College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Ogles reflects on growing up, fatherhood
April 11, 2007
By Elizabeth Boyle
College of Arts and Sciences Dean Ben Ogles says there are a lot of similarities between raising seven children and providing leadership for the college's 19 departments and numerous institutes and programs. "It's true that even though they're each different, you love them all," he says of the various disciplines in his charge.
Outlook asked Ogles, who began his post in April 2006 after 15 years with the Department of Psychology and nine months as interim dean, to share some additional reflections on his life experiences. Here's what he had to say.
- My wife and I have seven children. They're a good crew. The oldest is 22. I have a son who's in Brazil. So, five of them are still at home. The youngest is 9.
- My kids are more different than they are the same. One might be great at singing, but another can't carry a tune in a bucket. Or one will drive a trike down a hill in a second and one is averse to adventure. They're different right from the get-go; it's not like it emerges when they're 15.
- Because we both came from large families, it was natural for us. My wife was in the middle of eight and I'm the oldest of nine. We added children to our family one at a time.
- I grew up in the desert in a small, rural area. Morton Thiokol is there. (A U.S. corporation that makes rockets, missiles and related products). So it is this little community of mostly engineers. The kids I grew up with were all these highly competitive math and science whizzes.
- It was very dry, but there was great skiing. I would skip school to go skiing.
- I majored in accounting. I thought it would be a good foundation for any kind of career. I was going to go to law school, but my cousin said, 'Don't be a lawyer. Be a psychologist because you can work with the same people but help them.' Actually, the real reason I switched was because I got a part-time job working in a mental-health facility and enjoyed working for a psychologist.
- I ran a couple of marathons. It's inaccurate to say I ran; I trotted. I've also done the Parkersburg Half-Marathon six times.
- On my mother's side, if you go back to the pilgrims, a man named John Lathrop was imprisoned in England because of his religious beliefs. He was cut loose and told he had to go to the United States, where he became a minister in Cape Cod. Now there are 20 million descendents of him in the United States, including President Bush.
- I lived in Norway for two years and at that time was fluent in Norwegian. I would encourage all of our students to study abroad to get exposure to other languages and cultures. It will change your life; it certainly changed mine.
- There are still times even after 25 years when I'm in a situation and a Norwegian word comes to mind before an English word because it just fits better.
- Right now our dishwasher is broken and the most fun thing is having everyone wash dishes together. I'm washing, there's one kid next to me rinsing, another drying, two cleaning the table, and before you know it you're having a water fight. That is a good time.
- Some of my favorite moments in life happened at 5 a.m. in the morning. I'm holding a baby who just finished a bottle and the house is completely quiet. I'm just holding the baby, and she's not falling asleep; she's content, wide-eyed and looking around. That's unforgettable.
- My advice to new parents would be that the relationship with your partner is the foundation to any success you have with your kids. You have to be a team and take care of one another first.
Elizabeth Boyle is a writer with University Communications and Marketing.