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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Pride and regret in reflecting on gubernatorial term

The most difficult time of his term was when he had to decided whether or not to send the National Guard to remove civil rights protestors from a dormitory at North Carolina State University, Scott remembers. On the whole, however, he experienced satisfaction as well as anxiety: Scott remembers his restructuring of the university system and the lack of scandals during his administration with pride.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert W. (Bob) Scott, February 11, 1998. Interview C-0336-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK FLEER:
In your judgment, what was the most difficult decision or task you had to perform as governor?
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
Decision… Well, if not the most, one of the most difficult at the moment was the decision whether or not to order the National Guard to go in at A&T State University and get those folks out of that top floor of that dormitory. That was a very tense situation. I was on the phone all night, open line to people on the scene, the National Guard folks. And it was just so ripe for violence, for somebody to be killed. That was a tough one. And I guess—I didn't have to face the death penalties, and I've always been very thankful for that. And I'll be honest with you to this day I don't know what I would have done. I think I would have focused on the basis of each case; I wouldn't have been arbitrarily opposed to anybody being executed or, you know, an eye for an eye philosophy. I think it would have been on a case-by-case basis. I didn't have to make that decision, and I'm very, very thankful for that.
JACK FLEER:
In the take-over or the occupation of the A&T dormitory, why was that decision so difficult?
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
Difficult from the standpoint of, ‘Am I making the right decision to use military force?’ And if somebody did get killed or hurt. I was very fortunate in that respect that it did not happen. You know, it's much like a law enforcement officer, I guess, judging how long you're going to talk, and try diplomacy, much like perhaps the President's going through right now. How much longer are you going to talk and try to work it out as opposed to just taking action? That was a difficult one. And of course there were a bunch of decisions about how much you wanted to put in there for pay raises and those kinds of things, although those don't stick with me. I guess, just normal decisions that any chief executive would have to make.
JACK FLEER:
What is the most satisfying decision you made as governor, today?
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
[pause] As governor? The most satisfying was the decision to run for governor since I won. [Laughter] No, think that from my standpoint, it was probably the restructuring of the university system. Now, I'm not sure how much of that is satisfying from a political sense of, I won the battle, and the ego—probably that as much as anything else. There is satisfaction in that because of the leadership that I think that we gave to seeing the need and meeting it. My satisfaction, again, came from lots of little things, a couple of which I mentioned to you, and there were others. So that is more the personal satisfaction. And the satisfaction, I guess, that for the most part, in spite of some editorial adversity and opponents and occasionally public outcries, we came through it virtually unscathed, in the sense of scandal, the absence of scandal, those kinds of things. Which, when one thinks about it, having had that experience, is almost a miracle.
JACK FLEER:
It's an accomplishment.
ROBERT W. (BOB) SCOTT:
And that's largely the luck of the draw. I don't know—sort of like going through a pledge week at the university, I guess: you survive, somehow, and manage to make it.