Note: This articcle first appeared in the Emerald newspaper on Friday, January 17, 2014.
Halfway through his second year as University of Oregon president, Michael Gottfredson is still a mystery to many students. Here are five tidbits about the UO president that will leave you feeling like you’re on a first name basis:
1.) He grew up spending his summers working on a cattle ranch.
“Our ranch was in the foothills of California and up in the Sierra Nevada mountains … Spending long days mending barbwire fences is hard work. It focuses your mind about maybe what some alternatives might be. I’m not sure, but I think it got me interested in going into college … It taught me a lot. I’m sure it did … Life on a cattle ranch is a hard life. You put in long days. You start early and quit late. I think it’s fair to say I still do that. I don’t know whether I learned that working in that way but there is a chance that I did.”
2) He sold his motorcycle for a European adventure.
“I rode a motorcycle when I was in high school and I sold it when I was a senior to finance a trip to Europe. After high school I graduated the next day. I went to Europe for four months and traveled along with a friend. I lost my motorcycle but it was a good exchange. We did [backpack across Europe] and drove a Volkswagen Bug, which was popular back then. We stayed in hostels and camped a lot.”
3.) He protested against the Vietnam War
“I had a great undergraduate experience. [The University of California] Davis is a great school and it was a great time [but also] a difficult time … So it was the Vietnam War and it was very controversial. It was a very difficult period to be a student and a difficult period for the country. It was a very active time for students — for me. We were not supportive of the Vietnam War and the involvement of it in that time. It’s almost difficult to explain today how active the students were, we all were. [I remember] we were in a march in San Francisco in 1971. It was in opposition to the war.”
4.) He lived in London.
“I worked for the British Home office. I had a great address. [It] was Queen Anne’s Gate because part of the home office was in St. James Parks … Working for the British government was an interesting experience. Quite different than what I was used to. It was a research post but I learned a lot about the similarities and differences between our government structures … Both of those experiences convinced me of how important it is to experience different societies and cultures, and to travel. So I am a big proponent for study abroad programs. I wish I could make that a requirement because I think it’s a good idea for lifelong learning. There is just no substitute.”
5.) He married his high school sweet heart, Karol.
“I got married in college. My wife and I got married in the beginning of our sophomore year. My wife and I went to high school together. That is my favorite experience of college.”