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Art Grachek Oral History


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Biographical Information:

Art Grachek was born on October 4, 1940, in Gilman, Minnesota. The youngest of five children, Art arrived at St. Cloud State in 1958, graduating with a BS degree in 1962. After graduation, Grachek continued his education at St. Cloud State, working as program advisor in the registrar’s office, and then earning his master’s degree in 1964. He then taught at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud, as well as taught courses at St. Cloud State and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. With wife Barb, Art moved to Detroit in 1968 to attend Wayne State University. Grachek returned to St. Cloud State in the fall of 1971 to teach in Speech Communication. While at St. Cloud State, he finished his Ph.D. program in 1974. Grachek retired in 2003. Grachek married Barb Svela in 1964 and had two children together, Sara and Rebecca.

Transcript Summary:

In an oral history conducted by St. Cloud State University Archivist Tom Steman on March 7, 2017, retired faculty member Art Grachek spoke about his time at St. Cloud State as a student and long-time faculty member, life in Detroit, and activities during retirement.

Grachek discussed his family growing up in Gilman and then, as the first person in his immediate family to attend college. Before coming to St. Cloud State in 1958, Grachek briefly considered attending Northern Arizona University. While at St. Cloud State as an undergraduate, Grachek lived with long-time faculty member L. Ruth Cadwell, who he described as pleasant. While an undergraduate at St. Cloud State, Grachek was heavily involved with the Newman Center, where he met his future wife, Barb Svela. Graduating in 1962, Grachek continued his education at St. Cloud State, working as a program advisor while earning his master’s degree, which he received in 1964.

After graduation, Grachek taught business and, later, speech courses at Cathedral High School in St. Cloud. He also taught at St. Cloud State and spent a year teaching at St. John’s University. Grachek decided to enroll in the Ph.D. program in speech communication at Wayne State University in Detroit, though he did not start there full-time until 1968. He spent time there in the summer of 1967, witnessing the race riots that were happening not far from campus. Grachek, who had married Barb in 1964, started a family while stil in St. Cloud and had completed his coursework by 1971.

Amongst many other offers, Grachek was hired as a faculty member in Speech at St. Cloud State in fall 1971 in a position that fit well with his interests. Upon earning his Ph.D. from Wayne State in 1974, Grachek was appointed department chair. Here Grachek witnessed the change and evolution of speech communication, as various disciplines that were often connected to it were spun off and the curriculum was modified to meet the changing needs of students. Grachek also touched upon his time at faculty athletic representative and his trips abroad through St. Cloud State International Studies program at Alnwick and Denmark. Grachek also discussed his relationship with Presidents Bob Wick and Brendan McDonald.

Grachek retired in 2002 and keeps busy with his work with the Kiwanis Club, Catholic Charities, and Clara’s House.


Image ID: 11651

See additional files below for full transcript.

Interview with Art Grachek.pdf (108 kB)
Art Grachek oral history transcript

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