These interviews were recorded on September 14 and 25, 2018, in the Special Collections and Archives conference room at IUPUI.Learn more about Sherry Queener
Scarpino: Alright. The recorder’s on and just so you know, when you do this yourself, there’s a little bar on here and if it is actually working, it jumps around while you’re talking. If it’s not jumping around, it’s not working.
Okay, today is September 14, 2018. My name is Philip Scarpino, Professor of History, and Co-Primary Investigator with Steven Towne, for the IUPUI Oral History project funded by the campus administration. I also serve as Director of Oral History, for the Randall L. Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence at Indiana University/Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI).
Also in the room, is Leeah Mahon, a first-year Masters’ student in the IUPUI, Public History Program. Ms. Mahon is the graduate, public history intern assigned to the IUPUI and Tobias Center oral history projects.
Today I have the privilege to be interviewing Dr. Sherry Queener in a conference room located in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives. This interview is sponsored and funded by the Administration of IUPUI, and it is co-sponsored by the Randall L. Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence.
We will place a more complete biography of Sherry Queener with the transcript of this interview. For now, I will briefly offer the following biographical statement:
Sherry Queener earned her BS with honors in 1965 from Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Oklahoma. She then earned an MS from the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1968, followed by a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Illinois in 1970.
In 1971, she accepted a position as Instructor in Pharmacology at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. I note that 1971 was two years after the merger that created IUPUI in Indianapolis.
Dr. Queener moved through the academic ranks in the IU School of Medicine, becoming full Professor, Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology in 1984.
Dr. Queener’s vita lists 170 research publications between 1970 and 2014 along with several book chapters. She chaired 19 PhD and MS committees in the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology. She also served as a faculty mentor in the undergraduate research program for a number of undergraduate students, several of whom went on the earn medical degrees, or advanced graduate degrees.
She has an impressive record for grant funding of her research. For example, between 1977 and 2002 she was the beneficiary of 12 major grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling several million dollars. She served as Primary Investigator on four of those grants, and as co-investigator on five others.
In 1999, Dr. Queener became Associate Dean of the Indiana University Graduate School, and Director of the Graduate Office at IUPUI, positions she held until her retirement in 2014.
Following retirement, Sherry Queener has continued to serve IUPUI as a member of the Senior Academy, including election as President of the Senior Academy.
IUPUI recognized her service with the Glenn Irwin Award for Service in 2007. The University also honored Dr. Queener’s decades of contributions by establishing the Sherry Queener Graduate Student Excellence Award, annually presented at the Chancellor’s Academic Honors Convocation.
Before we begin recording, I’m going to ask your permission to do the same things that you just agreed to in writing, just in case we ever lose the paperwork. So, I’m asking your permission to record this interview, to prepare a verbatim transcript of this interview, to deposit the interview and the verbatim transcript with the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives, and with the Tobias Center, and with the understanding that the Directors of those two organizations may make the interview and the transcripts available to their patrons, which may include posting all or part of the audio or the transcript to the internet. . .
Queener: . . .I do agree. . .
Scarpino: In other words, this is not private.
Queener: . . .Right, I do agree.
Scarpino: Alright, thank you. So, we’ll go ahead and get started. As I told you when the recorder was off, I’m going to start with some bigger picture questions and then talk about demographics. The first question is going to require a little set-up because the people who will listen to this are not going to have been privy to the documents that you provided and that you managed to get for us. So, we’ve already established that you joined the faculty of the IU School of Medicine as a research scientist in 1971, and then you provided us with a number of documents, including an autobiographical sketch entitled “On Being an Administrator.”
Scarpino: We’re going to talk a lot more about you deciding to become an administrator, but I have a question now about something that you wrote in that document. So, you have a first sort of introductory paragraph. And in the second paragraph, you talk about serving on the School of Medicine’s Steering Committee in 1981 at a time when you described yourself, and these are your words, as “hugely pregnant,” (laughter) which are not mine, with a second child. You then go on to say the following, and I’m quoting from your statement: “It was in this setting that I listened to the assembled older, white male colleagues snort in disbelief at a survey that showed a huge percentage of female medical students had experienced sexual harassment.” You noted in the statement that you were the only woman in the room other than the secretary. You went on to say that, “Slowly, the conversation grew quiet as one by one my colleagues began to glance in my direction. As quiet fell on the room, Dean Walter Daly asked me directly. ‘Do you believe this survey?’ You replied, ‘Of course, I do.’” A few lines later you stated that the “good old boys club” reigned supreme in the Medical
School. Now, I want to talk to you about that because people who use this may not quite understand how medical schools work and so on. The survey that you referenced, did that apply only to female students at IU or nationwide?
Scarpino: The second point of clarification is, the School of Medicine’s Steering Committee – what does that do?
Queener: That was a committee that was established to look at policies for education or for patient care. So, it was a consulting committee for the Dean. I was quite privileged to be part of it, frankly, and I’m not quite sure why I got chosen.
Scarpino: Made up of faculty?
Queener: It was made up of faculty, right, and mostly senior faculty.
Scarpino: And so, that would have been the right body within the school for this survey to go to.
Queener: Absolutely. It was an exit survey and it went to all students, but it came out that the females reported this activity.
Scarpino: Here’s the question that I really want to talk about. You have this essay, and it’s not published. I mean, you wrote it for, I assume, your own use on being an administrator, but you open that essay with a story about sexual harassment and the good old boys club in the medical school.
Scarpino: So, why? Of all the things that you could have picked, why did you put that first?
Queener: It sets the context for why I didn’t think I was really interested in administration, because this was my first introduction to academic administration, and it was a group of older white males. It was a group that had no experience with senior females, females at the same level, did not know how to deal with people. It’s not a maligned group by any means. I was quite able to interact with all these people in other contexts, but they just didn’t understand; they just didn’t understand. It was not a good place if you want to be taken at face value. You had to constantly be proving yourself, and you had to be constantly making sure that you were getting the appropriate respect. That was why I did not think administration was for me. It just seemed not very much fun.
Scarpino: This was an exit survey of people who had been medical students in the IU School of Medicine…
Queener: Correct, correct. . .
Scarpino: … and this issue reported by the females, former female students who took the survey…
Scarpino: What kind of an impact do you think that it had on the education of those female students?
Queener: I actually think it did open some eyes. Walter Daly is a guy that I really respect a lot and he listens. He’s not able to change everything. He was not able to change everything instantly for many, many years. And probably to this day there are little enclaves in the School of Medicine where it is quite acceptable to bully medical students, male and female. Well, you’re not going to change that unless there is really something that permeates the whole environment, and it’s hard to do that from the top down. But I think it has changed. I think it’s improved a great deal; and Walter Daly was, I think, a good man to try to do some of that, but it’s not something you change on a dime. It’s a culture that permeated not just this medical school, but all medical schools.
Scarpino: I want to stick with this theme a little bit, but I want to back up and add some things to the record. In 1968, you enrolled in the PhD program in biochemistry at the University of Illinois. Were there many other women in that program?
Queener: Yes, actually, I entered the PhD program in ’65 on my graduation from the Masters’ degree.
Scarpino: That was one of those deals where you got the Masters’ degree…
Queener: Exactly. Somebody taps you on the shoulder…
Scarpino: I was in a program like that too. . .
Queener: . . .Right, go get your Masters’ degree. So, yes, and there were a lot of females. I heard, after the fact, that I almost didn not get in because my application came in two days after another woman from my same institution had been admitted, and people said, “You don’t need two women from Oklahoma Baptist University that nobody ever heard of.” But the guy that turned out to be my thesis advisor said, “Look, this woman’s record is too strong; you’re not going to deny her on the basis of gender,” and they didn’t. I never heard that story until I was almost out of the program. So, yeah, there were many of us, there were many of us.
Scarpino: How about on the faculty? Were there female faculty members when you were at graduate school?
Queener: No, no.
Scarpino: None at all?
Queener: No, I’m trying to rack my brain to think if there were even any in some of the ancillary departments, and I can’t remember a single one. Now, my mentor’s wife was in the laboratory and she was a scientist in her own right. So, she was there, but not as a faculty member.
Scarpino: And your mentor’s name was?
Queener: I.C. Gunsalus, a member of the National Academy, and really a wonderful mentor for men and women. He was tough, people were afraid of his temper, but he was brutally honest and I loved that, I loved that.
Scarpino: What does it mean to be a member of the National Academy?
Queener: It means that your record of research is strong enough and long enough that you’ve influenced the field. His early work on vitamin metabolism is what earned him that recognition. He was reputed to have been on the list looked at by the Nobel Committee, but never got to that.
Scarpino: This is a peer-reviewed honor.
Queener: It is a peer, yes. Other scientists elect you to the National Academy. Now, he continued in science until he was about 91 years old. (Chuckles) He loved science.
Scarpino: You had a few years to go to catch up with him, right? (LAUGHTER) So, you are a female graduate student in a program – there are other women in the program, but no men on the faculty. . .
Queener: . . .Right. No women on the faculty.
Scarpino: I’m sorry – no women. Were there any issues in navigating that kind of environment?
Queener: No, not actually. I’ll tell a little anecdote that sort of illustrates how things were. One of the early laboratories, like in the first couple weeks, we had to we’ll say sacrifice, but it means of course kill a large white rat, remove the liver, and extract glycogen. That was the project for this lab. So, I’m looking around the room and I’m looking at this rat, and I’ve never had to deal with a rat. The technique was to take the rat by the tail, swing it briskly onto the tabletop, and kill it. And I’m looking at some people who were botching this job pretty badly and I’m thinking I do not really want to do this. So, there was a young man in my class that had kind of been friendly. So I walked over to him and I said, “Will you kill my rat for me?” He looked at me and he said, “No, will you kill my rat for me?” Well, I married that guy. (LAUGHTER)
Scarpino: Is that true? (LAUGHTER)
Queener: That’s true. (LAUGHTER)
Scarpino: You may be the only couple in the history of humanity that met over killing a rat. That’s amazing.
Queener: Well, we’ve been married 51 years, I guess it worked out.
Scarpino: Did you ever kill any other rats together?
Queener: No. He never killed another rat. I, unfortunately, had to sacrifice many. (LAUGHING)
Scarpino: I mean, I’m not a scientist, but there must be a more humane ways to dispatch rats than banging their heads on the table. . .
Queener: . . .There are, there are, and over the years, those became more widely used. But for many, many years, the technique was to simply cuddle them until the point that you swung them and then instantly kill them.
Queener: Yeah, and it took technique, let me tell you.
Scarpino: You don’t have to kill any rats in this program.
Mahon: No. That’s probably why I’m not a scientist.
Scarpino: Alright. Let’s go back to your years at the IU School of Medicine. You advanced through the ranks between ’71 and ’84 from instructor, full professor, and then you remained in the Medical School until 1999.
Queener: Well, I was actually here on campus in 1970 as a post-doc, and then promoted into tenure track. I stayed half-time in the School of Medicine, even as I was Associate Dean.
Scarpino: Were there any issues, as you were seeking to earn tenure and promotion in a department where most of your colleagues were older men?
Queener: Yes, not from my Chair. My Chair was supportive, and it was Henry Besch, Jr. But when I came up, for full professor – I believe that was the transition, it could have been tenure, but it was one of the two – the senior committee, the faculty that reviewed promotion and tenure in the department, decreed that I would not get any more funding and probably never publish another paper. That was based on the fact that I’d just published a textbook and just had my second child, and I had a year where there weren’t any publications, other than the textbook. And so, on that basis, they said “uh, she’s just, she’s through.” So, I didn’t get out of the department with my promotion dossier. So, I was quite angry and I knew exactly who was responsible for this, a senior male faculty member. So, I went to my Chairman and I expressed my anger. I actually talked to Ting Kai Li as well, who was another person outside of the department but who knew me pretty well. They both said, “stick with it, stick with it, you’re not the way this guy is describing you, you’ll make it.” So, I just kept doing what I was doing, and the next year I went up and went through, but yeah, I was quite angry at that, somebody telling me that I was done just because of these two major things that I had just accomplished.
Scarpino: Well, in the world of research and publication, teaching publications don’t carry the same weight.
Queener: True, and it was even a different field. It was a nursing pharmacology textbook.
Scarpino: So, they probably were not counting that as your research publication. . .
Queener: . . .That’s exactly right. It was discounted, right.
Scarpino: And things are still that way. I mean, you can be promoted now based on teaching, but if your area is research, those teaching publications are not research. Ting Kai Li , who was Ting Kai Li ?
Queener: I’m not sure what his official title was, but he was a leading researcher. He did a lot of work on alcohol-related issues. He had a strain of rat, an alcohol-preferring rat, that everybody in the world wanted to have for their research. He was a prominent researcher in biochemistry. He had known my major advisor and that was the connection, and he was quite open and supportive.
Scarpino: Is there anything that you want to add or ask before we…?
Mahon: Yeah. It seems like there’s multiple times throughout your career, even as a student all the way up into your professional career, that your gender had a huge impact on what you were doing. Did you ever feel like it was an uphill battle at times, being a woman in the field?
Queener: I really didn’t and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe I just didn’t have sense enough to get my fender dented, but I just, I felt like – with the things that my mother had gone through with her career, I felt like she persevered, I just felt like that’s what you did. You persevered. You look around, the males were not having an easy time of it either. It was that some of the things I faced were a little different, but it was not the easy path and I just thought you just kept going.
Scarpino: I’m going to ask you about your parents later, but as long as you brought it up, you said some of the difficulties your mother faced in developing her career, can you talk about that?
Queener: Yeah. She was from a very poor family – hill people from Arkansas. She did well in high school, was mentored by a faculty person in high school, and invited to go to junior college, which was unheard of. No one in her family, other than she, had completed high school. So, she went to junior college in the town where we lived, did well, graduated, and then had no money to go to finish her degree. There was a lady in the Baptist church in Muskogee, Oklahoma, who knew Mother and knew that she was high quality and deserved an education. She gathered her large extended family at a family dinner, invited Mother, and she announced to this group that Irene needed to go to school. They were going to pay for it. And they were not getting up from the table until the money was on the table, and they did. So, she got one year of college at Oklahoma Baptist University out of the generosity of these folks. She left because she passed the government service exam and got a job in Washington, DC. So, the things she faced were separation from family, she was passed over for promotion in the government service several times by lesser qualified men. But again, she just kept going and she was always the power behind. She was the one who really knew how things worked and made them work, and many of the men came to value her extremely highly because of this.
Scarpino: What kind of position did your mother hold in Washington, DC?
Queener: She was a personnel administrator. So, she worked for the Veterans Administration, for a number of years. In Washington, she was in just a clerical position. She was pulled into the White House when FDR was there to do the first March of Dimes. I mean, she was, you know, involved in a lot of things. Then she ended her career in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. At that time, she was the highest GSA ranking, for a female in the State of Oklahoma – but personnel.
Scarpino: So, her position in the Bureau of Indian Affairs brought her to Oklahoma?
Queener: No, she actually came back to Oklahoma very shortly after – she served about a year in Washington and then came home. She didn’t like being separated from family.
Scarpino: A week or so ago, we did a pre-interview with you and, at that time, you told us that you were a member of the faculty of the IU School of Medicine. You said, and I’m paraphrasing from you, not directly quoting you, you said “it was a very bad administration at the School of Medicine which led me to administration. They were all male and aggressive. Female medical students would seek me out for help.”
Scarpino: We’re going to talk again about your decision to go on to administration, but I want to talk about the topic of the female medical students seeking you out for help. What kind of help and under what circumstances? And what were they seeking from you that they were not going to get from your male colleagues?
Queener: Many times, it was just affirmation that what happened to them wasn’t right, that they didn’t have to put up with it. So, they would tell stories. I do not think I ever heard a story about direct physical contact, but I heard stories of bullying, inappropriate language, having the women skipped over and denigrated – such things as, “Well, we’re not going to talk to Kathy today; she’s got her period” – and skipping over her, skipping over her, you know, in a group of medical students, her peers. This kind of stuff went on all the time. The women would come to me and say, “Is this the way it is?” And I would say, “Well, it may be the way it is right now, but it’s not the way it should be and you have recourse.” So, that was most of it. Occasionally it would be career counseling. But mostly that kind of thing – bullying, inappropriate comments, and just being left out.
Scarpino: I mean, now we have mechanisms for filing complaints and appeal, but did those such things exist in those days?
Queener: Not in any robust way, no, no. There were some people that could be spoken to. Dr. James Carter was a student advocate. He was OB/GYN by training and a sympathetic ear, and so I sent some of the women to speak to him. I never followed through; it was not really my purview to do that. Most of the women came to me once or twice and then they would move on.
Scarpino: At some point, on the medical faculty, as you moved through the ranks and became more senior. Did you ever begin to think of yourself as a leader, or an advocate for the interests and concerns of women?
Queener: I think I always did, but I thought of it as kind of under the table in a sense, behind the scenes. I did many things to annoy my male colleagues, not for the purpose of annoying them, but for the purpose of showing what their behavior was really like. For example, it was very common for a group of men to engage in sports conversations with the purpose of excluding the female who was not expected to know the baseball score. Well, I happen to be a baseball fan and I knew the score. So I would jump into these conversations. An interesting thing to me is often the conversations would immediately dry up when it became clear I knew what they were talking about, which told me something about the purpose of those conversations. So, things like that where I kind of challenged people, but not to antagonize. I didn not think it was really advantageous to antagonize, but I thought with some jokes and some kind of probes that were a little ironic, that could do the job. Maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t. I thought it did.
Scarpino: Do you think that over the years that you were on the faculty full-time at the Medical School that things changed?
Queener: Yeah, I think it did. I think they did. First of all, a lot of departments started hiring more women. When I came on campus for the first time to interview in 1969, I went to the Department of Biochemistry because, after all, that was my degree. I never even got in to see the Chair because the administrative assistant, the female, said, “I’m sorry, we have all the females we need in this department.” She would not let me talk to the Chair. I investigated to see how many females they had. They had one unpaid research assistant.
Scarpino: And did this person have a PhD or was working in the lab?
Queener: She had a PhD; she had a PhD. She was an unpaid volunteer in a lab. That was the female. So, then I went to Microbiology because that was my second, my minor. I did get to talk to the Chair, but there were no other women in the department, they had no idea what to do with me, they were not really interested – the interview was perfunctory at best. I was shunted off to speak to the junior faculty person. His research was boring as warmed-over oatmeal, and I came from a lab that was, you know, one of the top five in the country. (LAUGHTER) I was not going for this stuff. So, I found no real place where there was much to say for the females. I ended up in Pharmacology for various reasons – and we may talk about that later – but there were females there and we were welcomed. Now, if you look around, there are some very powerful researchers who are women. They’re highly regarded. I think it’s changed a lot.
Scarpino: We’re going to move in a slightly different direction, but before I do, is there anything that you want add or say? Alright. So, this interview is co-sponsored by the Tobias Center. Given your professional experience, and given the co-sponsorship of the Tobias Center, I want to ask you some questions about leadership.
Scarpino: The first one’s an easy one, how do you define leadership? How do you know it when you see it?
Queener: Well, that’s really a good question. I think for me what it is, is that you become identified with a set of values, and principles so that when you walk in the room, somebody says, “Ah, she’s all about graduate education.” Therefore, you have an identity that you can draw others into and get actions out of them because they know where you’re going and what you’re trying to do, and they agree to some degree or another. So, I see it as a process of sort of aggregating people to your cause by being well-identified with your cause.
Scarpino: You mentioned values, what kind of values are at the core of your leadership?
Queener: I don’t know how to lie. I’m not good at it. So, I think you have to be perfectly honest. If there’s no hope for a proposal and the faculty person is earnestly pitching it to you, you have to say there’s no hope. You just have to be honest. You have to value the openness of communication. You have to value – well, given my family history, it would be dishonest not to say there’s quality in all kinds of people – poor families, black families, white families, whoever. So, opening up graduate education was important to me. That’s a value that I feel strongly about. I came out of a situation where it was not obvious that I should be in graduate school, but somebody took a chance, and I want to do that for others. So, values; honesty, openness, integrity, hard work – I think you have to outwork everybody to really get identified with your cause.
Scarpino: Do you think that hard work or work ethic is a learned behavior, or are people born that way?
Queener: That’s a really good question. I think there is a tendency born in people, but work takes different forms and I’m thinking of my own two children. One of them is a peripheral learner. If he’s in a room with six conversations going, he’ll walk out and know what was said in every one of those conversations. Did he work at it? Nah, that’s just the way he’s built. (LAUGHTER) So, he’s good at that. It comes across as if he had worked. My daughter is the kind that focuses and works until things are just exactly the way she wants them and then moves on. So, is it born? Well, to an extent, that’s their personality, but they both have learned to use their skills in different ways.
Scarpino: Where do you fit on the scale between peripheral learner and laser focus?
Queener: I have a bit of both. I do pay attention to people. I do pay attention to what is going on around me. I pick up clues and what have you and I synthesize from it. But I’ve also been known to work straight through 36 hours to crank a proposal out and a book written. This is the sort of thing that you do, you know, to get that to happen. So, yeah, I can do both.
Scarpino: Following up on that a little bit, what do you, in general, think are the essential qualities of an effective leader? We talked about you, but I mean in a more general sense.
Queener: I do think honesty and identifiable values. I don’t think a leader should be a dictator. I think a leader needs to be someone who inspires people to do what it is that they share as a goal. I also think honesty is important.
Scarpino: At what point did you realize that you had the ability to inspire people?
Queener: Well, it sneaked up on me. (LAUGHS) I had a conversation with David Wilkes in the School of Medicine. He had been brought in – he’s a black scientist and physician – he’d been brought in to run a diversity program, and I immediately began helping him. He was too good of a researcher to be thrown into something like that. So, we developed a friendship. In a conversation with him a few years down the line, he said something to me that just really surprised me. He said, “You are a charismatic leader.” I said, “No, I’m not. I’m not that, I’m not that at all.” He said, “Well, you are, because when you walk in the room, everybody knows what you’re about.” So I thought about that and I thought, okay, it’s not me, it’s the principles I stand for, and that is what people are seeing. So, I can buy that. I don’t buy that I’m charismatic, but I do buy that you can project values and principles to the point that people are attracted to it.
Scarpino: So, a leader has to stand for something.
Queener: Stand for something, right.
Scarpino: Do you remember a point in your professional development when you began to realize that you were a leader? I’m not asking for like a particular day, but I mean a point in the career trajectory.
Queener: Yes, I’d been asked to chair some committees in the department and…
Scarpino: That’s the Department of Medicine?
Queener: . . .No, the Department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine. . .
Scarpino: . . .Okay, I understand. Okay, sorry.
Queener: … and they were committees like Graduate Education, we’re looking at the curriculum, Admissions, that kind of thing. And I found out that I could look at efficient ways to do these things and then persuade my colleagues to change to do them this way because the systems that existed were pushing pieces of paper from office to office and taking forever and Joe lost them and, you know, we had to start over. (LAUGHS) This was the kind of thing that was going on. I realized that I could see better ways to do things and I could persuade people to do them that way. That was probably the first really inkling.
Scarpino: Do you think that the ability to persuade people to your point of view or the ability to persuade people to share your vision is an important quality of leadership?
Queener: It is, yes; it really is. And I think you have to base it on logic and it can’t become a personal issue – it’s my way or the highway – it’s, “This looks like it’s going to work better, let’s try this.” That kind of thing; it’s persuasion..
Scarpino: As you were climbing the career ladder, so to speak, and taking on various leadership roles, were there any leaders who you admired or who influenced your own understanding of what it meant to be a leader?
Queener: I had read the Sandburg biographies of Lincoln, so I had admired Lincoln for ever and ever. I read many other biographies, but those particular volumes are wonderful. I guess Lincoln would be the example. I shared with you the book, Lincoln on Leadership. That came later when I was really thinking about trying this professionally. This was the person that I probably thought of as an ideal leader.
Scarpino: Anybody in your professional environment that you admired?
Queener: I admired Irwin C. Gunsalus. He was one of a kind. There was no way to emulate him, but what I admired was, again, he was totally identified with what he stood for. He was a scientist. He wanted the pure experiment. If it went awry and gave you an unusual result, he would throw his hands back and laugh and say, “This is an opportunity; we’re going to learn something.” So, this kind of behavior was a good role model. He was a good model for how you run a laboratory, leading that way.
Scarpino: Years ago when we -- I had a peripheral role in developing the Tobias Center with Gerry Bepko and some other people -- we developed a set of standard questions that we don’t always use anymore, but listening to you talk reminds me of one of those questions. The question was: Do you think leaders should read?
Queener: Leaders should read?
Queener: Oh, absolutely, and outside your field.
Scarpino: Well, that’s where I was going with this. I noticed the things that you mentioned that you read don’t have much to do directly with medicine or pharmacology.
Queener: No, I read plenty of that during the day. No, I’ve read history all my life. I love it. Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine – I mean these are people that, you know, you read about and they’re fascinating; fascinating. So, yeah, I think you need to read.
Scarpino: You’ve had a long career in the Academy and a significant part of that was in leadership positions, whether it’s committees or administration. As your career was developing, did you have mentors who kind of guided you along the way? Start with your higher education, but I mean were there people who mentored you and showed you the way at one time or another?
Queener: Yes. In college, I had two mentors I would identify. One was a professor of chemistry with the name of Jack Perdue. Jack was a petroleum chemist by training. He worked with thixotropic clays, clays that if you don’t do anything to them, they look solid, but if you hit them, they turn liquid. He talked about that kind of stuff and he talked about his career, and just in general he was a good guy. It was good to get to know him. The person that probably did more in directing me into seeking a higher degree was Alan Holt, who was another chemistry professor. He was young, had a young family, which I actually liked. I liked seeing that family life could be compatible with career. He came from the
University of Illinois; got his degree there. He saw potential in me. He encouraged me to apply for a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, which I got, which was unusual for a scientist. And he encouraged me to apply to the University of Illinois and a lot of other top programs. He was definitely a mentor because he had a very large role in my being able to do what I did.
Scarpino: For the benefit of somebody who might read the transcript or listen to this interview and not know much about the Academy, what is a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship?
Queener: A Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, at that time, was focused on training people to be teachers in higher education or supporting them. The process involved an application where you were nominated by somebody from your faculty, and then if your application was strong enough, you got invited to an interview. Well, I had to borrow a hundred dollars to fly to Kansas City for the interview. Everybody told me, “You’re not going to get it because it’s not given to scientists, it’s all for non-scientists.” I had no particular worries about it. I was going to go for the experience and enjoy it, and sat down with the interview committee, and the first thing somebody asked me was “what was the last book you read?” Well, it happened to be The Screwtape Letters. So, they asked me about that and I talked about The Screwtape Letters. And then they asked me a little bit about some of the other things, and I walked out happy as a lark. I had a good time. We talked about some good stuff. Well, I got the Fellowship. That was very strong. It helped me get into graduate school. There’s no question about it.
Scarpino: That’s another one of those sort of peer – I guess at that point it wouldn’t be your peers, but…
Queener: No, faculty, right.
Scarpino: … it’s faculty reviewed and awarded, yeah. . .
Queener: . . .Exactly, yeah. The interview committee was all faculty from various places and I don’t think there was a scientist in the room other than me, but I was fine.
Scarpino: Is there anything? Okay. We talked a little bit about the statement, the self-reflective statement that you wrote on being an administrator and being a woman in a male-dominated graduate program that is faculty and what you described as the good old boys club in the IU School of Medicine. Did any of those experiences influence the way you understood and practiced leadership?
Queener: Yes, yes. I understood that women needed to be included at the highest level. So, I did look at gender balance and, where I could, ethnicity to try to keep balance. I think more fundamentally, I just looked at fairness. Are the right people in the room? Are the people who can do the job in the room? And that wasn’t always the case in some of those early years in the School of Medicine. People were excluded for silly reasons. So, I think probably in that way, fairness, getting the right people in the room, that was an influence.
Scarpino: Drawing on a lifetime of experience, do you think that there are differences in the ways that most men and most women understand and practice leadership?
Queener: There are probably differences…
Scarpino: If you put all the women over here and all the men over, there’s going to be an overlap. . .
Queener: There is overlap, right. I’ve known some very aggressive leaders who happen to be female, and I’ve know some very sympathetic and attentive leaders who are male. But I think there is -- and I’m sure it’s culturally put in place, but yeah, I think men are more comfortable in giving orders. I always thought it was a failure if I got to the point that I had to order somebody to do something. I thought that if I could let people understand my reasoning and what I was trying to accomplish that they would sign on and move forward. Now, they might not always understand exactly the path to get there and they might ask advice on that, that’s fine, but I didn’t have to order them to head toward the goal. If I had to order them to head toward the goal, that was not a success. And I think men are, in general, a little more comfortable with that kind of thing.
Scarpino: Now that you’re retired…
Scarpino: … retired for a few years, have had a chance to reflect back on your career - if it were possible to have a do-over…
Queener: Heaven forbid. (LAUGHS)
Scarpino: … and there isn’t, obviously, but are there things about your leadership style or approach that you would change?
Queener: No, I did evolve into it because I had no leadership training, but what I came to was very comfortable for me; it fit my personality. It was successful with a number of people. It was not successful with everyone, but eventually those people moved out and we moved on. I don’t think I could change it a lot without changing my personality. I think it fit my personality.
Scarpino: You mentioned you had no leadership training, do you think that it’s possible to train leaders? Are leaders born or are they made through an educational process?
Queener: Well, I think you can train to a degree. Certainly, my reading on leadership helped me move more quickly to some of the things that I came to. But I think if you don’t have the commitment and desire to accomplish the goal, whatever it is, I don’t think you can train that. I don’t think hired guns are quite the right way to go. I think you have to have people who are believers. I believed in graduate education. I believe in graduate education. So, it was an easy thing for me to get others pointed in that direction, but if you’d put a different goal in front of me, I don’t know that I would have been as effective as a leader.
Scarpino: Do you think that a quality in an effective leader is the ability to frame and articulate goals?
Queener: Yes, I think that’s critical. They can be little goals, they have to have a big goal – in my case it was after about a year, I figured out we really needed PhDs on this campus. Okay, that’s the big goal folks. Everybody in the room knows it, that’s what we’re after. And that means we’ve got to help faculty, we’ve got to help students, we’ve got to help administrators. We can’t dilly-dally around. We’ve got to look at what we’re doing in the context of this is where we want to go and we have to have the infrastructure in place to do it.
Scarpino: I’m going to shift – anything you want to follow up with?
Scarpino: Okay, so we’re going to now get some basic demographics in the record. So, when and where were you born?
Queener: I born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, in July 1943.
Scarpino: For people who may not be intimately familiar with the geography of Oklahoma, what part of the state is Muskogee in?
Queener: Muskogee is in the northeastern segment – probably quarter of the state. It’s in the foothill of the Ozarks, foothills of the Ozarks. It’s near the confluence of several rivers, so there’s a lot of river terrain around it. It’s the home of the Five Civilized Tribes, so a strong Cherokee and Creek especially presence in the town.
Scarpino: Did you know Native people when you were growing up?
Queener: Absolutely, absolutely. Classmates, part of my family is Creek; yeah Creek. One of my grandfather’s brothers married a full-blooded Creek Indian. So, all of my dad’s cousins were half-Indian. I went to school with Native Americans. It was just part of the culture.
Scarpino: How did being familiar with that culture influence the adult you became? What did you take away from that experience?
Queener: There’s a certain tranquility that I saw in so many of these people, certainly able to buckle down and work hard, but the ability to rock back and laugh, to see the funny side of things, and to deal with whatever life brings along. I did some work out near Tahlequah, Oklahoma, with a church group. We were out offering some classes and things for some Native American kids. And to get to know them, we would ask where do you live and they point to the house that you could see around, and we’d ask how many siblings. One of the children said, “I have five siblings – two live there and two live there.” And I looked at the second place where the child pointed and it was the cemetery. I mean, just matter of fact, two live there in the cemetery. That kind of dealing with life as it comes was instructive. I admired the culture that was there.
Scarpino: Who were your parents?
Queener: My mother, Irene, actually Martha Irene Corey. She was the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant and a woman from Arkansas. If you’ve ever seen the movie Oklahoma, there’s a tinker who’s in the movie who drives around and sells things, that was what the Lebanese guy did. It was mother’s father. He was a tinker in Arkansas. That’s how he met my grandmother. She was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, came to Muskogee, had a stepfather by the time – the Lebanese fellow died quite early. She had a stepfather and she had her educational experiences in Muskogee and was always, always concerned with education. I’m the eldest of three girls. We’re spaced five years apart, and when I inquired about that as an adult, Mother said, “Oh, well, that was so I didn’t have to have two college tuitions at the same time.” (LAUGHS) So, she had plans for us from day one, and that’s what she did. She sent all three of us to college. No debts for us. She took on whatever debt it was and did it. Then my father was from a family from Holdenville, Oklahoma. He was a salesman, various kinds of operations. He was very personable, liked people, got out and talked to folks all the time – that’s how he sold things – hard-working man. He’d get up at four o’clock in the morning and start his sales route and he wouldn’t get home until six o’clock in the evening. He was a hard-working guy. He died young. He died at age 54 of cryptococcal meningitis. His presence was missed by my younger siblings, but I knew him and they knew him to a degree too, but not as long as I had. That’s the background – two hard-working people, very effective at what they did.
Scarpino: Just, again, for the benefit of somebody who doesn’t know science, what is cryptococcal meningitis?
Queener: Oh, I’m sorry. Cryptococcus neoformans is a fungus and it’s something that you find in the droppings of birds – chickens and other kinds of birds. Rarely, people can breathe the spores in and it takes root in the body and extremely rarely goes to the brain. It’s incurable. So, when he got it, it was a death sentence, and we knew that. The year he died, there were only something like four cases in the country. It’s extremely rare, but, you know, once you have it, that’s it.
Scarpino: So, you dad was a salesman.
Queener: He was.
Scarpino: So were you.
Queener: In a sense, that’s true. (LAUGHING)
Scarpino: Did you learn how to make a pitch from your dad?
Queener: Yeah, I mean, you watch him, he didn’t walk up and say, “Phil, you need to buy this thing that I’m selling.” No, it was, “Phil, how are your kids? He’s there now? He’s that old? Wow, you must be really proud!” And somewhere down the line, he’d mention whatever that thing was he was trying to sell. He wouldn’t hit on it, he would just mention it. Then pretty soon the conversation would swing back around and you’d say, “You know, I might be interested in that thing after all.” That’s how his sales were done. They were not quick, but it was I like you, I think you like me, what do you think, is this going to work for you?
Scarpino: He sold stuff, and you sold plans and ideas.
Queener: There’s some truth to that, yeah. (LAUGHS)
Scarpino: Both of your parents, hard work?
Queener: Yes, yes.
Scarpino: You have two sisters?
Scarpino: Both younger than you?
Queener: Both younger; I’m the eldest. The one who’s five years younger is trained as a psychologist. She’s a trained counselor. She’s worked for the Air Force, done training around the world for Air Force counselors. For fourteen years she was President of Planned Parenthood in Oklahoma, which caused me some concern.
Scarpino: I’ve lived in Oklahoma; that must have been a challenge.
Queener: It was a challenge, it was a challenge, and I was, of course, worried about violence, but nothing happened. She was very effective as a leader, which I expected, and she left when it was time to combine the Oklahoma Planned Parenthood with a larger group. It was perfect timing. Then my youngest sister is the reason I’m not a musician. (LAUGHS) She was born with perfect pitch, and so when I would be laboriously practicing the piano, she’d come trotting through in her diaper, after I got up from the piano, and she would play note-perfect what I had just played. (LAUGHS) Okay, that’s not my field, that’s hers. So, she did go on to be a musician. She was with the Nashville Symphony for a while in Tennessee and now she, for the last umpteen years, she’s been at the Lyric Opera in Chicago.
Queener: . . .Yeah, she’s very accomplished. She went to IU, finished her degree there with Ron Goguly (SPELLING???), who was a fine performing violinist, and that’s been her career.
Scarpino: Your parents had three very accomplished children.
Queener: . . .In different fields.
Scarpino: In different fields.
Queener: That always amused my mother. She said, “You all are all different.”
Scarpino: Did your mom live long enough to see you all…
Queener: She did…
Scarpino: … become successful?
Queener: She did, she lived until she was eighty-six..
Scarpino: I asked you some questions about your mom earlier, about her career tracking, you brought that up, but what was her career? What was her professional skill that she took to Washington and so on?
Queener: Well, it’s interesting. She started out as a GS-2, I think, which is just open the envelopes and deal with the mail. She progressed through. Somewhere along the line, she got training as a personnel officer. So, that was her skillset. In her later career, as computers were coming into being more and more part of the process, she did a lot of traveling from Oklahoma to Albuquerque where the government was trying to start some of this computer-based payroll and record keeping and so forth. So, she was involved with some of the early stages of that. She always told the story of working to get the payroll all on this computer system and making sure everything was right, getting all the data set up so it would work, and the first pay period came through and everybody got their check but her. (LAUGHTER) She said, “That’s okay, I can fix it.”
Scarpino: In some ways, I mean, she was -- her career skillsets evolved as she did.
Queener: That’s exactly right. She was very bright. She learned quietly and by experience. I don’t think she took too many formal classes, some, but basically, she learned by experience.
Queener: Adaptable; very adaptable.
Scarpino: Are you adaptable?
Queener: Yes. (LAUGHTER) I think that’s required.
Scarpino: Just to put this in one place, as you look back on your youth growing up and you lived your entire period of youth in Oklahoma?
Queener: . . .She did.
Scarpino: She was in Washington, but that was done by the time you …
Queener: Right, she was only in Washington for a year. She lived in Oklahoma most of her life.
Scarpino: As you look back on your youth, what did you learn from your parents that shaped the adult you became?
Queener: Well, love of family for one thing. There was never any question that Mom and Dad were backing you. If there was an issue that needed dealing with, first Mother took them on. And if she didn’t take care of them, then Dad did, but she almost always managed just fine. (LAUGHTER) That family center, and then the ability to have the courage to jump out away from the family. You know it’s there, but get out there and do stuff. I mean, I think people probably get arrested for
this now, but my mother let me get on my – we only lived on a farm for about two years, but during that two years, she let me get on my horse and ride all over the countryside, down to the river, down to the old fort where the ruins were. She had no idea where I was. I was out on my own exploring.
Scarpino: No cellphones.
Queener: No cellphones, that’s right. (LAUGHTER) And that was wonderful, that freedom, the idea that you could discover stuff, that somebody didn’t put in front of you to educate you. You dug it out. It was wonderful.
Scarpino: When you became a parent, were you able to let go like that?
Queener: I did. Our neighborhood is a cul-de-sac. We had rules about how far they could go, but Kelly’s best friend and she would wander the neighborhood on their bicycles and explore, and they had some woods that they played in. Interestingly enough, they were well known in the neighborhood. Ppeople would let me know – the girls are over here, the girls are over there. One of my colleagues told me that his little girls, who were several years younger than Kelly and Katherine, used to see these two going through the neighborhood. Then he’d find his little girls playing Kelly and Katherine because it was so exciting to be able to bike and go out on your own. (LAUGHS)
Scarpino: Other than your parents, as you a young girl, a young woman growing up, were there other individuals who had significant developmental impact and help shape the adult you became?
Queener: I think my mother’s mother would be one of those people. She lived in our family home until my youngest sister was born – we ran out of bedrooms. So, I had lived with her until I was 10. She was a natural healer. She would go out into the woods. You would walk with her and she would say, “The root of that plant will do this, and so don’t ever chew on that leaf because it does this.” She knew every plant out there and she knew just practical things. I had a Roman candle that blew up in my hand once and severely burned it. It hurt and they didn’t give kids pain killers back then. It just hurt; maybe don’t do that again. I was laying there in great pain and she said, “Well, honey, you’re holding your hand below your heart; put your hand above your heart and it won’t hurt,” and it worked. I thought that was wonderful. She also cured her own arthritis with these remedies, you know. She just believed in being self-sufficient and doing things her own way. I admired that.
Scarpino: Where did you go to high school?
Queener: Muskogee, for most of the time. We moved to Henryetta, Oklahoma, for a couple of years, where I fell behind. Although I was making As, the school was nowhere near what the Muskogee schools were. For primarily that reason, we moved back to Muskogee. I finished in Muskogee Central.
Scarpino: Public school?
Queener: Public school and segregated. Don’t know if you remember the President of the University, a black President whose name I’m blocking on – Herbert, Adam Herbert…
Scarpino: Yes, yes.
Queener: … he was from Muskogee.
Scarpino: Of IU, you’re talking about the President of IU, yes.
Queener: Of IU, correct. He was from Muskogee and he went to Manual High School, which is where all the black kids went, and Muskogee Central was all white.
Scarpino: You were in school in the late 50s?
Queener: Um-hm, yeah, graduated in ’61.
Scarpino: That’s why I’m a historian and not a scientist. I can’t add and subtract. (LAUGHTER) So, segregation was still, I mean, Brown versus the Board of Education was 1954, but people didn’t listen in the South.
Queener: That’s exactly right.
Scarpino: So, you grew up in the Jim Crow South.
Queener: Absolutely, absolutely.
Scarpino: What did you take away from that experience?
Queener: I hated it. Hated it. There was a section of town where the blacks lived and you know what it was called, openly…
Queener: … just openly. I hated that. We had black housekeepers and babysitters, whom we loved. They were lovely people. I remember meeting one of them on the street and embracing her, and I remembered Mother’s discomfort, and she liked the woman, but she was looking around, who’s seeing us embrace this black woman on the street. I hated that. That was unfair and it didn’t gibe with what my mother taught. She taught valuing people for what they do and from how they behave and what they are, and here you’ve got this whole group of people that you treat differently. Hated it. Hated it.
Scarpino: At what point in your life do you think you came to understand white privilege?
Queener: Probably as a kid because it was just there.
Scarpino: Was it a struggle for the part of Oklahoma in which you lived to let go of that? I mean, we get past 1954 and into the ‘60s – we have the Civil Rights Movement and…
Queener: Right. Well, for me, no. I mean I knew something had to change. First place, how can you be a successful society if you throw away half the people, or three-fourths of the people, if you want to say females and blacks? How can you do that? You can’t. You’ve got to have everybody contributing the skillset they bring, whatever that might be. So, I think I came to that fairly early. I was not -- I didn’t know how to be an activist, to do anything about it in Muskogee; just didn’t know. By the time I got to OBU, there was some ferment about that, much more about the war, but some ferment about that.
Scarpino: The war being the war in Vietnam?
Queener: The war in Vietnam, right. We had a black exchange student from Nigeria. He was an elegant man, dressed in the British style of elegance, and he couldn’t go into certain restaurants. If we went out to eat, there were certain places he couldn’t go. Well, that struck me as a small enough piece that we could deal with. So, a group of us got together and we called that restaurant that we really wanted to frequent, got hold of the owner, and I remember distinctly saying, “Now look, we’re going to come with Sunday Fadulu (SPELLING???) and he’s going to have dinner in your restaurant in public with white people. If you don’t allow this, we’re going to boycott you.” I’m expecting an explosion on the other end of the line, and the guy says, “ Okay.” And that was the end of segregation in that restaurant. I mean it was just -- it was time. It was just kind of falling away all over the place.
Scarpino: I’m going to fast forward to you becoming Associate Dean and so on, and having some ability to influence who goes to graduate school and so on. Did you ever think about growing up under those circumstances?
Queener: Absolutely, absolutely, and I knew from experience that if, all things being equal, if you had a black student who was successful at this level, they had put much more effort and perseverance into it than a white kid of privilege who got to that same level. Who do I want to bet on? I want to bet on this person that knows how to work and stick with it. I made the argument that these are quality students, and they proved me right.
Scarpino: Did you ever run across issues of differential performance on standardized tests and things that you had to arm wrestle?
Queener: Oh, absolutely. Oh, absolutely, yeah. There’s clearly a cultural bias in most of those tests, and we did have some of that.
Scarpino: So, segregated high school. You earned your undergraduate degree in 1965…
Scarpino: … so, I’m guessing you graduated from high school in 1961.
Queener: That’s correct.
Scarpino: When you graduated from high school, what did you hope the future would hold for you?
Queener: I knew I wanted to be in science, but I…
Scarpino: Even though your college was a liberal arts college.
Queener: College was a liberal arts college. Even at that point, I felt very strongly about a balanced education. I felt that strongly all through my life actually, but I wanted to go someplace where you could get more than just a science education. 1961, what I thought I would do, okay, science – what does that mean? I had no idea. I remember sitting with an advisor the first day on college campus and that advisor saying, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” (LAUGHTER) The guy happened to be a sociology professor, he was not a scientist. And I said science, and he said, “Well, what kind of science?” I said, “Well, I don’t know, tell me.” And so he wrote down med tech, and that’s what was on my career plan for years, med tech, because that’s all either one of us knew. He didn’t know anything; I didn’t know anything. I had tried to get into laboratories at the VA Hospital in Muskogee and other places to get some hands-on experience, couldn’t get in.
Scarpino: Because you were maternal?
Queener: I don’t know, but my assumption was that. Mother was furious, but that was the experience. So, I didn’t have any experience, but then in college, by meeting the right people and talking to folks, it became clear there’s a lot more out there than just med tech. And research really became something I was able to do a little bit of. I was excluded from the major research operation on campus. It was a chemistry project on desalinization. The reason I was excluded was they did their work after hours, like five to seven in the evening, and it was unsupervised and they would not put a girl in the lab with four guys unsupervised. So, I couldn’t do that. What I was given in place of it, I was given a secretarial job in the department of chemistry, and I took it. I thought, well, what the hell.
Scarpino: So, you said what the hell at the Baptist college?
Queener: I did. I did that a lot! (LAUGHS) And I kind of turned it to my advantage. First of all, I couldn’t type worth a nickel and they asked me how fast I typed, I said, “Well, I’ve not tested.” That was true. I hadn’t tested because I was not a good typist.
Scarpino: In the time you were doing this, we’re talking manual typewriters.
Queener: Manual typewriters – well, actually the first electrics came in. Yeah, the first electrics came in. I managed, I’m smart, I can figure it out, and I did. I didn’t mind fibbing a little to get that job and get the experience of knowing these people, and that was worthwhile.
Scarpino: Did you think that experience of looking at somebody and saying I can do that; did you learn anything from that?
Queener: Oh, heck yeah.
Queener: Yeah. I tried a lot of things. I mean, my latest project, my husband laughed, but he’s now enjoying it, I decided I could play the guitar. Why not? You come by my house at the right time, you’ll hear rock music. (LAUGHTER)
Scarpino: Can you play the guitar?
Queener: Yeah, I can.
Scarpino: I’ve been thinking about this in the back of my mind as you were talking, but you’re a member of the Baptist church?
Queener: Well, yeah.
Scarpino: Your family went to the Baptist church.
Queener: Family went to the Baptist church.
Scarpino: It was segregated.
Queener: Oh, yeah.
Scarpino: You went to a Baptist college.
Scarpino: I mean, I assume because it was available, but I actually got on their website now and they -- we’ll talk about that in a minute. The Southern Baptist Convention was one of the institutions in the South that reinforced segregation.
Scarpino: Did you ever see the disconnect between…
Queener: Oh, absolutely.
Scarpino: … what you heard and read and what was going on?
Queener: You have to really get a sense of what this place was like in 1960.
Scarpino: This place being?
Queener: Oklahoma Baptist University. The brand-new president was James Ralph Scales, a historian by training, PhD historian, very well known. He’d been called by the British government to come out and observe elections and was writing reports for the government. Very well-respected historian. He still taught history classes on campus. He’s liberal; he’s very liberal. On the other side, you have this Southern Baptist tradition of you’re going to toe the line, you’re going to live up to this doctrine or else. And you had this tension in the school between the people who said, “Well, education should be a broadening experience; we shouldn’t be training you to believe one set of things” to the folks that said “you can’t believe in evolution! This is Southern Baptist territory.” So, that tension was there and I very clearly knew which side I was on. I was on James Ralph Scales’
side. I was on the side with the scientists and there was no question. There was an interesting little tradition there – I think you’ll find this funny. In the dormitories, in the women’s dormitories, the doors frequently had what were called prayer lists where people would advertise who they were praying for and why. Some of us got into a little contest – who can make the top of those -- the most of those prayer lists. (LAUGHTER)
Scarpino: So, you had to be persnickety enough that people would pray for you.
Queener: And my great sin was believing in evolution. I topped many prayer lists.
Scarpino: You’re a young woman who wants to be scientist, attending a college where some of the faculty and students don’t believe in evolution.
Queener: Right. That’s right. That’s it, and there’s where you learn a lesson about tolerating people, loving people for what they are and where they are. Some of those folks were wonderful in their area and you talked to them about what they were good at. They were wonderful people, but they were clearly not on my wavelength in other areas. Well, do you throw people away? No, I don’t think you do, and you learn how to deal with them. They had a harder time dealing with me because I just didn’t quite fit in their categories.
Scarpino: Did you make the top of a lot of those lists?
Queener: Oh the top, the top, the top, yeah.
Scarpino: You earned a BS with Honors in 1965 from Oklahoma Baptist in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I got on their current website and I realize this some years later, it says that they’re “Located 30 minutes east of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma Baptist University offers a Christian-based private education unrivaled by many in the state” – could be true, I suppose – and then it adds that “Oklahoma Baptist is a small Christian Liberal Arts University.” Why did you go there? I mean, why did you attend that particular college?
Queener: Two reasons…
Scarpino: Well, it’s Christian and liberal arts, and you’re interested in science and you believe in evolution.
Queener: Right, right, so, there’s some things that you don’t pick up on the website. For instance, the faculty. There were people who had been in industry in the sciences, had worked in the oil industry and worked in various kinds of situations, drug companies and what have you, so they were bringing a practicality into the school that was very appealing. It was small, which I liked. I thought at that time I might get lost in a bigger place. My mother had gone to OBU, she knew the place, she knew the town. And here’s something that really influenced me. At that time, I did know about Woodrow Wilson scholars. I knew who they were and what they were for and I knew it as a prestigious thing. OBU produced more Woodrow Wilson scholars per capita than any other university in the State of Oklahoma. It was just a hotbed of it. Well, I thought these programs have a good ranking; I think this is a good place for me. Several of my friends were
going there for other reasons. The music program was extremely strong there. I would have people I knew. I thought it was a good place for me at the time.
Scarpino: And your major was science?
Queener: My major was initially biology with a minor in chemistry and then I flipped it, but I had undeclared majors and minors. I had no sense, Phil. When I went off to college, I had no sense. I graduated with 154 credits; 124 was required for graduation. I took history, I took sociology, I took music intended for the music majors. I dabbled in anything I could lay hands on, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I got my liberal education.
Scarpino: Other than enjoying it thoroughly, do you think you benefited from that breadth?
Queener: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, yeah. I think one of the things that it did for me was help me understand that research is not the exclusive purview of the laboratory sciences, because I dealt with people who were writing books, doing studies in sociology. There was research going on in other contexts. Sometimes I think if you’re only in the sciences, you don’t appreciate that, you don’t understand what’s out there, and I felt like I did.
Scarpino: As you think back on the years you spent at Oklahoma Baptist University, you’ve had a chance to reflect on that, run it through the rest of your life, what do you think you took away from that experience that influenced the professional adult you became?
Queener: Tolerance is one big one. I used to get in heated arguments with true believers and we’d talk about various things. I realized that that’s not an appropriate thing to really try to force somebody to change their mind. We actually had two suicides – people who had suddenly encountered something besides the Southern Baptist doctrine, and they couldn’t handle it. Well, what are you doing raising a kid that can’t handle even the idea that there’s something different? What are you doing? It’s crazy. Tolerance and understanding the fragility of some people and taking care not to damage those parts. That was part of what I took away from it.
Scarpino: You graduated in 1965. At that point, where did you hope your life was headed? I mean, you were going…
Queener: Well, I knew I was going to grad school. I hoped I would have some ability to do research. Of course, that would be part of the graduate experience. I didn’t know if, after the graduate school experience, I would have a laboratory of my own or if I would teach. I was actually torn both ways. I didn’t think I wanted to work in a company. I did not have a positive sense of business. That was just something I didn’t develop along the way. So, I thought I would probably have a teaching job somewhere.
Scarpino: Do you want to follow up? Okay. You went from relatively rural Shawnee, Oklahoma, in a small private Christian college, to a much larger public university, the University of Illinois at Urbana, in a much more urban area, but also a much different social and political environment than Oklahoma. . .
Queener: Right, right, right.
Scarpino: You earned the MS in 1968, which you pointed out was sort of …
Queener: In passing, right.
Scarpino: … I mean, you really were in a PhD program.
Queener: That’s correct.
Scarpino: Okay, and you reached a point you were awarded the MS and then you moved on, which is one reason why there’s two years between the awarding of the MS and PhD. . .
Queener: That’s right.
Scarpino: I was initially wondering how Superwoman managed to make a PhD in two years until I realized that’s not what was going on.
Queener: Right. (LAUGHTER)
Scarpino: Why did you pick the University of Illinois? I mean, you must have had options. You were a good student.
Queener: Right, right. I had options. I had had connections at Oklahoma State University, where I think you worked for a while.
Scarpino: For one year, yes.
Queener: The biochemistry faculty over there had been my examining committee for my degree with honors. So, I had written a thesis and defended it in front of those folks and they were very supportive. Looking back now, it was a very simplistic thing that I wrote and they were very kind, but at the time, it was exciting stuff to talk to these people, to be invited to the seminars, and the chairman of the department earnestly asked me to apply to the department. I think I would have had an automatic in because they knew me. I remember telling him, and I kind of cringe at this now, being on the other side of things where that makes it sensitive, I said, “No, I want to get out of Oklahoma.” I really kind of hate saying that to him, but that was the truth. I needed to get out of Oklahoma. So, I looked up some rankings and I applied to something like the top four or five biochemistry programs in the country. Now, that’s not good advice. I should have applied to OSU. When I got turned down from all the others, I could have gone there, but in fact, I did get admitted to the University of Illinois. I applied there, it was the fifth top biochemistry program in the country. Alan Holt, that I mentioned earlier, had gotten his degree there and he knew faculty and he knew all kinds of connections. I traveled to the place, liked it a lot. I remember being struck by how old everything was. Now, in Oklahoma we had statehood in 1907. There was nothing older than 1880 or ’90 and if they existed, that was an Indian property. So, to go someplace where – I mean, there are houses from all ages and buildings of all ages. I remember being struck by that and just thinking “oh, wow, this is really pretty cool.” I like it, I liked it a lot.
Scarpino: What was the focus of your Masters’ degree?
Queener: Well, the PhD was all ...
Scarpino: All of a common …
Queener: Yeah. I worked on…
Scarpino: So, when you got there and you began to do research, were you actually doing research on what became your doctoral dissertation?. . .
Queener: Yes, yes, first year you picked a mentor, you learned the techniques and so on. . .
Scarpino: Did you have to write a Masters’ thesis or they just awarded the degree?
Queener: No, they just awarded it.
Scarpino: Okay, alright.
Queener: So, I worked with, as I said, Irwin C. Gunsalus. He was doing a project using a bacteria called Pseudomonas putida. That organism has the unique ability to eat almost anything. This particular strain he was working with was eating camphor. They isolated it from underneath camphor trees in India. So he was interested in some of the electron transport. Well, I wasn’t particularly interested in electron transport, but I was interested in some of the metabolic pathways that this organism had to allow it to do some of these unusual things. So, Steve and I, my husband-to-be, we decided to work on the tryptophan pathway. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. This organism synthesized its own, unlike us for which is essential, and there was a unique path that lead to it. So, we did research on primarily the first enzyme in the pathway which is called anthranilate synthase; not much was known about it. In order to study it, we had to build our own fluorometer, which is a machine that looks at fluorescence. And because anthranilate acid itself is highly fluorescent, you could look at the appearance of anthranilate acid by this fluorometer. So, we built the thing and it worked and we did those assays. The primary thing that we discovered out of this was that in order to make anthranilate acid out of chorismic acid, you needed a source of an amino group and the amino group came from glutamine. Okay, that’s another amino acid. So, there had to be a way to take the amino group off the glutamine, stick in on chorismic acid, rearrange and come up with anthranilate. So, we studied that and then we realized the enzyme that was doing it had two parts and one of the parts was responsible for finding the ammonia, the amnion group, and if you took away this part of the enzyme and just put the main part in a reaction, it could still use free ammonia, but it couldn’t use glutamine. So, it was very unusual and we published that in PNAS [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America] and actually wrote an NIH grant on follow up studies, which we ended up not using, we left for Gunsalus as we went on to other things.
Scarpino: You got an NIH grant that you handed off to your advisor.
Queener: Yes, yes.
Queener: I’m sorry, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Scarpino: So, you were co-researching with another student who later became your husband, but I assume you separately published results of the dissertation?
Queener: Oh, yeah. The dissertations were separate, yeah. We were co-authors on the main papers; but yeah.
Scarpino: One of the things that doctoral research is supposed to do is add to knowledge…
Scarpino: … and keeping in mind that almost everybody who looks at this thing is not going to be a scientist, what was your contribution to knowledge that earned you a PhD?
Queener: Well, it’s often hard to explain the details of things, but I think the basic contribution was for anybody who’s looking at ammonia metabolism in any organism, how does ammonia get drawn into complex compounds? There are many, many ways. This particular way, we discovered, is unique – the ability to have a completely separate protein that somehow or other had evolved to make use of an amino acid instead of free ammonia; that was a contribution to that particular area of research.
Scarpino: And if you hadn’t believed in evolution, none of that would have worked.
Queener: (LAUGHING) That’s right.
Scarpino: Your doctoral field was biochemistry.
Scarpino: Why did you decide to focus on biochemistry?
Queener: I liked chemistry, but I didn’t like memorizing. So, if you’re going to be an organic chemist, you’re going to memorize 10,000 named reactions.
Scarpino: Maybe that’s why I didn’t do well in organic chemistry.
Queener: There you are. Me neither, Phil. (LAUGHING) So, it just seemed like if you wanted to work with something that was on the boundary between chemistry and biology – biology was a little too descriptive for me – I wanted something that got to the essence of how biology worked. Well, that’s biochemistry. I was pretty excited about it. I thought, wow, you can do a lot of things in this area.
Scarpino: As you were working on your doctoral degree, at that point, where did you hope your professional life was headed?
Queener: I actually saw my husband and I as the new husband and wife team. The Coreys were well-known back in that era. I thought, oh, we’re going to go someplace and we’ll be the husband and wife team that works together, off into the sunset. Well, it’s not how it worked out. We did have an offer from Oak Ridge to bring our research…
Scarpino: That’s the federal lab?
Queener: The federal labs, yeah. But, my husband also – well, I should give you more background. When we started applying, we applied to the same places – mistake number one. Nepotism usually doesn’t allow couples. So, we looked at Proctor & Gamble.
Scarpino: In Cincinnati?
Queener: No, East Coast, New Jersey.
Queener: Hated New Jersey. Hated it. They offered us a job, a job, and they didn’t care which one of us took it. Okay, scratch them off. We talked to Dow in St. Louis. Dow offered us two jobs – one was in St. Louis and one was in Crystal River. Scratch them off. Oak Ridge, alright, it’s possible, but there’s not a lot of long-term security at that time in that lab. Then Steve got an offer from Eli Lilly. Now, he’s from Indianapolis and he had always aspired to work at Lilly. So, done deal; he’s going to go work at Lilly. Now, I don’t like industrial labs, so I’ve not applied; I’m not interested in Lilly. I became the classic trailing spouse and that’s how I ended up at the Medical Center.
Scarpino: You first came over here in 1969?
Queener: To interview, yeah.
Scarpino: To interview, and that didn’t work out.
Queener: Right, right, but by that time…
Scarpino: So, you tried again.
Queener: That’s right. By that time, Steve was well-entrenched. He knew who he would be working for and so forth. So, he called the man that he knew at Lilly who’d be working with him, a man by the name of Dave Dennen, David Dennen. David was very well connected. He knew people at the Med Center and he heard this tale of woe from Steve and he said, “Alright, don’t worry; I’m going to make some calls, and I’ll let you know.” So, Dave did make calls and he got an agreement for me to talk to a man by the name of James Ashmore, who was Chair of Pharmacology. So, I went to see James Ashmore. He was an ebullient, happy-go-lucky sort of fellow, turned out a drinker, but I didn’t know that at the time, but happy to talk to me, thought this was all just great. We talked science and the conversation went on for an hour and nothing had been said about gender and I thought I’ve got to just say it, and I just openly said, “Now, many of your
colleagues have been reluctant to talk to me because I’m a woman. Will I fit in in this department?” And he rocked back in his chair and the laughed and he said, “You know those carboys of water” – back in that day, distilled water existed in these huge carboys, glass carboys, usually up on the top shelf in a lab – he said, “If you can lift your own glass carboy, I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman.” (LAUGHS) I said, “Okay, a done-deal because I can lift that sucker.” And then later on he said something about -- I asked about, I said, “You know, I’ve been asked about whether we plan to have a family, and we do.” He said, “Well, I don’t care. You made be statistically more likely to get pregnant, but I’m statistically more likely to have a heart attack.” He said, “It’s a wash.” I loved this guy. He was great, and he hired me.
Scarpino: And he hired you as an instructor?
Queener: No, he hired me first -- he actually got me a job as a post-doc with George Weber. That was the first job, but he had the intention of bringing me on tenure track, which he did a year later.
Scarpino: When I looked at your CV, it looks like you accepted a position as Instructor, Pharmacology in 1971?
Queener: Yes, that’s when I went on the tenure track.
Scarpino: Okay, so that’s the question I wanted to ask you; was the instructor position a tenure track?
Queener: Yes, it was.
Scarpino: So, you had to go from instructor to assistant to associate to full.
Scarpino: They put an extra step in there.
Queener: That’s right.
Scarpino: Okay. Was that customary, to hire somebody as an instructor as opposed to an assistant professor?
Queener: I think one other woman had done that. I don’t think any of the guys were hired that way. I think they came in as assistant professors, but they were more experienced than I was, too. They had worked other places.
Scarpino: Okay. So, I was going to ask you why you accepted the position at IU, but I mean, you really came here because your husband had a job at Eli Lilly and…
Queener: That’s right.
Scarpino: … you wanted to live in the same city, in the same house.
Queener: That’s right, that’s right.
Scarpino: Okay. So, you came over here in ’69, you’re back, and you took a while, you were hired as a post-doc and then an instructor; what was the campus like when you showed up here?
Queener: Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh. The first time Steve drove me through Indianapolis, which was in ’69, I’d been to Speedway, but I hadn’t been to Indianapolis. He drove me down Indiana Avenue into downtown and, Phil, I sat in the car and cried. It was a slum like I had never seen in my life, ever, and here was the campus, just tucked right in the edge of this.
Scarpino: It’s basically what is now the main medical campus, the older buildings surrounded by homes, right?
Queener: That’s right, that’s right. It was, it was just amazing. People out on the street. It was just a place I had never seen the likes of, but you know, in Oklahoma things are open and wide. These are closed in, tight, run down, older than our state. It was just, it was an incredible thing. So, I was kind of heartbroken, but he said, “Okay, I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have taken you down that street,” and he showed me the rest of the town and we agreed that we’d have a certain kind of housing. We would buy what we could, as close as we could, and we’d make a good life, and we have. So, it was a shock at the beginning and the campus, I think it had only Cavanaugh Hall and the medical buildings. I think that’s right in ’70 or ’69. I know the School of Nursing building wasn’t built until later. The Purdue people came on much later. There was a post-doc in the same lab I was in who made a habit of walking from the campus to downtown. At that time, the housing project over there was full of drug dealers, and he got mugged and thought he was going to be killed. He was mugged at knife-point. So, it was a terribly dangerous place to be and just, it was hard to imagine how they’re going to make a campus out of this. But as things started to develop at IUPUI, the Med Center kind of closed up and kind of looking – what’s going to happen over there? And it was an amazing transition. I actually, in retrospect, think it was marvelous that we came here and at the time we did. That’s a unique experience to see a university be born.
Scarpino: We’ll talk more about this later, but between the time you first came over here in ’69 and then you started employment as a post-doc and so on, what are the biggest changes that have taken place to this campus?
Queener: Well, obviously the infrastructure and the buildings and so forth, but I think more than that, there were disparate groups scattered here and there and people like Gerry Bepko created an identity. This is IUPUI, this is the quality we expect out of this institution, these are our goals, this is our mission, and it was a very -- it’s another good example of leadership. Gerry Bepko is a good example of a leader because you never doubted what he was talking about. He was talking about quality, he was going to make it accessible, and he was going to make it effective for the State. That was the message. You never heard anything deviating from that.
Scarpino: You’re in the Med School shortly after the merger when most of the land that’s now campus was either owned by absentee landlords or some of it was privately owned, but it was in bad shape, and then the University, Charles Hardy, bought
these properties up and relocated the people out. But you mentioned the Med School kind of hunkering down and wondering what was going on. Att what point did you realize that you were a part of a developing institution on the edge of downtown Indianapolis?
Queener: That’s a good question because it was early on, but I’m trying to think what would have made me – well, part of it was knowing some of the people who were doing it. I, fairly early on, was teaching in the School of Nursing, which was enough outside medicine and they drew from some different bases, but I guess it took a while to really have a sense. But I know this, I know, when I sat on the steering committee in the School of Medicine, at some point, there was a discussion that Dean Daly lead. He said, “IUPUI wants to involve our faculty in teaching undergraduate courses; what do you think about this?” Well, I listened to the conversation around the room and I thought oh, my God, this would be such a disaster. (LAUGHS) So, at that time, I was teaching nursing students who were 19 years old, the second-year course for nursing students. And at some point, I broke in the conversation and I said, “Listen guys” – it was still all guys – “listen guys, if you don’t have a box of Kleenex on your desk and you’re ready to listen to students cry and weep and moan day in, day out, don’t get into this. These students need support to succeed, and if you’re not willing to give that, then don’t do it.” Because I could just see the medical type instruction crucifying these students across the street. So, I don’t know if that was an important message, but anyway they didn’t do it, except isolated cases and I think that was the right decision actually. But I was interested. I thought something exciting was happening.
Scarpino: You’re a post-doc, you’re an instructor and assistant professor, you’re doing science…
Scarpino: Where was your lab located?
Queener: I had several versions. My first lab was with George Weber in Riley Hospital. The lab faced west, so it kind of had its back to the rest of the campus. I was there for a couple of years. Then I approached Ashmore and I told him some things that were going on in the lab that made me uncomfortable and he said, “Well, I’ll get you someplace else.” And so, he then got me in the laboratory with Norman Bell over at the VA Hospital and Norman, classy guy, really lovely fellow. As I say, an endocrinologist, so I did some research over there, got another NIH grant through some of the stuff we were doing and it was on his VA grants, and that lasted until 1980. He moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and took all his grants with him. I kept the one I had and, at that point, Henry Besch offered me space in the old Medical Sciences Building on the third floor. So, I moved my lab over there.
Scarpino: At the time, it was your lab at that time?
Queener: Yeah, yeah. It really -- I got a full-blown lab setup when they added the fourth and fifth floors to the south wing of the Med Science Building. That’s when I got a full lab and I stayed in that until way late. I don’t remember exactly the date.
Scarpino: After you became Associate Dean?
Queener: Oh, yeah. . .
Scarpino: It was still your lab.
Queener: Yeah, I kept it. I kept the lab until I retired.
Queener: I had a full-time technician and we were publishing papers.
Scarpino: When you’re in charge of a lab, one of the responsibilities that comes with that is figuring out how to pay for it.
Queener: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And that’s a big part of the job. I figured out ways to piggyback on other people’s grants, I figured out ways to have some unique things that we could do and get funding directly. When I became Associate Dean, I figured out somebody’s paying half my salary, that’s like having a grant, so I ought to get salary savings out of it. Besch agreed and so that was part of the funding stream for my lab, too.
Scarpino: So, I’m going to try something here that’s either going to work or you’re going to hear the ice cracking in a minute. (LAUGHING) We have a copy of your CV, which I think you gave to us. You had a great deal of National Institutes of Health funding between ’84 and 2002, I mean, some before and some after, but much of it seems to be related to patients with HIV-AIDS.
Scarpino: … carinii, which I looked up because I didn’t know what it was. Life-threatening lung infection contracted by people with compromised immune systems which…
Scarpino: … would be people in that category. Drugs to address opportunistic infections in people in the same category…
Scarpino: … inhaled pentamidine…
Scarpino: … pentamidine, which I also looked up, used in persons with compromised immune systems who contracted pneumonia, and two of the NIH grants for which you were the PI, totaling more than $2 million had to do with opportunistic
infections, people with AIDS. So, in that time period, between 1984 and 2002, was that your research focus? Was that primarily what you were working on?
Queener: That’s right. I had been doing some diabetes research, but I didn’t see that field as really -- I didn’t think we had the infrastructure here to deal with it. I didn’t think we had enough people doing related work that would really be something that would be profitable for long term.
Scarpino: 1984, AIDS was mysterious and scary.
Scarpino: Mostly a disease that we believed, you know, was the problem of gay men, and gay men who were likely to be condemned by the culture out of which you came…
Queener: Correct, correct.
Scarpino: … both for who they were and what they did. So, how did you find yourself – and it was scary, I mean, because the pathways of transmission were uncertain and so on. I mean, people who worked with that could end up fatally, you know – so, what attracted you to do that?
Queener: A couple of things. I had a longstanding interest in infectious disease, and I made the acquaintance of a woman by the name of Marilyn Bartlett, who was in the Department of Pathology…
Scarpino: In the IU School?
Queener: … in the IU School of Medicine, right. She worked for a pathologist by the name of James Smith, same department. These two ran the pathology laboratory that did diagnostic microbiology. The background here is, at some point, I think it was in the late ‘70s, there’d been a change in the type of chemotherapy that they were using in children with leukemia over in Riley Hospital. Then mysteriously, these children whose cancer tended to go away, would come down with pneumonia and some died. It became a diagnostic challenge. Marilyn Bartlett was a masterful microscopist. She took lavage lung samples, and that’s the one who’s likely to catch stuff. She’s processing this material and she discovers that these children are suffering from Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. The chemotherapy had depressed their immune systems. She was one of the few people in the country who could really diagnose this condition very well. Okay, so they had a little research project going on. Here comes AIDS, and now instead of one patient every so often, you have dozens and hundreds with Pneumocystis pneumonia. So, we quickly formed a group – Jim Smith to do a lot of the clinical side, Marilyn to do the diagnostic side and to some basic testing, and me to be involved as a pharmacologist. We’re trying to develop treatments for this pneumonia. So, I undertook to look at the literature, everything that was known about the organism, everything that was known about drug classes, pull up classes of drugs that we should test against the organism. We were very quickly successful. We came up with a therapy that used existing drugs and was effective to control Pneumocystis pneumonia and it saved lives. It was
something that you could use on people who’d failed the traditional therapies. It was quite an important step forward. We did our testing in a culture system and we did it in an animal model. There was no human testing that could be done because there was no approval, but I presented the animal data at a research conference in New York City. There was a guy there by the name of Neil Toma, who was a physician from Canada, Rumanian by birth, but in Canada. He ran a treatment center for HIV-AIDS and he had I think it was four patients who had failed all therapy and were dying in his unit. He went straight home from the place and he gave the drug combination to these four dying people and they recovered. So, he called me in the middle of the week, explained who he was and what he had done, and the hair stood up on my arms – you know, like he’s going to tell me something awful – he said, “no, it worked.” So, we ended up with a clinical trial and…
Scarpino: That was the clinical trial or you did another one here?
Queener: Had to do another one here. That was just a -- because he could, he did. Any physician can prescribe any approved drug for any condition, even if it’s not on the label.
Scarpino: So, because they were drugs that had already been approved, he could give them in whatever combination he saw fit.
Queener: That’s exactly right. So, that would have been ’88, and that combination was clindamycin and primulin, both very old drugs, but they were synergistic against this organism. That was a wonderful collaboration. It just turned out that we brought three different skillsets and it worked.
Scarpino: You talked about the success of that combination of two existing drugs, but it looks to me like you spent a long time working on HIV-AIDS…
Queener: Yeah, yeah.
Scarpino: … in people with suppressed immune systems. So, in words that a layperson can understand, how would you explain your most significant research outcomes in that area?
Queener: Well, we came up with that combination that could be used immediately in the acute situation. So, there were a lot of people who would have died quickly that survived. Ultimately now, those drugs are not as important because there are better antivirals, and the antiviral drugs that really attack HIV, keep people’s immune systems healthy enough they don’t get Pneumocystis pneumonia as badly as they used to get it, or as often as they used to get. So, it was transient, its effect was transient, but it did have an effect. The other thing we did was, well two things. We looked for other drug targets in the organism and, by this time, we could do molecular biology. So, we found a drug target. It’s an enzyme called IMP dehydrogenase. It’s involved in a lot of metabolic pathways. So, it’s sort of a central key enzyme. Nobody had been able to clone it, so you couldn’t study it directly. You can’t grow this organism, so the only way to study its enzymes is to make them. Nobody could clone it. So, I had a young collaborator at the time, and he and I put our heads together and he came up with kind of a
unique way to go looking for the enzyme, and we were able to clone it. We found it. A student project – actually that student went on to get an MD/PhD; she really liked the work. We developed that drug target and I showed that it was sensitive to a number of drugs, like mycophenolic acid. Again, it’s an approved drug for other things. There is a drug target out there that nobody knew about and we did it. And the other thing that we did, I watched this literature – the drug target that we on most often was called DHFR – dihydrofolate reductase. It’s, again, something that’s involved in the biosynthesis of folates, a vitamin that’s needed for the organism to live – and you can develop drugs that attack that enzyme. Well, the traditional therapy also attacks that enzyme, but not very effectively. And what we started seeing in reports around the world is people were failing standard therapy. Then when they got better able to do molecular biology, they would sequence these organisms and we’d look at the gene for this enzyme, DHFR. We’d see that there would be significant changes in the amino acid sequence. So, the question is why? Is this really an example of drug resistance? Well, ultimately, we were able to make dozens of these variants and we published the information on drug sensitivity of these variants. We demonstrated that people are failing therapy now, standard therapy, because there is resistance to the standard drug, and we made the argument that other drugs might be needed. So, that was the last big contribution that I made.
Scarpino: And given the way HIV-AIDS is treated now, those were all sort of transitional treatments.
Queener: Yeah, it’s all -- now people who haven’t been diagnosed, they’re the ones that come down with the pneumonia or people who go off their drugs. Sometimes people do that.
Scarpino: You’re a scientist, work in the lab, I mean, you have collaborators and so on, do you ever feel like you really made a difference in people’s lives?
Queener: I think so, yeah, and I’ll go back to my Woodrow Wilson interview too. In addition to talking about The Screwtape Letters, I made the argument that science is a humanity. There’s something that the scientist does and engages in in the laboratory that’s just like being in the humanities. You get to grow, there’s insight you gain. It’s like enjoying music, creating art, you create something. It’s a humanity and I certainly got a lot out of it. I don’t know what the rest of the world did.
Scarpino: I read a letter written by Henry Besch, who was Chair of Pharmacology and Toxicology Department. This is the letter in which he nominated you for Associate Dean. He said in that letter that you were appointed to the NIH study section for your research area, and your research area he defined as opportunistic infections in immunocompromised patients, which I assume was HIV.
Queener: Yeah, there are others, but yeah.
Scarpino: What does it mean to be appointed to the NIH study section in your research area?
Queener: This is really, it’s one of those two-edged swords. It’s a high honor, but it’s also a hell of a lot of work. You’re being put on the study section means that you are the guy or gal reading research proposals from around the country and making the judgement which ones should be funded by NIH. You are advising NIH about funding. You’ll read anywhere from 10 to 30 big thick proposals every few months. You’ll rank them. You’ll fly to Washington or wherever and sit down with a group and you’ll hash out all the details on these proposals. You’ll agree or disagree on the rankings and ultimately you control who gets funded.
Scarpino: Do you feel like you made a difference when you did that?
Queener: I did, yeah, I really did. And I cannot tell you, it was a hard job, a lot of work, but the joy of sitting around the table and talking pure science for 12, 14 hours a day, it was wonderful. I mean, people were excited about it and enthusiastic. I didn’t find any of this nitpicking to try to promote somebody or -- I didn’t find any of that. I found people really excited about the science and I just thought it was a pure joy to sit on the study section. I really enjoyed it.
Scarpino: I may come back to a couple of research questions, but in addition to conducting research and publishing, you were also teaching in the Medical School…
Queener: Oh, yes.
Scarpino: … and you list the courses that you offered on your CV; did you like to teach?
Queener: Yes, yes.
Scarpino: It wasn’t one of those deals that sort of got in the way of your research?
Queener: No, I didn’t feel that way. I always try to see it from the students’ point of view. If you think about medical students, you’ve got to think about these people who are drinking from a fire hose, and here you stand up and you’re supposed to teach them antibiotics, of which there are a jillion and ten new ones next year. How you help them get through all that? That’s the fundamental question. How do I help these people that are already overloaded figure out what they need to know about antibiotics? Well, that was a wonderful discipline, and you learn how to use a prototype and talk about a family of drugs and then little variants here and there that they might need to know if they’re going into this kind of practice versus that kind of practice. It was a challenge to take a huge body of information and streamline it so that they had a hope of learning it. As a sidelight, I found out just how distrustful medical students are. I had a steady stream of medical students coming in my office going, “Now you said if we learned the prototype, we’d be okay, but…” And so you had to be careful on your exam questions that you didn’t betray them, that you told them this and that’s how you examed. But clearly somebody hadn’t followed those rules somewhere along the line. (LAUGH)
Scarpino: In addition to teaching, you also coauthored a textbook, Pharmacological Basis of Nursing Practice…
Scarpino: … I believe the first edition was published in 1982.
Queener: That’s right.
Scarpino: You were coauthor and it looks to me that that text underwent numerous revisions and republications between 1982 and 2003.
Scarpino: When that text came out in 1982, you had yet to be promoted to full professor; you had one more jump to go. Why were you willing to devote your time to writing a textbook which doesn’t really count in the research world?
Queener: I’m ornery. I always wanted to write a book, always wanted to write a book. I thought that was just a discipline that would be good for me and I was teaching nursing pharmacology. And Julia Clark, who was the other main author – she and I wrote the pharmacology content – we looked and looked and looked for a decent text to use and there weren’t any. They were either so stupidly simple that they were useless, or hopelessly complex that nobody read them. There was nothing that really hit the mark. We started creating some materials on our own and talking about what an ideal text should be. We figured out the courses that the nursing students took and we knew they had physiology early on. We thought, well if we talk about the physiology of the system and then talk about the drugs that affect that physiology, that will link and it’ll make a better connection. We came up with a plan and then because I was interested, Julia said, “Well, why don’t we try a book proposal?” So, the two of us made some contacts and we ended up with Mosby and Macmillan bidding for us. Ooh, that was nice! (LAUGHS) So, we chose Mosby and signed a book contract.
Scarpino: Coauthor, I assume Dr. Julia Clark.
Queener: Yes, she was also in pharmacology.
Scarpino: Who was she?
Queener: She was in the Department of Pharmacology.
Scarpino: Faculty member?
Queener: Faculty member, right.
Scarpino: Okay, and then there’s somebody else listed on that book – V.B. Karb.
Queener: Right, Virginia Karb. She was a nursing faculty member. She’s retired now too, and she was brought to us by Mosby. She had done some projects for them. Charming woman and a very good teacher, very excellent teacher and that was the main thing, and she wrote in a style that was compatible with our own. Julia and I are fairly straightforward, simple, unadorned sentences; Ginger wrote in that same style. It looked more uniform.
Scarpino: This is clearly not my field, but I did a little bit of checking and that was one of the, or the, leading text in that area for a very long time. . .
Queener: For a very long time, yeah, yeah. We were very proud of it. We worked hard to make it accessible and we based it on our own teaching experience with nurses.
Scarpino: For a number of years after you came to the Med School, you’re hard at work as a research scientist, you did some service in the School of Medicine, you’re moving up through the academic ranks. IUPUI had officially come into existence in 1969. You did mention that you kind of knew what was going on; were you a participant in the creation of IUPUI before you became Associate Dean?
Queener: Well, I did some things for Bill Plater and Gerry Bepko, yeah. Some of it was sort of unpleasant hard work, but Gerry had persuaded me about his vision and Bill Plater was a good follow-up guy. So you know, it was hard to say no to the two of them.
Scarpino: I’m laughing because he was my Dean and he could sell snow to Eskimos. (LAUGHTER)
Scarpino: He was really good.
Queener: Yeah, he’s really -- and became a personal friend, but there was just a lot that went on that I knew about and supported. I really kept looking for ways to help, and one of the things they asked me to do was sit in on a review for a Dean of Nursing who had transgressed. I had said no and Jerry tracked me down, he called me at home and said, “I really need you. I need you to do this.” And I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t say no to that. So, I spent a year of my life listening to the transgressions of a woman who had real problems and we ended up getting her fired, which was the only appropriate action to take. That was tough, but it also told me that these people are serious about making sure things operate right. That was a pretty deep dunk into the deep end of the pool. This is what goes on around here. That was still health-related; it was nursing, but I sat on the group with a lot of folks.
Scarpino: So, we’re going to transition away from your full time in the School of Medicine, but as you look back on those years, what are you proudest of?
Queener: I’m proud of my publication record, but not just that the papers are out there, but they included students. I had a lot of students that came into the lab, some of them didn’t even get degrees, but they came in and they worked and they were able to get their names on papers and go on to do other things. I’m proud of the students that we sent out. They’ve done good things and they met their potential. So that’s good.
Scarpino: Is that the measure of a good teacher, help somebody figure out how to reach their potential?
Queener: I think so, yeah;I think so. Certainly not prejudging somebody, not saying you can’t, you can’t. Well, there are times when you have to say you’re not ready for this, your background isn’t good enough to allow you to work in this field. Sometimes you have to say that, but you can’t put the person down while you’re doing that. You’ve got to help that person and say, alright, if this isn’t my area, what is my area? I’ve got an area; I know something’s out there. You’ve got to keep hope in that person.
Scarpino: Is there anything about those years you were full-time in the School of Medicine that you professionally wish you had done differently?
Queener: Probably gotten out of diabetes research earlier. Yeah. It was just not productive.
Scarpino: Anything that you want to add or follow up on?
Mahon: No, I’m just soaking in all the science. (LAUGHING)
Queener: I’m sorry.
Mahon: No, it’s okay; I’m enjoying it.
Scarpino: I’m going to ask you a couple more questions, then we’ll wrap up because we really want to talk in detail about your time as Associate Dean. Again, for the benefit of everybody who uses this, I’m going to remind them or anybody who uses it, that you’ve provided us with a self-reflective essay you wrote called “On Being an Administrator,” and you argued that much of your tenure in the School of Medicine, you had no interest in being an administrator.
Scarpino: You also talked about things that influenced you to alter that conviction. And one of them was an appointment in 1988 from Chancellor Gerald Bepko and Vice Chancellor William Plater to join a team called the IUPUI Senior Faculty Task Force. On that Task Force was yourself, Bill Bosron of the School of Medicine, Erv Boschmann, Chemistry, Richard Turner, English, Tony Sherill, Religious Studies, and your team issued a report titled “Senior Faculty as a University Resource.”
Queener: Right, and that was 1998.
Scarpino: Oh, 1998. Oh, yes it was, alright. Sorry about that. Any idea why Plater and Bepko appointed you to that Task Force?
Queener: I think Plater knew me well enough to know that I had connections in the liberal arts. He knew the kind of reading I did, he knew the kind of people I liked to be around to talk to, and I think he had thoughts that he was draw me into administration, to tell you the truth.
Scarpino: The findings of that Task Force were really intended to take advantage of the talents and experience of senior faculty…
Queener: That’s right.
Scarpino: … which I would conclude was an effort to grow the reputation of the University.
Scarpino: With that as context, what were the major recommendations of that?
Queener: We talked about a lot of things, but we were trying to focus on things that could actually be accomplished. There was a good conversation about the quality of faculty here, in all the fields, and I think that’s why it was such a blended committee. It was intended to look far afield. So, as a given, we all came to the conclusion there’s high quality here. So, then you work from that. How do you increase visibility? Well, one way to increase visibility is to bring in stars from outside to come visit your stars. We did that same strategy with the review of graduate programs, by the way. So, you bring people in, they meet these stars, and they go off and they talk about it. So, we recommended some kind of visiting lectureship. But the main thing that came out of that was the Chancellor’s professorships, the idea that you have a wealth of experience invested in these faculty who are toward the ends of their careers. Administration can take advantage of these folks by having them step in and do different things. I mean, Bill Bosron was a Chancellor’s Professor later down the road. He was an Interim Dean. He’s done all kind of things as Chancellor’s Professor. Again, it adds to the quality of the institution by having a way to engage and bring in these senior people and contribute. Probably the Chancellor’s Fellowships which still, of course, go on, would be the big thing.
Scarpino: I’m going to ask you one more question and then we’ll wrap up and segue to talking about your time with the graduate school. Again, you are on the Senior Faculty Task Force, invited to represent IUPUI in a week-long IU leadership workshop held in Indianapolis in late May of 1998. . .
Scarpino: You noted in that essay that you wrote that on Wednesday, May 27, 1998, at 9:00 a.m. in the morning, so, I mean, that’s astonishing recall…
Queener: Well, I’ve still got the program, Phil.
Scarpino: Oh. You attended a session with Katherine Tyler Scott entitled “Transitional Learning: Defining Yourself as a Leader” and then there was a follow-up session that afternoon. So, first of all, who was Katherine Tyler Scott?
Queener: I gather she was an inspirational speaker around the city and maybe beyond. I hadn’t heard of her before. She was a tall, elegantly dressed black lady, engaged an audience beautifully, and she was easy to listen to. She made a lot of sense.
Scarpino: So, the workshop again, “Transitional Learning: Defining Yourself as a Leader” seems to have had a transformational impact on you. Is that right?
Queener: It did because I hadn’t really thought about what leadership was until that particular session. I really just hadn’t thought about it. And if I had thought about it, I would have probably said, “Okay, General Patton is a leader,” that kind of thing, you know. (LAUGHTER)
Scarpino: He sure killed a lot of people.
Queener: Exactly, I had a very shaky idea. And she put it in terms that were much more accessible to me and my personality, and that is: First you figure out what is important to you, and then you figure out if it’s important enough to do something about it, and if it is, get out there and do something about it. It’s pretty straightforward, and it’s stewardship. It’s protecting the things that you value, and that rang a bell.
Scarpino: That’s what she called a steward model of leadership?
Scarpino: I was going to ask you what that meant. Protecting things that you value.
Queener: Right, right.
Scarpino: Well, then you have to know what you value.
Queener: You have to know what you value, that’s right.
Scarpino: Okay. We want to really talk in detail about your time in administration, so maybe we’ll wrap it up there and we’ll schedule another session, and we’ll come back ready to rock and roll.
Queener: Sounds good.
Scarpino: Alright. So, let me get these things turned off, so that we’re not recording anymore.
Scarpino: This one’s live, and the way you can tell again is this little bar on here that bounces when you talk.
Alright. So, today is September 25, 2018. My name is Philip Scarpino, Professor of History and Co-Primary Investigator with Steve Towne for the IUPUI Oral History project funded by the campus administration. I also serve as Director of Oral History for the Randall L. Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence at Indiana University/Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI).
Also in the room is Leeah Mahon, a first-year Masters’ student in the IUPUI, Public History Program. She is the graduate, public history intern assigned to this IUPUI and Tobias Center oral history projects.
So, today I have the privilege of interviewing Dr. Sherry Queener in a conference room located in the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives. This interview is sponsored and funded by the Administration of IUPUI, and it is co-sponsored by the Randall L. Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence.
This is the second session with Dr. Queener. Biographical information is available with the first session.
So, before we start, I’m going to ask your permission to do the same things that you’ve already agreed to do in writing. That is, I’m going to ask your permission to record this interview, to prepare a verbatim transcript of the interview, to deposit the interview and the verbatim transcript with the IUPUI Special Collections and Archives and with the Tobias Center for Leadership Excellence, with the understanding that the Directors of those two organizations may make the interview and the transcript available to their patrons. Which may include posting all or part of the audio and/or the transcription to their respective websites.
Queener: I do agree.
Scarpino: Thank you. We’re going to get started. We were talking before I turned the recorders on and you wanted to follow up on something we explored last time that had to with a department chair who wouldn’t interview you initially, in particular, the Chair of Biochemistry. So, I’ll hand that off to you and we’ll go from there.
Queener: Right. The thing that I don’t want to do is leave the impression that there was a sustained anger generated. I thought my best revenge would be succeed well enough that they would wish they hired me. I worked with these people on and off through the years and developed good relationships, and I’ll tell one story that I think also tells their side of things. This was several years after I’d been around. I’d been working with the Chair of Biochemistry, and he and I approached the west door of the Medical Sciences Building more or less simultaneously one morning on our way to work. We did one of these things what’s so awkward, where you’re both at the door and who’s going to get the door and so forth and so on. Somehow or other, he managed to grab the handle of door and in trying to avoid me, he hit himself in the head with the door. (LAUGHING) So, he closed the door and he leaned his head against it, and he
said, “This is just so hard. Half the women I know are mad at me if I don’t open the door and the other half are mad at me if I do.” (LAUGHING) I thought that was a pretty good summary of where some of these guys are coming from. They were trying. (LAUGHS)
Scarpino: And he did hit himself in the head.
Queener: And he did hit himself in the head, right.
Scarpino: Last time, we talked about your growing up and education and your research and when you were here at IUPUI and so on and so forth. We want to spend most of today talking about the years you spent at the graduate school. I wanted to start by asking you, you found out about the open position of Associate Dean of the graduate school in a call from your colleague, Dr. Bill Bosron. He told you that Dr. Sheila Cooper was stepping down and that you should apply. Your initial response was probably, “no way.” You’d made it clear that you were really not interested in administration and then you wrote, and I’m quoting you, “Bill pressed gently and reminded me of our leadership workshop,” and you told him “Well, okay, I’ll look into it.” So, before I actually ask you a question, I want to point out for anybody who uses this that Dr. Sheila Cooper was the first head of the Graduate Office at IUPUI from the time it was founded in 1987 until she retired in 1999, and Dr. Cooper was a historian.
Scarpino: She was actually a British historian, or historian of Britain. Here’s the question: your colleague reminded you of the leadership workshop that you’d attended and that we talked about last time, so the question is what was it about his reminding you about the leadership workshop that caused you to relent and agree to look into the position of Associate Dean of the Graduate School?
Queener: Well, several things sort of played into that. One is, I have such high respect for Bill Bosron. He had done some administrative work, he’s a man of good judgement and he knows me pretty well. I had to respect that part of it. The other part of his reminder was about the leadership conference that we were part of and how much fun we had had doing that, talking to Richard Turner, Tony Sherrill from the Religious Studies group, and Bill, Erv Boschmann in Chemistry, and myself, all these areas covered. But we got together and enjoyed the company so well and we worked together so well, it reminded me of how much I liked working outside the area of science, as well as in science. And the third thing it did was remind me about some of the earlier work that I had done in the Graduate School. I’d been on the Graduate School Curriculum Committee in the ‘80s, I was on the Graduate Council in the ‘80s. I saw what was going on in the Graduate School. I actually had learned some of the ins and outs of how a degree is developed, and it struck me that IUPUI was not getting what it should get, and we should be developing more degrees. I realized I had some knowledge that could be applied. So, all of those things made me say, “Okay, Bill, at least I’ll look at it. I may hate it, I may walk away, but I’ll look at it.”
Scarpino: When we talked a week or so ago, toward the end of that session, we talked about that leadership institute that was run by Katherine Tyler Scott, and a
workshop she held at IUPUI called “Transformational Learning: Defining Yourself as a Leader.” We were toward the end last time and so I didn’t do then what I should’ve done, which was explain who she was. I’m going to do that now because who she was is actually important. Katherine Tyler Scott holds a Masters’ degree in social work from Indiana University – she’s one of us. She’s nationally and internationally recognized in the field of leadership, but her career in leadership began in Indianapolis in Indiana. She chaired the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce Race Relations History Project, during which time she developed a training curriculum called “Finding Common Ground” for community-wide dissemination. She’s a graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Program here in Indianapolis, and has served as President of the Stanley K. Lacy Board. She also served on the Commission for Downtown and on the boards of the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee. She’s a founding member of the Indianapolis chapter of the Coalition of 100 Black Women. She served as a consultant to the Lilly Endowment and developed and directed the Lilly Endowment Leadership Education Program. Which is a statewide leadership education initiative for professionals who are in the youth service field. She’s a recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash. She has published widely on the topic of leadership. She’s presently, now in the current time, Managing Principal of a firm called Ki ThoughtBridge, which is a company specializing in leadership development. She’s also currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Leadership Association. This lady is one of the scholars, the leaders in the developing field of scholar leadership and she got her start here, so I thought that I would put that in the record.
Queener: I very much am glad to hear that. I know some of it but had forgotten it. She was extremely impressive and that CV certainly backs that up.
Scarpino: And I will admit, and I’ll even say this with the recorder on, when her name came up last time, it didn’t immediately click with me, but as soon as I saw her picture, I know her. In fact, in a couple of weeks, I’ll be at the International Leadership Association meeting. Katherine Tyler Scott talked about the Steward Model of Leadership. Then you wrote, in a piece that you shared with us, “On Being an Academic Administrator,” that when you reflected on the questions she posed, you concluded, and I’m quoting you, “I want to bring out the best in students and my colleagues, I want to make them more effective, and I want to serve better by making the work environment more supportive.” The question is, would it be fair to say that that workshop you attended was professionally transformative for you?
Queener: Yes, yes because vague feelings along this line certainly existed. That’s when I was Graduate Director in the Department of Pharmacology, but to crystalize it all around the stewardship model, that brought so many threads together and gave a forward impetus. So, yeah, I would have to say that leadership conference was transformative.
Scarpino: Again, when you wrote about the workshop that you took on leadership with Katherine Tyler Scott, you said that she challenged you to do the following: to ask what does your history say about what is important to you? You concluded, and I am now quoting from you, “Other than my family, the next greatest
influence on my life is education. My university and graduate school experiences completely remade my life, and for the better.” Here’s the question, how did your university and graduate school experiences completely remake your life?
Queener: Well, you have to know what Oklahoma was like in the 1950s and ‘60s. (LAUGHTER)
Scarpino: Well, I lived there, in early 1980s.
Queener: I mean, waiting tables in a honky-tonk on Highway 66 was a possibility. There were no guarantees for women. My mother was unique in that she had a career, well, not completely unique, but she was unique in our family in having a strong career. And she had made it clear from, Lord, I don’t know how early, as long as I can remember, that if we did well enough in school and wanted to go to college, she would see that we did. She saw her education as giving her a chance at life that she wouldn’t have had before. She took the GSA test and worked for the Federal Government. It was a job beyond her imagination as a younger child. She saw and she demonstrated the value of education. When I went to college, well, even before, when I was in high school, I remember that I was sent to an academic contest, actually in history. I got selected to go to a history contest, which I won, by the way, with an essay on guilds. (LAUGHING)
Scarpino: An assay on what?
Queener: Guilds, Medieval guilds. But I remember distinctly to this day, and it still gives me chills, walking through the Union Building of this university campus where the contest took place, and some guy was sitting there with a calculus book open, and here were all these equations, like a different language. I remember thinking oh, my God, there is so much out there, I’ve got to get in this, I’ve got to understand this, and that’s what drove me in college. I took classes I didn’t need because I was interested. Graduate school was more focused, but education just opened my eyes. And there was not much you could get in Oklahoma, except by getting out and by learning from people who had been out, and that was it.
Scarpino: We do want to talk a lot about your time with the graduate school, and you ultimately did apply for the job…
Queener: I did.
Scarpino: … and I’m going to handoff to Leeah to ask you some questions about that.
Mahon: Like you said, you did apply for the job…
Mahon: … and why did you decide to do that?
Queener: I looked around at the people who might be applying for the job and I honestly thought I probably had a better set of credentials. Secondly, I thought, I began to think about ways I could manage the science side. I got a tentative okay from my Chair, we didn’t work out any details, but he said, “You should go look at it.” It was kind of an exploratory, and when I got into the details of what would be going on, I liked what I saw.
Mahon: Okay. You had an interview with the Search and Screen Committee in the Summer of 1999.
Queener: I did.
Mahon: You wrote about how you addressed some reservations that the Committee might have about the impact of being a Dean on your research productivity and so forth. Here’s the question – I’m wondering how you sold your candidacy to the Committee. What vision did you share of what you would attempt to accomplish if they offered you the position of Associate Dean?
Queener: Well, I told them, right up front, that I could work with anyone, that I had, and I believe this is true, that I have a talent for finding the strengths in people. They might have one strength and 10 faults, but if you can make use of that strength, you’re ahead of the game. So, I said, “I can make use of people in a productive way.” I sold them on the idea that I was energetic, based on what I’d done up to that point. I also sold them on the fact that I was a planner because I had a very distinct plan for how I would cut back on what I did in science and, therefore, make room for what I was going to do in the Grad Office. And I tried to address obvious problems head on. The main one that we all were sitting and thinking about, although few were wanting to say it, I was School of Medicine and IUPUI was who I needed to be identified with. I had a plan for becoming identified with IUPUI and sort of not breaking my connection to the School of Medicine, but enhancing it and showing that I was a citizen of the whole university. Those are the things that I pressed, and basically I think they looked at the plan and said, “Well, this could work.”
Mahon: Okay. So, you were ultimately offered the position of Associate Dean of the Graduate School with a start date of August 1, 1999.
Mahon: Recently, we held a pre-interview with you. At that time, you mentioned that you read Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips to help get ready for your new position. Why did you select that book?
Queener: You know, I can’t honestly remember why that book fell in my hands. Probably by accident because every time I went in a bookstore, I always looked at material on Lincoln, and there were a couple other topics I was reading at the time, but Lincoln was one of them. I probably picked that book up in a bookstore and flipped through and said “Oh, wow, this is definitely what I need.” I liked the organization of it. I liked the fact that it was based on what I knew of Lincoln’s true actions, so the history was accurate, and it helped sort of translate him into the modern time. That’s what I ended up using.
Mahon: Okay. When you took the job of Associate Dean in August of 1999, did you see yourself facing any leadership challenges?
Queener: Yes. There are several things that happen when you step into a new leadership position. First of all, you’ve got to think about the personnel. Some of the people that you’re facing are loyal to the previous person. They have expectations of you based upon what the prior person did. You have to immediately establish your own style and immediately erase the past. For example, one of the younger secretaries had had the responsibility of running personal errands for Sheila Cooper. I made it clear that there would be none of that and that no one should be asking anyone to do personal errands. I didn’t make a judgement call, I just said that’s the way I work. I had a personnel problem in the sense that we had a person that Dr. Cooper had been very, very critical of. He was sort of a free spirit and he tended to do things differently than she would have done, but he got the job done. I sat down with him first of all, and I said, “I know you’ve had some problems. I don’t want you to expect me to come in exactly the same place Sheila was. I want you to know that you’ve got a clear slate with me. I’m going to judge you on what you accomplish.” And I set some very clear expectations for him, and to his credit, he jumped in and he accomplished them. He went on and got hired by other people and he did very well. I think personnel problems would be some of the first things. And then I mentioned the problem of being identified with the School of Medicine. That’s a leadership problem. I immediately made appointments with every dean on campus that I could get in to see, and most of them accommodated me. I walked in and sat down and I told them my vision for the Graduate Office was that we would become a service organization, service center for them. We would help with the development of degree programs, should those be of interest to them, that they had to come from the faculty, but we would help. Then I point-blank asked the question, “what can I do for you?” That was such an interesting question in retrospect because some of the deans immediately had suggestions – “oh, yeah, here’s what you can do.” Others sat for just a really uncomfortably long time and thought and then they’d come up with something. I had one person who looked at me and said, “In all the years I’ve been Dean, no one has ever asked me that question.” We had a nice conversation about, you know, what it is we could do for them. I tried to set up the idea that we were partners and I think that face-to-face was just absolutely critical.
Mahon: Okay. In theory, it was a half-time position.
Mahon: Did that turn out to be the case?
Queener: Well, yes and no. I came into work at 7:30 every morning and I stayed in the lab, directing my technician, doing whatever needed to be done there, until about 12:30 or 1:00. Then I very faithfully went to the Grad Office around 1:00 every day and I stayed there until 5:00-ish or so, but neither job is really -- it’s more than a full-time job. So, I would often end up coming back to the lab to pick up something or I would have to stay longer in the Grad Office. At one point, I was putting in 55, 60-hour weeks to try to get things up-to-snuff. Half-time in that half of my working time was there, but it was not a 20-hour a week job. (LAUGHS)
Scarpino: When you took over the Grad Office on the IUPUI campus, how was that office structured and staffed?
Queener: It was - it had grown by accretion. So, we were housed over on the fourth floor of the old Union Building, which is now gone. We were strung out down the hallway.
Scarpino: It was sort of a combination hotel, Union.
Queener: Exactly. We all had private bathrooms and showers, none of which worked, but they were there. (LAUGHING)
Scarpino: I remember that place, yes.
Queener: Right, right. We had a receptionist up front. We had a graduate recorder who sat also in that office. We had Monica Henry – she was just hired in as a staff person. We had Robert Kasberg, who was diversity and recruiting and we had – and they were all on real salaries, Judy Zent ran the entire Graduate Non-degree Program and she was on soft money. Her salary was paid by the application fees for people in the Graduate Non-degree Program. And then me. That was it.
Scarpino: For the benefit of somebody who might look at this in the future, can you briefly explain what a graduate recorder does?
Queener: Yes. This is the person who, when the faculty says this person has met the requirements for the degree, that person looks at the record, checks against the published requirements for that degree, says yes everything looks fine, actually pushes the button that says you do get this degree. It doesn’t really happen at graduation; it happens in the quiet of that office when the lady pushes the button.
Scarpino: And then you mentioned Graduate Non-degree and there, I’m sure, will be people who don’t have any idea what that means.
Queener: Yes. This is an innovative program that I was really delighted – I’d made use of it in several situations. It’s a program by which a student can come onto campus at IUPUI and without being admitted to a graduate program, can actually take many of the classes that a graduate student would take. Now, there’s a limit to how many credits you can take in a Graduate Non-degree and some schools close their programs to Graduate Non-degree, but by and large, people can get their toes in the water. We used it, pushed it as a recruiting device and we pushed it very hard in that way. What I discovered as we went through the development process that a lot of these graduate non-degree students weren’t getting counseling from their programs which I thought would improve the recruiting side of it. So, I began to negotiate with individual schools, and I would come to them and say, “We have 60 graduate non-degree students who were taking classes in your program over the last year. We’d like to turn the revenues of these students over to you in exchange for your agreement that you will offer mentoring and advising.” Some of the schools said, “I don’t want any part of it,” but many said, “Yeah.” Well, that worked because students had a much more obvious line into graduate programs. What it did for the Graduate Office was, of course, diminish our income. I took that situation to the powers that be and I
said we need to put the director of the Graduate Non-degree Program on hard money because we’re working to improve things for the students which is cutting our revenue. We have to do something about that, and they agreed.
Scarpino: So, you basically used the fees that the non-degree students were paying to grow the graduate programs.
Queener: Yes, yes.
Scarpino: When you took over as Associate Dean in 1999, how would you, in general terms, describe the relationship between the main campus in Bloomington and IUPUI? We’ll get to the Graduate School part of it later, but…
Queener: It all depended on who you talked to. Most programs could talk about individual faculty at Bloomington who were very supportive, some collaborated. I worked with some who were helpful in reviewing things for us and so forth and so on. So, there were certainly people that valued what we did here. If you went to the Administration, by and large there was opposition to what we did here. They didn’t want any new programs developed here – chairs of departments, deans of schools. They were afraid that we would take resources that they felt should come to them. They were afraid we would compete with their degree programs. So, it was a real dichotomy. You kind of had to know who you were talking to.
Scarpino: Again, when you took over as Associate Dean August 1, 1999, how would you describe the relationship between IU-Bloomington and IUPUI, in terms of graduate education and developing graduate programs?
Queener: The development of graduate programs had been very gradual and very much in the hands of Bloomington. Every degree program proposal had to go to a Curriculum Committee in Bloomington, that I had sat on for a number of years. Every new course had to go through that Curriculum Committee. So, if it was on this campus…
Scarpino: Every single graduate course…
Queener: … yes…
Scarpino: … created on this campus.
Queener: … yes, at that time. Yeah, it didn’t last forever, but at that time. It was difficult to get much traction for graduate programs. The faculty at Bloomington did not understand, by and large, what we were doing here. As I say, there were individuals who did, but if you looked at the entire Curriculum Committee, most of those people had no idea the strength of the programs here. So, what you’d find is that, even for courses, but especially for degree programs, when you tried to propose a new degree program, the very same questions that had been already answered in the review process here, would come up again in Bloomington. These things would linger for months in the committees as you answered the same questions again and again and again. Then it would all repeat when it got to the Graduate Council, which sat over the Curriculum Committee. One of the first things that I realized had to happen was that those two committees had to
have better information about IUPUI, and what better way to do that than having a fair representation of IUPUI faculty on those committees. I proposed that to the Dean and they agreed, Grad School agreed, said yeah, that makes sense. Dave Daleke and I set up the election. We got representation of so many faculty equals one member of whichever committee it might be, and we set up the election and got better representation. That was one thing that helped.
Scarpino: Dave Daleke?
Queener: Yes. David Daleke is Associate Dean at Bloomington at Graduate School. . .
Scarpino: Oh, with the Graduate School. Okay, so I want to see if we can sort out the Table of Organization of the IU Graduate School enough so that somebody can – I mean, we don’t want to go too far into the weeds here – but when you started in August 1999, you appeared to have two people immediately above you in the Graduate School chain of command. The top, George Walker, Dean of the IU Graduate School and Vice President for Research, who was in Bloomington, and below him, Mark Brenner who was Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at IUPUI.
Scarpino: Mark Brenner would have been your immediate supervisor?
Queener: He was my immediate supervisor, right.
Scarpino: But his appointment was in the IU Graduate School in Bloomington.
Scarpino: He represented Bloomington and not IUPUI.
Scarpino: Okay. When you found yourself in the situation with that reporting line of command, did you ever think that that was kind of confusing?
Queener: I thought it was confusing from day one and set out to make some changes that would help it make more sense. Mark Brenner identified very much with IUPUI. He may have had another appointment through the campus; I don’t know, but he certainly identified with the campus and he backed me 100% in trying to be more identified with the campus. The first thing that I did was to – in conversations with Sheila Cooper, I’d discovered that Sheila had refused to go to the regular staff meetings that Bill Plater held, and these were once a month…
Scarpino: Bill Plater was the Executive Vice Chancellor.
Queener: He was the Executive Vice Chancellor, right, and he would bring in the heads of all the units that reported to him and it would be a little show and tell. Well, Sheila said that her job was more of a gatekeeper, his job was developing degrees, and so she felt there was a tension there and for that reason, she
shouldn’t go to the staff meetings. I felt just the opposite. I felt that I had to be there to talk about what was happening on the graduate side and get this line of communication going. I had no administrative connection to them, but Bill invited me. So, I asked Mark, and he said, “Absolutely, I think that’s exactly what we should do.” That was something that kind of drove that connection.
Scarpino: Let’s focus down a little bit more. When you started in 1999, how would you describe your working relationship with the Graduate School in Bloomington because, obviously, it was more than just the Dean?
Queener: Right, right. Actually, I think it was pretty good overall. I had had a good working relationship with Leo Solt. . .
Scarpino: Leo Solt was?
Queener: Leo Solt was the Dean prior to George Walker. Leo Solt had been the one who was Dean when I was on the Curriculum Committee and the Graduate Council. He, in his later months of deanship, was aware that people were kind of circling the wagons and trying to do something to diminish the Graduate School. I remember he quoted Winston Churchill about he did not become Dean to preside over the demise of the Graduate School – paraphrased Winston. I gently reminded him what happened to the empire. Leo and I had a good relationship. With George Walker, again, really quite a good relationship. He held staff meetings where we all went to Bloomington. I was on friendly terms with the Associate Deans down there, especially Eugene Kintgen, who was one of the Associate Deans before David Daleke. Gene had been there forever and ever, and he was a guy that I could just call up and say, “Gene, here’s this problem, I bet you’ve run across it, what do you do down there?” And, if there was anyway in the world that we could do it the same way, I tried to. I tried to harmonize our methods. If it was necessary that we do it differently, then we’d talk about the principle behind it, and we’d try to at least maintain the principle if the details were different. Gene was great with that. So, I felt I had a pretty good relationship with those folks.
Scarpino: We talked a little bit today and a lot last time about leadership and leadership style. I’m wondering how you would compare and contrast your leadership style with that of your predecessor, Dr. Sheila Cooper? I mean, in the interest of full disclosure, I knew Sheila quite well, she was my colleague in the History Department, so I’m not asking you to trash anybody.
Queener: No, no, I wouldn’t.
Scarpino: I’m asking you to think about compare and contrast.
Queener: Because she was a good leader. She had a different vision than I had. That was the main difference. I think it was pretty clear that Sheila felt that her main job, her main mission was quality control, and she pursued that. She didn’t drive connections to the campus as strongly as I wanted to, but within her vision, which was to erect, create this Graduate Office that represented the Graduate School, I think she communicated that vision and she basically brought it to life. I had a different vision and I tried to bring my vision to life. But I think she was a good
leader and she was generous beyond belief. She didn’t have to sit down and spend all those hours with me in transition and she was extremely generous in doing it.
Scarpino: Sheila went to the U.K. every summer to do research and she got in the habit of taking a graduate student from the History Department with her. The student – it wasn’t a free ride, but made sure the student got to know the place and got to know the history and got to do some research, and she did not need to do that. I want to talk about goals that you had when you took over as Associate Dean, but before I do that, do you have any follow ups; anything you want to ask? Okay. I’m going to start with a few general questions – when you took over, what did you see as the strengths of the existing office of the Associate Dean of the Graduate School?
Queener: Of the Graduate Office here?
Scarpino: Yeah, here on campus. I’m sorry, yes.
Queener: I thought that we had some outstanding staff that needed to be given the confidence to grow and do their own thing. The fellow who had been at somewhat cross purposes with Dr. Cooper, when I gave him the vision of working on diversity programs, he simply soared. He worked long hours. He did a lot of good things. That’s what I was envisioning as what you’d see, growth -- if you established your vision with a person, a good person can take that vision and then apply it and can move on. That’s what I tried to do with all of them. Some were not capable of it. We had some turnover within the first year. I had a person who simply didn’t want to make decisions, wanted me to tell them what to do, and that’s not my vision of a leader. We just didn’t, didn’t jibe, but I helped him find placement in an office where he would be comfortable and we took a different direction. So, yeah, those things.
Scarpino: As you were talking, and thinking back about some of the things we said last time, when we asked you about leadership, some of the things that stood out was the ability to communicate a vision…
Scarpino: The ability to encourage the people that work for you to develop confidence in themselves…
Scarpino: … and the ability to delegate.
Scarpino: Is that putting words in your mouth or is that square with the way you look at leadership?
Queener: I think that’s pretty much the way it is and to realize you’re not going to succeed with everyone and to be honest enough to give thoughtful critiques. I did do
reviews, annual reviews with people and more often, if it was needed, to try to help people stay on track and to also give them a sense of their accomplishment. One of the things I just demanded that people do is to keep a record of what you’ve accomplished because if you ask somebody cold “what did you do this year?”- “I don’t know.” But if you’ve got this journal, “well, I did this training session, I did this work with so and so,” pretty soon you’ve got a record you can be pretty proud of and it’s just because you took the trouble to write it down. Now, that’s the scientist in me; they keep a log. (LAUGHING)
Scarpino: I was going to say that sounds like something you made from practicing before you became Associate Dean.
Scarpino: The first question I asked you is when you took over, what did you see as the strength of the existing office? The second question is when you took over, what did you see as shortcomings or things that needed to be shored up?
Queener: I thought our relationship with the programs – graduate directors, chairs – that needed to be elevated. Most of the graduate directors I knew thought of the Graduate Office as a barrier. To the point that you’d find folks tracking down Bill Plater on campus and saying, “Hey, I want to develop such and such a degree; is that okay?” Bill would say “Oh, sure,” and they’d take that as approval, so they didn’t have to go through the Graduate School. I wanted to build the confidence that people could come to us and say, “We’re thinking about this, we really ought to do this, but what do you think?” That took some doing.
Scarpino: I read that when you took over that there were significant budget challenges in the sense that your budget was mixed in with that of Mark Brenner and his office…
Scarpino: And I’m quoting from something that you wrote, that he, “preferred to make case-by-case decisions on expenditures for the Graduate Office” and you noted, again quoting from you, “We didn’t gain full control of our budget until some years later.” They’d obviously been doing it that way; it wasn’t new. Why did you feel a need to gain full control of your budget?
Queener: I don’t think you can manage well if you don’t know what your resources are. If I plan this elaborate program only to discover after the planning that we don’t have the resources to drive it, that’s foolish. That’s wasting staff energy, and worse than that, it’s wasting staff morale. I asked, “Don’t tell me all the money, just tell me some of the money and let us work within those limits and then we’ll come for more if we need it.” And that was kind of the compromise we reached.
Scarpino: Why do you think that you preferred to mingle the budgets?
Queener: Well, there’s the cynical answer, which is that you keep more money, and maybe that’s true; I don’t know. (LAUGHTER) There’s also a less cynical answer, it’s just easier to keep one set of books. But I asked that the Assistant Director in
the Office start keeping sort of a shadow budget so that we could begin to request control of this much money in this kind of category. We were generating our budget that on one fine day maybe we’d actually get control of.
Scarpino: Again, talking about goals when you took over, I read a document that I believe you provided to us on that subject of goals. The document was titled “Review and Assessment Document” and it’s dated April 7, 2000. Less than a year after you took over, and your name is at the head of the document, so I then concluded that you were the author.
Scarpino: The first thing that you did, you did what you called “Goals on Entry to the Position and Actions Taken to Achieve those Goals,” and number one was establish an identity with the Graduate Office.
Scarpino: Why was that important or necessary?
Queener: I wanted anybody that saw me walking across campus to think first and foremost there goes the Graduate Office at IUPUI, there goes the representative of Graduate Programs at IUPUI. I didn’t want Graduate Programs to be as invisible as they had been. I’m not a person that likes the stage necessarily, but it was important that there’d be a face for Graduate Education at IUPUI, and I felt I should be it.
Scarpino: One of the responsibilities of a leader is to be a symbol.
Queener: Yes, yes.
Scarpino: Okay. So, you set out then to establish an identity with yourself as the face of that identity.
Scarpino: You also, in terms of goals, set out to improve working relationship with the Graduate Office with the programs, schools and students. And again, why was that necessary or important?
Queener: What I would see in some of our interactions was that a student might get the runaround. They’d call about something that should be simple, but the person who would know that answer was either not there or busy at something else and they wouldn’t take the call. So, I established the fact that we would answer every question, and that meant we had to have some ability to jump in on people. They couldn’t say, “No; I won’t take that call.” They need to take the call. That was one of the things that we tried to do. In terms of faculty, I tried to make myself accessible. My staff had the instruction that if a faculty person called and needed to talk to me, that if I was in the office, they would track me down, and unless I was in a private meeting, then I would answer that. If I couldn’t answer it, then
get the number and I’d call back, and I would. I think accessibility was the first thing that had to be established.
Scarpino: Again, on the subject of improving working relations with the Graduate Office, I read through the documents you provided and ones that our prior research assistant pulled together for me last year, I noted that you took active roles with the Graduate Student Association…
Scarpino: … Organization and with the Fellowship Committee and served as a contact for faculty, bringing in proposals to the Graduate Affairs Committee. One of the things you said that you did, in the documents that I read, was to improve working relations was to take an active role with the Fellowship Committee. Could you explain, for the benefit of someone who will look at this thing, what the Fellowship Committee was and is?
Queener: Yes. The Graduate Affairs Committee is the IUPUI committee that oversees graduate programs on this campus.
Scarpino: And that’s a faculty committee.
Queener: That’s a faculty committee. When I first took over, it was a small committee and had mostly administrators, some faculty. I immediately expanded it so that we had representatives of any school who wanted to send a representative. Now, some didn’t, but everybody was included. That, again, was part of the idea of making sure people knew what was going on and had a contact. The Graduate Affairs Committee is sort of the overall committee, and then there are a couple subcommittees under it. One of which is the Fellowship Committee, Fellowship Subcommittee of the Graduate Affairs Committee. That group is responsible for administering the fellowship funds that come through the campus and distributing them appropriately amongst the programs and students. There are a lot of critical decisions to be made. There’s not enough money to go around – never has been, although it’s better now. The idea is that you’ve got to think about ways to leverage what you do have and to try to get more by the use of it, and also to think about programs that are really doing very well and you need to put funds in them because they’re going to build your reputation, and if you can build your reputation, then more funds will come in. That was basically why I thought the Fellowship Committee really, really needed attention.
Scarpino: One could conclude that the main job of the Fellowship Committee was to oversee the spending of the Fellowship budget.
Scarpino: In a little bit, we’re going to talk about how the Fellowship budget was spent, but for now, where did that money come from? What was the source of the funding for the Fellowship Committee’s budget?
Queener: I was never entirely sure before my tenure, but it came through campus resources after I took over.
Scarpino: Was the ultimate source of the money indirect cost on grants?
Queener: I believe it to be the case because the idea was that we, and we said this from early days – the first time I was on the Fellowship Committee was in the ‘80s – we said this money comes to the campus as indirect cost on the research grants…
Queener: … and therefore, it should go to support graduate programs that have research as a main component. And so that’s how we limited the distribution of the funds.
Scarpino: For the benefit of anyone who listens to this thing and doesn’t understand how the Academy works, in 50 words or less, can you explain what indirect costs are?
Queener: Well, my experience is with National Institutes of Health, but it’s true of many funding agencies. There’s the amount of money that would be designated in that award for the researcher, but there is also recognition that the campus that the researcher is on has a lot that they have to invest in that researcher to make sure that things happen.
Scarpino: Infrastructure, electricity, all of that stuff.
Queener: Exactly, exactly. They add to the amount that comes to the institution what’s called indirect costs, and that varies – it was around 50%. So, if I got $1 million, $500,000 came -- in addition, $500,000 came to the institution to support what I was doing, and so that’s basically what indirect is.
Scarpino: According to one of the documents that I read, the total Fellowship budget increased from about $1,252,000 in academic year 2000/2001 to $2,318,000 and change in academic year 2011/2012. I’m a human, it’s math, it’s not my strongpoint, but that’s an increase of about 85%.
Scarpino: Number one, did the increase in the Fellowship budget keep up with the growth of the graduate programs?
Queener: Well, that’s a really good question, Phil. By and large, it did, but there were areas that needed extra funding. Buried in my evaluation of how we were going to spend that $1.2 million that we originally had in the Fellowship budget, I set aside some funds to use to leverage. If a faculty person wrote a grant to support graduate students in whatever field and they needed a match from the campus, the record was people couldn’t find a match, so they didn’t write the grants. I said, “Well, we’ll be the match,” and we were, and we were getting leverage of seven or eight times for that money, which was very, very helpful. And that is one way we helped certain areas, but it was dependent upon the energy in the faculty of finding those possibilities and writing those proposals and then we would do the match. Did we support everybody that was deserving? Probably not, but we tried.
Scarpino: I mentioned the increase from academic year 2000/2001 to academic year 2011/2012 – now, that’s on your watch…
Scarpino: … and that’s an amazing increase, 85%. What role did you play in lobbying for an increase?
Queener: Well, I was constantly in people’s ear, but the real credit for it goes to the faculty who were developing these wonderful programs who were being -- their programs were being reviewed and given outstanding ratings. And I would, in those meetings that Bill Plater staffed, I would simply say, “Here’s what’s going on, you know, we brought this in and this is a success, we need more money to do XY and Z.” The pressure was always there because we were in the room when these budgets were discussed; we had to talk about it.
Scarpino: Was it the Chancellor and the Executive Vice Chancellor who decided how much money went into the Fellowship budget?
Scarpino: Being in that room allowed you to lobby even though you didn’t hold up a sign saying I’m lobbying.
Queener: Right, it was pretty obvious.
Scarpino: So, attending those meetings was a good idea on multiple levels.
Queener: Multiple levels, multiple levels. You got wind of the things coming along that would affect the Grad Programs, you were able to give people warning of things you were up to, and people got to know you and recognize you. And again, you were the Graduate Programs, the face of it, and it made a difference.
Scarpino: I mean, again, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been on the Fellowship Committee for a while…
Scarpino: … but I don’t know everything and the Fellowship budget, at least in your time, 2000 to 2011 or so, as I understand it was spent in three areas, at least three main areas – University Fellowships, Block Grants and RIF.
Scarpino: You were also supplementing the Fellowship budget between 2000 and 2012 by spending down accumulated reserves that your predecessor had accumulated.
Queener: That’s right. That’s right.
Scarpino: So thanks to the fiscal conservatism of your predecessor, you had money in drawers.
Queener: Well, that’s right; that’s right.
Scarpino: Can you briefly explain what those funding categories were? What are University Fellowships for somebody who doesn’t know?
Queener: University Fellowships go to the individual student. We would set aside a certain amount of money to fund a certain number of PhD students and a certain number of Masters’ students. And there would be a competition campus-wide – you in History send me your best student application and somebody in Science sends me their best – and the Fellowship Committee decides who amongst these people can we afford to support. Always more students that you can afford to support, but certainly you can support your top cream of the crop.
Scarpino: It’s a way to recruit really good students.
Queener: Really good students
Scarpino: And it’s refereed by the Fellowship Committee, which is a faculty committee.
Queener: That’s exactly right, and the whole campus is represented on that. And the emphasis is that it’s the student. And we had occasions where a student applied to more than one program and would get awarded a fellowship for biology and then shift to chemistry. Well, the student carries that fellowship with them and the biology program would always howl in anguish because they had a fellowship and now it walked over to chemistry, but that’s the way that one worked. (LAUGHING) Then there was the Block Grant, and the Block Grant was intended to be data-driven, people talked about the successes of their program, we had a format that had to be followed. You had to tell us about who you recruited, how they did, what kind of support they got, did they publish, blah, blah, blah, graduation rates, so forth and so on, and that mostly benefited the strong programs. We realized that that kind of system could starve out some new programs, so we carved out part of that and said, “alright, we’re going to support new programs who won’t have a track record.” A part of it was set aside for that, and it was to help give that boost to a new program that really wouldn’t necessarily have access to the kind of funding they needed to bring in a critical mass of graduate students. So, that was a Block Grant, and then the RIF…
Scarpino: Block Grant was again refereed by the Fellowship Committee...
Scarpino: … so it’s faculty refereed and it went to programs, not students…
Queener: Programs, not students.
Scarpino: … but it funds graduate education.
Queener: That’s exactly right.
Scarpino: You’re not supposed to buy coffee or rugs or anything like that with it.
Queener: That’s exactly right. It was graduate programs and for graduate students. Then the RIF – Research Investment Fund – and basically it was a tiny little percentage of indirect costs that got set aside I think maybe before 1998 or ’97, as something that would automatically come to the Fellowship Committee to spend as they please. Well, it never changed from $400,000 for the years I was there and I lobbied year in year out, “Come on guys, the Research funding has gone up like crazy and you’re just still giving us $400,000.” Couldn’t get that done.
Scarpino: But the fact that, on your watch, the Fellowship budget increased from $1,252,000 plus to $2,318,000 plus and all of that money goes to graduate education, that is significant in the history of graduate education on this campus.
Queener: Absolutely, and I was very pleased with that and I understood that the campus didn’t want to be locked into a percentage that, in theory, that money could come down if they kept control the way it was. But in fact, it did tend to increase and that was very, very good.
Scarpino: Again, we’re talking about goals and we were talking about the document that I cited a few minutes ago. Your third goal was to establish and expand personal knowledge, that’s your personal knowledge, of issues relating to graduate education.
Scarpino: How did you train the boss?
Queener: Well, I went to the New Deans Institute that was run by the Council of Graduate Schools, although I was an Associate Dean. My dean sponsored me, they accepted me, which meant that I got to talk to people from all around the country who were doing the same thing I was doing, stepping into a position and starting out. I went to the meeting, national meeting of the Council of Graduate Schools annual meeting every year. There were individual specific meetings about, well, especially in development of graduate certificates, there were national meetings on that topic, I signed up and went. And Mark Brenner endorsed any of these trips as education, and also to increase visibility of IUPUI at those meetings because it was just the IU Dean who had been there and some of the IU Associate Deans who’d been there in the past. Mark and I went to a lot of these to say, “Hi, IUPUI, that’s who we are.”
Scarpino: Increasing the visibility of IUPUI is, I mean, it’s partly reputation, but it’s also partly recruiting, that people know about you. . .
Queener: Yes, absolutely, absolutely.
Scarpino: Your fourth goal was assess how to increase visibility and strength of the Graduate Programs. I think you’ve talked some about that, but is there anything you want to add?
Queener: Well, another big issue was the fact that all the degrees on campus come from either IU or Purdue. That meant in any kind of reputational evaluation, IU at Bloomington or Purdue at West Lafayette, got credit for our degrees. We were invisible. The National Research Council was getting ready for its long-delayed evaluation of research doctorates, and Mark Brenner and I saw that this was cooking up, and so he and I…
Scarpino: That was in 2006.
Queener: Yes. And he and I went to Purdue and talked to the Acting Dean, John Contreni, and said, “We want to do something that we don’t think will hurt Purdue at all, but it will be very, very helpful for IUPUI; will you allow it? And that is, will you allow us to count the degrees, the PhD degrees in the School of Science on our campus and then you would double count them? It’s done in other places; we’ve checked with the NRC folks, they have no problem.” And John said, “I don’t see a problem with that.” Well, that was the first time we’d gotten credit for having any PhD degrees. We were invisible. We didn’t even have a line in those evaluations before; now we did, and we had some very high-ranking programs. It was very much to our advantage.
Scarpino: You had a goal of accessing the strengths and weaknesses of the staff in the Graduate Office, but I think we’ve talked about that so I’m going to let that one go. The same document, called “Review and Assessment Document” dated April 7, 2000, there you also list accomplishments, and you wrote that the plan for reorganizing how the Fellowship carryover money will be spent and was -- as a success…
Scarpino: … and why was having a plan for reorganizing how the Fellowship carryover money would be spent a success?
Queener: I wanted to leverage those funds in such a way that we didn’t have a burst of spending and then no follow up because that’s the worst thing that can happen to a graduate program. You support all your students year one, and then there’s nothing year two and three and four. I thought it was very important for the health of the programs that we would be helping that we had a sustained support. So, we couldn’t spend it all in the first year. There had to be some thought given to how to spread this out, so it helped the programs prepare for what we hoped was going to be a growth in campus spending, and it turned out that was true. By the time we used up all of that hidden money, the campus support pretty much picked up where we left off. We dropped off a couple of things that weren’t working all that well, but…
Scarpino: The fact that there was Fellowship carryover money meant that under the previous Associate Dean, the Fellowship Committee was not spending the money it had at its disposal.
Queener: It wasn’t, and I don’t mean to blame Sheila here…
Scarpino: No, I’m not asking you to do that, I’m just say that there’s – I’m going in a different – there’s a different philosophy at work here.
Queener: Yeah, yeah. And it was not easy to ferret out. I just ran into Simon Rhodes the other day and he said he had had the same experience in his budget. Suddenly there was $300,000 that he didn’t have before because it was just kind of hidden somewhere. It’s the accounting at the University is so arcane and so hard to track down that you can have money sort of sifting into the cracks until you really ask people to dig into it, and then they can sort it out for you. And that’s what happened with us. We just asked them to keep digging until they could explain what money was actually spendable for us and that’s the number they came up with.
Scarpino: Again, under that success category called, “developing a plan for spending the Fellowship carryover money,” one of the things that happened relatively early on in your watch was to increase the stipend for PhD candidates who were Fellowships from $11,000 a year to $18,000 a year.
Scarpino: Why did you feel the need to do that?
Queener: I did an analysis of…
Scarpino: And I’m guess that that -- I mean, you didn’t write the checks, but this was your idea.
Queener: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I did an analysis of our peer institutions and what their fellowship amounts were. And then I looked at the elites and then I looked at some others, and we didn’t even beat the others. We certainly didn’t compare to the elites and we were woefully below our peers. I looked for a number that was compatible with what we had available and would bring us to the top of our peer group. I didn’t want to go out of sight, but I did want to be something that, you know, that would not be the determining factor for a student, you’re about the same as some of the peers. And that was just -- it seemed to be sensible. And the Fellowship Committee did vote on that and they were pleased with it.
Scarpino: And I assume that, in addition to things like equity and so on, part of the reason for this was to make the IUPUI programs competitive for good students.
Queener: Exactly, exactly.
Scarpino: Did it work?
Queener: It did. It did. We started bringing in some of the top choices of programs. What we’d seen in the past is people would make offers to their top students and they’d go somewhere else. Well, you knew why – just not competitive. The program might be competitive, but the support wasn’t. So, now people started bringing in top students.
Scarpino: Another thing you did was to increase the number of fellowships for Masters’ candidates.
Scarpino: And why the interest in Masters’ candidates?
Queener: Well, I had come to understand the strength of the Masters’ programs on this campus. There were several that were producing theses that were winning awards various places – that came a little bit later – but I was reading these things as they would come through the office and they were really, really good and I thought that our clientele, the students that we draw from, a Masters’ degree can be exactly what they need and that here we had this quality faculty and the programs that can offer what these students needed, we ought to support more of them and see how they can grow.
Scarpino: And did the decision to increase the number of fellowships for Masters’ candidates – and I’ll point out just for the benefit of anybody who’s using this, the University Fellowships support first year students…
Queener: Right, right.
Scarpino: … in research-based programs.
Scarpino: Did that succeed in attracting more qualified applicants to the programs?
Queener: I believe it did, certainly the numbers went up.
Scarpino: Okay. Again, under successes, you stated that you succeeded in starting collaboration with the Medic-B program – and it’s Medic-B for anybody who’s trying to look this up, in Bloomington. What is Medic-B?
Queener: It was a diversity program and so it had many of the same goals as some programs that were here on this campus. They had trouble placing students in research labs. Well, I thought, we’ve got more that enough research capacity and, if we establish a connection, then that will drive a better connection between laboratories between the two campuses and so forth. And so, that’s what we did and it worked.
Scarpino: So, this was a medicine program or a science program?
Queener: A science program, yeah.
Scarpino: And again, you mentioned, under accomplishments, you brought the English as a Second Language Policy forward to the Graduate Affairs Committee, and you’ve already talked about what Graduate Affairs is, but why is that an accomplishment?
Queener: Again, I was studying the data as hard as I could trying to get a sense of what graduate education was like on campus, and I saw a number of international students dropped out in their first semester-- ever made it to their second semester. So, I talked to some faculty and they said, “Well, these people come in with terrible language skills.” Well, they took the GRE, but in that period of time, certainly in China, there were mechanisms to get around actually taking the GRE.
Scarpino: You didn’t have to actually have to take it yourself, that’s what you’re saying?
Scarpino: Yes. . .
Queener: A substitute could be hired. People would come in knowing little or no English. So, I really felt that was a disservice to the students. We also had occasions where the students then just disappear, which I thought could be a legal issue. I spoke to Bill Plater about this and I said, “What would you think about making a requirement that students be tested before they start their program? And if they don’t have language skills adequate to the task, we never really finish the admission process; we put them into a remedial or send them home.” And he was in support of it, and amazingly, we brought kind of a watered-down version of that to the Graduate Affairs Committee and people around the table said, “No, it’s got to be hard-nosed, it’s got to be 100%,” which I was grateful for. I thought I couldn’t push that, so I had come in with something a little softer. But they were happy to back having an absolute requirement that they come in, they’d take that exam, and if they don’t pass it, they have to go into an English language program or go home. If they have intermediate scores and skills, then we could put them in some remedial English classes, but that was an absolute requirement.
Scarpino: In 2000, when this report that I’m quoting from was written, IUPUI admitted many, many, many foreign students. I mean, there were some programs that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for foreign students…
Scarpino: … for whom English was not their first language.
Scarpino: Did that pattern of admission present challenges and/or opportunities for the new Associate Dean?
Queener: It did. There were programs, such as Physics and Mathematics, that were strongly against any English language requirement. They voted against it but were outvoted and the campus policy went forward. I kept arguing that they should present that as a strength of the program – we will test you and see that you get the language skills you need to succeed. They didn’t see it that way, and I had some very interesting arguments, especially with the Mathematics faculty, one of whom said, “Well, if you’re going to test for English, you should test for
mathematics skills too on entry.” And I thought about that and I said, “That’s a good idea; why don’t you take that project on.” I never saw the project.
Scarpino: You listed as an accomplishment working -- established working style with Graduate Office staff, and I think you’ve talked about that at some length. You also provided us with another document dated 2002, which looked to me like it was the text of PowerPoint slides, that you must have done a PowerPoint and then just printed out the text.
Queener: I did a lot of those, yeah.
Scarpino: It states your original goals for 1999, which we’ve talked about, and goes on to update your accomplishments through the end of 2001. And you listed five accomplishments, which I think are worth getting into the record because we can get them all in one place, and so I’m going to mention these and then we’re going to talk about some of them. The accomplishments you listed in this document dated 2002 were that you clarified accounting for Fellowship funds, and it turned out that that freed up $1.2 million, which that took a lot of clarifying, and we talked about that. . .
Scarpino: . . .Number two, you created a plan for reallocation of Fellowship carryover funds that we’ve also talked about. You refocused the Graduate Office on service that you have talked about, and you reorganized the Graduate Affairs Committee with Mark Brenner, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at IUPUI, who was in charge of that. And then the final was that you improved recruiting, especially in minority recruiting, and you put Robert Kasberg in charge of that. . .
Queener: Correct, correct.
Scarpino: I want to talk a little bit about the last two – reorganized Graduate Affairs Committee and working with Mark Brenner, who was Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at IUPUI, we talked about who he was already. What were you doing and how did you -- because you don’t run the Graduate Affairs Committee, you weren’t the boss, so how did you manage to get it reorganized?
Queener: Actually, Mark let me run it.
Scarpino: Oh, alright, okay. . .
Queener: He chaired it, but he pretty much let me handle the agenda and bring things forward. He was actually a generous boss. He had his hands full on the Research side and he was happy to let me do my thing with the Graduate Education side. The main thing that I saw that was a problem was that we did not have representation by the right people. We didn’t have a lot of the Graduate Program directors, we didn’t have a lot of the Admissions Officers, faculty Admissions people from various programs, and we didn’t have all schools represented. I thought it was very important that we get representation from every school that had an active Graduate Program. And so I invited the Deans to
nominate people and they could change from year-to-year if they chose, but it was basically to get everybody with some skin in the game. And having a vote, having the discussion so that they heard what the priorities were, having all these things happen in a more transparent way was actually my idea, and I think it worked by and large. People did attend that Committee, which is, when you think about it – you want to go spend an hour and a half talking about Graduate stuff, oh, golly, maybe not – but we had enough meaty topics that people did come and it was important that we had the discussion.
Scarpino: The fifth point that I wanted to touch on a little bit was improved recruiting, especially minority, and you put Robert Kasberg in your office in charge of that.
Scarpino: How did you go about improving the minority recruiting and do you think you were successful?
Queener: We had minimal success, but some. First of all, we identified it as a priority, which made the Program sort of perk up and listen. We had some funding that was available. We encouraged some faculty to write some rather big grants – T32s, T35s, I don’t remember what the exact titles are, but these are training grants through NIH and other places specifically for minority students. We helped those faculty get the information they needed to write a successful grant proposal. We worked with them on a proposal. We offered to sit on the Board of Directors with those different projects. So, overall, through the years, yes, I think we were successful, but not all through the Graduate Office. We supported a lot of what faculty did and we made it a priority, and I think that was helpful too.
Scarpino: We’ve talked about reallocating funds and Block Grants and things. (pause) When you talked about the refocusing of Graduate Affairs and you talked about your role and what Mark Brenner encouraged you to do and so on, one of the things that I saw, when I read about that, was the adoption of new procedures for program reviews…
Scarpino: … in the Fall of 1999. Now, in the Fall of 1999, you’re the boss; I mean, you’re the Associate Dean, so I assume that you’re talking about the Program of External Reviews of Programs on the campus where outside reviewers come in and they’re joined by some IUPUI faculty and administrators and then they undergo a formal review every five years or so.
Scarpino: What were these new procedures and why were they needed?
Queener: Well, this is all kind of hard to explain because there were many different things going on at the same time. Program Evaluation was Trudy Banta’s bailiwick.
Scarpino: She was Vice Chancellor?
Queener: Vice Chancellor, right, for Institutional Planning and so forth. She ran really wonderful evaluation programs for undergraduate degrees, and it pushed -- it pushed having the same principles so that she had something to measure against, and just all kinds of things embedded in it, and she was internationally known for that work. Well, we didn’t have anything for the Graduate side. The School…
Scarpino: So up until the fall of 1999, Graduate Programs were not included in those reviews?
Queener: They were supposed to be reviewed by the Graduate School, but it hadn’t happened in forever.
Scarpino: Okay, okay.
Queener: There was one program review of the Department of Pathology in 1987 and I chaired that, and that was brought about because there were some administrative issues. So, that was kind of what happened; if your administrator got in real trouble, then there was a review, but routine reviews didn’t happen. Over the years, and it didn’t all happen in ’99, over the years, we talked about ways to evaluate degrees; existing degrees. I helped, along with Bill Bosron and some other folks, I helped Trudy Banta get a set of Principles of Graduate Education so you had something to measure against, and that became a routine part of the evaluation of Graduate Programs. Now, that, I don’t remember the exact date when that started being used.
Scarpino: And we still use them -- the Principles of Graduate Education.
Queener: We do, yeah, we do, and it was just a set of general things, so you had a framework to try to look at the success or health of a program. At the same time, we were developing ways to evaluate a proposal for a Graduate degree. It was very much ad hoc in 1999, and through the years, these things went through committees and people judged according to their own experiences and there really wasn’t a strong sense of how it was done. Well, in 2006, when the new Dean, John Slattery, came in to the Graduate School, he had a vision for a very rigorous evaluation of a new program proposal, and it included external reviewers from a peer or aspirational peer institution, a different campus of IU, and then several from the campus itself, and this would be a written review. It seemed to me to make all kinds of sense. So, I immediately embraced it. Interestingly enough, Bloomington refused. The home campus did not institute the Dean’s proposal, but we did. And based upon the fact that we were doing this state-of-the-art kind of review for new proposals, Dean Slattery allowed us to have better control of program development because we were giving a state-of-the-art review right up front. So, the Graduate Affairs Committee was empowered to act for the Graduate School and then that streamlined the process.
Scarpino: The new procedures for program reviews really -- one was reviews of existing programs, and the other was reviews of proposed programs.
Queener: Correct, correct.
Scarpino: Okay. Vice Chancellor Trudy Banta, who was in charge of the program reviews of the existing programs, asked you to sit in on departmental and program reviews involving graduate programs. I remember you sitting in on those.
Queener: That’s right.
Scarpino: And you agreed to participate.
Scarpino: Now, for the benefit of anybody who doesn’t know, this is a lot of work.
Queener: It is a lot of work.
Scarpino: It’s a multi-day, reading hundreds of pages of documents, writing reports. I mean, it’s not something you just do in 20 minutes. Why did you decide to do that?
Queener: I decided to do that because I thought that, again, looking to the future of what we wanted at IUPUI – we wanted strong graduate programs with strong reputations; well, how do you build that? Well, first of all, you have strong proposals to set them up and the right resources. But secondly, you evaluate, evaluate, evaluate so that you can document your successes. And I happened to think the evaluation that Trudy Banta did was outstanding. She would get good people on the committees, they would dig into things, it was really quiet, as you say, quite an effort. I heard reviews of Masters’ programs where somebody from the University of Massachusetts said this is the best public history program in the country in his opinion. I heard people raving about the museum studies Masters’ degree – it should be a PhD. I mean, you heard these things from strong people. You also got good reviews of the Purdue programs, which turned out to be exceedingly important later on. So, I saw this as just buttressing our claim – we created good degrees, we’re administering good degrees, this campus is a strong research campus, and strong in graduate education. I thought you’d better have some evidence if you’re going to say that.
Scarpino: You headed the Graduate School from 1999 to 2014. Why do you think -- how would you assess the strength of graduate education in 2014 as opposed to 1999 on campus?
Queener: Well, I don’t think there’s much comparison, I think especially at IUPUI. I mean, look at the kinds of degrees that were developed – the PhD in Philanthropy, the PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences, PhD in Economics. Look as the Masters’ degrees and the proliferation of those things. The strength of the Purdue programs, the PhDs, the fact that they’re now site-approved for Indianapolis. These are huge developments; huge developments. The number of graduate students on campus has grown, but the thing that I’m proudest of for my colleagues is that they said they could do it and they went out and did it. I’m proud of them. That’s wonderful.
Scarpino: So, a lot of this was faculty driven.
Queener: Oh, absolutely. I was a, I was just kind of a helper along the way. It came from the faculty.
Scarpino: Hmm, I’m not buying that. (LAUGHING) That sounded a little more flip than I wanted it to, but I think you played more of a role than a helper along the way. Again, the same document that we’ve been talking about – under accomplishments of Graduate Affairs Committee between August 1, 1999 and June 12, 2001, you listed seven MA or MS degrees approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee which included Informatics, Physical Educations, Spanish, Museum Studies, Professional and Technical Editing, Geographic Information Science and Applied Communication. There were two PhD Tracks in Oral Biology and Dental Materials in Dental Science. There were a number of graduate certificates; two Masters’ level dual degrees, several graduate certificates, and a Professional degree, Doctor of Physical Therapy. Again, that’s between the time you started in August of 1999 and the middle of 2001. We’ve already established that one of your goals as Graduate Dean was to increase the number of Graduate programs.
Scarpino: But I noticed that in that time period there were no new PhD programs.
Queener: No, it takes a while.
Scarpino: Oh, and is that what was going on? Were they in the pipeline?
Queener: They were in the pipeline. One of the earliest things that happened after I came into the job was that somebody from Philanthropic Studies, it was probably Dwight Burlingame, called me and said, “We’re putting together a committee to look at the feasibility of a PhD degree in Philanthropic Studies; would you be on it?” I jumped at the chance. The Committee included most, as I remember, most of the faculty in Philanthropic Studies, and it also had Angela McBride, who was Dean of the School of Nursing – I think a past Dean; I can’t remember when she, I believe she went out in…
Scarpino: We’re looking at each other because she’s on our list.
Queener: Oh, you have to find her. She’s a marvelous person, marvelous. We were instant allies on that Committee because the background of the people in Philanthropic Studies was practice based. They were fundraisers and Philanthropic Studies meant fundraising. Well, you’re not going to get a PhD in fundraising. We talked about what practice-based education is all about and it’s perfectly noble, but it’s something different than research-based PhD education. And, as I would fight this battle, Angela would speak up and so it was two of us saying the same thing over and over and over and over until finally people began to get it, what the research had to be. And they came up with the concept of, well, if we had a PhD in Philanthropic Studies, it could look at the liberal arts basis for philanthropy, and that would be a unique way to go. And then they had this wonderful set of resources that would just support that. So, that’s how -- in those long conversations, that’s how they came up with the idea of what a PhD could look like in Philanthropic Studies.
Scarpino: And you and Angela McBride helped to mold that?
Queener: Right, because we were the only two in the room with a PhD, I think; I think that’s right.
Scarpino: Dwight Burlingame…
Queener: Does he?
Scarpino: … has a PhD in History, yeah.
Queener: Okay. Well, he came across as being more practice-based. (LAUGHS)
Scarpino: Are you listening, Dwight? I could see where you would come to that conclusion, yes.
Queener: Yeah, yeah, but there was agreement around the table and that was the important thing, that these discussions were really -- they were not contentious, they were simply deep and probing and thoughtful, and I think they ended up putting them in a good position to write a good proposal, and it did get approved.
Scarpino: One last reference to this 2002 PowerPoint that I had a chance to look at the text of, and you listed several accomplishments of the Graduate Office. I’m going to say what they are, and we’re not going to talk about all of them - but developed a procedures manual for graduate advisors and a yearly meeting of advisors, you had new student orientation for all programs and in charge of that was Joelle Andrew and Robert Kasberg, a hooding ceremony for IU and Purdue graduates at the May graduation, Graduate Program open house starting in April 2001, minority visitation, again Robert Kasberg, and improved support of program developing and tracking, Monica Ridge. We’ve already talked about a lot of these things, but my question is, if we take all of those things and lump them together, what did you expect at these activities that were begun on your watch -- how did you expect them to impact Graduate Programs?
Queener: I expected them to let people see how valued their students and their programs were. For example, that hooding ceremony.
Scarpino: That’s the one I was going to ask you about, so let’s go with that. (LAUGHING)
Queener: I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I never got it approved by anybody. We just threw a party, and we thought well, while we’re at it, wear your regalia and we’ll hood you. And I would stand up at the podium and I would read the name of the student, the name of the advisor, and the title of the thesis or dissertation, and it was literally a big party. We had food and celebrated the accomplishments of the students, and for many of them, they didn’t even go to the main graduation. The hooding ceremony became the celebration because we could be a little less formal and rigid and there weren’t 30,000 people milling around, and I think it did help a lot of programs feel good about what they did.
Scarpino: And that was the point of it, right, to…
Queener: That was the point. . .
Scarpino: … reinforce and, and highlight. And so, for anyone who is not an academic and doesn’t know, what is a hooding ceremony?
Queener: Oh, there is, in the academic regalia, there’s a velvet hood that streams down the back of the black gowns that people wear, and the hood is separate from the gown itself. Each hood has unique colors representing the degree in the school. We would ask the faculty to bring the hood and place it on the shoulders of the student who would be getting the degree, and that was just a little ceremonial touch while I was reading about the thesis or dissertation.
Scarpino: While mom and dad and all those people are in the audience. . .
Queener: They are – and grandmothers and kids and it was really a great celebration.
Scarpino: It was a lot of fun.
Queener: Yeah, it was.
Scarpino: Purdue graduate degrees that you brought up, especially the PhDs offered on the IUPUI campus, presented some challenges to you as Associate Dean, some of which you’ve already articulated. And in fact, you have talked about those challenges, so I’m simply raising the issue here and reminding people that you’ve done that. By the time you became Associate Dean, on August 1, 1999, students were regularly earning Purdue PhDs at IUPUI with the approval of Purdue faculty.
Scarpino: And then two issues reared their heads that highlighted some of the problems associated with that. And one was the 2006 NRC, National Research Council, Survey of Research Doctorates that declared that IUPUI could only count the graduates of one PhD program as its own graduates, and that was the PhD in Counseling Rehabilitation Psychology that was site-approved for IUPUI.
Scarpino: All the other PhDs that were being offered on campus either had to be counted as Purdue-West Lafayette or IU-Bloomington.
Scarpino: So, number two was – the President of Purdue, a man named France…
Queener: A lady.
Scarpino: … sorry, trying to read this through…
Queener: Yes, France.
Scarpino: … France, through my bifocals, A. Cordova, at the behest apparently of the Purdue Graduate School Dean, Mark Smith, declared that Purdue PhD degrees could only be offered on the Purdue campus. Just start with the housekeeping thing so that people understand what’s going on. For the benefit of anyone who uses this interview in the future, what is the National Research Council and why would it be surveying research doctorates in 2006?
Queener: That was part of that regular review that I mentioned earlier. The National Research Council, every so often, would evaluate PhD programs, research PhD programs around the country, and they had certain criteria. But unless you offered the degree on your campus and your name was on the diploma, you were not seen as having the degree. So, that’s when Mark Brenner and I went to talk to John Contreni and got permission to count those folks, and the NRC also gave us permission. They said there are other places that do this, so that you can actually show the research that’s going on in your campus. That’s what it…
Scarpino: But, when that report came out, that must have been a little bit like somebody dumping a bucket of ice on your administrative head.
Queener: No, actually, we were in there.
Scarpino: Okay, you knew what was happening.
Queener: We were, we were in it…
Scarpino: Okay, alright.
Queener: … because of what we did. The IUPUI degrees appeared and so we got credit for the first time. I was very pleased with that.
Scarpino: So, in other words, it had a beneficial outcome.
Queener: Absolutely it did, yeah, and in terms of the Mark Smith/France Cordova, I pointed out to Mark Smith that we already had a site-approved PhD from Purdue on campus and so there couldn’t be a limitation of all PhDs to the West Lafayette campus. He said, “Well, I don’t care.” (LAUGHS) I tried to get other conversations going, coming up with a compromise. I tried everything I could think of. He finally got to the point that he wouldn’t meet with me. I sneaked up on him at a Council of Graduate School meeting, national meeting, and I ran into him on purpose three or four times and talked nothing but just social stuff. And then on the fourth or fifth time, whichever it was, I caught him in a place that I could corner him and I said, “You know, we’ve got to talk about what we’re going to do with those PhD degrees at IUPUI.” He said, “There’s nothing to talk about.” I said, “Well, Mark, you’ve got however many PhD students that are Purdue students on our campus; what are you going to do, are you going to throw those people away?” He said, “Well, they can come to West Lafayette.” I said, “Well, they won’t, they can’t.” “Well, I just wish the whole thing would blow away,” at which point I realized, okay, this is going up to a paygrade above mine; this is not working. And that’s when we really started the campus-level negotiations and Simon Rhodes, Dean of the School of Science and campus administration
pushed it through and it’s now appropriate. BIt was really, it was just a blank wall; couldn’t get anything done.
Scarpino: Let me see if I can pull this together and it’s either going to work or it’s going to sound terrible – one of two things is going to happen. (PAUSE) I read a document that you provided with us, it’s dated November 2012, and it’s titled “PhD Degrees at IUPUI: Development, Approval, Assessment,” which is a pretty descriptive title, and it also appears to be originally presented as PowerPoint and that’s the way I read it. The document notes that by November 2012, there were 21 PhD degrees site-approved for IUPUI. So, that’s up from one in 2006. Most of those are in Science, Medicine and Nursing, but there were also site-approved PhDs in Economics, Philanthropic Studies, Social Work and Urban Education Studies. And I want to add that there were, still in 2012, 10 PhDs started at IUPUI counted at Purdue at West Lafayette and eight in various areas of Education that were still counted at Bloomington.
Scarpino: Alright, so it appears to me then that between 2007 and 2012 there were eight new PhDs approved for IUPUI, and then if I counted and read everything correctly, these were Health and Rehabilitation Science, Biostatistics, Economics, Epidemiology, Health Policy and Management, Applied Earth Science, Urban Education, and Doctor of Nursing Practice. Now, these eight new PhDs are listed among the twenty-one site-approved degrees…
Scarpino: … for IUPUI between 2006 and 2012. Here’s the question – what is the relationship between new PhDs and site-approved PhDs?
Queener: All the new PhD programs we wanted to have site-approved at IUPUI, which meant we’d get to count -- take the credit for them. They’re not counted at Bloomington; they’re not counted at West Lafayette; they’re counted here. So, site-approved is something that happens through the Indiana Commission of Higher Education and that gives us control over the degree.
Scarpino: And that happens with a new proposal.
Queener: Right, or it can convert old degrees.
Scarpino: But the number of site-approved degrees was larger than the number of new programs, so…
Queener: Yes, yes.
Scarpino: … what I’m asking for is how did that happen?
Queener: That’s because some existing degrees get site-approved.
Scarpino: Okay, and was the fact that some existing degrees were site-approved, was that a result of your initiative?
Queener: Not mine alone. The faculty, administration, we were all pushing to get control of the degrees where the students did their work here.
Scarpino: One of the successes then, on your watch, was, in fact, control of those degrees.
Queener: Right, right. That was what we were pushing for.
Scarpino: And the new doctoral degrees would also be site-approved…
Scarpino: … as part of the approval process.
Queener: Correct, right.
Scarpino: How would you assess the overall success of establishing PhD programs at IUPUI during your entire tenure with the Graduate Office?
Queener: I failed with the Purdue programs; I didn’t get that done. So, that’s one area that I left a big stack for my successor, but I feel good about… (LAUGHS)
Scarpino: Which is Janice Blum.
Queener: … Janice Blum, yeah, right. I feel good about what’s coming up through the new process, or what was coming up through the new process. I thoughtwe had – I mentioned the Philanthropic Studies Committee that looked at feasibility. There was another committee similar to that in Health and Rehab Sciences and I sat on that one, too, where again they talked about what is it we do, how would it relate to research from Graduate Education, and what kind of degree should we be thinking about? Should it be practice-based, should it be research-based, what should we do? And they had a special situation in that they had some very practice-based degrees, like Doctor of Physical Therapy, that’s sort of driven by the national norms, but a PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Science, that’s something they’re creating a whole (INAUDIBLE). They put a lot of effort into thinking what it was going to be and then, once they decided it was feasible, they created a whole new committee that wrote the thing. People were putting a lot of thought and effort into these programs and I have to applaud them. And what I would try to do is get wind of when these things were going on, early stages, and try to help in creating a proposal that would be successful. I did the same thing with the Urban Education and there we ran into problems…
Scarpino: Which is an IU degree, not Purdue.
Queener: … which is an IU degree, and I ran into problems there. I had asked the Associate Dean for Education on this campus if I could help her with the proposal. So, she had sent me an early draft and I was red-lining it, red-penning
it, talking about some things that needed shoring up, talking about getting better evaluation, you know, just things that I knew were important for the review. Well, then I got a very hot phone call from the Dean in Bloomington who said, “I’m coming to see you.” I thought, “oh,” and he did. He came into my office, stormy as all get out, slammed the door, sat down and said, “How dare you interfere with the degree process in my school?” And I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know that I have.” And we talked about what I did and he said, “Well, you’ve approved it.” I said, “No, I haven’t approved it. I have marked it,” and I showed him my marked copy, and he over an hour or so, got a little quieter and he began to look at the marks that I had made and he said, “Well, actually, I agree with that.” I said, “Yeah, I mean, I’m trying to help improve the proposal for your school. I have not approved it. This is early stages, an informal assistance to your faculty,” and so he walked out a happier man than he came in, but that’s the kind of misunderstanding that went on all the time. Well, that proposal did okay.
Scarpino: But that was part of your job, wasn’t it. . .
Queener: But that was part of my job.
Scarpino: The School of Education was a little bit like the Graduate School in the sense that it was based on both campuses and the Dean of Education was in Bloomington and the Associate Dean was up here. . .
Queener: That’s exactly right, that’s exactly right. That’s now changed, but that was the case.
Scarpino: That was the case then.
Scarpino: I have a letter, and I don’t remember if I got it from you or if we got in our research, but it’s dated September 19, 2005, and it’s from Kenneth R. R. Gros Louis, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Bloomington Chancellor, to you. And in that letter Chancellor Gros Louis thanked you for agreeing to serve with Eugene Kintgen as Interim Co-Dean of the University Graduate School and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. And the letter that I’m quoting from him said, “you will manage issues related to this position for the Indianapolis campus, with Dr. Kintgen managing analogous issues for the Bloomington campus.”
Scarpino: What was the significance of those dual appointments, both Kintgen for Bloomington and you up here?
Queener: I thought it was absolutely crucial that, in the interregnum between a couple of deans that we didn’t have an Associate Dean who knew, in Bloomington, who knew little about our campus, just running things. I called Gene Kintgen and I’ve mentioned that he was very cooperative and helpful, and I said, “Gene, do you really want to manage IUPUI?” He said, “No, I don’t.” I said, “Well, how about we take on a title that every pharmacologist loves, we’ll be Co-Deans?”
(LAUGHS) He said, “Sounds good to me.” I told Mark Brenner. Mark supported it. The prior Dean supported it. So, that’s what happened.
Scarpino: Did that bring about any significant change in your level of authority?
Queener: Well, we were very careful, Gene and I both. We tried not to overstep. We tried to keep the wheels turning, the trains running on schedule, but we tried not to do anything too outlandish. Now, we still approved programs, we still graduated students, we did all the basic things, but no, I didn’t see it as anything but a way to keep us on equal footing with Bloomington, and I thought that was extremely important.
Scarpino: And that was a constant battle.
Queener: Yes. (LAUGHS)
Scarpino: In 2006, you were appointed Dean of the Graduate School at Indiana University. . .
Queener: A Co-Dean.
Scarpino: Was it still Co-Dean in 2006?
Queener: Oh, yeah.
Scarpino: Okay, alright. In 2012, the Dean of the IU Graduate School, a man named James Wimbush – is that how you pronounce it…?
Scarpino: … who had come into office in 2006, so he’d been around a while, announced that the IUPUI Graduate Office would report directly to him as head of the IU Graduate School.
Scarpino: And the result then was to remove any formal connection between the Graduate Office that you headed in the IUPUI campus that he was supposed to be serving.
Scarpino: Based upon the documents that I read, you were not happy with this.
Scarpino: Why do you think that Dean Wimbush effected this realignment?
Queener: I think he was under pressure from the President.
Scarpino: . . .Of the University.
Queener: Of the University. I think the President’s vision was that everything would run through offices at Bloomington and the Graduate School would run everything associated with the Graduate School, which included us. What I was really most unhappy about was that there wasn’t a prior discussion of it because there were issues that needed to be addressed that weren’t addressed beforehand. I think I told a story in the little memo that I wrote or the little document that I wrote – the minute I heard, and James Wimbush told me directly, I blurted out to him, “Well, how are you going to spend a Bloomington budget on Purdue students because we handle Purdue students here?” And his eyes got big and he said, “I don’t know.” And so we tracked down Charles Bantz, the Chancellor at the time, in a tornado shelter over at the Ronald McDonald House, and we talked through that issue, and they agreed that we had to continue doing what we were doing. But it really, it didn’t sit right that there hadn’t been a discussion of this sort of thing beforehand.
Scarpino: And the President of IU at the time was?
Queener: Michael McRobbie.
Scarpino: Alright. (LAUGHS) Why do you think that President McRobbie felt the need to do that?
Queener: I can’t speak for him, but my impression of him is he wants to control everything.
Scarpino: Well, that’s where I was going. Do you think that this was an issue of budget or control or both?
Scarpino: Yes, because that would have, once again, mixed your budget in with someone else’s.
Queener: Which it did.
Queener: Yeah, that’s right, which it did.
Scarpino: Dean Wimbush then followed that by calling a meeting of all IU Graduate staff -- Graduate School staff -- to take place in Indianapolis, at which he announced the complete reorganization of the Graduate School, and what is it that he was proposing?
Queener: He decided that it should be immaterial which campus you sat on, that you should have responsibilities for both campuses, which, on the surface of it, sounds okay. And I think could have worked, actually, with some forethought and some thinking about how it might…
Scarpino: So, are you saying that this wasn’t carefully thought through?
Queener: I don’t think it was.
Queener: . . .I don’t think it was. It was, it was sort of sprung on all the Associate Deans. I mean, I asked if any of the others had heard about it ahead of time; I hadn’t. They claimed not to have heard either, and I believe them. The staff clearly hadn’t heard about it. There was a lot of tension in the room from the staff; a lot of the Associate Deans were looking around and thinking uh-oh, what’s this mean? And in my own case, I was put in charge of basically Admissions, which is just a routine staff operation. I mean, the faculty say who is going to be admitted and then a clerical person makes it happen. They don’t need my input to get this done. I didn’t feel like I had any role at all in running the Graduate School. I thought all the meaty parts of the portfolio fell to David Daleke and that he had essentially been named as Senior Associate Dean, and I challenged him about that, and he claimed he didn’t think that was the intent. He looked uneasy and unhappy. (LAUGHS) So, I don’t disbelieve him, it was something that might have worked with good preparation, but it just didn’t. It meant that I had staff in the Graduate Office who couldn’t walk right into my office and ask a question. They had to try to track down David Daleke in Bloomington to get an answer.
Scarpino: And, just to remind people, David Daleke’s position was?
Queener: He’s Associate Dean of the Graduate School, essentially equivalent to the position I held.
Scarpino: In the middle of 2013 then, you offered your resignation…
Queener: I did.
Scarpino: … saying that you couldn’t function in a model that wouldn’t allow you to manage the staff at the IUPUI Graduate Office, but that was not the end of the story.
Queener: No, I thought it would be. (KAUGHS)
Scarpino: . . .Dean Wimbush -- it certainly was not the end of Dean Wimbush’s efforts to reorganize the Graduate School, and we’re going to talk about that in a minute, but why did you feel that this was time to leave?
Queener: Well, I have a sense that if you’re not accomplishing important work, you don’t want to hold a title, and I couldn’t accomplish important work. So, I was ready to give up the title.
Scarpino: So, he asked you to take back your letter of resignation…
Scarpino: … and offered a compromise, and the compromise ended up being a review of the Graduate Office…
Scarpino: … at IUPUI…
Scarpino: … and it would look into issues that you thought were important and so on and so forth, and you said okay, and he contacts Vice Chancellor, Trudy Banta, to set up a fast-track review because these things don’t usually happen overnight.
Queener: That’s right.
Scarpino: And I already mentioned, I think, that the review took place in early 2014. So, you were a part of the review process, in the sense that you were being reviewed.
Queener: Well, that’s actually true.
Scarpino: What recommendations were you making, is what I…?
Queener: Well, I put together all of the review documents because I couldn’t pull staff off routine work. We were understaffed as it was. I wrote the whole thing and they supplied me the data. Yes, I was being reviewed…
Scarpino: Along with the Office and everything else, but I mean...
Queener: … along with the Office, right, and the recommendations I made were that you have to have some independence of this Office and it has to have some administrative connection to the campus it serves. We have to have analogous processes, certainly the rules that we follow have to be the same as Bloomington or any other campus for the Graduate Education at IU, but we can have details that are different in terms of how we accomplish the goals. We have to control our own budget. We cannot operate where a clerk that doesn’t know what we do says, no, you can’t have recruiting materials because nobody at Bloomington recruits. We recruited all the time. So, that was the point I made. And interestingly, there were some people on that review committee that had been on a review committee years before for Mark Brenner that had come up with the recommendation that we’d get control of our budget back then. (LAUGHS) It was like we’re recycling and saying the same things. They’ve got to be in control of their own budget.
Scarpino: So, did the Committee in its conclusions agree with you?
Queener: Absolutely, down the line.
Scarpino: In effect, as a result of the review, you got what you wanted?
Scarpino: So, you still decided to leave, effective July 1, 2014, you retired.
Queener: That’s correct, that’s correct.
Scarpino: But you also retired from the University, not just that position.
Queener: I did, that’s right, and there were external circumstances. My first grandchild was born August 31st of that same year. I was on my way out, but I thought if I could accomplish the renovation of the structure so that it was operational, that that I could count as a concrete accomplishment.
Scarpino: Would it be safe to say then that the Dean of the IU Graduate School, and I assume the Administration at IUPUI, accepted the recommendations of this review committee?
Queener: Absolutely. Yeah, and I should say that Dean Wimbush and I didn’t squabble; we didn’t fight it. I simply stated my understanding of what I wanted out of a job and this ain’t it, and he was very complimentary, and he came back with the proposal for the review, and he supported the review all the way. So, I have no ill feelings. I really don’t bear ill feelings against people.
Scarpino: If we just step back from the details of what we just talked about and I ask you to look at Dean Wimbush’s actions in the larger context of relations between IUPUI and Bloomington in the years that you were Associate Dean, how would you fit that in?
Queener: I think he was trying very hard to maintain good relations with the President. He’d been called on by the President to serve on various committees, he was actually, later in my tenure, called on to be -- to hold two full-time jobs really, the Diversity Vice President down at Bloomington as well, which means he has less time for the Graduate School. I think that -- I think that there was an attempt to have a single office and it just didn’t work because people didn’t understand how unique IUPUI is, that every other student that walks through our door is a Purdue student, that we have new degrees, not established degrees. I mean, there are all kinds of differences that you just have to understand, and you can’t operate in that environment exactly the same way you operate at Bloomington where you have established degrees and a whole different environment.
Scarpino: So, success as an administrator is correlated with understanding the context in which you’re functioning.
Queener: Absolutely, I think so.
Scarpino: . . .And one could conclude then that this situation that unfolded with Dean Wimbush would -- might indicate that perhaps the administration at Bloomington didn’t understand the context up here.
Queener: Exactly, exactly.
Scarpino: We’re going to transition to wrapping this up, but before we do that, is there anything that you want to add about your tenure with the Graduate School that we haven’t asked you about or that I just didn’t know enough to bring up or that you’d like to say?
Queener: Well, no, except that looking back at it, that job met all the expectations I had and then some. I met lovely people who were trying their best to produce something
wonderful on this campus, and by and large, they were succeeding. It was just a wonderful experience and broadening for me, and I think I was privileged.
Scarpino: Broadening in what way?
Queener: Well, in science, you argue with data and data only.
Scarpino: (LAUGHING) That’s a pretty grim view.
Queener: But in this area, for example, when we were developing the MFA in Herron…
Scarpino: Master of Fine Arts?
Queener: Master of Fine Arts, there was a very strong negative reaction in Bloomington, and part of the success of getting that through was going down and talking to faculty and administrators and letting them take all their shots and letting them see that you are not going to get upset. You were going to listen to the content, that you were going to make sure that their concerns were heard, you were going to bring information to bear on this that would allay their fears. It’s a persuasive element that’s not necessarily in most science, now in some, but not necessarily in my area, and I rather enjoyed making people understand, you know, that we weren’t the demons, that we weren’t stealing their money, that we were all trying to do the same sorts of things. And I got to know and like people that I dealt with in Bloomington.
Scarpino: But you were also pretty good at managing the opposition. (LAUGHING) I’m not going to turn this off, but I have some issues seeing colors and this isn’t yellow anymore, where do you start? I can’t see this.
Mahon: The next page; it’ll be on the next page, after the…
Scarpino: Alright, okay.
Scarpino: Alright, okay, so, sorry about that.
Mahon: That’s okay.
Scarpino: . . .Alright, we’re going to move to wrap this up. We’re going to ask you some summary questions, and in 2006, Craig Brater wrote a letter of recommendation for you to be appointed Dean of the Graduate School at IU, right, at Indiana University?
Queener: . . .The Co-Dean, yeah.
Scarpino: Yeah, Co-Dean, sorry. He said Dean in his letter. Alright, so in that letter, he said something that I’m going to read to you and then I want to follow up on it. He said, talking about you, he said, “Every area under her charge is better for her having been there.”
Queener: Good old Dean.
Scarpino: So, just as a point of clarification, who is Craig Brater?
Queener: He was Dean of the School of Medicine. He was actually a pharmacologist, as well as a physician. So, we knew him in the Department as well as Dean. He had an open-door policy. He’s the only Dean of the School of Medicine that I could just walk into his office, tell his secretary I needed to see him, and the door would open. Craig wanted to be in touch. If you had some information that you thought he needed to hear, you could get in to tell him. He was very open. He answered emails.
Scarpino: Just a few transitional follow-ups – when you look at the time that you spent building and contributing to the Graduate Office at IUPUI, what are you proudest of?
Queener: I’m proudest of the people. When I retired, bless their hearts, they went over and above. They had no business taking their time to do all this stuff, but after hours they did it. They made me a book that had photos of the celebration and comments from all kinds of people. It was just, it was very professional. They did a video that just blew away the competition. (LAUGHING) It was wonderful. They made little ribbons that said – and they’re all bedazzled, you know – and they said WWDDD -What Would Doctor Queener Do. And I liked that because they got what I was after, which was, “figure out the principle behind it, then you know what she’s going to tell you, and do it.” They got that. Again, not everybody, but most of them, and I’m proud of them. They’re still going great guns up there. I’m proud of them.
Scarpino: When you look back at the time you spent in the School of Medicine, first as a full-time faculty member and later as a less than full-time researcher, but still…
Queener: Right, still kept the lab.
Scarpino: … what are you most proud of in terms of your contributions to the School of Medicine?
Queener: Well, that’s interesting. Contributions to the School of Medicine…
Scarpino: Or I can rephrase it and say contributions in the School of Medicine.
Queener: Oh, okay. I’m very proud of the work we did on drug development for opportunistic infections…
Scarpino: Related to HIV-AIDS.
Queener: … related to HIV-AIDS, right. In 1988 is when we published the seminal paper about clindamycin and primaquine being active against Pneumocystis pneumonia, which is, was, the leading cause of death in AIDS at that time. We continued work in that area. I continued to be funded by NIH. And the last major paper that I published looked at clinical isolates of the organism from around the world and identified mutations in a drug target and demonstrated that drug resistance was developing. That’s a clinically important thing to know. So, I’m very pleased with that. . .
Scarpino: And that’s drug resistance on the part of the HIV-AIDS virus?
Queener: No, it’s resistance in Pneumocystis…
Scarpino: Okay, alright, okay, alright.
Queener: … which is a pathogen that’s in there, right. So, those are scientific accomplishments that I’m proud of. But I’m also proud of the nursing textbook that went in six editions and I did a lot of – I don’t know what to call it; how can I put this delicately – I dealt with problems for Gerry Bepko, for the Dean in the School of Medicine. (LAUGHTER)
Scarpino: You weren’t their hit person, I mean, you were dealing with thorny administrative problems? (LAUGHTER)
Queener: . . .Exactly.
Queener: I think I mentioned the Pathology review and that all came about because of the Chairman who was doing some inappropriate things and they needed somebody to look at it and make some hard decisions, and I chaired the committee that did that. When I was President of the Faculty in the School of Medicine, dealt with a very thorny promotion issue where the Chairman had just sort of taken aim to try to knock down a promotion that should have been given and we got it through appropriately. And then Gerry Bepko called me to sit on the Review Committee for the Dean of the School of Nursing, back in 1990 or ’91, and that was a year-long undertaking where you just had to be so careful and so thoughtful and take the appropriate action to protect the faculty. I did some of those things sort of under the radar that I think made a difference. It certainly made a difference for faculty environment and their working environment. I’m pleased that I was called upon and had the opportunity to do those things too.
Scarpino: So, improving the work environment of faculty was something that you valued?
Queener: Exactly, exactly.
Scarpino: If you look back over your entire career at IUPUI School of Medicine, Graduate School, the stuff you did on the side for the Chancellor or Vice Chancellor, is there a crown jewel that you can point to, something that you’re especially proud of, something you think is especially significant as you look back on it?
Queener: There’s no one thing. I’m very happy – I don’t know that proud is the word – I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to develop along the lines that suit me. That’s not a given; that’s not a guarantee for anybody, and it’s certainly not a guarantee for some kid coming out of Oklahoma at the time I did. This has been a privileged career and I know it, and that’s why I constantly want to give back wherever I can.
Scarpino: I’m going to ask a question and then I’ll hand it off to you. Just think for a minute that if we had a magic time machine and you could go back and talk to that kid in Oklahoma, what would you tell her?
Queener: Keep working, kid, it’ll sort out. (LAUGHS)
Mahon: A couple of questions that have a common theme: The Doctor Sherry Queener balancing act. (LAUGHTER) You open the self-reflective statement, “On being an Administrator,” with a story about being in a meeting of the School of Medicine Steering Committee in 1981, not only the only female faculty member but also, in your words, “hugely pregnant.”
Mahon: If I do the math, your two children grew up while you were on the faculty of the IU School of Medicine.
Mahon: Here’s the question – how did you balance raising children with the demands of being a faculty member in the IU School of Medicine?
Queener: Well, I used to be called on to give talks about this because it was quite a balancing act. Well, first of all, you marry the right person. My husband was extremely -- is extremely supportive…
Scarpino: And this is the man that you met killing a rat.
Queener: That’s the man I met killing a rat, that’s right, that’s right. Yeah, he supported me in everything and in every way. So, when I became pregnant with our first child, I let everybody know what was going on and that I would continue to work, and I devoted between a third and a half of my salary to childcare. I hired a lady to come to the house to be with the baby and to be there until I got home at night, and we adjusted the baby’s schedule so that we played until the wee hours, and he slept till later. We bought a house that is thirteen minutes from campus. In his younger years, I went home on occasion to rescue the housekeeper because he was chasing her with an earthworm. (LAUGHTER) I could go back and forth. With the second one, I would race back and forth for nursing the baby. You just, you adapt your life in such a way that you’re going to deal with babyhood and babyhood doesn’t last very long. You do what you can. You know you’re not going to get any sleep – you weren’t do that well anyway, so a few extra hours, that doesn’t matter. But it is a balancing act and you need help, you need help. You cannot take care of the baby, clean the house, cook the food and have a full-time job. It’s just not possible in this kind of environment. So, what do you like to do? Well, I don’t like cleaning the house. So, there were things that I could hire done and that’s what I did, and I devoted a lot of my salary to it, again, with my husband’s full approval.
Mahon: Okay. Another balancing act question – as Associate Dean of the IU Graduate School, you maintained a research agenda in the IU School of Medicine.
Mahon: How did you balance administrative responsibilities and your ongoing commitment to research?
Queener: I had planned very carefully for this. I knew that if I couldn’t be there, which I couldn’t, I had a half-day somewhere else, I had to have somebody responsible in the lab. Now, I had a long-term technician and she was quite good, but we needed somebody else. I interviewed for and hired a post-doctorate fellow from Eli Lilly. And because I believe very strongly that post-docs should have contracts and not just be hired in to be your flunky, I wrote a contract with him and the contract said I’m hiring you for three years guaranteed and in that three-year period, you will maintain control of my laboratory and collaborative projects we do while developing your own projects so that at the end of the three-year period, you’re independent. Well, that guy was so good, he was independent after two. But he still, because of loyalty to me, he still was there for my technician. So, the balancing act became that I would go in at 7:30 every morning, talk to the technician, talk to Bill, plan out what the day was, look at any data that I needed to look at, do whatever it was that had to be done for the laboratory until about 12:30 or 1:00, and then whatever was happening, I would stand up, and walk to the Graduate Office, usually eating lunch on the way, and that’s how I managed it. I thought it was important that people knew they could count on me at a certain time. Now, it turned out there was a downside to that. In a particularly rough period in the Grad Office, we were having some personnel issues, and they knew they could fight it out in the morning as long as everything was real sweet when I walked in the door. So, there were some problems with that too, but that’s how I did it.
Mahon: Okay, so now we’re going to switch to a summary question that harkens back to the Leadership Workshop. As Associate Dean of the IU Graduate School, how do you think you lived up to the conclusion you reached after the Leadership Workshop run by Katherine Tyler Scott in May 1988, in quoting you, “I want to bring out the best in students and in my colleagues. I want to make them more effective and I want to serve better by making the work environment more supportive.” Take those things one at a time – to bring out the best in students.
Queener: I think we put in place some things that help students get the right kind of counseling and mentoring. I feel that we did that. We also helped faculty understand what it means to be a good mentor. I’m feeling that we improved that. It’s not where it needs to be; it’s always something that needs improving, but it got better.
Mahon: Okay. How about bringing out the best in your colleagues?
Queener: That I think we did a better job of because people were struggling independently to write a proposal for a degree program. They had no idea; they hadn’t done it before. Well, we had all the experience. So, you talk to them early, you give them a format, you counsel them, you edit drafts endlessly, and they’re more effective. So, in that avenue, also in giving them the resources they need to run a graduate program, I think I did help them be more effective.
Mahon: Okay. And last, making the work environment more supportive?
Queener: I think, in the Graduate Office, there were some individual problems where there were mental health issues and some other things, but by and large, we empowered people to have ideas of their own, to develop programs on their own, to actually write little mini proposals – I want to do this with this much money and I think this is what will happen – I think that worked pretty well in the Grad Office by and large.
Mahon: Okay. And a couple summary questions on IUPUI. What do you see as the campus’s largest success?
Queener: Oh, the quality and the growth. Gerry Bepko is the first one I was really aware of as just presenting this crystal-clear vision; this is going to be a place where top programs exist. And I think it does now. I think top programs do exist here. There’s still room for growth, but I believe in the campus and I think it’s done wonderful things.
Mahon: So, you did just say that there are some aspects that still need to grow. Do you have anything specifically in mind?
Queener: Money, money, money. (LAUGHS) I think support for a variety of programs is important. We’re not supported as a campus to the same degree as other campuses. That needs to change. Now, that being said, we’ve shown we can do it on a shoestring, and that calls for creativity and perseverance that perhaps others didn’t feel the need to show. So, I still think a little more money wouldn’t hurt.
Scarpino: Two wrap-up questions. Is there anything that we should’ve asked you that we didn’t? (LAUGHTER)
Queener: Oh, my. I don’t know what it would have been, Phil.
Scarpino: Is there anything that you would’ve liked to have said that we didn’t give you a chance to say?
Queener: No, I think I’ve expressed my gratitude to the institution and the people I worked with, and that’s the main thing. This has just been a wonderful experience and I’m still connected to the campus through the Senior Academy and trying to help in whatever ways I can and that’s gratifying.
Scarpino: With the recorder still on, I want to thank you very much for being kind enough to sit with us for two relatively lengthy sessions and thank the IUPUI Administration and the Tobias Center for the support that they’ve provided for these interviews.
Queener: Absolutely. Thank you.
Scarpino: Alright. Let me turn this off. Make sure that it’s off.
(END OF RECORDING)