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Carl D. Riggs

Interview of Carl D. Riggs
by Professor Horace Bliss
February 1, 1981
Page 1

pdf file of interview

Horace Bliss: This is Horace Bliss in Tampa visiting with Carl Riggs, who was at the University for some twenty-three years, but left in 1971 in order to take on a post at the University of South Florida. Tell us about yourself now, Carl.

Carl D. Riggs: Horace, as you remember, I came to the University of Oklahoma in 1948 as an instructor in the Department of Zoology. I served at OU until I left there in 1971 and during those years I went through the various professorial ranks--I was a curator of the Zoology Division of the Museum and I served as Director of the Biological Survey for almost all of those years and founded and directed the University of Oklahoma Biological Station. I also served as a Dean of the Graduate College, as Vice President for Graduate Studies and my last year at OU I was Acting Provost.

Horace Bliss: That was quite a record, Carl and certainly remembered. There was one common touch that we had, we were both graduates of the University of Michigan and I think that brought us together fairly early in your time in Norman, but my fondest recall is of the Biological Station and the times that I was able to go down there with different people to enjoy some relaxing time. Tell us more about that Biological story because I think you've got a real interesting story for this collection.

Carl D. Riggs: Horace, the first year that I was at OU I taught Zoology I and also developed a course in fish biology. The man who was then Chairman of the Department, Teague Self, and a man who worked for the Oklahoma Fishery Research Laboratory named Bill Thompson had the idea of some sort of a course on Lake Texoma which is a large man-made reservoir as you well know in the southern part of the state on the Red and Washita Rivers and Bill Thompson and I went to the Army Engineers, based in Denison, Texas and talked them out of a sixty by thirty foot barge and a big Higgins power boat to move it and during the summer of 1949 I had a dozen graduate students who worked with me on the barge studying the lake and the fish fauna of the lake. We, incidentally, had a cook who cooked for us that year who we got out of jail in Madill, a very fine cook enjoyed him very much--he's now long dead, named Sherman Smith. But that summer was the beginning really of the Biological Station because the works that we did there attracted a great deal of attention, we had newspapers from all over Oklahoma and Texas coming down and doing feature stores on the students and on me with a lot of pictures and it was a lot of positive publicity for the University. One of the people at the University who became interested in what I was doing there was J.C. Mayfield, the then Director of the OU Book Exchange. Jim and I became very close friends as that we were both avid fishermen and Jim would come down and fish with me on Lake Texoma on my time off, and one of Jim's close friends was a man named Norman Brillhart, who was President of the First National Bank in Madill.

Carl D. Riggs and Teague Self
Barge group

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Updated December 8, 2014 by Donna Cobb, dcobb@ou.edu
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