Interview with Inette Dishler, Class of 1979


Inette Dishler



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Oral history interview with Illinois State University alum Inette Dishler, Class of 1979. The interview was conducted by then Milner Library student employee Ayushi Shukla on June 2, 2023. Dishler says her decision to attend college was influenced by familial expectations and her father's determination to provide his children with better opportunities. A chance encounter with an ISU alum led her to visit the campus, ultimately making it her only choice for higher education.

During her time at ISU, Dishler pursued a major in speech communication, having been drawn to the subject matter but initially unsure of its practical applications. Her involvement in organizations like the Association of Residence Halls (ARH) and the University Program Board shaped her career aspirations. Through these experiences, she discovered her passion for training and development, eventually transitioning into a 32-year-long career in the field.

The interview delves into significant events on campus during Dishler’s time as a student, including the cancellation of the infamous Rites of Spring festival by President Lloyd Watkins in 1977. Dishler also describes a 1979 generator failure that left Watterson Towers without power for weeks, displacing thousands of student residents and leading to her sleeping on the floor in a triple-occupancy dormitory room.

Among the notable figures in Dishler's life during her college years was Julia Visor, an influential mentor who played a pivotal role in her personal and professional development. Visor’s guidance and friendship left a lasting impact on Dishler, inspiring her own commitment to mentorship and leadership.

Dishler describes how she inadvertently graduated early due to taking summer classes. Despite her initial reluctance to leave ISU, she found herself seeking opportunities in Florida, where she secured an internship that ultimately led her to pursue a master's degree in higher education administration at Florida State University. Throughout her interview, Dishler expresses gratitude for her positive experiences as a student and reflects on missed opportunities, such as studying abroad. She also touches upon her evolving political awareness during her time at ISU, particularly influenced by the campaign to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and the influx of Vietnamese refugees. While she wouldn’t discover her lesbian identity until much later in life, Dishler remains connected to ISU through annual donations to the LGBTQ+ Student Support Fund.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; Dishler’s background and life before ISU: 00:00-02:01
  • Decision to attend ISU: 02:01-03:29
  • Majoring in speech communication; impact of ISU experience on future career: 03:29-06:00
  • University presidents; Rites of Spring: 06:00-08:22
  • Involvement in Association of Residence Halls: 08:22-12:59
  • Job at Student Affairs: 12:59-14:55
  • Middle East and African History class: 14:55-16:27
  • Concerts on campus: 16:27-17:54
  • Power outage at Watterson Towers: 22:01; 36:17-38:33
  • Julia Visor: 22:01-24:48
  • Bloomington-Normal community; Poison Apple discotheque: 24:48-26:55
  • Graduating early; internship at University of South Florida; graduate degree: 26:55-30:24
  • Connections to ISU; LGBTQ+ Student Support Fund: 30:24-33:23
  • 1976 election; ERA activism; Jane Fonda: 33:23-36:17
  • Conclusion: 38:33-40:03


Transcript edited by interviewee in service of readability.

Interview with Inette Dishler, Class of 1979