in Civil Rights Movement in class; good storyteller; socialism not in course material as far as Hall knows; Farmer had no involvement in politics while a Mary Washington professor


Farmer brought Walter Fauntroy, Andrew Young, and other civil rights activists to campus to share experiences with students and public; Farmer not among the activists pushing Anderson to improve the black student experience and recruitment; Farmer did not identify with their approach, rose above faculty politics; Brenda Sloan worshiped Farmer; relationship with faculty did not change, they genuinely admired him


Many people worked hard for Farmer to receive Medal of Freedom; some were resentful he was not getting his due; Anderson made all the decisions regarding Farmer being commencement speaker and other commencement speakers; Hall enjoyed presenting Farmer with an UMW honorary degree; President Anderson made that decision with the approval of Board of Visitors


No change in Farmer’s telling of the Civil Rights Movement, just his personal recollections of what he wrote in his book; surprised that Farmer was not an activist at the college, always emphasized importance of education; pleased with classes and James Farmer Scholars Program; activism in the past for Farmer; in later years Farmer unable to get around and blindness was always an issue; Farmer becoming increasingly ill and unable to teach on a regular basis as time went on


No real memory about Farmer’s retirement other than need to honor him; Farmer’s legacy is the students he taught; about ten generations of students taught by him (was highlight of their college career); no difference between official remembering of Farmer and own remembering of him; no personal contact with Farmer, only officially and as part of James Farmer Scholars program


Farmer not used to recruit students to college; Hall’s attendance at Farmer’s Medal of Freedom Ceremony; substantial mutual respect shown during interaction of Elliot Richardson and Farmer; celebration of Medal of Freedom in Richmond that Hall attended; campus did not do much to celebrate Medal of Freedom; naming of Multicultural Center after Farmer; no memory of other efforts to honor Farmer by students


Glad to be part of Farmer’s last years at college; Hall not sure of how UMW is today since away from university for six years, not sure what Farmer would think of it; interviewer’s opinions about university’s direction; Hall would like to think university evolved in a positive direction[kml_flashembed movie="" width="250" height="250" wmode="transparent" /]

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