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Noon Edition

Former IU First Lady Pat Ryan

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MOYA ANDREWS: I'm Moya Andrews and welcome to Profiles on WFIU. On Profiles, we talk to notable people - artists, scholars and writers - and get to know the stories behind their work. Our guest today is a very special person in the history of IU. Her name is Pat Ryan and she is the widow of our 14th president, John Ryan. So, Pat, thank you so much for being here today. I just want to talk a little bit about how you and John met. Can you tell me how you met the young John Ryan?

PAT RYAN: It's not a very glamorous story. John was the oldest of six children and the only way he was going to go to college was on an assistantship of some kind, and he joined the Navy ROTC program and they sent him from Minnesota to the University of Utah to go to school. He was living in the army barracks up at Camp Douglas. That's on the edge of the University of Utah campus. I think he was a starving student because the first indication I had there was a John Ryan is my father kept talking about this poor starving student who comes to the Knights of Columbus meeting, and he really would like to have him come home for dinner to feed him one night. And I would not allow this. I didn't know this University of Utah student. Well, I did meet him sometime later. My father was giving me a ride into town that I was going to spend the weekend with friends, and he said, on the way, I'm going to pick up the student at the University of Utah. And he did pick him up and I met him. He called me a week later and asked me to go on a date with him. And he took me to the University of Utah roof garden restaurant, which is probably the most expensive place in town. And here I was, a senior high school student. I thought he was showing off. And I came home furious because I figured he'd spent his whole week's salary on that dinner and I didn't want anything more to do with him. But my father still felt sorry for this poor starving student and asked him for dinner several times. And we became very good friends.

MOYA ANDREWS: Well, that's a wonderful story. And you were probably about the only two Roman Catholic students in Utah.

PAT RYAN: Oh, that's an exaggeration. Judge Memorial High School probably had about 350 students in it. But I had to take the bus into town to go - the city bus. It was a little bit of a hardship. And John finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah. My mother and dad were helping us by this time. And he finished the work for his master's degree and he had two professors who had taken an interest in him. The chairman of the political science department, Homer Durham, was a UCLA graduate and arranged for John to have a scholarship at UCLA. And the other professor was from Indiana University and arranged for John to have an assistantship at Indiana. We chose Indiana. We thought the money would go farther. You wonder why a decision like that sets your whole life up, but it did. We got here. The chairman of the department had died and they weren't going to honor the assistantship. So, we were packing to go home when John Stoner, one of the political science professors, says this is not fair to this young man. And they arranged for a single assistantship for him to go to school for his PhD. Because it was a single assistantship, I had to go to work. I went to work nightshift at RCA. We had two children by this time, living in the old army barracks.

MOYA ANDREWS: How many years did you work at RCA?

PAT RYAN: A year and a half. But I became pregnant again so I took a leave of absence. By the time it was fine for me to go back to RCA, they had closed down. And there was no work for a student or a wife of a student in Bloomington at that time. So, another professor of John's, Bill Siffin, had worked for the state of Kentucky and arranged for John to have a job in the revenue department in Frankfort, Kentucky. So, we took the three little children and went to Frankfort, Kentucky. And John worked for the government department there.

MOYA ANDREWS: Well, how long did he work there?

PAT RYAN: About a year and a half. About that time, Dr. Wells signed the contracts. Indiana was the second school after Michigan to sign a contract to send educators to countries to set up programs. Michigan set one up in the Philippines and we were the second contract with AID or United States overseas mission, which was the forerunner of AID. So, they offered John a job. If he would go to Bangkok for the two years, they would give him a double assistantship to finish his degree. So, we packed up three little kids. We went by way of the Philippines to see how the Michigan contract was set up and how they ran. When we got to Bangkok, we set it up in the same way. And we were at Thammasat University, which is basically the political science government university in Bangkok. Indiana did sign a contract a year later in education at Thammasat University and sent a group of Indiana educators to set up a school of education in Bangkok. We probably had more Indiana graduates in Bangkok than...

MOYA ANDREWS: …any other university.

PAT RYAN: …or any other AID program set up because of this.

MOYA ANDREWS: And so, the foundation was being laid for the interest in international education.

PAT RYAN: He was to do the research for the contract and set up the coursework and all of this, which caused him to travel in the country. So, he did learn the language very quickly. Before we even got there, he had learned the language. And his dissertation is about state and local government in Thailand.

MOYA ANDREWS: Well, isn't that interesting? And then that was a thread that went through his whole career and he was very influential in terms of emphasizing...

PAT RYAN: International education was always part of his career, always.

MOYA ANDREWS: Yes. And then after he got his PhD you went somewhere else, didn't you?

PAT RYAN: After he got his PHD and graduated from Indiana University, his first job was at University of Wisconsin in the government department up there, which later became political science. But he first taught in the extension division in the first year. Second year they brought him into the government department in Madison. And the third year they'd hired a new president and John became assistant to that president as he was working in the government department.

MOYA ANDREWS: So, these themes are starting to emerge - the interest in regional campuses and extension programs, the interest in government and the interest in administration started really early.

PAT RYAN: With this new president, he was very much internationally connected, especially with Washington. And one of John's jobs the last year he was in Madison was to handle the training programs for faculty members who would come to the United States for special programs. And John was the one who handled them, which was his forerunner into the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps didn't come until we got to Amherst. But he did several conferences in Madison of international groups that came through.

0MOYA ANDREWS: And then from there you went to...

PAT RYAN: Massachusetts in Amherst. He was assistant to the president, basically, there. So, he did all kinds of things.

MOYA ANDREWS: He did a lot of regional campus work there.

PAT RYAN: They didn't have regional campuses.

MOYA ANDREWS: They didn't?

PAT RYAN: Amherst was actually the main campus. They did not have regional campuses yet. At that time, that's when John became involved with the Peace Corps. One of the very first Peace Corps programs came to University of Massachusetts in Amherst to be trained before they went overseas. And John was the one who set this all up.

MOYA ANDREWS: Oh, my goodness. And so then from there you came back to IU?


MOYA ANDREWS: No? You went somewhere else?

PAT RYAN: We traveled too many times. From Amherst, we went to Arizona State in Tempe, Arizona. And he was the vice president, assistant to the president who had been the chairman of the department at Utah when we were there. The one who had arranged the assistantship at UCLA was now president at Arizona State University and John became a vice president under him. And he continued his Peace Corps training projects. I think he had three of them while we were there in Tempe.

MOYA ANDREWS: Three grants.

PAT RYAN: He trained three different groups. One of the problems of training Peace Corps groups is trying to find housing for them. And John was very innovative. One of the very top fraternities, and I won't name which one, had gotten into some trouble and were evicted from the campus for a year. So,

MOYA ANDREWS: That was entrepreneurial.

PAT RYAN: And these young people had chickens and goats in the beautiful patio of this fraternity house. I hope they were able to reclaim it again afterwards.

MOYA ANDREWS: From there you came back to IU.


MOYA ANDREWS: You went somewhere else?

PAT RYAN: Because of his ties with Massachusetts, they opened a new campus. They were starting a new campus in downtown Boston - the Boston campus of University of Massachusetts. And they rented the old gas company building and he set up this new university in this old gas company building in Copley Square. And there were lots of problems. It was a whole new venture and hiring faculty - brand new faculty from the very beginning. And he had lots of friends in Boston who helped put this together. But there were some real problems within some of the faculty people, and everything. So, he loved being in Boston to set this university up, but there were problems.

MOYA ANDREWS: It was 20 years after he first came to Indiana…

PAT RYAN: …To be the vice president for regional campuses. He says, “I can't leave. I must see my first four years in Boston graduate. That first class, I owe it.” I said, “John, the problems in Boston are overwhelming right now.” And I said, “we're going to go to Indiana. Either we go together or you - I'm going to go alone.” So, we did come back.

MOYA ANDREWS: That was the first and last ultimatum.

PAT RYAN: That really was. I think it's the only time I really did do that.

MOYA ANDREWS: You like moving.

PAT RYAN: No, I don't like it.

MOYA ANDREWS: But you're good at it.

PAT RYAN: I got to be very good at it.


MOYA ANDREWS: You're listening to Profiles on WFIU. I'm Moya Andrews. Our guest today is Pat Ryan whose husband John Ryan was a very influential president of Indiana University.

So, you came back to IU in 1968. And that was a time of great turmoil.

PAT RYAN: It was a terrible time on campus. The Vietnam war, the question of the equality of the blacks, and it was just a terrible time. And the legislature in this time cut the budget severely. And so, the university, to survive, had to raise their tuition prices. That made even more unrest on the campus.

MOYA ANDREWS: Protests, sit ins, lockdowns. I remember that time. And so, this was not a good time to be an administrator, but he was mainly concerned with the regional campus.

PAT RYAN: And, you know, for him, it was absolutely perfect job. He is way - he was to bring each of these regional campuses together under one umbrella, coordinate the teaching so that all the classes were coordinated under this one umbrella, and it was a wonderful time. These campuses were just starting out.

MOYA ANDREWS: Yes. They didn't even have a Chancellor. They didn't have…

PAT RYAN: …They had no administrators - administrative structure at all, other than deans on the campuses. So, this was putting it under one umbrella; coordinating the teaching on all these campuses that a degree from Gary was worth every bit as much as a degree from South Bend.

MOYA ANDREWS: And, of course, he got to know the people in all the different places, which was invaluable to him when eventually he did manage to set up that whole system, which was a miracle later on. But we're jumping ahead. Let's go back to the fact that the unrest is dreadful.

PAT RYAN: It is.

MOYA ANDREWS: And, as well, the president was Joe Sutton, I remember.

PAT RYAN: Well, no, when we first came back…

MOYA ANDREWS: Oh, no, it was Elvis.

PAT RYAN: Elvis Stahr hired John in April, but he resigned in June, so…

MOYA ANDREWS: …this is 1968.

PAT RYAN: 1968. And this is terrible time on the campus, but this started a search for a new president. They were eventually - in the fall of 68, they picked Joe Sutton, who had been John's professor here at IU and head of our group in Bangkok. We were like families together. John was like a brother to Joe. And so, it was kind of his exciting time. And everybody said it's going to be Camelot. Of course, it wasn't Camelot at that time because of the unrest and the cutting of the budget. I mean, there were just untold problems on this campus at this time.

MOYA ANDREWS: Yes. And the unrest was extreme. I mean, we have no idea today how bad it was. Even though it was a smaller student body, the unrest was great. And so, Joe Sutton was the president and there were, what? Four vice presidents? John was one.

PAT RYAN: John was one. Dave Dirge, Joe Hartley and Gus wasn't vice president. He became vice president under John. But Lynn Meritt. Because of the unrest on the campus, we became a very close-knit group - a big family to see if we could work out the problems. And so, we did tackle most of the problems on the campus, but we had a lot of personal problems that made time very difficult. Dave Dirge lost his wife at this time. Joe Sutton's wife became very ill and eventually he lost her. He took a leave of absence and then he came back after his leave of absence in December of 1970.

MOYA ANDREWS: Yes. Because he resigned in 1971, after his wife died.

PAT RYAN: He turned in his resignation in January of 1971. It was about the third week in January. The trustees - we were going to be celebrating the birthday of the university. I'm not sure what year that was. It was a very auspicious year, I know. And he turned in his resignation to them and we all were very apprehensive, not knowing what the trustees were going to do because of the unrest. There was no possibility of going through a search and screen for a new president. The trustees at that time had to take things into their own hand, and so they did accept Joe's resignation. And unbeknownst to us, they decided - the day after our celebration, the trustees met and on their own decided to appoint a new president, which was unheard of. And two weeks that followed that time, the faculty were up in arms in protest and actually threatened to walk out on the university. And it was a very difficult time for the trustees, for the administration, and for the faculty. And John called a meeting - a university-wide meeting – invited…

MOYA ANDREWS: …He was appointed as president, wasn't he?

PAT RYAN: He was appointed as president.

MOYA ANDREWS: And he was the youngest of all the vice presidents.

PAT RYAN: The youngest of the vice presidents. Joe Hartley, I think, was only five months older than John. But John was the youngest and the newest. It would be interesting if we could ask of the trustees why they picked John, the youngest and the newest, but it's one of those things we live with. John had to tackle the problems with the faculty. They were not happy at all. So, he called a general gathering of any faculty member who wanted to attend a meeting in the auditorium, and he would speak to them.

MOYA ANDREWS: And did you go?

PAT RYAN: I was there.

MOYA ANDREWS: You went for moral support?

PAT RYAN: I was there.

MOYA ANDREWS: And they were jeering and placards?

PAT RYAN: And we walked in and I was sitting in the seat. It was like bedlam in the auditorium. Everybody was angry. They were shouting angry things. Nobody was going to accept this. So, John came to the podium and the shouting wouldn't stop. And he just stood there for I think at least 10 minutes and all of a sudden, he put his hands up and he said, “give me one minute,” he says, “please.” And so, they quieted down and he - I cannot reproduce his speech. But, basically, what he said to them is - he says, “I am outraged too. I'm a faculty member just like you are. This is not what you do at a university.” He says, “unprecedented.” And he says, “but I'll make a promise to you and ask you to bear with me.” He says, “if you will sign on with me for three years - for three years - I will sign on with you for three years. At the end of the three years, I will turn in my resignation and you, the faculty and the trustees, will have their search on screen for a new president.” And he said, “all I can ask you is bear with me and let's see this through together.”

MOYA ANDREWS: Because I suppose there were a lot of things that he had to address, including the budget, the breakdown in communication with the legislature...

PAT RYAN: …It was not a good time. But the faculty signed on. I'm not sure they were happy and they didn't know what to expect. But they clapped and agreed to this. At the end of the three years, John did turn in his resignation to the faculty council and they rejected it and elected him president of the university.

MOYA ANDREWS: So, it had a very positive outcome.

PAT RYAN: And the next three years he said, “I will do another three years with you.” At the next three years, he turned in his resignation to the faculty council and they elected him president again. And he said, “I'm not going to do this anymore.” He says, “I won't resign anymore.” In some ways, it was - the faculty realized and accepted the conditions and the problems of the university and they signed on with him and he worked with the legislature to try to get more money. And that must have been very difficult. With the legislative cut, it was devastating to the university. And he had several strategies. The one strategy I think is wonderful: He decided that most or the majority of the state legislators came from private universities in the state. And he gathered all the presidents of the private universities and the public universities to meet with them up in Indianapolis. He basically reached out to them and said, “we need your help. We need to get to the legislators and convince them that all of the public universities are worth saving and need to be funded. And we are asking you to reach out to your alums, who are now our legislators, to help us get through this time.” And you know, it did happen. It was a wonderful time of signing on and for the greater good.

MOYA ANDREWS: Wasn't there something you used to have on football weekends where people brought their legislators with them?

PAT RYAN: We came up with - another strategy to meet legislators is, we asked our alumni from the different areas in the state of Indiana to bring their legislators with them to campus for a football game and the football luncheon beforehand. We tended the area - the patio area on the west side of the house.

MOYA ANDREWS: …Bryan House…

PAT RYAN: …Bryan House - with a series of four tents. And we would have these huge football luncheons, and we'd ask a trustee from a certain area to fill that table with leaders from their area, mostly legislators. And John would give them the speech that we're here and we need your help. All those things worked out.

MOYA ANDREWS: They do help.

PAT RYAN: They did help. And they worked out.

MOYA ANDREWS: So that was an interesting time, a time of building alliances and building.

PAT RYAN: But at the end of that first three years, we weren't out of the woods yet, but we had an increase in support for the university. The riots and the unrest on the campus had somewhat calmed down.

MOYA ANDREWS: Let's back up a bit and tell me where you lived when you first came back to IU in 1968 when all this campus unrest was going on. Where did you actually live with your three children?

PAT RYAN: Well, we found that there was a university house available to us right next door to Dr. Wells. It was a lovely old house and we moved in with three children and two dogs. Now, Kathleen was already in college in Massachusetts. Kevin went to university high school and Casey was at Deerfield Academy, so we only had one child at home at that time, but it was a wonderful place to live on close to the campus. John was doing a lot of traveling that time, and I started going to college at University of Wisconsin and it continued at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and at Arizona State University. So, when I got back here to Indiana, I enrolled in classes at Indiana. And we lived there for a year and we were sort of kind of brought up short very early at the end of that first year when we got an eviction notice. And so, we ended up -

MOYA ANDREWS: You were vice president but you get an eviction notice from the campus?

PAT RYAN: Yes, because a tenured faculty member cannot live in a university house more than a year. So, we found a house on Ballantine and it was a wonderful house. And we lived in that house until we moved into the house on the campus.

MOYA ANDREWS: When you moved to Bryan house.

PAT RYAN: And when John became president end of ‘71, we thought what we needed desperately is to establish a presidency amidst all this turmoil. And the best way to do that was to move into that house. It had not been lived in for almost three years.

MOYA ANDREWS: So, Elvis Stahr and his family lived there.

PAT RYAN: And they left and took all their furniture with him. And in the meantime, the house had been used by the union as a guest house and they had furnished it with some of their wonderful antique pieces of furniture from their stash. And it was kind of a sad place because there was no budget to make it look right. One of my first things that hit me as just outrageous is, evidently, they had to replace the dining room carpet. And they must have had leftover carpet from some room in the union because this carpet was a black background carpeting with red and pink cabbage roses on it. It was just outrageous.

MOYA ANDREWS: And it was throughout the whole of the house?

PAT RYAN: Just the dining room.

MOYA ANDREWS: Just the dining room.

PAT RYAN: But, because the budget had been cut so severely, there was not money at all available to redo this house. I met - probably one of the most wonderful women on this campus was Mary Craig. She became my savior, my angel. And with her, we literally refurnished - on a budget - we refurnished Bryan house and made it very livable. It really looked quite nice when we were finished with it. And we thought the one thing our job is going to be doing besides running the university is public relations. So, we set this house up to be used for public relations. We've tended the patio so we had some entertaining space. There was very little entertaining space in the house itself. We could seat 20 people for a sit-down dinner, a formal sit-down dinner. But if we had more than that, we had to set tables up in the rest of the house. It was a little less formal that way. But it was wonderful living in the house in the middle of a campus. You feel a little like you're in a fishbowl. But after we got the house halfways decent to live in and to entertain in, I realized I didn't know where to go from there. There was a cook who could not cook and there was a cleaning woman who kept things very neat and clean. How do I go from there? So, I went over to the person that I had become very much acquainted with, Max Fleetwood at the union, and I said, “Max, can you help me?” I said, “how am I going to run that house?” I said, “I don't want to cater if we don't have to. So tell me where I go now.” He says, “well, I know who will do the job for you, but you can't get her.” And I looked at him and I said, “well, trust me.” And he gave me the name of Eileen Bartholome, who was the house mother at the Phi Delta Theta house. And I went to see Eileen Bartholome, and she is formidable, and very dear and sweet. And I said, “I need you.” And she says, “well, I have to have a place to live in the house.” She says, “I don't get an apartment outside. I live here in the house, so I must have a place to live in.” On the third floor of Bryan house there are two bedrooms and two bathrooms. One of the bedrooms is a very large sitting room area. And I made a contract with her. I said, “that will be your space.” Since there is an elevator in the house - Dr. Wells had put an elevator - so the third floor wasn't that bad. So, Eileen Bartholome moved in with us into Bryan house and she was the greatest thing that ever happened.

MOYA ANDREWS: Now, did she have children?

PAT RYAN: She had grown children who graduated from Indiana University. One’s a doctor up in Terre Haute and a daughter, I think, in Florida. Both IU graduates. But she moved in and she whipped the house into shape so fast you couldn't believe it. First of all, she said she only hired boys. She did not want girls working for her. So, she hired boys, mostly fraternity boys at the beginning. And she brought them in and trained them, and she dictated that they come in black slacks white shirts, and we bought pretty little bow ties and red plaid vests. So, these boys would walk in and put the vests on and they were in uniform, and she would run this place. She decided she was not going to cater anything. And she, with the cook's help cleaning up after, would cook all the food we served in that house unless we had something like - if we had the trustees or too many, we would have the union cater it. But for the most part, Eileen Bartholome would cook - shop and cook for everything we served. And she'd work all day. She'd come out of the kitchen with flour on her face and all down in front of her, and she'd get into the elevator and go upstairs and change and come down and she'd be Madam Bartholome. And she was truly a house mother for us. And all of the things that came out of being in Bryan house followed from her because we did a lot of entertaining, and we had formulas for how we would put it. We would have Christmas, for instance. The very first group we'd have at Christmas was the media, and we would have the first reception for the media always set up. And some fun stories come out of this, because it was always early in the season. How do you get a Christmas tree decorated the first of December? Well, my daughter Kathleen by this time was a student on campus. The first two years she would bring her girls from the dormitory over. They'd decorate the tree and I'd have pizza and Cokes for them. And we did this for two years. The third year, John's niece was a student on campus and she brought her sorority sisters over. They decorated the tree. I think it was the fourth year that we hit the wall. We did not have any more students to come, and we couldn’t keep it…

MOYA ANDREWS: [laughs]…to do it for free!

PAT RYAN: …to do it for free. And John came up with this wonderful solution. We invited the media school, and we had set up card tables in the living room with all the decorations on it, and we announced to them they had to put at least five decorations on the tree before they had their liquid refreshments. It worked out beautifully.

MOYA ANDREWS: So, you did things always economically.

PAT RYAN: Oh, we - from the whole time we were there…we were under the restraints of a budget, because it was not a good time. I think the last years were a lot easier, but I think the first eight years I know we always had budget problems.

MOYA ANDREWS: Tell me about the present that John put on the tree one year.


MOYA ANDREWS:  I think that is a great story.

PAT RYAN: This is – the – always the media school. And they were invited, and this was the first group. And I was still at the door greeting people coming in and I heard this hysterical laughing, and this had to be one of the first years because it would not have been as funny later on. Anyway, I walked into the living room to see what was happening and here's this gorgeous, big present with the most magnificent bow on it; beautiful present sitting there alone under that tree. And I looked at the tag and it said, “to our beloved president, from the faculty council.”

MOYA ANDREWS: That was the time when the faculty was so mad.

PAT RYAN: It was not from the faculty council.

MOYA ANDREWS: That's a wonderful story. And so, you lived in the house for 17 years?

PAT RYAN: Well, someone corrected me not too long ago. I thought it was kind of nit picking a little bit. We lived in the house for 16 years and eight months. So, it's not quite 17 years.

MOYA ANDREWS: And the only ones who lived there longer were the Bryans.

PAT RYAN: Until I was putting together my talk that I gave over at Meadowood, I had not realized we had lived in the house longer than anyone other than the Bryans.

MOYA ANDREWS: And your daughter was married in the house?

PAT RYAN: My daughter had her wedding reception in the house. John's niece who was in school at IU had her wedding reception in the house, and one of our trustees from Terre Haute's daughter had her wedding reception in the house. We had three wedding receptions. And with the tent, it isn't as nice as it is today. But it worked.


MOYA ANDREWS: You're listening to Profiles on WFIU. I'm Moya Andrews and our guest today is a very special member of the IU community, Mrs. Pat Ryan.

Pat, tell me about what it was like when you were a student on campus, as well as the president's wife?

PAT RYAN: Well, by the time John became president, I had already been a student on the campus for two years. Before that time, I didn't have to worry about which classes I took, or grades.

MOYA ANDREWS: But you didn't have to be someone who always got A's?

PAT RYAN: Well, I didn't worry about it anyway. But from this time on I thought, “oh, how am I going to handle being a student?” I think by that time I was a junior - being a student on the campus and juggling being a student and being a first lady. And so, I was very careful to pick only senior faculty members. I thought I did not want to cause any young faculty member any problems, so I picked senior faculty members. But the very first time I realized I had a lot to face was the first time I registered after John became president. We were registering in the old Fieldhouse at that time. Kathleen was a student on campus also. And so, we had our slot with the Ryan, “R,” and we arrived to walk up the driveway. We were in that old field house…

MOYA ANDREWS: I remember working there.

PAT RYAN: …darting into the field house to register. And as we walked in, all of a sudden, shocked to see four photographers with cameras jump out behind a car to take pictures of us arriving at the fieldhouse. I panicked immediately. I grabbed Kathleen and we turned and ran back over to the registrar's office in the administration building and I walked in and I said, “these are the classes I want. I've got every class.” But Kathleen says, “mom, it's the only time I ever got all the classes I ever wanted.” So, that was my beginning to realize it was going to be a problem. And as I said, I always chose very senior faculty members. Sometimes things backfire on you. I was in a class. The students were all demonstrating about something else on class, and they had threatened to boycott classes that day. And I wouldn't dare boycott a class. So, I showed up at this class and I was one of six students in this class to show up for class that day. But I did make sure I was well-prepared. But the other funny thing that happened - this was also the very first semester - I was taking a very large psychology class and I always sit about three rows from the front. And I was sitting there at the beginning of the class and I had a tap on my shoulder. And I turned around to see my son's very best friend sitting there. He says, “what are you doing here?” And I said, “if you say one word, you're dead meat.” That's it. And he never sat next to me again. But we finished the class together.

MOYA ANDREWS: And I hope you passed.

PAT RYAN: I did pass. And, as I said, I always picked very senior faculty members so they didn't feel threatened or uncomfortable with me in class. But when it came time to graduate and everybody said I've got to march in with the students, I said, “absolutely not. This is their day. I will not do this.” I ended up sitting up on the podium there where the - we were in the field house by this - still. And I remember sitting there with - being host to the guests who were there for the graduation. But a friend of mine had bought me a mortar board. So I hid the mortar board down, and walked down the back of the aisles and all the way back, and I sat with all of the students that I had finished with - a lot of them in social work because that's the ones I had gotten to know the most - put the mortar board on, no cap and gown, but just the mortar board, and I was sitting about four rows back with all these students. And Jerry Mitchell, the photographer for the university, came by and he saw me. And he looked up, lifted his camera and I stood, I said, “don't you dare.” I said, “you do not take a picture here. This is their day.” I said, “you can come to the house afterwards and take all the pictures you want.” He left and he did not take a picture, but he did come to the house and take pictures afterwards.

MOYA ANDREWS: Oh, that's a wonderful story. And then I've heard that John referred to three special people who were graduating and you will one of them, but he didn't mention you by name.

PAT RYAN: Yes. He just told stories. But he said this was a very special class. He picked these three students out of this class and why they were special. And I really have to tell you: at the time I did not hear - I wasn't hearing very well. And it didn't register with me until I got back up to the press box, until someone told me the third person was this woman who was aged, had gone back to school and gotten her degree, and I realized he was talking about me. So, I have to go back - I'm going to get that speech and reread it again.

MOYA ANDREWS: …and read it again. I want to talk a little bit about John's legacy. He was so instrumental in so many things and in so many different universities. And, after he retired…

PAT RYAN: He became what - he did not like the term, but a rent-a-president.

MOYA ANDREWS: …rent-a-president?

PAT RYAN: …a rent-a-president. He was very angry at my using that term, but that's what he was. And in some ways, it was a wonderful time because each time he tackled problems that he knew how to solve, and it was wonderful. But when he retired, he decided he wanted to teach for a while. So, he did teach for three semesters up in Indianapolis at the Indianapolis campus. The first year after we retired, we left town and we had a house in Florida and we were there for that year. But when we came back, he was teaching up in Indianapolis. And he taught for two years up in Indianapolis, and he loved that. And then he did retire. And we were going to retire to Florida. And he was in graduate school. He and a good friend of his had come up with the idea of a registry that - universities sometimes find themselves almost overnight without administrators. And they needed some kind of organization who would find short-term legislators for universities. So, this young man, when he graduated from college, started this program called The Registry. And it's going strong in Florida today. We went to Florida to retire and not do anything. John got a call from him saying Florida Atlantic had just lost their president. He left literally overnight for another job. But there were such terrible problems at Florida Atlantic that they needed somebody to solve the problems before they hired a new president. John went to Florida Atlantic. They got an apartment for us in Boca Raton, and my mother had come to live with us, by that time. So, she came with us to this little apartment, but it was only four months. The former president left because of problems within the university that were just unmanageable. So, John took over as this interim president for four months, and he started facing these problems and he realized they were a little hard to fix, but it turns out that a judge – an Indiana University judge from the northern part of Indiana - was now retired in Boca Raton. And this judge took on the problems, and with his expertise and his following, he was able to solve the problems. They hired a new president who walked into a problemless university. In four months.

MOYA ANDREWS: Yes, and that's the wonderful thing: John was able to solve problems and find out how to do things, and to do things well. And so, in these interim jobs, he was able to -

PAT RYAN: He loved these interim jobs. They were such fun for him.


PAT RYAN: I think he thought they were kind of freebie jobs.


PAT RYAN: But the next job he took was a six-months term at University of Maryland at Baltimore. One of his proteges had become president of Baltimore - of the University of Maryland - but found the chancellor from the Maryland campus had left for another job. So, John went to Maryland until they hired a new chancellor there, which was kind of fun because they had an apartment for us right down on the bay. It was just a lovely time to be…

MOYA ANDREWS: …a lovely time.

PAT RYAN: I mean, there were problems to solve, but they were easy problems to solve.

MOYA ANDREWS: Yes. And they were nothing like the problem that he had to solve when he was first appointed here.

PAT RYAN: The next adventure was in Washington. Another protege of John had become head of A.I.D. and ran into all kinds of problems, and he asked John to come and help him, be his right hand man. And John did lots of things. We were there for two years in Washington. And for John, it was just a fun thing to do because he could handle these problems, but he knew they weren't his for a long term. But he solved problems and he loved doing this. And then I thought he was going to retire again. And then the State University of New York called him. The man they had hired to be chancellor of the State University of New York system had run into a problem - real problems. They got a new governor in the state of New York. The former governor had not filled four of the trustees’ slots while he was still governor. And when Pataki came in, he filled them with Republicans. So, the board of trustees were totally lopsided, and they could not agree on anything, which caused the chancellor they had to just decide it wasn't going to be his problem anymore, and he left them. So, John went to SUNY for the four months so they could hire a new chancellor. And while he was in New York, the people there were so wonderful to him. But he did have some real problems because it was out-and-out war between the Republicans and the Democrats on the board of trustees.

MOYA ANDREWS: Oh my. Now, he was president of the system in New York for four years, wasn't he?

PAT RYAN: Yes. At the end of four months they asked him if he'd stay and be their chancellor. So, he stayed to be the chancellor in…

MOYA ANDREWS: …The University System of New York. He had some very important assignments during his career. And the things that he has left us, the legacy that he's left after being our 14th president - we don't have time to go into all of these things, but he was the architect of the IU system, as you know. And I've asked you to tell me how he did it, because it is miraculous that he was able to create that system.

PAT RYAN: I think when he took on the job - what had happened is, all these campuses had grown up sort of independently. There was very little coordination between them. The first thing he did is establish a basic curriculum for every campus. So, the political science course would be the same on every campus and would equal the course that was taught in Bloomington, so that a value of the coursework was all the same. This was not there before. These campuses had sort of come into being and grown up with no coordination, or putting them under one umbrella. And he loved doing this and he did feel very strongly, always, even through the end of his presidency, that the regional campuses were his babies.


MOYA ANDREWS: You're listening to Profiles on WFIU. I'm Moya Andrews. Our guest today is the wife of the 14th president of Indiana University, John Ryan.

I am always amazed because I know how hard it was to keep Bloomington as the flagship campus, and Indianapolis so badly wanted to have the flagship campus. How he pulled that off is just mind boggling because of the factors at work.

PAT RYAN: It was a real threat to the system the way it was. I do know he decided that it was not going to happen. He did use his friendship with Art Hansen at the same time because Art Hansen at Purdue had the same problem because they wanted to establish a campus in Indianapolis also. And so, working together, they literally tied the campuses together so strongly, there was no way they could spin off the Indianapolis campus.

MOYA ANDREWS: It was a major achievement.

PAT RYAN: I don't know the details but I just know they worked awfully hard on it.

MOYA ANDREWS: Yes. And he, of course, had these alliances with all the presidents of the private campuses, as well as with Art Hansen from Purdue. But it is miraculous. We could so easily have ended up with that campus in Bloomington being like the University at Athens in Ohio.

PAT RYAN: Yes. And that would have been disastrous, in a way.

MOYA ANDREWS: It would have been disastrous, and we have him to thank for that. And also, the international engagement that he built on so successfully. And also, I want to say it was President Ryan that allowed flowers to be planted on our campus. And I've always thought that that was because his wife was a gardener.

PAT RYAN: Well, I think he liked the flowers as well, too. He wasn't a gardener himself, but he loved the flowers. And he did - that was one of the things he wanted. Terry Clapacs became very close to him in this time, and they put together the plan to beautify this campus. And it was Terry Clapacs, hiring the people he did, that made it…

MOYA ANDREWS:  But John gave him the budget. And…

PAT RYAN: Yeah. He gave him the budget because, by that time, we had a budget to do it.

MOYA ANDREWS: That's right. Because things had improved.

PAT RYAN: …but one of the very favorite stories I have - because John came up against this almost at the beginning - Dr. Wells wanted everything left naturally, it was to be beautiful and natural.


PAT RYAN: Yes. And the inner campus of the quad was really in terrible shape. It looked like a jungle. And John had gone to Dr. Wells and said that he really would like to clean it up, and everything. Everybody said, “oh no, it couldn't be done because Dr. Wells would not want it.” John waited until the Christmas holiday. The students all left the campus and he had the crew come in and literally clean up the quad. When everybody came back after the Christmas holidays, it was already done and it's never gone back the way it was.

MOYA ANDREWS: Oh, that's a wonderful story. And also, the Taliaferro story. Tell that story about how he was able to work with the athletic department.

PAT RYAN: Okay. This…at the beginning, all the students on campus were angry about something. Everybody had an agenda. But even this very first year of football season, the black students had threatened to walk off and not play ball if he did not meet their demands. And I don't know how he came up with this, but he didn't know how else to handle it. But he called George Taliaferro, who actually, by this time was not a hero on the campus anymore. He had been. And he said “George, I need you.” So, he hired George as assistant to the president. And George came back, met with the students, and George was able to put this all together. George has one very favorite story to tell, because he was the sounding board for the black students. If they had a problem, they were to come to him and he would solve it. He said a bunch of students came to him and said they don't like the food in the dormitory. And he said, “well, why don't you like the food in the dormitory?” He says, “well, it's not soul food. They don't ever serve soul food.” And George remarked back to him he says, “honey,” he says, “you wouldn't know soul food if was put in front of you.” He says, “I know soul food. You don't know soul food.” But he did solve every problem with the blacks, and...

MOYA ANDREWS: …and what a wonderful man he was, too.

PAT RYAN: He really was.

MOYA ANDREWS: The things that John was able to accomplish we have benefited from immeasurably over the years. And also, your contributions, Pat, and all of the things you did. In those days, the person married to the president was not called the first lady.

PAT RYAN: It was sort of automatic. Nobody told you what your job was. You really basically had to create it for yourself.

MOYA ANDREWS: Yes, and you did it really successfully.

PAT RYAN: At that time. There was no organization for a university wife to belong to of any kind. There was no one to sit and talk to. How could you tell somebody how awful it is to try to run a house where you have two people working for you, you don't have to do housework or anything else, and it's a problem? I mean, nobody would understand that. The house was like a house of luxury, but you couldn't see outside. There were a lot of problems inside the house.

MOYA ANDREWS: Didn't you have one dinner at first for the trustees where the ceiling fell in?

PAT RYAN: Well, this was about three years into John's presidency. When we first put the house together we did it on the strictest budget. And thank God to Mary Craig, who helped me find furniture around this university. And we dug out every antique she could find. Dr. Wells had a lot of antique - beautiful antique furniture stored on campus, which we borrowed. Anyway, we did it on a budget. We didn't do anything that cost money. It was three years into the presidency and we had a trustees meeting with all the administration, and we had to set up tables in the living room. And there was a card table in one corner of the living room. And during the evening the whole corner of the ceiling fell down from the moisture from the air conditioning units. Needless to say, the trustees voted into a new heating air conditioning system.

MOYA ANDREWS: So, there was some good that came out of the accident.

PAT RYAN: It was. It was wonderful.

MOYA ANDREWS: That is amazing. And tell me, too, about the group that you were instrumental in forming for the wives of university presidents.

PAT RYAN: I think John had been president about three years. I got a call from Betty Corbally from the University of Illinois, and we had met them at a meeting, or something, and she called to say, “I have a charge: You are to go to the next American Association of University meetings in Washington, D.C. with John. And you are to call any president's wife you know and invite them to come and join us.” Well, I knew two other ladies, and I called them. And we did meet in the lobby of this hotel where the American Association university meetings were taking place where all the men were meeting. And we sat in this lobby and there were five women of us. And we decided we needed an organization. And at that time the American Association of University Women's Group was formed. Two years later, then, the universities started a women's group, but it was all Betty Corbally who started this. She was a great lady to put this together. It was the first time any of us had ever met with another president's wife who you could talk to about the problems of dealing with help in a house or anything, all the things that - who else can you talk to who would understand? For us - it was a wonderful support group for us.

MOYA ANDREWS: And then, eventually, the wife of the president of the University of Maine gave you a pep talk.

PAT RYAN: It was my last year going to the meetings, and the president from University of Maine's wife came and told us the way she went about getting a salary for women and charged each of us to do the same in our own universities. Well…

MOYA ANDREWS: When was that? What year was that?

PAT RYAN: It was too soon. That would've been 1987.

MOYA ANDREWS: 1987. That was the first person in the United States that was…

PAT RYAN: …Well, I think it was the first person for a public university.


PAT RYAN: I think maybe some private universities might very well have done this, but it was our very first time that a public university president's wife received a salary. And very shortly after that, a lot of wives would start getting salaries.

MOYA ANDREWS: That was about the time when the women's movement was…

PAT RYAN: …it was going strong.

MOYA ANDREWS: …agitating for women's work to be recognized. And so, it was late in coming, but it eventually did come, even to that group.

PAT RYAN: These women's organizations, when they first started, I had no one to talk to. Who would understand the problems of being a first lady? These organizations became a sounding board. We shared our problems. We got information back of how you could get things done or how to do things. It became a very special sorority for the women involved, and we made very close friends.

MOYA ANDREWS: Well, that's wonderful. And I have enjoyed so much learning more about what it was like in the time when John was president, even though I was here, since I came to IU in 1971, but getting an inside story.


MOYA ANDREWS: I've been speaking today with Pat Ryan. Pat, thank you so much for what John did and what you did for Indiana University. Thank you for being with us today. This is Moya Andrews for Profiles.

MARK CHILLA: Copies of this and other programs can be obtained by calling 812-855-1357. Information about Profiles, including archives of past shows can be found at our website - Profiles is a production of WFIU and comes from the studios of Indiana University. The producer is Aaron Cain. The studio engineer and radio audio director is Michael Paskash. The executive producer is John Bailey. Please join us next week for another edition of Profiles.



Pat Ryan

Pat Ryan (Aaron Cain, WFIU)

Pat Ryan was the second IU alumna to serve as first lady of Indiana University. She was instrumental in rejuvenating the president's house as the heart of the Bloomington campus, and opened its doors to the state's educational, civic, and political leaders and their spouses.

Pat also helped develop the presence of the president and his wife in Indianapolis, and established the Lilly House as a center for official entertaining and a venue for citizen groups to support music, art, education, and metropolitan planning, all while completing her B.A. degree.

Pat Ryan was a founding member of the Woodburn Guild, which led the effort to rehabilitate the University's historic house, and oversaw the preparation of brochures illustrating the history and significance of the Woodburn, Lilly, and Bryan Houses.

As one of the first supporters of an alternative school in Bloomington, Pat was also involved in counseling and fundraising for community groups that provide support for pregnant women.

Pat Ryan spoke with Moya Andrews, Professor Emeritus of Speech and Hearing Sciences and former Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University.

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