For the week ending Nov. 17, 1982
PINCKNEY — COCC HONORS ONE OF ITS BEST
In the end, the honor to one man embraced a whole profession.
And Orde S. Pinckney, COCC’s distinguished professor of history, acknowledged the shared accolade Monday at the dedication of the Pinckney Center for the Arts.
“To have this center dedicated to teaching, I take the greatest pride in that,” Pinckney told the audience.
Teaching is dedicated to expanding students’ knowledge and well-being, he said. A parade of speakers testified to Pinckney’s ability to stir such expansion.
He was called one of the two or three greatest teachers of his generation by William Appleman Williams, an OSU history professor and the author of 18 books who is himself renowned as one of the best. Williams, who has known Pinckney for three decades, called him a great teacher, whether in a classroom, a living room, a street corner or a raunchy bar.
Their courage and camara-derie, said Williams, was tested in academic circles but perhaps more as fans of the New York Yankees.
“It takes a brave man to enter a bar, belly up and argue that Whitey Ford could doctor a baseball better than Sandy Koufax,” said Williams, “especially when you have a belly like Orde used to have.”
But Pinckney’s lectures on history, not the Yankees, were what put his name on the arts center.
“He made history come alive. He re-created it,” said Pauline Peotter, a 1959 COCC honors graduate whose first college class was taught by Pinckney.
“He made me believe in it much as a good actor makes you believe in a play as it comes alive on stage,” she said.
Peotter later earned a master’s degree from Stanford University and became a professor of theater arts at Portland State. In many plays she staged, she drew on the love of history Pinckney gave her to research a play’s background.
Pinckney’s own capacity for research has been vast, said Don Pence, COCC’s first president, who hired him in 1955. A job reference said Pinckney had one of the finest libraries of any individual professor, “but the significant thing is, he’s read all of the books in it,” Pence said.
COCC President Fred Boyle described him as representing “the very idea of COCC.”
Boyle also recalled Pinckney’s request for a sabbatical in England, where he could re-create the history of the country from which the United States sprang.
“And oh, so much more,” Boyle read at the request’s conclusion. “That is Orde Pinckney to me — oh, so much more.”