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Barb Grachek Oral History


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Biographical Information:

Barbara (Svela) Grachek was born on February 10, 1941 in Moorhead, Minnesota. She grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, and graduated from Hopkins (MN) High School. She matriculated to St. Cloud State University in the fall of 1958 and majored in Business and Physical Education, earning her BS degree in 1962. She earned her master’s degree at St. Cloud State in 1963 and her Ph.D. in Higher Education at the University of Minnesota in 1978.

During her 42 year association with St. Cloud State, Grachek held numerous positions including clerical support in Industrial Arts and the Print Shop as an undergraduate, graduate assistant, assistant registrar, faculty member, teaching classes in business and business education, including teaching at St. Cloud State’s Alnwick and Denmark programs, associate dean in Liberal Arts and Sciences, director of International Programs, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and briefly, Chief Executive Officer. Grachek was instrumental in developing the Bachelor of Elective Studies at St. Cloud. She was also the first Affirmative Action officer and Title IX Coordinator. As one of the first female vice-presidents at St. Cloud State University, her tenure reflects not only the professionalization of higher education but also the changing role of women in higher education administration.

Grachek married Art Grachek in June 1964 and have two children, Sara and Rebecca.

Transcript Summary:

In this oral history interview conducted by St. Cloud State University Archivist Tom Steman on March 8, 2017, Barb Grachek shares her memories as an undergraduate living in Whitney House and working several clerical jobs on campus in the late 1950s. Also included are anecdotes about her working relationship with Brendan McDonald, as a babysitter for his children, working in the Registrar’s Office, and McDonald’s final commencement as St. Cloud State president. Her stories of living and teaching in Dearborn and Detroit, Michigan, including her experience of being in Detroit during the 1967 race riots, earning her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota while working at St. Cloud State, and teaching at SCSU’s Denmark program highlight her ability to balance professional and family life.


Image ID: 11652

See additional files below for full transcript.

Interview with Barb Grachek.pdf (115 kB)
Barb Grachek oral history transcript

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