University oral history project preserves memories for alumni, students

University Archives and Special Collections and University Advancement hosted an oral history project called Memories From the Hilltop during homecoming week, Feb. 11 to 15. The audio interviews were held in Ragsdale and Munday Library, varying between alumni, staff and currently enrolled students.

The university wants to preserve alumni and currently enrolled students’ stories. The project began in 2018 and was mainly curated by Associate Director Events Denise Rocha.  

Research Associate IV Advancement Kathy Beth Stavinoha was one of the interviewers for the project.

“For me, I always loved listening to others’ stories. The guys in their sixties that come together [for homecoming] and start reminiscing. I just love listening to their laughter and some of the pranks they got up to,” said Stavinoha.

Ashley Watkins Walker & Matthew San Martin

Stavinoha said she was delighted to preserve these memories, though the project was mainly meant for alumni. Alumni have a greater chance of losing contact with the university, so the project was meant to preserve memories about alumni’s time at St. Edward’s.

Emma Lou Linn, Professor of Psychology, worked on the project in 2018. She adjusted in her chair and leaned over her desk, mentioning her work with the City of Austin in documenting historical buildings with plaques to prove it floating around her office. She commanded a presence in the room with her love for history.

Ashley Watkins Walker & Matthew San Martin

“I think it’s wonderful because I’ve done a lot of work with history here in Austin and helped put together Austin’s first ordinance,” Linn said. “I also participated in oral history there with the city of Austin with the state archives years and years ago. So, I love the history. I love that St. Edward’s is doing this. I think it’s not only good to preserve the history, but the fact that’s really good is that young people like you are getting involved and get to participate in the history and are interested in collecting data and the general history. That’s how we pass on our tradition.”

Neal Wise, a retired professor, was contacted by the project to tell his nearly 50 year experience at St. Edward’s as a Behavior and Social Sciences Professor. He is retired and spoke fondly of both the project and campus itself.

“The thing about St. Edward’s is that it’s a community and once you’re apart of that community, you’re apart of it for life,” said Wise.

Ashley Watkins Walker & Matthew San Martin