Kathryn Tracy Rizzi: This begins an oral history interview with Donna Chlopak on June 25, 2019, in Verona, New Jersey, with Kate Rizzi. Thank you so much for having me into your home to do this second interview.
Donna Chlopak: My pleasure.
KR: To begin today, what was your graduation like from Douglass College?
DC: Wow, I hardly remember it, but I remember we were on Antilles Field Antilles Field, and my parents came. I don't know if my sister came. I'm trying to think. I would assume that my future husband came because we were engaged by that time. All that runs through my head is, "Blood on Antilles, there's blood on the ground, there's a great big puddle of blood on the ground. Pity the freshman, bloody and red because an upperclassman has bashed in her head." Don't ask me why that came to mind, but that came to mind. I think we did have it outside, but I don't recall much of anything about graduation, so, yes. I remember in high school and in college and if I teach in the university, there's always the issue of limited tickets. I don't think we had that problem because I think it was out on the field and the weather was fine, so they didn't have to have it inside and have any problem. So, I don't really remember much about graduation.
KR: When you were in your senior year and approaching graduation, what were you thinking about for your future?
DC: I was thinking about grad school. We were told that if you wanted to do anything with a psychology major, you would go to graduate school. Otherwise, you couldn't really do anything with your major. I don't know if we went over this before, but there was a meeting, the department folks, the faculty of psychology, had an open meeting of all psychology majors and were talking to us about opportunities in psychology and what kind of psychologist you could be. I remember, and I may have the numbers wrong, [that] forty-five women from Douglass went to this meeting. At this meeting, they told us [that] if you didn't have a "3.6" or seven [grade-point average] overall and in your major, don't even think about being a clinician, and we all thought we were going to be clinical psychologists. We were going to have a practice and have a couch, and that sort of thing. I did not have a "3.5" GPA or a "3.7" GPA or a major in that either.
I remember Matt Erdelyi and John Santa said that they would have another meeting the next night, for those people, because John was like a math psychologist and Matt was a perception psychologist. They said they'd have a meeting the next night for anybody who wanted to know about other areas of psychology. So, out of the forty-five, only five of us [showed up]. It wasn't [only the] five of us that didn't have it; we all didn't have the [cumulative], but there were a whole lot more that didn't have the [cumulative] but they just gave up. We went there and they talked about different areas of psychology, and I don't know which one of them said that they were looking for women in industrial organizational psychology. I said, "I'm a woman, I'm going."
They explained to me what it was, which was psychology applied to the world of work, and it meant that instead of doing assessments, like you would with clinician, it was selection or you were assessing people for performance in a job. Training was learning psychology. So, every area of psychology applied to the world of work. I really wanted to be some kind of psychologist, I liked psychology, and it seemed to be a good fit. It was a great fit for me for a couple of reasons, not only was I a woman, but I was good in math. [In] IO psychology, there's a lot of math kind of involved too.
So, I went ahead, I had to take the GRE. I had to take the Miller's Analogies Test, which is a nightmare test, and submit my grades and write a cover letter, my first real cover letter, explaining my grades, why my cumulative was only a "3.0." My psychology cumulative was only a "3.0" because we had to have four intro courses and I did okay. I got two "A's" and two-- I'm sorry, I got no "A's" in my intro courses because that was when, I'm sorry to digress, grades were grades. There wasn't grade inflation. For example, in the four intro psychology courses, we probably had a hundred to 150 students. So, you could get a "C." It was not a big deal to get a "C." So, I think in two of them I got "B's" and two of them I got "C's." Then, in all my four hundred level courses, I got "A's." So, that's what I wrote in my cover letter, and it got me into one of the better IO programs.
At that time, I was engaged, and he was definitely a keeper because he was going to have his MBA by January of the year after I graduated, he said [to me], "Go [to] the best school you can go to and [get] the best deal you can get, or whatever you want to do, and I'll find a job out there." So, very interestingly, I applied to several schools. I remember [that] I had gotten into Ohio State, and Ohio State, at that time, was considered one of the top five schools in the discipline. Michigan was supposed to be number one. I don't even remember if I applied to Michigan. I applied to Stevens Institute of Technology. At the time I applied, they only had a master's program, but I was accepted into their doctoral program and that would've been kind of easy for him because he was a finance guy, so he'd be right near New York. But Ohio State had a much better reputation. I also remember applying to Ohio University, and I remember [that] I got into Ohio University and I got into Ohio State. I got into Stevens. I don't know where else I applied and I got into, but what I remember clearly is [that] I applied to be, and this is rambling but I think it's important, a graduate assistant. I applied for different kinds of assistantships. I wasn't going to get a fellowship and that was fine. So, at Ohio University, I applied to be somebody who was like a dorm advisor and I had done that at Douglass, so it seemed to fit. I went out with my dad for an interview for that position--sorry for the chiming. We'll wait. It's going to be eleven. [Editor's Note: Dr. Chlopak's clock is chiming on the hour.]
KR: No, it is okay.
DC: Come on, stop.
KR: I like it. It is charming.
DC: Okay. Are we done? Yes. Okay, so my dad drove me out, and it happened to be, I think, in April. There was an unexpected snowstorm, and he drove out to Athens, Ohio, where it was. We hit a dog at night, which like freaked me out because I loved dogs. I didn't have boots. I had like regular heels because I didn't expect snow. So, I get to this interview, and I use this when I talk to students about things, because I got to this interview. There were four to five people in this room and me. They're asking me all these questions, and when I teach my students about interviewing I say, "You don't know what you'll be asked." This one guy said to me, "Well, what do you want on your tombstone?" I said to him, "Gee, I don't know. I really haven't thought about it." He said, "Well, we're all going to die." So, that interview didn't go very well, as you could expect. Then, I got a rejection letter from the school, saying that because I didn't get this assistantship, they were not going to accept me into the graduate program. Well, my dad was a really nice guy, and he didn't want to ruffle anybody's feathers, so he said, "Oh, okay." I said, "No, Dad. I'm going to write them a letter and I'm not only going to write them a letter, but I'm going to write the department chairman and the dean of the school," and I don't know if I went to the president of the college or whatever. I wrote this great letter saying, "You've said I'm not accepted into your program because I didn't make it into this assistantship; however, I've never read any research that equates assistantship performance with graduate school performance in industrial organizational psychology."
So, interestingly, I get a letter from the department accepting me into the school. Well, I couldn't leave it at that, of course. I copied all the letters and sent it. I don't know if [the] first time I sent it to the dean, but this time I sent it to the dean and the president. "I thank you for accepting me, but you need to see what's going on in your school." I had been accepted at Ohio State by then, which is a better school than Ohio University, which was this one. Interestingly, I don't know if it was Ohio University or another university that called to say, were you coming? I don't think it was Ohio University, it was another school, [did] call and say, "Gee, we want to know, are you coming? We'd like you to come." I said, "Well, I'm really torn because I'm wondering about assistantships." Whoever I spoke to on the phone said, "Well, I wouldn't go to a lesser school just because you got an assistantship," and I said, "Well, the school I'm thinking of is Ohio State," and the guy went, "Oh, that is a good school." It made up my mind.
It was an interesting program. I have never felt that I made the wrong decision. It's the perfect type of psychology for me. I think I would've been a terrible clinician because I wouldn't have had the patience to listen to people's problems, and I think I would've tried to fix them right away as opposed to listen. This way, I got to have a formal minor in consumer behavior. I'm a shopper, and to me that's actually part [of] marketing too. So, when I decided what I wanted to do with my life, which I thought I first wanted to teach, I could teach in a business school. I could teach in a psych department. I could teach marketing. I could teach management. I could do a lot of things, so it opened up a lot of things.
I had a very interesting graduate school experience. Mick, my husband, came out in January. [I] lived in the graduate dorm for the first semester, which was a little traumatic because somebody jumped out of one of the windows and committed suicide in the fall. The good news is [that] I didn't see the person fall near my window. It was a coed dorm. I don't think we had like a kitchenette, but we had our own bathrooms. He [someone on my floor] came to me and he actually saw the guy fly by his window, which is a little creepy. That was the beginning of microwaves, and in the place where we could go and get some little food in our dorm, you could microwave a hamburger. It looked gross, but you could microwave food. But my husband then came out, my fiancé at the time, came out in January.
We got married in a civil ceremony, and that was fun too because in Ohio you have to swear you're not an imbecile to get a license. Actually, the guy who was reading us what we had to say said, "Imbecile," and I started to laugh because he said it so funny. I thought, "Uh oh, we're going to be in trouble because he's going to say I am, because I was laughing." [laughter] So, we got our license. We got married by a judge.
My husband got the best job he actually could've gotten, because when he came out, he had his MBA [master of business administration] from a New Jersey school. They had a brand new head of the Division of Banks [in Ohio], and he had been a New Yorker. He had moved out from New York, and Mick read this article in The New York Times about this guy. So, he sent him a letter. The guy interviewed him, and my husband, as a brand-new MBA, was the third person in charge at the Division of Banks in the State of Ohio. The Deputy Superintendent of Banks was an attorney, young guy. Mick, at that time, was probably twenty-four, his boss was probably thirty-two to thirty-four, and the Deputy Superintendent was probably twenty-eight or twenty-nine. So, they were a young group, but it was great for him. Then, it was very interesting because I think there were six or seven folks that started in my program when I did, and one of them already had a master's degree. He went on and got his doctorate. I was the only one of the others that got their degree.
There was a purge. Well, one guy should've gotten his degree, but he got a divorce. His legs were cut off because of it, and then he just couldn't focus or do anything. They gave several other people terminal master's degrees. So, when it was time to take my qualifying exams, it was good but not good. I mean, it was positive but not positive because my qualifying exams was a four-hour, in-class exam and then a week take home with three parts. So, if, for example, you're taking it all by yourself, the good news is [that] they can't compare you to anybody, so you're not, "Oh, my God, she didn't do as well as John or something." But, at the same time, you don't know when to stop. So, on my take-home exam, I worked on it and worked on it, and I'm like, "Gee, there's nobody else to say, ‘Yes, they've finished. They did it. They wrote on this one question for eight hours.'" Okay, so I wrote on the one question for eight hours. Now, [if I] did I talk to somebody and they go, "Yes, they finished in eight hours," so, I'm saying, "No, I don't have to work another eight hours." It's interesting. But I passed my qualifying exams, and then it's time for your dissertation. That was an interesting process for a couple of reasons. I actually studied for my qualifying exams with one of the students who was a year behind me, because he wanted to start to prepare. So, we quizzed each other, but at the same time it was really all up to me.
So, you write your dissertation, and [a] couple of things were interesting about my dissertation. Most folks, at that time, especially in a big school like Ohio State, [they] plan what [they] do. You don't use real people. Well, you do use real people. You use students. You have this experiment, you use students. But the interesting thing about my dissertation, [is] a couple of things. One is [that] for my defense of my dissertation, Roger Blackwell, who happens to be a quite well-known marketing professor and I took him to have a minor, [was involved]. I took enough marketing courses to have a minor in consumer behavior, and he was one of the co-authors of--maybe even today, he's very old, so he probably isn't the author, I don't know--one of the top two principles of marketing text that was used throughout the country. Roger asked in my dissertation, because my hypotheses were not supported, and I won't say it exactly right, "Gee, Donna, you did not prove, or disprove, your null hypotheses. You didn't support what you thought. Are we to think that you're a poor researcher because your hypotheses were wrong or a poor researcher because you couldn't support them?" I'm like, "Uh." I cannot tell you what I said in answer, but when it was over, I went [over], when they congratulate you, [and] I said, "Roger, you were my ace in the hole. You were the guy that I thought was my support person." I said, "Next time you're going to saw off the limb, don't let me go all the way out to the end." He said, "Donna, if I didn't think you could answer it, I wouldn't have asked you." But like, you're lousy is what he was saying, and I'm like, "Okay." [Editor's Note: Roger Blackwell, a marketing expert, served as a professor at Ohio State University for forty years.]
At Ohio State, you actually brought food, dessert generally. For my qualifying exams, I brought cheesecake because I figured their mouths would stick together, and it's funny because all my colleagues, well, not from my class but the class before, we're all hanging out after to say, "Is there food left? Is there food left?" because I'm a pretty good baker. So, you get your dissertation, you finish it.
Actually, I'm trying to think, I don't think they had much to say to change or make it. So, two things were interesting about my dissertation. One was [that] I had a fight with my secretary, with the secretary that was going to type it before she typed it. So, I had to type my own dissertation on a Selectric. We didn't have computers back then, which is really creepy. I did have somebody that made all the charts and tables, because I couldn't have done them. I mean, nowadays, you could with a computer, but I couldn't. So, that was kind of a nightmare. I wasn't fully done with it, and my advisor was going away, I forget where he was going, for the summer, and I wanted to graduate in the summer. I wasn't sure what I was going to call it, but he has to sign the title page, [so] that he okays it. He was fine, he was going to okay it, but I didn't have it finished for him to have. So, he signed two pages with just a line on it for me so I could put the title in after I had decided. So, that was one thing that was weird. [Editor's Note: The IBM Selectric typewriter was released in 1961.]
Then, you have to take your dissertation to some office, and they flipped through it and make sure everything's cool. I remember [that] our offices were in the football stadium, and the dissertation office checking place was up the hill in some other building. I'm walking up the hill with my dissertation, it's a hundred and some odd pages, whatever, and I'm just kind of flipping through and I went, "No." In numbering it, I had skipped a page. So, there was a page without a number on it. My friend was with me walking up, and I started to cry because I couldn't type this whole thing over again. He goes, "Maybe she won't see it." So, I said, "Yes, let's [go]." So, we go up to the [hill]. The woman flips through and she goes, "Oh, you missed a page to number it." I said, "Oh," [and] she said, "Oh, make it thirteen," whatever the number was, "make it such an A." I was like, "Can I buy you a new home? Can I do something?" I couldn't believe it. I felt bad that I tried to lie, sneak it in there, but today, you [just] print another copy out. I typed every one of these pages by myself. It's like craziness.
I got my degree, and, interestingly, I did not go to my graduation. I didn't go to my master's graduation there. My parents said they would've come, but I said, "No," because it's in the football stadium, and so they say, "The class of whatever stand up," but the doctoral students they call. Actually, the President of the United States spoke at my doctoral graduation, but that was because Nixon was impeached, and Ford, who had agreed to be [president] when he was vice president, still came and talked. I've said, to this day, every time somebody says, "Oh, there's a graduation. You going to go?" I'd say, "Hey, I didn't go when the president spoke. I really don't want to go." But I've gone to my daughters' graduations. I've gone to students' graduations. I find them annoying, but that's all. So, that was that. [Editor's Note: On August 8, 1974, President Richard Nixon resigned from office due to his involvement in the Watergate Scandal, and Vice President Gerald Ford assumed the presidency on August 9th.]
KR: I have just a few follow-up questions about your time at Ohio State.
DC: Sure, sure.
KR: What package did Ohio State give you in terms of assistantship?
DC: So, when I got there, I did not get a fellowship, which was fine, but I was willing to work. My first year, my job was with--oh, I forget the name of the organization, but it was a research organization. Maybe it was my first two years there. [What] they were looking at, I mean, it fit with kind of what my degree was going to be. They did research on workers. I don't know if it was union workers, but they did some research. I didn't have to do a whole lot of [work]. I mean, I had to do stuff. I had to read articles and tell them what to do, but I don't remember that much about what I did. I do remember that we moved offices, and I don't know whether it was the first office or the second office where we were in almost like a closet. That was great because we had to put in twenty hours a week. That was what our assignment was. We didn't have twenty hours of work a week to do. So, I would bring my textbooks and I would read stuff, and so when we're in this closet it was great. People weren't walking by and seeing me read my textbooks. Then, we moved to this open office space and it was like, "Okay." There's nothing worse for me, ever, to not be busy or to sit and not have something to do but have something to do that I can't do, which was nuts. So, I'm trying to think what the name of it is. It had an acronym and I can't remember what the name of it was, but for my first two years, I think I was there. I'm pretty sure I was there for two years. Then, my second two years, I taught "Intro Psychology." At Ohio State, we had sixty in a class and they had like thirty sections, I mean, like 3,600 kids in fall quarter took "Intro Psychology," I mean, huge numbers. So, that's all I taught.
I taught "Intro Psychology" every semester, and I guess I only taught one class. I can't remember how many I taught, but the interesting part, "Intro Psychology" was a required course, I think, for everybody. So, we had all kinds of majors, and we had people from the football team. I remember panicking because I got the list of who my students were one year, and on my list was a guy by the name of Artie Griffin and Archie Griffin was the star quarterback. He was a Heisman winner. I had heard from other folks that taught intro, that, if you have a football player, you're going to get a call from the coach. I thought, "Ugh." Well, when Artie Griffin walked into my class, he was this tall skinny kid. I'm like, "Okay, not the same one." Interestingly, I did have somebody who went pro. His name was Van DeCree. I don't know enough about football. [Editor's Note: Archie Griffin played running back for the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Cincinnati Bengals. He is the only two-time winner of college football's Heisman Trophy. Van DeCree played football at Ohio State from 1971 to 1974 and then went on to play in the World Football League. He is a member of the Ohio State Football Hall of Fame.]
That was another thing about Ohio State. Ohio State [was] a big football [university]. At that time, it was during Woody Hayes' time. Everybody wants to go to the football games as a student. You can get a season ticket and I could get one for my spouse. So, I had season tickets for four years and I went to two games. Mick took his secretary. He took his boss. He took everybody. I just didn't go. I couldn't care less. [Editor's Note: Woody Hayes coached the Ohio State Buckeyes Football Team from 1951 to 1978.]
In terms of the teaching, it was interesting to teach intro, and basically, we didn't make up the exams. Everybody had the same exam, which is now [that] you think about it interesting, and it was multiple choice. It was sixty multiple choice, and they took two [exams]. They took a midterm and final, and we graded them. I didn't have anybody that was a football issue, but I did have a student's parent call me, who failed, and told me that because I was failing their son, he would lose his scholarship. I said, "Am I the only course he's failing?" "No." "Well, you know, guess what? [I] can't do anything." That should've told me way back when what goes on. What was interesting is [that] my husband--not the first year he was there because he came in January but in the following fall--started taking doctoral courses in finance. He was treated as an in-state student for tuition because they sent the documentation to our apartment. It didn't matter to me because my assistantship was full tuition and I got a stipend. So, it didn't matter that I was out-of-state, but, yes, tuition probably would've only been about three or four thousand dollars a year for graduate school because it's a long time ago, yes. Other questions?
KR: I am curious, at the time that you were studying industrial organizational psychology, what were the major trends or developments going on in that field?
DC: My dissertation was on motivation, and motivation has always been my area of interest. It plays into consumer psych too because what motivates somebody to buy something? What motivates somebody to be a good worker? What motivates somebody? I actually always, when I teach management, say to my students, "Would you rather have somebody who's motivated to do a good job or somebody that knows how to do a good job?" Oftentimes, a student will say, "Oh, somebody who knows how to do it because I can motivate anybody," and I'm like, "Oh, are you wrong." That was a major trend. My dissertation was on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. I think Ed Deci was the guy who wrote the first article that dealt with that and focused on that for a while. That was a big thing. [It] really focused on motivation, and that was like my thing. It was interesting [that], at Ohio State, there were names that we read about that were there. Michigan was the top school, but we had--what's his name? Oh, God, I can picture him, Stogdill, Ralph Stogdill, who wrote one of the seminal papers on leadership. Leadership was the other big thing, trying to see how to be a leader. [Editor's Note: Edward L. Deci is a psychology professor and Gowen Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Rochester. Deci serves as the director of the human motivation program. He and Richard Ryan came up with the motivational theory called self-determination theory. Ralph Stogdill, who passed away in 1978, was a Professor Emeritus of Management Science and Psychology at Ohio State University and was internationally known for his research and publications on leadership and organizations.]
Then, one of my professors that taught us, he was taught by a guy named [Fred] Fiedler, who was another big leadership person. Then, we had a guy who was a big name in statistics, and that's a funny story too. He taught a course called "Correlational Analysis," and every psychology major, no matter what your area was, had to take this course. We sat in a big stadium seating. This guy filled up three or four boards, and then he'd stand back and he'd go, "Ah ha." He'd go all the way back and erase something that he made a mistake on and then go all the way through again. It was a little crazy, but I remember most [that] he actually was a jolly old soul. He kind of looked like he could've been Santa Claus. He was chubby, and he was short. At one point in time, we were going to take either our first midterm or it was our final, I can't remember, and he turned to us and he goes, "Do you have any questions?" Then, he chuckled, because nobody raised their hand. He goes, "You don't know enough to even know what to ask." [laughter] The only way we got through this course is because he used the same exams, he changed the numbers a little, year after year, and they were passed down. You'd go to an American Psychological Association meeting and you'd go, "Oh, you're from Ohio State, have you had the mystery course?" That's what they've referred to it as. I've been very lucky. Anytime, I've worked in industry, I've always had a statistician work with me, so I haven't had to remember the mystery course. I understand what it does. I just don't necessarily know how to do it. Now, with software, you just plug in stuff and it's magic, it happens. So, that was good, yes.
KR: How much diversity was there in the faculty?
DC: In our faculty, none. I'm sorry, in the psych faculty, there may have been something. We had four white men. Yes, we had four white men. In terms of students, there was some diversity in students. In my class, there were two women and five or six guys. I'm trying to think if Ernie was in our class or the class after ours. I think the class after ours had a black man and a black woman, but the majority were white. There were women, we had women in every class, but the majority were men. Actually, [in] the fourth-year class, I guess, there was one Hispanic, one Hispanic male, two or three white males and two, I think, no, one white woman. Then, in the year after that, there were two or three white males and two white women. They were small. Our classes were pretty small. But in terms of diversity, there wasn't a lot. Oh, is it our class? Again, I don't know if it's our class or another, [but] we had a guy from someplace in South America. He was funny because his name was Jose, and he might have been in our class. [Since] he was from Latin America, his personal space was small. So, he would get in your face to talk to you, and the guys would back up. It was so [funny]. I use that too when I teach. I talk to them about personal space. So, Jose would come and talk to a guy and he'd get real close and they'd back up. He had the most beautiful wife. He was not interested in these men, but these men were [uncomfortable] because they'd get back to the wall and they couldn't back up any farther. So, yes, I haven't thought about Jose in a long time, yes, interesting.
KR: How do you feel you were received as a woman in graduate school?
DC: I don't think I had any problem, because, as I said, the two or three classes above me all had women, and [in] the fourth-year class, when I was a first-year student, there was a woman who was very well thought of. The classes three years above me--would it be three years above me? No, two years above me, they had two women and the women were as good as the men. No one went, "Oh, she got in because she slept her way." No, they were looking for women in IO, and they treated us [with respect]. Well, I think part of it was interesting. Our two senior faculty members, one really respected his wife. When he left Ohio State--he was the full professor, he was the chairman--when he left Ohio State to go, I think, to Bowling Green, his wife, and she was not in our field necessarily, became the editor of the Personnel Psychology journal. So, he respected his wife. To me, I think that's what make the type of men you want to work with, are those who have a wife who they really respect. The other guy, he was so weird. I mean, he was a nice guy. Actually, we always thought, he dry-cleaned his jeans. He read the journals on the toilet because you could name any subject and he could give you a reference out of his head and not just, "Oh, that was in the journal," but it was, "Volume this and these pages." I mean, he was really scary, and I forget what his wife did. She may have been an artist or something, but, again, he respected [her]. So, we never felt, this is a good question, that, "Oh, gee, we were women and the men were better than we were."
Again, as I said, in my class, except for the guy that came in with his master's degree, I was the only one that left with a Ph.D. We had a purge, and part of it was because we had a visiting professor who was a nightmare. He never published anything because it was never good enough and he imparted that to us. So, we were never really good enough. I'll never forget, we were allowed to interview him to see if we recommended he get renewed. We talked to him about his openness to students, and I'll never forget, I said, "You know, are you open [to this]? How do you feel about [this]?" "Oh, I'm, you know …" I said, "Well, excuse me, I knocked on your door once and asked you if you had a minute, and you said, ‘Yes, a minute.'" He goes, "Well, my door was closed." I said, "Were we supposed to know that that meant you shouldn't be disturbed?" because a lot of times, people didn't leave their doors open because we were in the football stadium hallway. So, that was an interesting kind of situation because he was not a nice person, so we got rid of him.
KR: What was your life like living in Columbus?
DC: It was interesting. We first lived in married students' housing. We lived in an apartment that was a garden apartment, but you walked upstairs to get to the main level and then we walked a half a flight down. So, we weren't underground but half were underground. So, we barbecued out [of] our kitchen window in a little barbecue thing. It was amazing because Columbus was really cheap, in terms of the cost of living versus being in New Jersey. It was also kind of backwards. I said this to somebody last night. We were talking and one of the reasons we got married is because I was too stupid to know [that] you could send blood tests back to New Jersey. We couldn't get married until March, when he moved out, because that's when I had a break from school and this, that and the other. Anyway, I was really concerned. The reason we got married, instead of just live together, even though people at that time still did live together, was [that] I was seemingly backward. In the newspaper, I was reading the want ads and it said, "Colored lady wants work," and I said to my husband, "I wonder what color she is," because we didn't use that phrase anymore. So, I was like, "I don't think two names on the mailbox are going to be good." So, anyway, we lived in that. We went from one really tiny [apartment]--like an efficiency, where we had a communal kitchen on the second floor, and we were on the third floor--to married students' housing, which was a two-bedroom place, until we actually bought a condo out there. It was fine. Ohio was fine. I had really good friends. It was interesting. [Editor's Note: Dr. Chlopak's telephone rings. She is talking to her husband.]
There were two women in our class, but I was really good friends with two of the guys. I wasn't friends with this woman. She was a little spacey, as far as I was concerned, and she never finished. But [of] the two guys who were my really best friends, one of them still is my really good friend. We meet for coffee at least quarterly. He lives in New York, right on the border. I used him as a reference recently, and I realized I've known him for forty-seven years. That's like, "How could I know Eddie for forty-seven years?" It's just kind of amazing.
Columbus was interesting. I'll tell you one other funny story that I always think of. It wasn't the East or the West Coast. It was the center of the country. So, Mick and I were looking to get furniture for our place, and this store, which was part of Federated, it was called Lazarus, was having a sale. He was working downtown, and I was meeting him after work. I walked in, and this store had a deli, kind of, that sold food. I just was killing time until he could meet me. This woman walks into the deli. The woman working at the deli had teased hair, and she's cracking gum. The woman that was shopping said to her, "What's the difference between this Kosher style salami and this other salami?" The woman behind the counter said, "The Kosher style doesn't have garlic and it's been blessed by a priest." I didn't explain anything, I just went and said, "Mick, you've got to hear this one." [laughter] It wasn't Kosher anyway, but it was Kosher style. I thought, "Okay, this is just really kind of funny." I mean, we enjoyed living there. We were fine knowing that we were going to leave eventually, because I wanted to teach when I graduated. That's what I thought I was being trained to do, and unless, I guess, you're being trained in education per se, you're not trained to teach. You're just trained to have an expertise in an area, and then you've got to go and figure out how to share that with somebody else. That was it, yes.
KR: Why did you want to teach?
DC: Because I thought that that would be a good way to have a family, make a living, and be a professional. Clearly, I wasn't one of the Douglass students, in my day and age, who wanted to get her Mrs. I mean, I eventually wanted to be married, but I didn't go to school to meet a guy, to get married, and then just stay home. To me, you were learning something, you were doing something, so you could work. At the same time, it was important for me to be able to have a family, if I met somebody and I wanted to have a family, and I thought teaching--and not high school or junior high but college teaching--was a kind of a profession. I remember having a fight with my sister, who's a teacher, and she was talking to me about one of her colleagues who was also a teacher. I probably downplayed her friend because she said, "Oh, she's a professional woman." I said, "She's a teacher, a high school teacher." No, she was a fifth-grade teacher. She says, "Oh, no, she's a [professional]." I said, "Well, yes, she's a teacher." Maybe it wasn't the word professional, I can't remember what the word was, but I said, "What's the progression?" When you're a college professor, you're an assistant professor, then you're an associate professor and then you're a full. There's some progression. Maybe because it was my business head [that I thought like that]. You work in a business and you're an associate, then you're an AVP [assistant vice president], then you're a VP [vice president]. There's a progression, and so that's why if I wanted to have a family and have a job and teach and then have a profession, college teaching was where it was going to be. So, that's why I thought I always wanted to be a teacher. After five years, I said, "No." [laughter]
KR: What was the process of job hunting after you were finishing up your dissertation?
DC: Very interesting. You have to apply for jobs in March, because that's when university positions come open, because they're trying to hire you for fall. So, that was another situation where Mick said to me, "Find the best job you can find and I will follow you, but don't go to Purdue." Not that Purdue had an opening but he goes, "West Lafayette, Indiana isn't going to make it for me." [Also], because I was an IO psychologist, I could apply to business schools. I could apply to psych departments. I could apply in a business school, to a management job, to a marketing job. So, I had some opportunity.
Seton Hall came open. I applied to the job at Seton Hall. I must have applied to other jobs; I can't remember if I did. I remember my interview at Seton Hall very clearly, and I'll tell you about that. That was a good one because we'd be in the New York-Metro area, and Mick was in finance and he would be able to find something probably. It was a good possibility. So, again, I don't remember if I applied other places, or if they didn't interview me. I can't remember any other interviews. The interview at Seton Hall stuck out because I was being interviewed by a man, he was a little man and an older man, a very nice man, and he actually was an arbitrator too and he was the head of the management department. He asked me all these questions, and then he said, "You're a young woman, and you're newly married. Do you plan on having children?" So, I said to him, "That's an illegal question. You should know better. However, I come from good, strong peasant stock. My ancestors had babies in the field and kept plowing." I literally said that. So, he goes, "Oh, okay," and I got the job. I told you what I said to the guys on the bus, right?
DC: Yes, okay, so that's who I was. So, literally, I said that because he really should've known better. It was an illegal question. If they didn't hire me, I could've sued them, not that I would've. They hired me, and, interestingly--this to me is really an interesting thing--I was paid sixteen-five [16,500 dollars]. My colleague, who happens to now be the department chairman, who came when I did, was a woman. She had a degree in sociology, but she didn't finish her dissertation. She was paid fifteen-five [15,500 dollars] because she hadn't finished yet, and we were in the business school. If we had been in the arts [school, it would have been less], and I was making more than my chairman at Ohio State. He was making twelve-five [12,500 dollars] because it was [an] arts and sciences departments. So, that was interesting.
I went there for two years. Did I go there for two or three years? No, I went there for three years, and at the end of my third year, I said, "I want to do something more. I want to do more." I actually interviewed--and again this is about networking--at NYU [New York University]. NYU had an opening in their IO department. I interviewed there, and I interviewed at Hofstra. I had a job offer at Hofstra, but we were going to have to move. It was both of them, psych department jobs, and [for] Hofstra we were going to have to move to Long Island, and housing prices were pretty high. The head of the psych department at Hofstra wanted all the faculty there four days a week. I said to her, "Well, if I take the job, we're going to move, but it'll take us at least a semester. So, for the semester that we're still in New Jersey, could I go three days a week?" [She said], "No, I want all my [faculty here four days a week]." So, that didn't make me really happy.
So, I went to interview at NYU, which we wouldn't have had to move, and I liked the guy. I happened to be pregnant. He said, "Can I say something about you being pregnant?" I said, "Yes." We had a conversation and I really liked him, except that he said to me, "Could you teach ‘Intro Psychology'?" I said, "Yes, I have, but would you ask an IO psychologist to teach intro? Why would we go back to the physiology and all the stuff? I did teach years ago, but I didn't really want to." Then, he goes, "Well, would you like to teach marketing?" and I said, "Yes, I'd love to teach marketing." He said, "Well, I have a friend at Baruch. They're looking for somebody to teach marketing. Do you have time if I call him? Can you go talk to him?" I said, "Yes." I got a job at Baruch teaching marketing. I did that for two years, [I] liked it, but the little guy up here, said, "You're boring. You've said this. Go do it." So, I said, "I really want to do this. I don't want to teach anymore." Yes, I am boring. The good news was [that] the students weren't falling asleep. I'm trying to think when it was that I started looking for jobs. [Editor's Note: Located in Manhattan, Baruch College is a public college in New York.]
We were living in Berkeley Heights at the time. My husband would read The Wall Street Journal and, at that time, there were want ads in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He came home one day and he said, "There's a job in AT&T that sounds just perfect for you." I said, "Okay," so I applied for it. I got one of these, "Thank you, your skills are wonderful. We'll keep your resume on file for six months, but we don't have anything right now." At the same time, I don't know if I had interviewed at Equitable Life, it was around the time that two jobs were jobs that I was kind of seeking at the same, similar time, but AT&T was [like], "Don't call us, we'll call you," kind of thing. So, I actually took the calendar that was in our kitchen, flipped it six months, and wrote, "Call this number at AT&T." Two weeks or three weeks later, Mick brings home the paper; the same ad's in there. They haven't found anybody. He goes, "This is you, something's not right." So, I flip up, I find the number, [and] I call the woman. "Oh, are you trying to get a hold of us? We've left several messages." They never left messages. So, I went in for the interview for AT&T, and I got an offer. I had an offer for AT&T and I had an offer for Equitable Life.
I think the pay was close. AT&T may have been a little less, AT&T was in New Jersey and Equitable Life was in New York, but Equitable Life had four weeks' vacation and AT&T had two weeks' vacation. However, it was going to take me an hour and twenty minutes minimum, each way, to get to Equitable Life, and twenty minutes, each way, to get me to AT&T. So, I did the math. Let's say you worked forty-eight weeks a year; that's 480 extra hours of commuting. Guess what? It doesn't pay to go into Equitable Life. So, I worked for AT&T for about five years, and that's when the divestiture was announced. I was excited thinking that they were going to get market driven and we were going to do marketing. I worked in a very interesting organization because the organization I worked with, in order to work there, you had to have at least a master's degree. Several of us had Ph.Ds. and those that had master's oftentimes had two master's. So, it was really kind of [an] academic environment. [Editor's Note: Prompted by the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit, in 1982, AT&T Corporation announced the divestiture of the Bell telephone companies. The breakup of the Bell telephone system entailed AT&T retaining control of long-distance operations with local operations going to regional Bell phone companies.]
Again, it was like, "No, I think I want to do something else after five years." My husband had been at Citi, at that time. He gave my resume to someone who was in his group, but she knew people in other groups and she said, "Yes, I know somebody in the development division that are developing products and they're looking for people. So, let me give Donna's resume to these people." So, I got a call from them and I went in for my interview. To this day, that guy, he's my favorite boss I've ever had. I loved him. He was wonderful. Interestingly, they asked for references and the guy who I gave for a reference was a guy that I got to know when I was at Baruch. He was a marketing professor. He wrote the other principles of marketing book that ninety percent of the schools use. Leon [Schiffman] called me afterwards and he said, "He really wants to hire you." I said, "Well, that's nice," and so I left AT&T to go to Citibank.
Interestingly, [at] AT&T, I was paid okay. But it was New Jersey, so it was much less than what you would get in New York. So, in my head, I knew what I wanted to be paid. I got my job offer, and it was five thousand dollars less than I wanted to be paid. I said to my boss, he really wanted me [and] I really wanted to work for him, "I'd really liked to be making this amount of money." He said, "I can't give you that," because I was coming in as a VP. "My two other VPs make what you're making, and I can't pay you more than them. They've worked for me for a while, I can't pay you more." Really nice to know the organization and what goes on. So, my husband, who had been at Citi, at that time, [for] I don't know, five, six, seven years, said, "They didn't get you through a headhunter. They didn't pay a headhunter to find you. He could perhaps pay you a signing bonus because they have money." So, I went back to him and I said, "Would it be possible to pay me that five thousand dollars in a signing bonus?" He said, "I think so," and I got it. So, I made the first year what I wanted to make. So, I was a happy camper and he was happy. It wasn't really his money.
Interestingly, within six months of that job, I was tapped to run a technology testing facility. The head of the development division [was] looking for somebody to run this technology testing facility that they had. Human factors is part of what can be part of IO. I was not a human factors person, but I could run a team and I had nobody working for me. Oh, the other thing, and I mentioned the academic nature of AT&T, my favorite boss ever, Jerry, he hired a writing coach for me. He said, "[The reason is] because you write like an academic. You need to write like a businessperson." I was mortified because, can you imagine, you get a brand-new job and they tell you, "Oh, we're going to teach you. You've got a Ph.D. and we're going to teach you how to write." I still have the book; I forget what it's called. [The] woman came in, every week for four weeks, [and] everything that I wrote, an e-mail, anything, she got on a Friday, came back on a Monday, and said how I could've written it better. You're brand new in a job, with a boss you really like, and he hires somebody to be your coach, you can take it as, "Wow, he really cares," or you can take it as, "I'm in trouble." She was the one that made me feel, "This is wonderful." She goes, "You should feel so good that he cares enough about you to invest in you." I didn't go home with my tail between my legs and cry. I took it to heart. So, for four weeks, she did this and I got much better. It's what I say when I had students in "Communications in Business," "People don't want to read like pages of stuff. You've got to be pithy. You've got to get it down," and so that's what she said now. She would take a red pen and she would edit everything that I did, and so I did that for the rest [of the four weeks].
KR: You learned the craft of writing.
DC: Yes, of how to write business things. Get to the point, you don't [write] like an academic. So, as I said, in six months they tapped me to run this technology testing facility and I'll never forget that. So, I'm interviewing with the head of the development division, who was at least a level above my boss. I think it was a couple of levels above my boss. He reads my resume. On my resume, at the time, it had that I raised and bred Great Danes, because we did. He reads that and he goes, "Gee, you can see the big picture," and I thought, "What a turkey? What?" Anyway, "Okay, fine." So, I got this great job. I'll never forget that my husband said, and it came with a promotion and a raise, "Well, what do you expect? What kind of raise? You won't get more than whatever." I said, "Oh, well, I was expecting whatever. I got [a] twenty-five percent raise." [laughter] I was like, "Okay." Not with the bonus, if you take out the bonus, but [it was] a twenty-five percent raise over what I was making. My husband just closed his mouth. I did that for a while at Citi.
Then, when I was on maternity leave at Citi, and my daughter was [born] by emergency C [caesarian], I only took four weeks off. When I was on [maternity leave], my job went away, which is illegal too. They moved the lab. The lab was in a certain spot. I'm going to stop because it's twelve [clock chimes ring]. Okay, so the lab was actually a facility. They were changing things, and they were moving the people in the lab up to Midtown. It was at 42nd and 2nd. It was in the CBS building, and they were moving it up to Midtown. They did this while I was on maternity leave. So, when I came in, they had hired somebody else to manage those people. So, I stayed there, when I came back from maternity leave, for a short while but [was] looking for another job to work at Citi. [Dr. Chlopak's clock is chiming.]
It was interesting, because my boss, at that time, was a woman and she wasn't a very hard worker. She didn't really care. You weren't supposed to smoke in the buildings anymore, but if you asked everybody in a meeting, you could smoke in the meeting room. She said, "You're fine that I smoke here, right?" I mean, this is who she was as a boss. So, I found another job within the New York Bank at the time. I was in the development division, I was in the New York Bank at the time. When I told her I found this job, she said, "How'd you find this job?" She wasn't helping me, but she didn't want me to go, like, "Whatever," so I left. I worked on a project within the New York Bank that became something that they wanted to do nationally. So, then I moved over to something called national marketing, and I was there--I don't remember for how long.
Interestingly, then national marketing was moving to Chicago, and so the decision was, Mick wasn't moving to Chicago, we're not moving to Chicago. Do I try and find another job in the bank, or do I go out on my own, do consulting, that our accountant kept saying, "One of you has to stop working for a big company. You have to have some way to, not hide your money, be able to take certain things off of your income." So, I left. I had my own consulting business for about five years and was doing okay, not great, because the problem was [that] I liked doing the work, I didn't like getting the work. I wasn't really a salesperson and did that, as I said, for about five years. It was about [the] time when my daughter, my oldest daughter, I think this was about [the] time, was going away to college, so costs were going to change. I got a call from a headhunter telling me about this organization that was the 21st century, this was still in the 20th century, and [that] they'd like to interview [me]. So, it was the Gallup Organization. So, I went for the interview and we decided I was going to go work there, but I had some of my own projects that I had to wrap up first. [Editor's Note: Gallup, Inc. is an American analytics and advisory company.]
So, I was going to start there part time. I think I started there part time for two months, or a month and a half, some very short time, and then I got projects and then I started working there. I worked for the Gallup Organization for fourteen years. So, actually, my time at the Gallup Organization was interesting in a lot of ways because, when I started at the Gallup Organization, the chairman and the president of the company was a psychologist and a consultant. So, the consultants in the company were on even keel with the salespeople. We were thought to be as important as the salespeople. When the chairman became just the chairman, and not the president, his son became the president, he was a sales guy, so it started to go like this. It's kind of like the Army; it moves on its stomach. The salespeople were the ones that were moving the company, they felt. I happened to be what they called a regional coordinator. We didn't have bosses, we had regional coordinators. So, I had a bunch of people that were under me that I was responsible for helping to define their compensation and that sort of thing, which I loved. I loved being a manager because I loved my people and there were a bunch of different things I did, but I was also a consultant.
My favorite job, which was really interesting, the situation was [that] a friend of mine was managing the Citibank team and she was going to go do something else. We had a big job with Citibank, which was interesting. I also managed the AT&T team, so that was interesting too. But she was going to do something else, so Citibank needed to have a new head consultant. They interviewed us; there were two of us that were interested in the job. One of the guys, who had kind of worked for me, was probably one of the smartest people I've ever met. He was really smart, very talented, not a manager, but a really smart consultant. He wanted that job only because it's almost like maybe you never want to manage people, but the only way to get ahead in a company is to manage people. So, I think that's what was in his head.
So, he interviewed with them and I interviewed with them, with the clients, and I said to him, "If they pick you, I want you to know I won't be working on this account anymore because my job, where I see myself is, to manage a team of people on a project." I said, "However, if they pick me and you decide you don't want to work on it, I don't want to work on it either because I need you and you are important." So, they picked me, and he said, "Well, I'm just a consultant." I said, "No." I don't remember what embellishment I used, but I said, "No, you're this." So, I was his managing director. I was, essentially, his boss for all the time that I was there, and he and I are still friends. We went to dinner with he and his wife about a couple of years ago. I had left Gallup, and she said, "It's not been the same since you've been gone." So, anyway, I got him out of there now. He's now at Ernst & Young, so I'm excited.
Anyway, when I was managing Citi, they were changing what they wanted to do. We were doing stuff in New York and they wanted to do a major assessment of all of their businesses, but they wanted to do it in a way so that they could have one spreadsheet and then put all their businesses on the same evaluation sheet. So, they were asking the same questions all over the world. So, he and I and another guy went to twelve meetings, with people at Citi, and I'll never forget that we finished the twelfth meeting, none of us were salespeople, we were all consultants, and at the end of the twelfth meeting, the people from Citi said, "So, can you give us a formal proposal with finance?" I remember leaving that [meeting], the World Trade Center was still the World Trade Center, I took the E-train all the way down to the World Trade Center. They had phonebooths on the side. I went to the phonebooth. I called the president of the company, at that time, and said, "Jim, they've asked us for a proposal." I went out and bought myself a kaleidoscope because we're going to have this big job. I went in and spent probably the next three weeks figuring out what we would charge for this process, because I had to figure out how much time each thing would take, all the piece parts that went into it. At that point in time, the head of marketing became our sales guy.
The way Gallup paid is [that] you got paid for the work you did. It was paid for your actual performance. So, if you worked on a 100,000-dollar project, you got some percentage based on the 100,000-dollar project. If you worked on a million-dollar project, you got the same percentage but on a bigger amount. Salespeople were paid commissions. So, the two guys that worked for me said, "We sold this deal. What are we going to get for it?" because we wouldn't get paid on it until we started the revenue coming in, whereas [for] the sales guy, [it's when] the contract gets signed. So, I said, "Probably nothing, but I'll go talk to the CEO." I went to talk to the CEO and he goes, "I don't pay consultants for sales." He said, "If they want to be sales guys and be in the tournaments," that's what he used to call them, "They can come change and be sales guys." They didn't want to be sales guys. Interestingly, the guy who wanted the Citi job and was my really good friend kind of said, "I get it. I didn't expect [anything] but thank you for asking." The other guy says, "I'm going to go talk to him." I said, "Yes, you go talk to him." You go talk to him because he was this guy that we just didn't know what kind of mirror he looked into. Anyway, he didn't get very far, and he ticked off the CEO. I was fine that he ticked off the CEO.
That project was nine million dollars, forty countries, consultants in forty countries, probably eight or ten different products, because we did student loans and we did mortgages and we did checking accounts and saving accounts and Citigold and all this other stuff. We had to translate and all these things. We had meetings at four or five in the morning because we had people in Singapore and in Germany and in London, and if we were at six o'clock in the United States, then they would've been [in a different time zone]. So, it was really great. It was a wonderful meeting. What was interesting, since it was remote for a lot of us, our first meeting was in Nebraska, because that's where Gallup's headquarters was. We brought, I think, forty people in from all over the world, the operations people and everything else, because we wanted to start the project as a team, where everybody could see each other, know each other, talk to each other, because after this, you're going to your countries and we have to work together. We had a guy who had moved to Alaska, he came down for the meeting, and it was a great two or three days. It was a great meeting. It was really good, and the project was quite successful. It also reminded me of another Citibank project that I did.
Now, it's really hard when you're doing customer satisfaction, or customer engagement work, and the customers' scores suck. It's like a rating drops. I remember taking over a project for what was, at that time, Citigold, and it was probably before the big project happened. The ratings of Citigold, through customer ratings, dropped precipitously. So, we were going to be the bad guys. We were doing something wrong and, God, I don't know why I thought of this, but I did think of this, I said to them, "Could I see your marketing materials?" So, I gathered all their marketing materials and I looked at them, and then we went to the meeting. In the beginning, I had to present the data, which you don't want to present bad data but it's the data, but before I presented the data, they were talking about their service. The guys were complaining that they used to have like twenty customers of Citigold advisor and now they had two hundred. I was thrilled because [if] you look at their marketing materials, it says, "I'm there at your beck and call." It shows that if you need a check cashed, I'll come to your office to cash your check. If I have two hundred customers, I can't do that. If I had twenty, I could. I said, "So, yes, your customers are not happy, but you're not managing their expectations." It was bad news but a solution. Let's change what we're telling them. So, anyway, that was the other Citibank thing.
So, I worked on very large clients and had lots of customers, worked on Ritz-Carlton at one point in time. Well, something I want to share with you [was] when the chairman got cancer and he died, his son now is both the chairman and the president and clearly now we're like this with the consultants. I'll never forget, there was a year where I won, because they did all this stuff, I have all these plates with the engraving on them. They were big on recognition. I won it a couple of years. One year, when I won recognition for the most revenue for any consultant, I got a plate that was this big that was engraved with the millions of dollars that I worked on. The sales guy, who had the same thing, got a plate, but his was in a frame. So, I stood there with my plate, and he stood there with his frame. I'm like, "Okay, we know what's going on, who's most important." But it's true. Salespeople have to make the sales, and then we get the joy to work on it. [Editor's Note: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is a multinational company that operated the luxury hotel chain The Ritz-Carlton.]
But things kept changing. It was interesting, they kept revising the pay plans. I can't remember exactly how they calculated, but you got points for certain things, and the year that some guy got five thousand points, they said, "Oh, we've got to change the plan. We never expected anybody to get five thousand points and now we have to change the plan." So, things just were not great. One example I remember is [that] they had a bunch of people that were working on a project, and they were downsizing. Downsizing is okay, but you don't have ten people, each making a hundred thousand dollars, and then you decide, "Okay, we're going to downsize. Instead of having ten people work on this project, we're going to have nine." That's okay because everybody's going to have a little more work to do. What you can do is give each of those nine people [an] extra ten thousand dollars or eight thousand dollars, or some amount of money. You're still making more, but they didn't see that. "No, no, you're going to do more work, you're not getting anything for it." It was a pay-for-performance mentality, which kind of says something's not right here, and it kept getting, worse and worse, I think, and worse.
Anyway, I think it was 2008 or 2009, I left. At that point, in 2009, I was fifty-nine years old and not quite ready for Social Security. Mick was still working full time at Citi, and I said, "Maybe I'll do some consulting, but I'll go back to teaching." So, I taught as an adjunct at Rutgers. I taught as an adjunct at Stevens. I taught as an adjunct at Seton Hall. I taught as an adjunct at Kean. Up until 2016, from '08 to '16, about eight years, I taught [at] various places and did some consulting. Then, Montclair, I had been an adjunct there, said, "I have an opportunity for you to teach this course that you've taught once or twice as an adjunct as what we call an instructional specialist, which means you teach full time, you teach ten courses a year, but instead of paying you what we pay [you] as an adjunct, we pay you double." So, it was like a no-brainer, except that I was teaching ten courses. This course I didn't like. I shouldn't say I didn't like it. I couldn't get excited about it because it wasn't my area. It was "Communications and Analytics," and there were pieces of it that I enjoyed, because I talked about resumes and cover letters, but it was essentially a writing course. It was okay, and again, if you're teaching, it's kind of like the good news and the bad news. If you're teaching something you don't love but you're teaching just that, you're not teaching five things you don't love or four things you don't love, you don't have all these preps, it's just one prep, [and] it's not as bad. I met some really good friends, and for three years, I did that. Then, [I decided that] I'm not going back in the fall.
I had a three-year contract, and my contract was not going to be renewed, which was kind of fine, except that they knew they weren't going to renew my contract in January but I didn't know about it until the first week in May. Yes, pretty sleazy, but it's interesting because I now have three universities that I now have positions for the fall.
However, networking is really something. There's a guy who heard what my situation was by my husband, he plays tennis with him, and he teaches in a local school and he says, "Oh, can I see her resume?" He goes, "We looked for somebody in the management department this year. We did not find anybody. Would Donna be interested?" I've talked to the vice provost [and] he said to me, "I'm thinking what we should do is I'd like to have a one-year appointment and then we can look again for somebody to be tenure track." I don't want to be tenured. I don't want to do research. That's not what I want. She said, "Before I go to the powers that be and ask would they be up for that, would you take a one-year appointment?" I said, "Yes," and she told me when I would be teaching and what I would be teaching, and I'm ecstatic, except it would mean the four other courses I was supposed to teach, I probably can't now.
I've signed no contracts with anybody else. I've just kind of said to them, "Yes, I will teach this," and I just got a note from one of the schools [asking], "Could you fill this form out?" Well, I'm not filling the form out yet. One of the schools is Seton Hall. One of the schools is Stevens, which I love teaching at Stevens. It's fun, [and] they pay really well. The students are foreign and they're engaged and they want to do well. It's in Hoboken, which is a schlep, but it's fun to teach there. So, one of the courses that I would teach at this other school would be an overlap. So, I, again, just said to them I would teach at this time, [but] I have not signed anything. If I get this other thing, I will say, "Gee, I'm really sorry, I've another opportunity that's a full-time opportunity, and I need to teach at that time. Is there another day or time that I could teach this course for you, and if not, maybe in the spring?" I don't want to burn bridges necessarily.
The other course was interesting because it's at Seton Hall, and I was supposed to teach two courses at Seton Hall. I actually could still teach these two courses at Seton Hall, because the time didn't overlap, but I'm less excited about it because when they told me about teaching there, I taught there in 2015, they were offering me the same salary as they offered in 2015. When I went back and said, "This is a little ridiculous," they offered me a little bit more. So, I said, "Okay." It would be easy for me to teach those two courses because it was the same course that I'd be teaching at the other place. The one that's open, and maybe I could do it, I'd have to figure it out, is at Pace and it's an interesting marketing course at Pace. I would be teaching at this other place, Tuesday, Thursday from two to three-fifteen, and the Pace course, I think, is at six-thirty. So, to get into New York for a six-thirty course, after being at a three-fifteen [course] is not ideal. So, I'd have to figure out how [I can] do what I need to do, but we'll see.
The other thing is [that] my passion is career development. During my adjunct time at all of these schools, I was teaching all different kinds of things at Kean, and [in] one of the courses, they said to me, "Can you teach a career development course?" I said, "Well, I never have, but, yes, I probably could." I got a book the first semester, some book, and used it, and I hated it.
Second semester, you can now cobble together a book; you can take chapters, if they're all the same. So, if McGraw-Hill has three books that you want to take chapters from, you can make your own book, and they will also, if there's stuff on the Internet, or there's from other stuff, arrange to get them in there. Some stuff is free, some stuff costs you seventy cents to get into the book. So, I cobbled together my first career development book, and it cost seventy dollars, which is real cheap because most books are well over a hundred. The second semester, I cobbled together that same book. I had said, "Well, we didn't use this and we didn't use this, I want a new version." I think the first year it was seventy-eight [dollars and] now it's seventy dollars. Then, I said, "I don't need any of this. I can get what I need off the Internet." So, I taught the course probably for six years. Maybe I was teaching something at Montclair State. I don't know if I was teaching the same course at Kean.
I said, "This is really dumb. I could write this book." So, I did. It took me six months. It's self-published. Anybody who's in the field has good reviews for it. It doesn't sell very well, but that's because I don't have any big marketing going on it right now. I had the title of the book in my head before I wrote the book. The title of the book is Learning to Fish in the Twenty-first Century: Navigating the Career Waters to Find and Land a Choice Position. The book is funny because I got the title of the book in my head before I wrote it because it's based on a Chinese proverb, people think it's Confucius, that says, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach him to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." A career is a lifetime. You're going to work a minimum of 87,000 hours in your lifetime, and if I'm doing something I don't enjoy, how miserable is your life?
As I said, I probably wrote it in six months, maybe a little less even, and the company that I self-published with was great about editing, they were terrific. So, it's done, and my husband says, "Can I read it?" I go, "Yes, but you can't make any changes. It's done." So, he reads it, and he goes, "I really like it, but you're missing something." I was like, "Ugh, what am I missing? Don't tell me, I don't want to know." He goes, "You're missing endorsements." I said, "Yes, I can't do that." "Yes, I can." So, he writes to three people, and he says, "As a dutiful husband, I'd like you to read my wife's book. Can you write something?" Do you know who Lei Lei is? She's the Dean of Rutgers Business School. She immediately writes back, "Yes, I can," and, "This is wonderful." Barry Frohlinger is a world--I shouldn't say world renowned; I don't know if he's world renowned, but he trains business analysts around the world. Mick knew him from Citibank, he trained the [business analysts], and he does it around the world. Barry read it, said, "Yes, I can write something, and I'm going to give it to my son to read. He needs to read this book." I won't tell you who the third one was, [because they] never got back. We won't go there. If he had just said, "Gee, I don't have time," or whatever, that would have been fine, but he just [never got back to us]. Whatever, it's okay.
Anyway, so I've got these great endorsements on the back of my book. The book gets published, and the marketing goes nowhere because the company that did the editing did great editing and lousy marketing. So, now, people are coming out of the woodwork, [saying], "Oh, we'll do this for you." So, I'm looking at perhaps re-publishing with somebody else, and we'll see. But the gratifying thing is [that] everyone we give it to, or who actually even buys it, says, "This is a great book." It's not rocket science.
For the past couple of years, I've been consulting, besides doing stuff at school, with individuals who are looking for jobs. People who have been at their company for ten years, or they've been at a job for five years, and they're looking to change. So, we've had some great luck.
I have a very specific way [of teaching], and I've actually done two training sessions at Douglass. One was on interviewing, and one was on resumes and cover letters. What's her name? The woman who--she's ninety something years old and she gives money to Douglass to do this workshop every year, and I was one of the speakers twice. I can't do it this year because we're going to be in Chicago when the thing is. At Rutgers, I was hired at the graduate of master's of financial analysis team to work with the [students] to train them how to do resumes and cover letters. That was an interesting thing because I then worked with each one of their forty-five students on their resumes, and there was a job fair. At Rutgers, you have to submit your resume to the job fair, and if they approve it, then it goes up on the blackboard, and you get to go to the job fair. If they don't approve it, you don't get to go to the job fair.
None of my students got approved to go to the job fair. So, I'm trying to think of his name, I can't think of his name, the head of the program called the administrative assistant and said, "I thought Donna worked with these people." She said, "She did." "Well, they've all been rejected." She went to talk to the guy and she goes, "Well, they have interests or activities on their resume. We don't do that." A senior guy from J&J came to talk to the class and said, "Oh, and by the way, we like to see interests and activities because we like to see that you're a whole person." It wasn't that their whole resume was, "I play the piano. I dance. I sing." It was just at the bottom, a little thing. So, guess what? They all got to go to the job fair. It might have been the same guy who got reamed out because he didn't like the students' clothes. They didn't have navy blue or brown suits. They had gray suits, or whatever the heck it was, [and] there was the big to-do about that. But this past year, past fall, I was asked to go with the new set of master's of financial analysis students and I could not meet with them but edit each one of forty-five resumes. At Stevens Institute, I did sixty. They asked me to come and do sixty and then sit with the students.
I did this in my class in Montclair, and two of my students, one of the last nights in class, came up to me, and one of my students said, "I want to thank you for how you did our resume, because I got an interview at Marsh & McClennan from the resume, and the woman that interviewed me said it was one of the best resumes she's ever seen." I said, "That's good." This other student, I think it was Robert Half, it was one of the agencies he was listed with, said he gave them a resume to begin with and he got a few calls. He said then he gave them the revised resume and, first of all, not only did he get more calls, but they gave it to their other offices.
To me, it's interesting, when you talk to somebody who's in business and you see their resume, first of all, they start out with an objective. [That's] the dumbest thing in the world because your objective is to find a job, and of the sixty graduate students that I dealt with at Stevens, probably forty-five of them, maybe even fifty of them, had an objective. They had the exact same objective, "I want a job to use my talents and my experience and my education to further my career." A company says, "I don't care what you want. What are you going to do for me?"
KR: You advise people to have no objective on a resume.
DC: No objective, no objective. The best thing you can do--it was interesting because there's all these people on the Internet doing stuff. I was reading some of this stuff and I'm saying, "Oh, gee, that's what I said. Huh, interesting." First of all, in the olden days, you made a resume, you went to Kinkos, and you printed out a hundred of them. Everybody got the same resume because you didn't have a computer that you could play with. Every job ad should have a different resume. I can give you an interesting way, and an easy way, to tweak it, easy. People make a format, and they go, "Oh, if I have to change it, it's a big deal." First of all, the first thing you put on your resume, beside your name and address and how to reach you--don't worry about that.
KR: I'll pack it up, thanks. [Editor's Note: The interviewer is throwing away some tissues.]
DC: But first thing you put after that is bullet points, three to five key accomplishments. Your three to five key accomplishments say who you are, what you can do. How you tweak your resume is depending what they're looking for, you change the order of those. I am an author and an educator. I am also a manager. I am also a marketer. If I'm going for a job that says they want somebody to manage people, the management stuff is the first thing [listed]. I'm still an educator and an author. I'm still a marketer, but I just have to change those three orders. I have more than three but whatever. If the job is for managing salespeople and you've also done sales, you don't necessarily put that you were named the top salesperson first. You talk about your management, but you do talk about your sales thing.
The other way you can tweak your resume, especially [for] students, not so much once you've been out of school for a while, [is] when you put your education [first], which is in reverse chronological order. Okay, so now you've got a master's. Do you have any relevant coursework? So, I just consulted with a guy, he's a really cool guy, who was the assistant, or the second manager, managing assistant, whatever, at the café at the business school in Montclair, and he wants to go work at another restaurant. So, he has had every culinary class that you could imagine, which he has to list, but if he's going for a job where they want a baker, then his key accomplishment might be the baker job. The others go below. I have people that are [in] accounting--no, let's do marketing because I know marketing better. You have somebody who's a marketing major, and they're going for a marketing job. You don't put, "I had Marketing 101, I had Marketing 102," but if you had a market research course and there's a research component in the job, you put relevant course work. Relevant is the notion, but you can tweak that depending on what the job is.
Then, you list what you've done, and, again, I would say key accomplishments [first]. Probably if you're a student just graduating, education comes next, then work experience. If you're somebody who's been in a job, first is key accomplishments, then work experience and then education. Then, the last thing you put is skills. In terms of your work experience, oh, my God, what people say they do, "I'm a waitress and I recommend food." Give me a break; they know what a waitress does. "I'm a teacher." Let's say you're an elementary school teacher. Well, you don't say, "I worked in such and such elementary school, taught a class of twenty-five sixth graders." First of all, you have numbers, but, then again [say], "My class scores," on whatever test it is, "went from twenty-five percent to eighty [percent]," whatever it is, whatever you can quantify. I mean, sales jobs are real easy to quantify, but most of the stuff is really difficult. You could say you're a manager, or you were a trainer, what happened to the people that you trained? So, I do whatever I do and I've trained thirty folks, or I'm a manager of x-number of people and ninety percent of my staff have been promoted, or eighty percent of my staff have been promoted, or seventy-five percent of my staff are still with the [company]. Let's say you've hired x-number of people, and x-percent are still with the company. Plus, I say to my students all the time, "You don't need to know the exact numbers; just don't make it nuts." If you were in the grocery business and you said you were able to retain x-number of people, that would be a big thing, because they have over one hundred percent turnover in grocery.
Another thing, verbs [such as] reduced, increased what you did or you currently do, that kind of thing. Anything you can put numbers on has real meaning. You have to be careful sometimes. My students, they started a club where they were the membership, because a lot of times students can't think of things in business terms. So, this one woman was the membership chairman of her sorority. So, I said, "How many sorority members did you bring in? You increased it by [x-amount]. Do you say number or do you say percent? Did you double it?" [The student responded], "Doubled it. Yes, they started with two. Now, they have four." I said, "Well, you did double it, but you can't lie." But if you don't know the exact number--this person who was a waitress, she increased customer satisfaction and increased customer loyalty by ten percent, you could say that. What do you mean? Well, I meant that I served them well and I got their orders really correctly, so they would come back and ask for me. But numbers [are so important]. Okay, I'm off my soapbox.
KR: I'd like to go back a little bit.
KR: I want to ask you about your family life while your career was growing.
KR: Please tell me about the birth of your children.
DC: Okay, well, Erin, my oldest, was born when I was at Seton Hall. It was interesting, because I [was] in management and Mick was in strategic planning. So, our birth announcement said that we managed strategic planning. She was born when I wasn't teaching. She was born in June. She was born right when school ended, in June, and the only thing I did was not teach summer school that summer and, interestingly, I was ready to come back after two weeks. She was a traditional delivery, so there wasn't surgery, real surgery. When she was two weeks old, she could go outside, and so I took her back to show her off at school. They asked me how I was and I said, "I wish I was teaching summer school because I am not a person that can't be doing something." She was born when I was at Seton Hall, and she was the only child through when I went to AT&T.
At AT&T, Shelby was born. Shelby was an emergency caesarian. She was born November 29th, and I was back at work January 2nd. I could've had six weeks, but it's like, "Okay." Actually, I brought both girls in for their December 24th or 23rd, we had a holiday thing, and my boss said to me, "Gee, you had a C-section. Medical allows you six weeks." I said, "I'm coming back January 2nd." He said, "Medical." I said, "You want her to be battered?" I said, "I'm coming back." He said, "Okay." Then, funny thing, he said to me later on, I think he had had one child at the time, and for some reason [I was] his role model, and so since I had a second one, he said, "Oh, thank you, because now we think we should have [another kid]." They were debating whether they should have one, and if I had a second one, he could. Don't ask me why, but that was what happened.
When Erin was born, we never had au pairs. We took her to somebody's house. When Erin was born, I was teaching and so I only taught three days a week, so I took her to somebody's house. When Shelby was born, Erin was, then, in a very advanced pre-school that was a full-day pre-school and when Shelby was born, one of the former teachers at the pre-school said [that] we could drop her off at her house. It wasn't until Shelby was, I forget how old, that we decided we could have somebody live in, and [it was a] very strange situation.
We had somebody call and, it wasn't an agency, I can't remember how we found this person. There was an ad someplace. We found this person. I think we sent this person a hundred or a couple hundred dollars, not that much, and they were supposed to come in and we were supposed to meet them at some New York airport. The day that they were supposed to come, we got a call saying [that] there was some problem, and we did call somebody about a reference, and she wasn't going to be on the plane, but she would call us to let us know when she was coming in. She never called. But the good news was, you have to look at the glass is half full. We were at some [party], or Mick was at some party or cocktail party or meeting, and he was telling the story. This other couple, this other person, said, "Are you kidding?" That scam had happened to about seven different couples, and most of the other couples were at the airport waiting and the person never came in. So, we felt pretty good that we didn't schlep from New Jersey all the way into New York to have this whatever.
Then, I think Mick was playing tennis with a man whose wife did this, and so we were already expecting somebody to come and we got this woman whose niece was from Portugal. She was about twenty, I guess, at the time. The woman and the niece came over. She was a doll. She was really, really sweet, and we said, "We'd like to hire you." She was great because on the weekends, she went to her aunt's house. When we were both home, I mean, she had a place, she didn't feel like she was in our way, and we didn't feel we were in her way. So, interestingly, she said, "Oh, okay," and her aunt said, "Yes, I have to get her a few things. How about if she starts," maybe we interviewed her on Friday, "if she starts a week from Friday or a week from next Monday," and we said, "No, can she start Monday? We need her." They said, "Okay." She started, [and] she was with us for three years. She moved with us from our house in Berkeley Heights to our house in Orange, and we sponsored her. She had been the child of a military person in Portugal. They were middle class, and so there was some difficulty in them thinking she should be an au pair because she was middle class. It turned out [that] my husband's brother, he had some government connection, so we sponsored her. When we moved to Orange, she moved with us. She was there, as I said, with us for three years. When Berkeley was born, she was with us.
She helped us find the next person who lived with us, who wasn't exactly an au pair, but was interesting. She was married to a contractor, she had worked for Lisbon Cleaning, in the airport, they were all Portuguese-speaking, and her husband wanted her to learn English. So, he wanted her to work with a family. She lived with us for a couple of years too. She was really cute.
Shelby, my middle one, at that age, let's say she was five or six--I came home one night and I said, "Where are you guys?" They said, "We're in Marley's room." I said, "Okay, what are you doing?" "I'm reading to her," [said Shelby]. We had these books Where did I come from? and What's Happening to My Body? So, she's reading to her about birth, and [in] What's Happening to My Body? there were cartoon pictures, [such as] the little boy with an erection on a diving board. I'm like, "Oy, what is she reading?" Marley was married, it was okay, but here's this six-year-old reading to her. It was very funny.
The girl's then were all in school, so we didn't need somebody as much full time. Then, we had different kinds of situations. We had a medical student. Then, luckily, [when] the kids were old enough, we didn't need anybody. But Shelby was born when I was at AT&T, and Berkeley was born when I was at Citibank, I guess. Yes, Berkeley was definitely born when I was at Citibank. Again, she was born February 4th, and I was back [in] March, in four weeks. She was a planned caesarian, so that, I knew. They go, "Oh, no." I said, "Look, when it was an emergency, I was back. I'm coming back." At that time, I guess, Marley was with us, so we had live-in help. So, we knew what was going on. Maybe Christina was there first and then Marley.
I was a working mother. I wasn't a mother who was working. It's kind of like you're a student-athlete, you're not an athlete-student kind of thing. To me, I had to work. I have lots of friends--I have one good friend now who, every once in a while, feels guilty. She has a nine or a ten and an eight-year-old, or a ten and a seven-year-old, or something, and she feels guilty. I'm like, "This is good for you, so it's good for them." I don't know where it is, I should show you, when Erin, my oldest, was in third grade, they made a picture this big and I think I have it upstairs, [it's] a Mother's Day card. It shows me in a business suit with a briefcase, and it says, "My mother works, but she makes really good cheesecakes." That's what it said on the thing, so it's like, "Okay." My girls are all at least professional women working and doing. Erin, the oldest one, who has two kids, is a different mother than I was. I normally would say she's a better mother than I am, but she's really lenient too and I wasn't. I hold my tongue when I'm with them. But she's got really good kids, she's got a great husband, and, yes, I'm very proud of her. She's very impressive. She's an attorney, and she now works for a company. She does podcasts and she's going to be on television and they quote her, very active.
KR: What did you encounter in terms of the glass ceiling?
DC: Interesting question. Let me flip it and counter something else about the MeToo movement. I'm listening to all of this stuff, and I said to my husband, "I'm really glad I used to be fat because nobody ever hit on me," and I was quite large. I have always had a weight problem. I've had less of one in the last ten years, because I've done stuff and tried to keep it off. But glass ceiling? At AT&T, I don't think it was a glass ceiling because there were women that were senior to me. At Citi, I got that big promotion, so I don't think it was a glass ceiling there and there were very senior women at Citi. At Gallup, again, I don't think there was a glass ceiling. I'm not sure I feel I've ever encountered it, and part of that might be because I started out at the height of the women's liberation movement, at an all-girls school. I do think that Douglass, at that time, prepared us more so than perhaps other things. We pushed at Douglass for twenty-four-hour parietals. Do you know what parietals are? Did we talk about this before?
KR: Please tell for the record.
DC: Okay. Parietals are visitation and, when I was a sophomore, I think we pushed because what we said is, "Twenty-four-hour parietals means that guys can be in your room twenty-four hours a day." Before that, the vision, I think, was, okay, men and women only can see each other as sexual objects, and if somebody's in your room, you're having sex, as opposed to twenty-four hour parietals and what we espoused and said to Dean Trayes, I think it was at the time, "Can't men be friends of yours and can't you perhaps be having a discussion or a debate or something in your room in the dorm? You haven't finished the debate, but, oh, now, it's ten o'clock, you've got to get out. But if you were a woman, you could stay and we could continue to discuss this." So, [it was] the notion of, "How do you see the opposite sex? If you see the opposite sex as a colleague or a friend, then there should be no glass ceiling, because your friend could be your boss. Your friend could get a promotion. You could be happy." So, I don't feel that I ever encountered it. I do feel I encountered stupid people, but I don't feel that anything I wanted to do was held back because I was a woman. I don't think of that. None of the places or jobs that I went did I necessarily want to get higher than I was. If I had stayed in academia, I might have felt, "Oh, gee, I didn't get to an assistant, to a full [professor]." That might have been because of my research, [which] wasn't what they wanted. I don't know. [Editor's Note: Marjorie Trayes served as the Dean of Students at Douglass College.]
I do know now [that] I have a level of frustration because when I teach, I have strict guidelines and I am strict and I'm difficult. I'm hard, and students nowadays don't like that. The quality of the education and what goes on [has changed]. They talk about grade inflation. It's ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous and it's scary, as our children, my grandchildren, your children, go out into the world. Your kids, I would be assuming, will not be that way. They will try to learn. They will try to do what needs to be done. My grandchildren, I'm expecting, I mean, my children are, so I expect my grandchildren will learn and do. So, when they get a job, they'll be able to do it. Some of these kids, nowadays, I just don't know.
I had a student this past semester who got a thirty-five out of fifty on his first writing paper. He said, "Who can I talk to?" He goes, "I worked an hour on this. This is not fair." There was a woman standing not next to him but kind of in line. She goes, "I worked an hour and a half on it and I got a thirty-five too." He goes, "Well, I'm really smart," and she said, "I had a ‘4.0' last semester," [and] he goes, "Well, you're a finance major, and I'm an accounting major and accounting is harder." [laughter] This guy plagiarized a paper too, during the semester, and he said, "I didn't cheat." I said, "Excuse me, this is the same as this, as the same as this," and they don't see it. He told me in the beginning why he couldn't have a thirty, because he was going to go work at Goldman Sachs. My husband said, "They do need janitors." But it's like, you can have "3.75." You can have a "3.9." You can have a "4.0," but if you don't know stuff and you get a job, by hook or crook because you talk a good game maybe, you can't do the job when you get there. What are you thinking? It's scary. I've taught at good schools and I've taught at lesser schools. Even at the lesser schools, you'll have really hardworking good students, but then you'll have the ones that it's like, "What are you thinking?" The last political thing I will say is [that] free college scares the heck out of me, because right now we've got so many people that don't belong there as it is. If it's free, how many more people will go? Sorry, that's my soapbox right there.
KR: You brought up the MeToo movement when I asked about the glass ceiling. What are your observations, over the time of your career, on how women are treated in the professional world and also in terms of harassment?
DC: Well, interestingly--and I've said that about seven times during this conversation, if not more, if you count them; you could tell me I had twelve or fourteen--when I was on maternity leave at Citi, they were moving us out of the lab and leaving three people in the lab. The receptionist freaked out because one of the people they were leaving in the lab was one of our [guys], he wasn't our tech, he was a tech guy I think, and he was so nerdy. For some reason, she was uncomfortable with him. He never would've done anything. He would've said inappropriate things, not on purpose, but because he was nerdy. He had red hair, and that makes a guy a little more nerdy, has more trouble. He was forty. She must've been twenty-six. He evidently, one time, said to her, "Oh, that's a nice blouse," or something, and she had pockets here. Now, we're taking everybody who's at the lab out, except [for] a guy that she was friendly with and him, but she was worried that she was going to be with the him a lot. Another guy who worked for me, I had fourteen people at the lab, could go stand behind her and massage her shoulders, and she was fine with that because Charlie was a good ‘ol boy. Irwin, that's another thing, his name was Irwin, he had red hair. He was nerdy. He had been in the company for like ten or fifteen years. When I came back, and I still was kind of in charge of the folks, they were firing him. They were letting him go because she was worried about being there alone with him. I fought it. I told him to fight it. I said, "No, no. You've done nothing wrong except …" I didn't say, "Be a nerd," but, "Be unaware."
It's interesting, a lot of my experience I can use when I teach, and I talk about fair employment practices and I talk about sexual harassment and I said, "Sexual harassment is in the eye of the receiver." If you say to somebody, "Oh, those are nice pants," and you kind of look funny or whatever, somebody could go, "They make me uncomfortable." Now, she said nothing to him. He was so oblivious, he didn't know she was uncomfortable. I mean, if Charlie rubbed her shoulders and she tensed, he should've known that. She didn't tense; she was fine with it. That's what he said to me, "Charlie can give her a back rub, you know." I said, "You have to understand, the way sexual harassment works, it's in the eye of the beholder. If you say something that makes somebody uncomfortable, if you tell off-color jokes and somebody's uncomfortable by it and they don't say anything but they leave the room every time you say it, you've got to be more aware." So, I actually got him to be transferred, not to be fired. Ah, we're back from the gym. [Editor's Note: Dr. Chlopak's husband enters the room.] I thought that was unconscionable. He didn't do anything wrong. He really didn't. He was just nerdy. Personally, there was one guy at Seton Hall who said or did something, and not for me per se, I remember there was some situation. I came home and I said to Mick that somebody, I can picture him, I don't even remember his name, made some comment or whatever. It wasn't really that, but I put him in his place kind of thing. Again, I was quite heavy, so nobody really ever hit on me. I don't know that any of the women I was around, did I ever see or hear anything, that I said, "Oh, you should do this," because I think a lot of the women I was around were strong women too.
KR: I wanted to ask you about your travel. Did you get the opportunity to travel as you were going through your career for work?
KR: Also, what have you done in your personal life travelling?
DC: Okay. When I was at AT&T, I didn't travel. I'm trying to think if I travelled at Citi. I may have travelled a little at Citi. When I left Citi to go [into] my own consulting company--I'm sorry, [at] AT&T, I only travelled [in the] United States. We did focus groups in Chicago and California.
Oh, I travelled on a red eye to California to see a focus group, and I came back on the red eye. I sat in first class, which we typically didn't sit in first class, and I happened to be with the Lakers. I didn't even know who they were, except [that] they're a lot of tall young men that were immature, because [they] kept throwing things around. When I left the plane, this was a funny story, Pat Riley, who was very noticeable of who Pat Riley was. He was standing, and I said to him, "Are these children yours?" and he said, "Yes." I said, "Oh," and then I left. Then, I went home, and I went right to work. So, it was like [I] got in at eight o'clock, and I got to the office. I had a friend from college who happened to be an African American girl, who was probably five-eight or so. I said, "Lorelle, who does Lew Alcindor play?" Because of him, I recognized [the team]. I said, "Who does Lew Alcindor play for?" She says, "You mean Kareem?" I mean, I didn't even know who he was. So, I said, "Yes, you should've been on that plane." So, that was a cool trip. [Editor's Note: Pat Riley is a NBA player, coach and executive who coached the Los Angeles Lakers from 1981 to 1990. During that era, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, played on the Lakers.]
I travelled for Citibank also, more United States. I never travelled internationally for Citi. When I had my own business, we did some consulting for Mini Tel. I travelled in the United States for business. When I went to Gallup, I travelled all over the place, worldwide. I did a project for Honeywell that we went to Barcelona. We went to Shanghai. Where was the third place? Oh, and the third place we did [was] Short Hills, New Jersey. I went to Hungary. I went to Israel four times. I went to France. I went to the United Kingdom. I went to Amsterdam. I'm trying to think where else I went. Japan. Singapore. I went [to] a lot of places for Gallup, lots and lots of places for Gallup. I don't think I ever went to Latin America for Gallup. I don't think so. I'm trying to think. I don't think so.
I travelled in the United States for Gallup too but more internationally. I was there for fourteen years and had a lot of good travel experiences. I'm trying to think if I went to Mexico. We went to Mexico on our honeymoon, but I don't know if we went to Mexico after that. We travel a lot in the United States, but since I've left Gallup, we're taking our third trip to Africa this summer. We went to Australia and New Zealand last summer. So, it's three trips to Africa. Mick and I have travelled to Belgium and we've travelled to France and we've travelled to the United Kingdom but not recently. I'm trying to think. We threw out my old passport, so I can't even tell you that, because he told me, "We got the new ones and they throw out the old ones." We are going back to Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania this summer. We went to South Africa two summers ago. In 2015 or '16, we went to Kenya and Tanzania. I think next year, well, I want to go to Albania because one of his student's father builds incredible buildings in Albania. He's helped this student a lot, so I said, "Do you think we can go visit her dad?" So, yes, it's fun, it's fun.
DC: Yes, yes. My oldest daughter travelled to Spain twice in high school, and then she spent junior year in Chile. Now, they've been to other places, and for her fortieth birthday, they took a cruise, a big cruise. My middle daughter never really travelled very many places, lots in the United States, because she played Division I lacrosse in college, but she went to Greece and maybe someplace else. Oh, did I say Switzerland? Because I was in Switzerland too. She went to Greece after she graduated from college, and she got the travel bug. She just spent three weeks in Costa Rica doing three hundred hours of yoga. I'm sure there's someplace else I've been that I can't think of right now, but we'll see. Oh, yes, what am I saying? We went to a wedding in England, and then we went to Norway and Sweden, I think. Yes, I don't want to go back to Norway. I like the Norwegian people; I don't like the Norwegian airport people. They're terrible, so bad that I wrote something on Facebook after I was there.
KR: Have you been involved at all in alumni events at Douglass?
DC: Yes, I actually am now the co-president, but I was the president of my class for the past five years or so. It's somewhat disheartening because Douglass is not Douglass anymore, as far as most of us are concerned. It doesn't seem the same. I mean, there's men living in Gibbons, I think, now. It's like very weird. I don't know if as you get older, you would get closer, but the people I went to school with, the people that are on the committee, are not even the people I was really friendly with before. My husband and I just had dinner with somebody that I graduated with that I got friendly with again. She was a psych major. I got friendly with her again because I called her for a reunion. Our fiftieth will be in two-and-a-half years; 2020 will be our fiftieth.
DC: No, what am I saying? No, we graduated in '72. So, '22, yes, in 2022, [it] will be our fiftieth. I graduated in '72, '22, that's not fifty? Is it fifty? Yes, it's fifty. Oh, my brain, I can't do the math. Yes, so it must've been our fortieth. Yes, I think it might have been our fortieth and we divvied up the list and we said, "We're going to call as many people as we can to see." I called this woman and it was really interesting because she's like, "I would never go to a reunion. Who wants to see those people?" That was her attitude and she really didn't like her roommate. There was some big blow up with her roommate of four years.
Then, it turns out that, for some reason, she likes me. So, she was a full [professor]. She retired. She had a chaired seat in a university. She was very well known and I don't know if she does podcasts, but she was on the radio or on [television]. She was interviewed. Every time she comes to New York, we go and have dinner with her. When I describe her to people, I go, "Yes, she's not a very friendly human being normally," but I say, "But she likes me and I don't know why she likes me but she does." So, we go and we have dinner, and it's very nice. She just told us that this friend of hers, who has this beautiful apartment in New York, has told her that she can have her seventieth birthday in this apartment, and she said, "Write this date down because you guys are invited." I'm like, "Okay." Very strange. I feel somewhat pleased. Why me? It's a little strange, but it's cool.
Most of the women that are on the reunion committee were not people I was friendly with. I mean, I wasn't not friendly with them because [in] Douglass we had 750 women and you knew a good portion of them. I mean, our class had some very impressive women, what they've done. One is some big attorney in D.C, or she's on some, I forget. That's my phone. I don't have to get it. [Editor's Note: Dr. Chlopak's cell phone rings.] Some of them haven't aged very well. Some of them haven't really done anything. Some of them have lots of medical problems. I kind of feel lucky. I do feel somewhat guilty when I run into Tina. What's Tina's last name? I can picture her. She worked for J&J for years and years and years, and she just retired, but she's really active in alumni [affairs]. I mentioned before Jeannie Fox. You know Jeannie Fox. I was her house chairman; she called me mom.
To me, going back, first of all, I hate going to those meetings because they're really annoying, because all they're doing is talking about raising money. I have said to alumni associations, I have talked to people because you want your students to be involved, I said, "What you should do for the first five years, after anybody graduates, is ask them to volunteer time. Don't ask them for money. Ask them to volunteer time." So, if I came back and let's say they said, "Donna," this is years ago, "could you come back and talk about IO psych because these students don't know anything about [it], talk to two or three psych classes, would you do that?" "Yes." Think about how more engaged you'd be in the school than if they just call, because, man, it's real easy to write a check. It doesn't tie you to the school in any way at all. It's ridiculous.
I didn't go to a reunion this year. It wasn't a big reunion, so I didn't go this year. I've missed every meeting that they've had, even the phone meetings, because I've had other meetings at the same time. I don't feel that close anymore. I mean, we, as the reunion group, have actually met to have a meal together, just to talk and have a meal together, and some of them are much closer to the school than I am. One of them is very negative about everything that happens. So, the head people of the committee kind of told her, "Don't [bother]." It's like not good, not good. So, it is what it is.
First of all, I think Douglass did something really not too bright. When they knocked down Corwin, they missed an opportunity. They should've have taken the letters off of all of the houses and auctioned them off, because some of us had fondness for that, before they just decimated the place. We didn't even know they decimated the place. Maybe there was something in the newsletter, I don't know, that I didn't read, but I used to read the newsletters we got that said the dates, like the class of this and here's what [is happening]. I also think that isn't that much. People don't write in; they have their own lives. I remember at our fortieth, there were people that I really wanted to see. I was curious to [see] where they got to, what they were doing. I went to our twenty-fifth, [and] I think I went to our thirtieth or fortieth. I've been to two or three; I haven't been to all of them, not even every five years.
Actually, I think it was either our twentieth or twenty-fifth, one of them, where my roommate said, "I really don't want to go, but could we meet at your house?" So, my sophomore sister and two of my best friends who were in my class [met at my house]. My sophomore sister was really good friends with one of my friends who was in our class. The three of us just met at my house. It's hard. What might be cool is [if] somebody said, "Okay, we're going to have a reunion of the psychology majors and we're going to get Matt" Erdelyi, who is at Brooklyn College, I think, "to come." I think a lot of us would come. I don't know where John Santa is. Not Neimark, she's probably dead. That's a terrible thing to say, but she's probably dead. If you could meet with some of your faculty, "Where are they? Let's see what I did. See what you [did]." I think it would be a bigger draw than just even us. I don't know.
KR: I have reached the end of my questions.
DC: Good, okay.
KR: I want to ask you if there is anything you want to add. Is there a story that we skipped over that you would like to tell at this point?
DC: No, I told you about my grandmother, right? I told you about how she came over from a lottery.
KR: Yes, we talked about that ...
KR: … In the first session, yes.
DC: I thought so. That struck me because I was telling somebody else that story the other night, and I think that's a really important story. No, I think I've exhausted everything.
KR: Well, thank you so much for doing this oral history interview series.
DC: My pleasure.
KR: Okay, I am going to stop.
----------------------------------END OF TRANSCRIPT------------------------------------
Transcribed by Jesse Braddell 8/2/2019
Reviewed by Zach Batista 12/4/2019
Reviewed by Kathryn Tracy Rizzi 3/25/2020
Reviewed by Donna Chlopak 5/19/2020