Portrait of Otto, Thelma

Otto, Thelma

July 13, 1998

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Thelma Otto provides a staff perspective from the formative years of the campus having played a key role with Riverside administrators on budgetary and personnel matters.
Excerpt from Transcript
Otto: And at that point they were doing remodeling of Watkins Hall. I didn't mention Watkins Hall earlier. But they did remodeling of Watkins Hall, and they had all of these plans, and all of the money had been allocated, and they just said, "Here."

Erickson: And gave that to you?

Otto: Yes, brand new.

Erickson: Oh, my gosh!

Otto: No one else in the office apparently knew anything about it. So I really had to dig in, and it was good for me.

Erickson: Well, you learned a lot.

Otto: Oh, yes, because I got familiar with the whole accounting procedure, found out what went on. That was the first time I had been aware that if you had a minus sign, it was positive money. I thought it was the other way around. But anyway that was probably the most difficult thing I had to do when I first came there. But you know, you learn.

Erickson Well, you sure do.

Otto: Yes.

Erickson: Well, let's see, so you were working with architects in our A&E?

Otto: A&E.

Erickson: A&E, thank you.

Otto: Architects and Engineers.

Erickson: Was that Dick Rust at that time?

Otto: Dick was not the one I worked with at that time. I worked a lot with Dick later when I had more control of money, and then we had things going on. But I worked with Dick a lot, and I worked with the department chairs who were having offices remodeled and all of those kinds of things, over in Watkins Hall. And that was interesting.

Erickson: What were they trying to do. Was it because the campus was growing. Is that why?

Otto: The campus wasn't growing too much at that point. They just needed different facilities. And they had brought in a new chair of economics, Jim Earley, and wanted to provide different things. And they were increasing that faculty, and that was another thing to provide more office space.

Questions Regarding this Oral History Project should be directed to Jan Erickson at jan.erickson@ucr.edu.