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Title: Oral History Interview with Walt Ulmer, November 20, 1998. Interview S-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Ulmer, Walt, interviewee
Interview conducted by Mosnier, Joseph
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 144 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
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Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-11-07, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Walt Ulmer, November 20, 1998. Interview S-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series S. Center for Creative Leadership. Southern Oral History Program Collection (S-0034)
Author: Joseph Mosnier
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Walt Ulmer, November 20, 1998. Interview S-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series S. Center for Creative Leadership. Southern Oral History Program Collection (S-0034)
Author: Walt Ulmer
Description: 181 Mb
Description: 30 p.
Note: Interview conducted on November 20, 1998, by Joseph Mosnier; recorded in Moneta, Virginia.
Note: Transcribed by Tower Associates.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series S. Center for Creative Leadership, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Walt Ulmer, November 20, 1998.
Interview S-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Ulmer, Walt, interviewee


Interview Participants

    WALT ULMER, interviewee
    JOSEPH MOSNIER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Interview with Walter F. Ulmer, Jr. on November 20, 1998 for the Southern Oral History Program's oral history series for the Center For Creative Leadership. This is the Center For Creative Leadership's Oral History Project. My name is Joe Mosnier. This is cassette 11.20.98-WU. I am in Calistoga, California conducting the interview by phone with General Ulmer in Moneta, Virginia. We're now on the tape, Walt. Thanks very much again, for participating. Let met start by just asking for a quick sketch as I do with pretty much all the folks I interview, of your family and childhood just to get a little personal—frame up the personal background a little bit. Where you were born and...
WALT ULMER:
Yeah, okay. I was born in Bangor, Maine in a middle sized town of 25,000 people. I grew up with an extraordinarily calm and supportive and loving family. One sister, mother and dad, grandparents, and one aunt lived in the house with us all the time. My dad was a high school teacher, a member of the National Guard. He went to war in World War II, battalion commander. What I found later on, a remarkably pleasant, non-controversial, non-stressful family environment. I graduated from high school in my hometown. The usual kind of thing. Went one year to college. Decided I wanted to go in the Army. Went to West Point. Here I am.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Um-hmm. General, how did you first become aware of a place called the Center For Creative Leadership?
WALT ULMER:
I was on the faculty of the Army Work College in the early 70's. We were doing some organizational research on ethics, professionalism and managerial behavior in the Army during the Vietnam War, although it was nearing the end of the Vietnam War. CCL had been doing some work with the Army and one of the people on the faculty was familiar with it. We took a trip down there and I first knew of it then.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
And you said this was early 70's?
WALT ULMER:
Probably in 1970.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Okay. So they had just opened their doors. They were just getting started, really.
WALT ULMER:
Right.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Do you remember your first impressions when you arrived down there in 1970?
WALT ULMER:
I really don't. It was a small group discussing the subject that we were going to take a look at. It was a

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very large study which turned out to be about 30,000 individuals on organizational climates, perceptions and those kinds of things. And I knew of the Center in the intervening years. I don't think I had—the War College recruited one of the members of the faculty of THD by the name of Don Penner who joined the faculty of the Army War College, which provides a link just a little bit between CCL and the Army Work College. But the Center was known. Some of my Army colleagues who were deeply into leadership development and leadership teaching business kept in touch with the Center and kept in touch with me. So I knew of it but did not attend a program and was not intimately involved.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yes. If we fast forward to the mid 80's and Ken Clark is completing his tenure as president of the Center, how is it you first become involved in considering maybe moving that direction yourself?
WALT ULMER:
I was corps commander at Fort Hood, Texas and my deputy corps commander was a major general by the name of Jim Dozier. Jim Dozier had earlier in his life, a few years earlier, been captured by the Red Brigades in Italy and he was a friend of ours. And he, as many Army general officers, was a graduate of the Center's leadership development program. And the Center advertised to all graduates and I had made a decision just about that time even though I had been offered a promotion in the Army, to get out and do something else. And Jim came over one day and said, "You know, I just had this brochure from the Center and you're interested in leadership and those kinds of things. You know, you might want to throw your hat in the ring." And so I wrote in a letter or something to Ken Clark or whoever was heading the search committee at that time. I think it was Tom Storrs as a matter of fact. And that's how that started.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right, right. Can you describe what you remember of that process by which you began your investigation and met the folks down there and so forth?
WALT ULMER:
Well, let's see. I think first I made a trip to Greensboro and was met by Ken Clark who was a distinguished, delightful personality. And they showed me around the Center and I met with a bunch of people. I was in a semi-daze. This was the first job I had looked for since 1947 and maybe '46. And I was still a corps commander. I had a bunch of other things to do. But it seemed to be the kind of attractive environment that I expected. And we went out to dinner and did a few other such things as one usually does. And then I invited them to come down and take a look at Fort Hood. And a couple of contingents came down. The Clarks came down, David

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Campbell, I think David DeVries came down there and visited me and we had a nice time. They checked out to see if things were real at Fort Hood and then I was invited back up to Greensboro a second time. I didn't know that this was kind of a final look-over. And apparently, there was another finalist who was at the building the same time as I. And we had another discussion with a bunch of people and then finally the search committee got me in a little room and said, "We're going to go in and recommend to the full board that they select you as the next president." And I said, "Well, that's good." And they said, "Is there anything you'd like to talk about?" And I said, "Gee, I can't think of anything." So they went ahead and I was welcomed by the board. We had a nice discussion and then they handed me a letter and said they were particularly impressed by the fact that I didn't ask about compensation or benefits in my discussion. Well, it wasn't so much that I was all terrific, it was just that I was naive. I didn't know you were supposed to ask about that. So anyway, that was the introduction to the Center. When I was announced, one of the senior staff members, I remember rushed out of the room. I didn't know why, but he and many of the staff had known the other finalist quite well and had great respect for him. And I just thought that he was going to get the job. I can't even remember who it was. I'm sure he was a good guy.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah, yeah. How well, in retrospect, and maybe this is something that in the months shortly after you began your tenure in Greensboro, what was the period—how much time really was necessary before you felt okay, I really understand now what's going on here, I'm ready to really get rolling, starting to feel very comfortable? Can you talk about that transition phase?
WALT ULMER:
The transition was an interesting one. 37 years in uniform to an academic environment and so forth. I had a corps that had active and reserve folks and four different posts. There were about 120,000 people and when I arrived at the Center, it was about 120 on the faculty. The transition was not as traumatic for me as most believed that it was. And I'd keep getting asked this question how does a guy like you get in a place like this? And I'd tell them well, I came up 40 and took a left. There was a bit—you know, I lived with the Clark's for a while. We'd come up very quickly. Looked at 41 houses on one weekend. My wife and I picked a house. She told me at the time that it was not the thing to do. As in so many instances where we've had those kind of discussions, I found that she was right. But we still had a nice house. In any case, there were all those sorts of transitions moving up there. But I found contrary to

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conventional thinking, that the mentality of the typical professional staff person at CCL, the outlook in terms of service and learning and working in organizations is not dramatically different from what I had found in the military. That you at least at that time joined neither the military or the Army to make money but to contribute in some way or another to some sort of service. And they were bright people and so basically, I really felt pretty well. Now it was easier for me to make that transition than for many of the staff members. I was really the first kind of outsider to join the Center. And while generals had been coming through and the Center had had some relationship with government, they, the typical I.O. psychologists, were not necessarily comfortable with military hierarchy and all of the stereotypical things that comes along with it. How long was it? Remember that in the military, I had gone from one assignment to another, gosh I don't know, 25 times. So entering into something new was easier for me than maybe some of them accepting somebody new.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right, right.
WALT ULMER:
And one of the friends of mine, a psychologist, said fairly early on, "I really am a little bit uncomfortable with you, Walt, because you are so comfortable." I said, "Well, you know, I just sort of enjoy things." So the answer is I felt comfortable in terms of what I was doing. I guess after six months, I felt pretty comfortable. I felt pretty comfortable after six days.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah. Thank you. Excuse me just one second. Somebody was just handing me the fax that has just reached you a few minutes ago.
I'm curious, too, to know about how you might have summed up what you found at the Center on arrival, what sort of measure you took of the place in terms of for example how well it was meeting its mission, what you began to explore in your mind as to what the Center might want to try to do to change or grow and those sorts of issues.
WALT ULMER:
Yeah, those of course were very fundamental kinds of issues. I was attracted to the place in the first place when I came up there by what I thought was an energetic, intellectually capable group of people who wanted to do well and who were working in one of my favorite areas, which is leadership. And so obviously, had I not initially felt pretty good about the whole thing, I would have gone somewhere else. The Center at that time was sort of coming out of its very early stage and starting to sort of coalesce and get organized and expand. And very early on, there was the beginning of the debate that continues to this day, and that is whether we

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should be very small, familial, casual, individually-oriented or whether we should be a little bit larger, perhaps to have more impact on the world with all the attending downsize that large organizations have. And so early on you've got this kind of thing. I found something also that sort of continues until this day and it will go on forever and that is the understandable tug between the teaching part of the Center and the research part. And I'm sure you have heard this time and time again, but it's a logical thing for that kind of organization. And the trick is to keep working at it, because there will never be a perfect solution. So early on, we were confronted with that as part of the larger issue of what did the Center want to be when it grows up. There were then a number of different opinions. But now there are a number of different opinions. There were folks who were fearful of change in their culture that would be brought on by a larger, more vigorous outreach. My personal feeling was that the Center had enormously fine things to offer the world and that we really had to grow, but carefully, if we were really to reach all the people and make the influence on society that I thought we could make. Also early on something lingering was the business of how to get organized so it stimulated reasonable innovation and individual creativity and academics, working for the things academics liked to work on. And then on the other hand, forming some sort of team and some sort of an organization so that you could run even an academic institution. Which is of course, a lot like herding cats, and I understand that almost as much now as I used to. So we made a couple of—not instantly, but a few decisions with some individual personalities that we, I guess me and Clark and David DeVries, who was my right hand man on many of these things, as to whether or not we were going to let individuals do entirely as they wanted or whether if they wanted to pursue an independent career, that they needed to go to some other institution that wasn't quite as dependent on teamwork and so forth as ours was. We had to make a couple of changes. And then it sort of settled in pretty well.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right. Tell me, if you would, about—you mentioned just a moment ago David DeVries as a right hand man in these years. Who were the key staff with whom you worked most closely in your early years operating the Center?
WALT ULMER:
Well, David DeVries stands out. Stan Gryskiewicz played an interesting role and continues to. A man with extraordinary ideas, not terribly comfortable with structure. Some of the trainers as we call them at the Center who are still there that I would work both with my vice presidents and so forth and also wander around and talk to Bill Sternbergh and Bob Dorn and people of that ilk. The vice presidents

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early on, of course John Red, who was coming out at that time of a period of mild depression that he worked out of. And John has always been and continues to be just an enormously supportive and sort of a strong foundation for the Center. Tom Bridgers is still there as vice president. Then before too long, we brought in a guy by the name of Mike Sirkis. We brought in David Noer at the time that David DeVries left. Bob Kaplan and some of the research stars were major parts of the organization.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
I'm curious in trying to understand exactly how you put together your planning for the major reorganization of the 1987 and how you thought your way through that process. A moment ago you talked a little bit about the general sort of nature of what you had in mind. But could you talk in a little bit more detail about what you really hoped to accomplish with the major reorganization in '87 and how you went about that?
WALT ULMER:
Let's see. I think that's the one where we broke the big research into small research and tried to tie it in with training areas. And we had four or five or six what looked like dumbbells on the chart where one side I think we had executive development on one area or more basic leadership stuff. I can't remember exactly the five designations but the intent was to do two things. It was to take research from what seemed to be a kind of an amorphous mass where really good individuals were running in a number of directions that I'm sure were individually productive but we thought we needed a little bit more structure, and to see if we could forge a tighter link between the training side of the house and the research side of the house. We had these clusters of training. And so the intent was quite obvious, to have coherent and focused training and research areas and have some links between them. And that worked fair. I think the Center, like many organizations, will have to reorganize itself every five, six, seven years to help them refocus and so forth. But that's what we were trying to do. And that lasted for a while and then we changed it again later on. And John Alexander has changed it.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right. And your perspective is that's just a routine sort of natural.
WALT ULMER:
I think that's a natural evolution that comes from a variety of things. Organizational structure is kind of like crab grass.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah. If you would, tell me about in these years the Center is really, really starting to grow. I mean I guess

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the revenues when you arrived were in the neighborhood of four - four and a half million and ten years later, they'll be pushing 40. So it's a tenfold increase, really quite remarkable. Your perspective of LDP as the engine of so much of that revenue and the relationship of LDP to the wider institution.
WALT ULMER:
Well, LDP is of course as everyone says the flagship program. It is the primary reason why the Center has the reputation that is has. Later on, that was augmented by Leadership At The Peak. And both of those now enjoy, I think, a very fine reputation and they are obviously filling a need. We tried during the time I was there I think two times to update the leadership development program. And we also took a look and said some folks are still concerned that LDP is such a major part of the Center's income and reputation and so forth. My concern was more to be sure that LDP was updated and was keeping current and that we weren't getting stale. I think there are some things, certain core programs that have been in the western academic curriculum now for 300 years or so and they are still going. There are certain fundamental things that if they're just mildly tuned meet some very basic needs that people have. And the Leadership Development Program like English 101, Psychology 101, and typing and so forth, I think will continue as long as human beings don't evolve dramatically. And they haven't changed a whole lot in these areas of behavior, aspiration, and inspiration in the last 3,000 years that we know of. So I think LDP has not much of a possibility of running out of itself. Now at the same time that I say that, we tried as I'm sure that they're continuing to try, to diversify our offerings for a number of reasons. To try to keep up with various changing things so we tried a program in leadership for what's that buzz word we were all using about management a few years ago and we still are? In any case...
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
You don't mean total quality management?
WALT ULMER:
Yeah. We had leadership for TQM. We did what TQM was doing which is we studied it a great deal and had a great burst of energy and then it sort of folded. But we tried a number of things. We tried to expand, for example, and I think the Center did expand well into the business of secondary education, leadership for principals and superintendents of school boards and that's still going, as you know. We tried to develop and did develop some programs. Some in concert with international institutions, Ashridge and other places, and tried to get an international flavor in part of our programs. And the whole business to move toward internationalism was one of the reasons why we decided to put

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the branch over in Brussels, to sort of put a stake in the ground and say we weren't confined exclusively to Greensboro, Colorado Springs and San Diego. So the short answer to your question is I'm concerned if we just stood on our hands to think that LDP is going to crank things out forever but I am frankly not concerned that we have a wonderful product whose execution, I think, will meet continuing needs.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How about the issue of were there unique leadership challenges presented to you in your role on within the organization account of LDP's sort of unique status there as the engine of so much of this revenue stream?
WALT ULMER:
Well, it's one thing that I think any good manager or leader would have in the back of the mind. You have to be careful if there's not the first class and second class citizen, all those sorts of things. But in order of magnitude, I just didn't see it as a major problem. I saw it as something to think about and to talk about and to try to ameliorate any of the friction.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let me stop for a minute and ask you about your perspective on the Richardson family, Smith Richardson, Jr., the foundation and its relationship to the Center and your perspective on the nature of that commitment, perhaps, on the family's involvement, if its character changed during your tenure there.
WALT ULMER:
The character changed a great deal partly because of the maturation of the institution and probably because of the different perspectives of the family and so forth. When I first arrived, the big sign out in front said Smith Richardson Building in letters about eight inches high. And down at the bottom in one inch letters was Center For Creative Leadership. And this was simply indicative of the evolution and the time and the life. Then we started talking about a number of things as the Center was growing. The sign was changed. A few other things were changed and it was in 19 —I'm trying to think of the year when the annual grant was discontinued.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Oh, right, and you moved towards the endowment.
WALT ULMER:
Yeah. The cash grant which had started sometime earlier. I think it was probably about 1993 that that ended. And I think Smith Richardson was somewhat uncomfortable feeling that this might indicate an inappropriately wide disconnect between the Center and the foundation. I believe that we reassured him that was not the name of the game but it was more appropriate for the Center to have some kind of an endowment and then to make its annual revenue on its own being

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appropriately independent of SRF as an institution to the family tie. He was still on the board and the foundation still owned the buildings. As the guy said that donated the books. He gave us the library but we gave the books to her, as they said in the musical "The Music Man."
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with the board? Obviously there's this aspect that it's several layers. There's the board of governors and the name switches at different points but basically the governors who are the Center's board directly and then the members behind them. The nature of your relationship with the board over the years, aspects of that relationship that you found most interesting.
WALT ULMER:
Well, first when I started, there were three layers. There were the board members, there were the trustees and there were the governors.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right.
WALT ULMER:
I never really understood their—I never knew what the trustees and the members were for about three years. And in terms of my personal relationships, I always sort of enjoyed the board and I really enjoyed most of the members on the board and most of the people on the board. Some maybe more helpful and interesting than others. But they probably felt that way, I suppose, of me. But they were really good folks and I assisted in selecting members of the board of governors. And then we have the members of the trustees and it's interesting. I think this is an artifact of the early days when the Richardson Foundation understandably needed to keep apprised of what was going on and particularly watch the management of money and the real property and so forth. And there still are members, of course, who have that particular responsibility. There was a little friction a couple of times between who was in charge in terms of making certain types of decisions. I thought the board functioned well. Relationships with boards and getting them organized is also a cooperative operation that is never quite finished. And I think that you need to work at it, look at the organization. We reorganized the board's committees and so forth three or four times during my tenure. And I had fine cooperation from Bill Friday except for times when Mike Krezewski of Duke basketball used to come over and visit me!
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Can you give me a sketch of the role that Bill Friday played, how he worked the magic that so many people describe him working in his way?

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WALT ULMER:
Yeah. He probably worked it with the Center the same way he works other places. And he's a leader who if you would watch him, you would say he's not doing much leading, but everything gets done, which is probably the perfect leader, I suppose. He has a low key approach. He's a person of great integrity and great human insight. I thought that he and I had a fine relationship. He certainly was a very light touching supervisor. And I would call him frequently with major things in areas primarily of Board or Governance or something we were going to try to make a major change such as significantly increasing Colorado Springs or about San Diego or Brussels or whatever. He would come to the board meetings and he and I would always have a little session before the board session. He's not into detail. He is on the strategic level of planning and so forth. He does not supervise on minutia. He is a great empowerer and has a great deal of trust in people around him. And I think that technique probably pays off if you have good folks around you.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let's talk, if we could, a few minutes about your effort to really take the Center's work out onto a wider stage, the expansion of Colorado Springs, the decision to open San Diego, the decision to open Brussels. Maybe if you could reflect on first the broad strategic vision. You've mentioned generally, of course, that you wanted to go out and touch more people and carry the Center's work out to a wider audience, but if you can maybe expand on that issue. And then I'll ask you some questions about each of the branches and then we can talk about the successes that you've had on those fronts and how those came to pass.
WALT ULMER:
Well, I think to tell you the truth, Joe, that I have mentioned the primary factor, and that was just my thinking that we had the capability to do things on a larger scale. And in order to do that and to not make Greensboro the hub of everything, give people a couple of other attractive options and places to go for those programs that we did in-house. At the same time, remember we were trying to increase the number of our affiliates, our licensees, and then eventually we got to the discussion of your licensees are now successful and are they contributing to the Center or are they simply taking the Center's materials for their own benefit and so forth. I never thought that was a very powerful argument. I thought they were doing both simultaneously and satisfactorily with a few minor glitches every once in a while. They would underbid for some kind of contract. Even the branches were doing that once in a while but all in all, I thought that that program of outreach worked pretty well. Exactly how you take a product such as executive education and distribute it more widely, of course, is always an interesting

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exercise. And you have to go back to the history of the Center and what are the core elements of the Center's programs. And individualized attention and feedback about individual behavior in a very supportive environment are really the hallmarks of most of the Center's programs. So there are some things you can do over the net, and some things you can do with distance learning and some things that you can't. So we always had those debates and we thought about what we needed. So instead of doing everything by the telephone or T.V., I think most of us decided that we did need physical branches and that while Greensboro was an attractive and delightful place and would probably be the home of our major research element, it was nice to have something that was more convenient that was seen as attractive. And in the San Diego case, we picked it also in part because we thought it would be at least a little bit nearer to the multi-cultural world and particularly to the Asian and Pacific regions.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Um-hmm. The board and you in your role on the board had to look hard at Colorado Springs because the decision was taken in the late 80's to go ahead and commit a lot of money to build a new facility out there. Can you talk about your deliberation on that front and why you resolved to move forward?
WALT ULMER:
Well, it just seemed as though with the people who were there, particularly at the time there was—remember the reason why the Center was in Colorado Springs in the first place was that was where David Campbell wanted to live! As you know, many strategic reasons are made for other than strategic points. Colorado Springs turned out okay. As we looked at the books in terms of the kind of programs that we could give out there and the staff that we had out there, Jodi Kassover at the time, Jodi Taylor now, and David and some other people, they were attracting business to them as individuals as well as to the Center. Colorado Springs is a reasonable destination as you know. And I didn't think we were taking much of a risk, to tell you the truth.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
That the cash flow was going to be there?
WALT ULMER:
Oh, yeah. It's always good to take a look and it's always nice to listen to the more conservative group, but I think most of us, David DeVries and myself, the people in Colorado Springs and most members of the board never had really much of a doubt about that. That was my perspective anyway.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How about your perspective on the launches in San Diego and Brussels, respectively?

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WALT ULMER:
Well, San Diego, we thought about going to San Antonio. We thought about going to a bunch of other places. To San Antonio, again, multi-cultural. South America, a bi-lingual program. A pretty good place, a lot of things happening down there. And then we thought about San Diego and it just appeared to be more attractive. Again, in the California scene and the variety of all kinds of intermixing with different kinds of folks, it just seemed to be an attractive place. That start out there was a little slow because initially the local folks weren't sure whether they wanted us coming in or not. Some of the people in the local Chamber of Commerce and so forth were quite upbeat. People from the local universities, one of whom the chancellor out there had been a former governor, I think he was maybe lukewarm.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Did a former governor?
WALT ULMER:
Governor of the Center.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
He was lukewarm to?
WALT ULMER:
Lukewarm to the Center coming out there for reasons that I don't exactly know.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
That seems odd.
WALT ULMER:
I remember that he and I had discussions about his apparent reluctance in a couple of working groups or parties or whatever, socials out there. When I asked him about it he said maybe he hadn't been enthusiastic totally but he thought it would be now. And again, I'm not really sure. Surely we were not going to become competition to the University of California at San Diego or any of those other guys. But in any case, it took a while looking around to see what we wanted to buy or build or rent or whatever. Obviously, initially we weren't going to expend big money and the Center was always reluctant and understandably so for the purchase of mortgages. And out there, there happened to be at the time, a couple of almost castle type of structures that had been vacated. And we looked at some of them and God, they were just exorbitant. I mean they were the kind of stuff that you see in some of those Hidden Valley home development areas. But fortunately, we decided not to do that. So San Diego got off the ground a little bit slowly and it was kind of a tough place to recruit and manage and to get organized but it finally has picked up, as you know, and is now doing extremely well.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Why would it have been a tough place to recruit?

Page 13
WALT ULMER:
Because given the salaries of the Center, all of the other many activities out there, you're really competing for the professional staff that we wanted. Which, of course, is one of the Center's problems everywhere. The same guy that the Center wants on the staff, you want and Duke wants and MIT wants and any school wants, and all those cats want. The Center, of course, doesn't provide the lavish pay scales they do at Carolina. However, it does pretty well.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
After your four, five, six years into this effort to move the Center's work out onto a wider stage, are you pleased towards the end of your tenure with the way that roll-out's gone? I would presume that you would have been.
WALT ULMER:
I kind of think yeah, I was pleased. We almost got into an interesting thing in Southern France with Ashridge College. I don't know if anyone has talked to you about this or not.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
No.
WALT ULMER:
Well, about the time we decided to open in Brussels, we got into discussions with Ashridge Management College over in England about forming an international kind of an educational Center between the two of us. And we went over, David DeVries and I and some other folks, and we had a committee and we spent a long time and were negotiating with this thing for about six months. And it was going to take quite a bit of cash. We were sort of about ready to do it and then I really started having some doubts about the efficacy of the whole darn thing. And particularly then when Ashridge said that their board required them to have controlling interest in certain aspects of the organization and we indicated that our charter would not really permit us to do that. And in all, probably what was one of the more difficult single decisions that I made, going against my own committee and at least most of my vice presidents, I decided we would not do that. And there was a little agony and so forth at the time and in a good-natured way. It was one of those decisions that now in hindsight, I am really glad I made, because just by sheer luck, the economy in that part of the business sort of went down in the next two or three years. I don't think Ashridge has made—I don't know where they are but it just did not sort of take off. We really would have been encumbered with humongous financial outlays on that thing.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
But the real sticking point in your mind was the issue of compromised control?

Page 14
WALT ULMER:
Compromised control was the main issue. Then I had some other queasy feelings for reasons I'm just not quite sure.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah. Tell me about, to shift gears a bit for a minute, tell me how to tried to chart a research course for the Center across your tenure. It's a difficult issue to find out what questions you should be pursuing in your research program and so forth. How did you find your way on that front?
WALT ULMER:
Carefully. The Center's research function will never be satisfactory to at least one-third of the Center's constituents. This is just a natural phenomena and it's probably never going to change.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
General, excuse me just one second here. The tape is about to run out. Let me flip the cassette over. Pardon me.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Okay. We're back on. Thank you.
WALT ULMER:
And the reason why that's not going to change is that we have—can you hear me okay on the other ear now?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah, that sounds fine, thanks.
WALT ULMER:
The reason is because there are about three distinct audiences all of whom think the Center's research should be focused in their direction. One is the academic community that wants to see an awful lot of original research published in the refereed journals. And another is the business community that wants the Center to do research in their organization and give them immediate feedback which we can do only to some extent, given the Center's 501(c)3 charter. And then there's another community that just wants research basically to be on subsidizing and augmenting training and other efforts at the Center. So it's very difficult to do all of those three things simultaneously to the satisfaction of everybody concerned. So research at the Center is always going to be somewhat of a bone of contention. It's an area that has to be sort of managed all the time and it's another one of those things where people are going to find and they're going to want, as I mentioned before, to do some sort of reorganization as we've just done again. Smith Richardson, of course, has an intense and understandable

Page 15
interest in research and has never been really satisfied with the research product at the Center. So among the things that we did not only to answer Smith's questions but to answer our own questions was to try to get some criterion that would be a measure of the Center's research success. And we put a bunch of different criteria together, we tried to, and talked about everything from the number of articles published, number of books published, the people who are reading our stuff, the Center's number of presentations, all of these kind of things. And we fiddled with that off and on for some time. It's a very difficult issue.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Sure.
WALT ULMER:
On the subjective side, I have done many since I've left the Center, but you could hardly go to a meeting of the American Psychological Association or SIOP or any of those professional organizations here and not have almost every session participants in or panelists from the Center for Creative Leadership. So you know, the zeal and the debate as to whether or not group behavioral science research can be done. About four or five years ago, in part of the ongoing discussion with research at the Center, which is with the Board, that has probably been the most contentious area in the history of the Center as I know, I guess. That along with spending money for brick and mortar. The question was who is doing research like the Center? So we sort of went around the country electronically and to some extent physically to find out where there are other centers in the country where you've got a whole bunch of Ph.D.'s working continuously on leadership research or leadership creativity. The answer is there may not be any. We looked at the Center for Leadership Studies at Binghamton and some of the guys doing some stuff at Harvard and there was an outfit on the West Coast that since stopped operation. And the reality seemed to be that there were one or two or three professionals with their graduate assistants doing a project now and then. You've got the place where some of the former people at the Center now work at the University of Southern California. But these are relatively small clusters of people doing research as the grants come in on a pretty much of an ad hoc basis. They may have a long-term thrust such as organizational development or re-engineering or whatever. Kind of a small thing and is not usually ever connected with the teaching part of the institution. So when we said sort of the question well, who is like the Center, it's difficult to find a place that's like the Center that has a full-time staff that's trying to do both research and teaching at the same time and that tries to work with the customer within limitations of the 501(c)3. But anyway, I was never able to put together a perfect solution to

Page 16
the research situation and I think that we did well, but it was not quite as successful as I wanted it to be. I wanted it to be closer tied to our own teaching. I wanted to extract more data from the thousands of people we have coming through the training programs. With hard cover books as well as the articles, periodicals. And I think so did most everybody else. The question again is exactly how to do it, how do you measure it? You can talk to people who think most of the Center is the best research place in the world. And you'll talk to a bunch of other academics that think they have been fooling around the edges of the question for some time.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah, yeah.
Any perspective you can offer on right around 1990, '91, '92, the Center bids goodbye to David DeVries, Mike Lombardo, Morgan McCall. McCall left a touch before that, I guess, come to think of it.
WALT ULMER:
McCall left I guess within six months of the time I was there.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Oh, I didn't realize it was as quick as that. Okay. Well, these were obviously—well, DeVries of course had moved away from his original sort of closer focus to research questions into a managerial role. But Lombardo and McCall, these were key members of the research staff. Any perspective of the impact on the Center for the departure of these folks, good, bad?
WALT ULMER:
Oh, obviously there was also Kaplan and other people. And there is a school of thought that says that these folks were disenchanted by the combination of bureaucracy at the Center, the inadequate, relatively inadequate pay compared to what they could get on the consulting world outside, and the stuff that they wanted to do with research. And I've talked to most of these folks and it was a combination of kinds of things. My real feeling is that the Center is going to develop people of these skills and qualifications and attributes and after awhile, they are going to, in a way, they're going to kind of outgrow the Center. And the Center can probably only contain a couple of McCalls or Kaplans at any one time. So I think that you're going to have turnover and I don't think that this type of personality is going to be contented for a long period of time working in any organizational environment. Maybe if you have a perfect leadership environment where they are able to stimulate all of their independent needs and at the same time serve the benefit of the larger organization and they're able to be compensated appropriately for their growing stature in the world, if all of those things pertain, why, maybe they'll stay forever. But I think the Center can expect and should expect a reasonable

Page 17
turnover, and it's not all bad. We have some good guys working outside who I'd like to think say good things about the Center.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
In your sense, as you take the measure of this range of factors you've just described that contribute to this sort of maturation beyond the Center's immediate needs and confines and so forth, how important was the compensation question itself? Would that have...
WALT ULMER:
Well, you know, this is always an interesting issue. I'm currently involved in a study of the culture of the American armed forces and one of the things that's coming up really big is the compensation package that has fallen behind the civilian sector, the way most of these people look at it. And it is the hygiene factor for sure. But the real question is on the other end of the scale, is there any level of compensation that will have people stay in an environment when they think they can do more by themselves? I think compensation was a factor but I'm just not sure but what there might not have been any combination of things that would have the people stay. The other issue is in some of these cases, it might have been just as well for the health of the Center that the folks left. It's a two way proposition.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right.
WALT ULMER:
Particularly in a couple cases, I sort of think that they were perhaps for good reason they were somewhat alienating in parts of their behaviors in a mild way. Energetic, bright people, but maybe either they or the Center has sort of changed in their minds to the point where they weren't as comfortable as they sometimes were. The Center still has a good group of people who like to look back to the good old days when they would go up there and sit around the fireplace at noon and drink coffee and thought about the world. Those probably were the good old days.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah. Was there any—I understand you took a decision at some point to restrict so-called outside professional activities and it comes to mind in this context.
WALT ULMER:
Yeah, it does. It wasn't the restricting—you see, that's very interesting because the initial thing I did was for the first time in the history of the Center to permit outside professional compensation.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Oh, maybe I have this backwards, then.
WALT ULMER:
No, you don't have it backwards. But we decided to

Page 18
take an experiment and say okay, in trying to fix the business of being out in the world and also adding to your compensation and adding to your satisfaction and your experience, all of these things, we will permit the exempt members of the staff to have some numbers of days a month where they can go out and do their consulting or whatever work. Now they must make sure that they understand, and most college professors don't do this adequately but the law probably won't jump on them, that when they do this, that they are not representing the Center since the Center can't consult. It's an educational institution. Carolina can't consult. And we're going to try this for a little while and see what happens. And there's a couple of possibilities. One is that we'll have teachers at the Center complaining that they don't have the time to go out and consult but some of the researchers and some of the other part-time and other people can go out and do, so it would be a "we they". Secondly, there may be people who are spending so much time getting prepared for their three to four days of consulting a month, or whatever it is, I can't remember what it was, that they're really not going to be doing their jobs at the Center. And another thing is that maybe it will just work absolutely great and everyone will be happy. I had been around long enough then to know that the third possibility was rare. Okay, guys, let's try this. And okay, we're going to try this.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Do you remember about when this was?
WALT ULMER:
Oh, it was probably about maybe '91.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Okay.
WALT ULMER:
And then one of the first things that happened was that instead of this being a trial program where this was to be done and then we were going to review it, it became part of the Center's life. We even recruited some people saying by the way, you get three days a month for your own consulting. And some of the people then were making let's say $100,000 a year in their Center's salary and $60,000 a year in their consulting work. So we then took a look at this thing. And the "we" was a few of us, because there were quite a few who didn't want to do this. And I said, "Look, we really do have a "we they". People outside the Center are confused about whether the Center is consulting or not. Some of your colleagues in the Center who don't have time to do this are not too happy. We're sort of confusing ourselves in the world and we have made maybe 15 people in the Center really thrilled with this option and you know, another 150 professionals at the Center not very damn happy." And I said, "When we put it all together, I really want to phase it out and our

Page 19
experiment, we really need to say no." Well, I got a lot of discussion on that issue and it was just one of those decisions. What was forgotten was that we were on a three year trial period. That got lost along the way. That's the story on the outside professional work.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right. So that actually persisted for three years before you phased it out? Or something like that?
WALT ULMER:
It was two or three years, something like that.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let's talk about the Center's remarkable revenue growth and its impact in these years. First, I'd be very interested in your perspective on just—I mean I suppose there's a real superficial answer to this question, but I'm interesting in maybe your more nuanced reflection on what the impact was on the Center in various fashions of just so much more money coming in the door. I mean the revenue was really ramping up.
WALT ULMER:
Well, there was a lot of it coming in the door and it was also going out! We were making as many expenditures. We dramatically—we attempted to increase staff salary levels, which I think we did. We put a lot money into a bunch of research things. I think the Center—you know, it's very difficult to compute. But the Center spends a few million dollars a year on leadership research. I don't think there's ten places in the country to tell you the truth, that together spends that much on a focused behavioral science research and stuff. But in any case, so anyway, we put some stuff there. I tell you, each of these years, the question wasn't how can we spend the money. The question was, how can we balance the budget? So remember that the staff at the Center takes about 65% I guess of the Center's revenue. So as you expand, you know, you're always holding your breath as to whether or not the up-front investment is going to turn into revenue at the end of the year. What we expanded for in my perspective had nothing to do with revenue. We expanded in order to increase our outreach and to give people greater opportunities to come to the Center and enjoy its product. And that requires increase in this whole business but revenue per se was never on my mind as a major criterion of our success. You know, different people in different parts of the Center had different concerns and perspectives regarding the financial business. Some worried about it all the time who were in the finance department or group. I guess they may be calling themselves department, but I was an anti-department. We called ourselves groups. The finance group or whatever, because I thought group was a more inclusive and malleable term than department. So, different people in different parts

Page 20
of the Center. Now if you are managing a branch and you have to do certain revenue in order to meet your target, they will say gee, my life is driven by revenue. If you're in the middle of the research group, you're worried whether or not you have enough money to go to your meetings and get your computers upgraded and all that other kind of stuff, that's a different perspective. So the Center has a number of foci of perceptions about this whole deal. But from mine, again, I thought we could grow. Two or three times we said we're not going to grow any further than this and the classic example is the building in Greensboro. Now when I got there, they were in the midst of adding a little wing. Well, we had to grow so we decided we were going to make one more expansion. And I said, "Guys, this is it." Well, obviously it wasn't it because just before I left, I had planned a building. Those plans were stopped when my successor came in and they analyzed whether or not they needed a building and then decided they needed one bigger than the one that we had planned. So growth at the Center is a real tough issue. People don't want to grow but they kind of want the results that only growth can give you. It's an interesting thing and there's a legitimate concern about still whether one can hold the kind of familial, collegial, really neat culture that the Center has. And I think most people still feel it's a warm and fuzzy place to work. Whether you can still do that with a staff of 100 to a staff of 500. We had the same interesting discussion at West Point. West Point used to be 2400 cadets and then the President Kennedy when he was at an Army Navy game—it's interesting how strategic decisions are made—he looked down the field and said, "Where are the rest of the cadets?" And they said, "Well, Mr. President, they're all there." He said, "They can't be. There's twice as many midshipmen." And they said, "Well, that's the way the law is. There are 3800 midshipmen and there are 2400 cadets authorized by law." He said, "They ought to be all the same around 4400 or so." And then all of a sudden all the Service Academies became 4400.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How about that.
WALT ULMER:
Anyway, wherever we were.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right. Well, you were talking about the impact of all this growth on the institutional culture. Any other things that spring to mind when you look back on that issue, on the shift in institutional culture in this period?
WALT ULMER:
Well, the institution has become slightly more bureaucratic even though we all fought not to do that. By bureaucratic, I mean we do have a few more procedures now. It used to be you sort of put your travel cost in on the back of

Page 21
a piece of paper somewhere and threw it into someone's in-box. And when you're dealing with four or five million dollars worth of travel, you really can't do that anymore. So there are a few of those procedures which some people will always see as restrictive and others will not. I don't think that the somewhat of a disconnect from the foundation caused much of a cultural change although maybe people started to see themselves as a little more independent and they needed to be sure that they carried the institution because there was no one there to sort of back them up if they got in trouble.
One of the things about the culture when I came to Greensboro, do you know how many professional staff were non-white?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
I would presume the answer is zero.
WALT ULMER:
Yeah, zero. And we worked on that appropriately and the Center now has a pretty good mix. That's another business of competing with all of the universities and so forth for minorities out there. The Center has always done pretty well on women. I had an all white male cast of vice presidents. And I sometimes speak on the business of diversity and say I really had the more diverse group but that really doesn't go because diversity today means differences in skin color in addition to perception. We always wrestled with the business of donations to the Center and with how to get monies to augment to earn revenue. The contributions to the Center, fund-raising and so forth, we've always had a program. Again, like research, it will always be a mildly contentious issue in terms of how much energy we should put into it, how successful we are with the program. And it has gone along I think reasonably well and I think the Center gets about a couple million dollars a year now from various types of donations and so forth.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Two other questions about this period of growth or the growth issue. How about across this time were you comfortable with the persistent quality of LDP even as it was being offered in so many, at such a greater frequency?
WALT ULMER:
One of my major concerns and I spent probably as much time as a CEO could virtually taking a look and asking other people to look, getting feedback from clients and so forth. And we had a glitch or two here and there both in the feedback instruments as we tried to grow so rapidly and a couple of modules here or there that weren't perfect. But I guess compared both to the rest of the world and what most people's expectations were, we were, due to the diligence of the folks who were in the training business, I think the quality was really maintained very well. Was I concerned? Yeah, sure. I continue to be concerned. The Center needs to

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continue, as I know it will, to pay attention to its first piece of business which is delivering stuff that is very, very high quality.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right. How about the issue of marketing the Center's offerings? I imagine in '85 on arrival, you would have discovered a not too well established marketing program at the Center.
WALT ULMER:
Yeah, that's true. And I don't like the word "marketing" in relation to the Center, but I think they're using it now. Marketing to me has a commercial overtone that I think is maybe inconsistent with the Center's charter.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
What would you...
WALT ULMER:
I don't know. It needs to advertise. It needs to somehow display its wares and opportunities to the world. I think word of mouth still is the most powerful thing that the Center has. And my guess is still it brings in about as much stuff like personal contact with the staff and by experience in the Center's programs or by listening to one of the Center's people present at a seminar of some kind. We've tried direct mailing. We've tried all the other stuff. And I think that's okay. I always, I guess I'm kind of conservative in terms of the Center's image and I want to be sure that it doesn't grow too fast and it doesn't forget that it's an educational institution and not a civilian private commercial consulting institution.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah. Another issue. Your thoughts on the thinking that guided you as you began to make some key new hires to the professional staff as the organization continued to grow and folks like David Noer and Mike Sirkis arrive. In some sense, would it be fair—I don't if this is a fair characterization or not to say that in some senses you had to begin to construct with these hires almost a new generation of relatively high ranking professional staff for the organization whereas a decade before it was a must different form of organization.
WALT ULMER:
Yeah. And you know, up until very recently, it was either hard or we thought it was hard to make some of the promotions from inside. Many of the people who were very competent trainers for example either did not want to get into the management business and become a vice president or the feeling was perhaps they really were doing the Center better where they were. So yeah, we had to pull in quite a few people I would say from about maybe '88 to '90. We brought in the Lil Kelly's, and Karen McNeil-Miller, and Karen Boylston,

Page 23
and a whole bunch of other good kinds of people who were not in the Center. We had to both—we did some promotion from inside but we had to do an awful lot of screening. That sure takes—between screening things for governors and for senior faculty, that consumed as it should an awful lot of time and effort. And in most cases, we were pretty lucky. We got a couple people, good energetic people from the commercial world who came in and were good but were not ultimately satisfied in an institution where they were limited in terms of financial income. All in all, mostly, the Center has had a relatively low turnover. Some folks even advocate that the turnover is too low that there's not enough new blood coming in and going out. It seems to me that there's a reasonable amount of move in and out and quite a few folks who are there for their 15 and 20 year pins, it looks like the feel is maybe about right.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right. Let me turn to an issue that you mentioned briefly way back at the beginning of the conversation and that's the issue of the mix of the Center's clients. You talked a little bit about the effort to expand a very successful program to provide services say to high school principals. I'd be interested in your reflections on the issue of how the Center chose to find constituents to serve. Clearly the bulk of the folks who interact with the Center's programs are from the corporate world but as part of your mission, you tried to reach other groups. Can you talk about your thinking on that process and the efforts on that front?
WALT ULMER:
Well, I think most of us who have watched the American scene are convinced that all of the leadership and managerial help we can give to the public education, particularly K through 12, is probably needed. And so we took that as an assumption. One that there was the need and secondly that we thought that we might be able to help. And so we recruited Linton Deck specifically to do that who was at the time I think at Vanderbilt. And a number of other people, Karen McNeil-Miller who was the principal at a small private school here in the area in Greensboro and some of those folks and put together our educational and non-profit group, I guess it was called at the time. And it just seemed to be an appropriate thing for the Center to do on the standing that it probably would never be a source of any revenue. As a matter of fact, I think we've had to subsidize it every year. But the same thing at the Center every year and I assume it continues is that we've tried in each of the Center's programs to have one seat that we would very heavily subsidize because that was a part of the legitimate activity of the Center. How much more time do you think we need?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Oh, maybe—I'm getting down to the very end of my

Page 24
questions. Maybe another five or ten minutes, General, would that work for you?
WALT ULMER:
Yeah.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah, okay. So generally you were happy with the mix. Are there other opportunities that you thought you might have attempted that you didn't that you did attempt that really didn't unfold in an ongoing fashion?
WALT ULMER:
Yeah. Now the educational thing went on with stops and starts. We would do a few programs for a group of superintendents or something and then it would sort of wither away. And then we would try some others. So that is something that is up and running but it just needed continuous attendance. We tried to do some work with various levels of government and again, that's a hit and miss proposition. We tried to help college and university faculties who wanted some help in the leadership business. I think we pretty well failed in that one. I'm not sure whose fault it was, but I guess I went out to half a dozen major universities at their request and we talked about setting up programs in leadership. But when you really got down to it, most of them felt—see, we said to do our model program, you've got to have three or four components. You've got to have a little theoretical business that talks about different kinds of leadership and leadership theory and human behavior and all that good stuff. And then you've got to have a lot of participative work where people do things in groups where they can observe each other, be observed and get feedback. Then you have to have an experiential component where they do something in some form. And as you well know, it is really difficult to work this kind of thing into a university curriculum. In the business schools, they say gee, we don't have any four hour blocks. And furthermore, I'm not sure who we've got on the faculty who wants to do this and I'm not sure we've got people who frankly are competent to handle this type of classroom and we don't have people who can give feedback in an appropriate way. And I'm not sure we want to get into the business of processing instruments for feedback and we don't know how to give experiential coaching and so forth. And it's a hard thing to do, which is one of the reasons the Center's leadership development program is relatively unique. It looks really easy but the reality is it's really hard to do that day in and day out with high quality and not missing a beat. And you don't have much opportunity in a Center classroom to screw-up very much. You've got someone paying in some cases $1,000 a day. It's the only program they're going to in five years. And you know, so I think that's one of the reasons that the Center has maintained its fine reputation is that it pays

Page 25
attention to detail. I mean the little details. We pass out the papers in exactly a designed sequence at exactly the right time in the program saying the right words. I mean we don't orchestrate it, but we have over the years developed the rhythm and the protocol that makes people in the classroom feel good and supported and not overly stressed and all these other things. So some of the nuances of these programs are very difficult for the universities to take. And after we have explained some of this, a couple of them have tried but generally that—so I wouldn't say that was certainly much of a success. I can't point with pride to all of the university programs that are now going on that the Center has spawned. In the same thing, we haven't done much with our creativity programs and so forth. We used to have a greater balance in terms of programs that talked about individual and group and team productivity and teamwork, innovation and whatever. We have the teamwork stuff but we don't have as much creativity. I think they've got a couple of programs that are going reasonably well. The international kind of a program thing, I don't think that's flown dramatically well. And our entry into the total leadership for total quality management, that didn't go too well, and that's one of my favorite programs. Probably there, I either pushed it too hard or too easy, I'm not sure which.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
You said just a moment ago the international program didn't work out as well as...
WALT ULMER:
Well, you know, we tried a number of things, but they're very cumbersome. For example, for two years, we put on a program for some Norwegian people in European-American innovation or whatever and I thought in that and I thought in both years and some other stuff, but it was just cumbersome. We had different levels of English speaking business going on. I think that we have tailored the programs in Brussels sufficiently so that it's not unrepresentative of their culture and still has much of the Center's stuff. But I wouldn't say that's a real big winner. We had bilingual programs in San Antonio and to tell you the truth, I don't know how many we give down there now that are bilingual. So that's caught on to some degree. Those things are very dependent upon the particular personalities who are truly bilingual and have enough competence in both behavioral science and teaching to put the program over.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Yeah. It whittles the possible universe so sharply.
WALT ULMER:
We fortunately had a husband and wife team down in San Antonio who could do this.

Page 26
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
The Osbornes, I guess.
WALT ULMER:
What's that?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
I guess it was Noel and Dede Osborne?
WALT ULMER:
Yeah.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
I just have a couple more questions. You mentioned the diversity issue at the Center and I know that during your tenure the Center launched I guess in '89 the program focused on executive women. And then in '94, the program focused on African-Americans. Maybe just a little bit more reflection from you on the sense of the Center's engagement with those issues across your tenure. You mentioned the particular challenge you faced in trying to find people to recruit. If you could maybe just flesh that out a little more!
WALT ULMER:
Well, I think people in the Center were sensitive to this before I got there but I think I was able to help that particular focus and to—it was just time for a faculty that looked a little bit more diverse. We had been and continue—when we started up the executive women's program, the question was and it still is this is an unnatural environment where you have all women because in the work place, you don't have all women. And furthermore, to some extent, this is kind of an exclusive program. The Center has always said we're sort of open to everyone, come on in. Well, now all of a sudden we have a program for Blacks, we have a program for women, whatever. And we thought about this quite a bit. And I would like to think that in another 10 or 20 or 30 years we don't have to have these but I'm convinced at this stage of the game, particularly for women executives, that they do need an environment where they feel comfortable to address those issues that they are concerned in their own mind that no one but women executives understand. And as long as that's that way, I think the Center needs to have some of those programs. I'm ultimately against the idea of segregating our society any more than it's already segregated. And I hope we can stop some day talking about African-Americans and European-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans and so forth. But again, it will be a while before we get there. In the intermediate stage, we have to provide opportunities to be sure that women and minorities have some comfortable place to go that will, hopefully, help them in a number of ways.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Right, right. Any specific recollections in a general sense about the hiring efforts you made and the challenges you faced there to find staff members to bring in

Page 27
who were women and minorities?
WALT ULMER:
Well, we had to look around a lot. But obviously, the guy says we went from zero to 60 in just a few years. They were sort of there, but it wasn't easy. And you have this very interesting—someone says we want to recruit minorities without lowering standards. Of course, that's a dumb statement. The presumption then is that minorities are going to obviously lower your standards unless you're careful, which is a very strange and interesting approach to the subject. On the other hand, you don't want to either have token people or to hire people because they are minorities who don't match with the qualifications of the other members of the faculty. But most institutions—I don't know how yours is doing, but many universities now are continuing to have major problems recruiting the kind of people that they want. So the Center needs to continue to pay attention to it. There are some things once you get sort of a critical mass then things kind of happen. I mean when you have none, the first two or three are tough. When you have a dozen, then a combination of them and your reputation and whatever just kind of takes over and then it can pretty well go. Back in the Army when we had problems with Black military policeman, the Black soldiers did not want to become policeman. Part of their home tradition was the police were not particularly good guys. So one of the things that we did in my division in Germany was I said, "Okay, we're going to convert some infantrymen and some other people into M.P.'s." And we got finally permission from God or someone so that we could do that out in the field. We decided we would recruit two at a time. So when you took two buddies out of the squad, two Black soldiers and said look, we need military policemen. We're going to put you through some schools and so forth and you're going to be M.P.s., that worked an awful lot better than trying to get one. And once you built up at the beginning, I think, and at the Center, I think maybe that was one of the things that has perpetuated. I think they have a pretty good mix now of diversity.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Sure. Last question, General, and then I certainly want to give you as much time as you would like to take the conversation in directions we haven't explored that you think are important.
WALT ULMER:
I think we've explored about everything!
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Probably wearing you out. Last question is just the issue of your decision in '94 to close out your very, very successful tenure at the Center and move in another direction.

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WALT ULMER:
Well, I thought it was about time. It just seemed to me it was about time. I don't know. The research on executives says that you should leave between I think it's between six and nine years, something like that. One of your scholars has put out a lot of that kind of stuff. But it just got to be it seemed to me it was time. I think also at about that time, I think that maybe Smith Richardson felt it was time. He and I got along well, but I think maybe he felt it was time for a change. I was never told that directly but I just kind of sensed that but that was not a prime mover. It just seemed like it was time to do that. And my colleagues at the Center were kind enough to say that that came as a bit of a surprise to them. It must have been Bill Friday and I had worked this out about 18 months before in very general terms. But it came as a little bit of a surprise or at least they...
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
This is the second cassette in the Center For Creative Leadership's Oral History Project interview with Mr. Walter F. Ulmer, Jr. It is November 20, 1998. My name is Joe Mosnier of the Southern Oral History Program at UNC-Chapel Hill. I'm in California speaking by phone with General Ulmer at his home in Virginia. General, if you could just recover those last couple of points you were thinking about.
WALT ULMER:
Is this the second tape or the third?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Second cassette. Yeah, I flipped the first one over.
WALT ULMER:
Let's see. Where were we?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
You had said you talked with Bill Friday 18 months before.
WALT ULMER:
I had talked to Bill Friday sometime earlier and said, "You know, earlier when I came to the Center, I had a five year—for some reason or another I just thought five years was about it." And when we used to talk about it then—and by the way, the Center at that time, I had no contract. We just had kind of an agreement that I would stay as long as either I wanted to stay or they wanted me to stay or whatever. There was no formal agreement.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Interesting.
WALT ULMER:
And so anyway, when it came about that time, maybe

Page 29
a year or so earlier, at one time I said to Smith Richardson that you know, maybe about six years or so was about enough. And he wrote back and said, "I really hope that you won't, that you'll kind of hang around for a little bit longer." And I was enjoying the Center. I enjoyed it to the very last. It was a stimulating and exciting place and you think you're doing something good for the world. On the other hand, the Center is a major managerial challenge. And with all of the various audiences that you have with the diversity admissions with the mix of people with the things that you do. I always tried to do, in addition to that for two years, I devised and taught a program that we called Systems Leadership. And so I spent some classroom time. And I would frequently give talks on stuff. I still did a little bit of military stuff. So I was doing some of that. I was doing some of my own programs. I tried to do a little bit of writing. I was recruiting governors, trying to help with the recruiting of staff. We were always in the midst of some kind of reorganization and worried about whether or not the money was going to go out faster than it came in. It is a very interesting managerial position because it has a wonderful wide array of—in any case, after about going on nine years, I just got the feeling it was time. We were having a discussion about the reorganization of the governorship of the Center and I don't think that was a particularly crucial issue but in any case, it just seemed to me it was about time to go. And I think that at that stage of the game, Smith Richardson was—I think I could have stayed at the Center years later. But I think it was time in his perspective also to maybe have a new head of the machine.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
You've been extremely generous with your time. Are there other matters you would like that have come to mind that you think we should spent just a minute on to be sure they're included as well or things maybe you anticipated I would bring up that I never raised?
WALT ULMER:
No, I think you raised—you're obviously well versed in the history and dynamics of the Center. It's a unique institution. I only looked at another couple of possibilities. I'm not sure those folks would have hired me. I don't know if they might have paid me a little bit more money but that's neither here nor there. I think that my ten years of association with the Center was about as productive ten years as I could have had after my tour in the Army. I really always felt awfully fortunate, really lucky to have had that opportunity. But one of my words is it's better to be lucky than smart. But anyway, it still is a wonderful place and I go there from time to time and the Center presidents and I converse. It was an interesting interlude there after I

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left. Just another one of those interesting managerial things that happen. And so, Joe, I think that I've told you as the fellow says, "120% of what I know!"
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Good. Sir, I'm going to go ahead and turn the tape off and then just spend 60 last seconds on the phone with you. Thanks so much.
END OF INTERVIEW