After an established background as a political commentator, professor Jim Moore will be taking his career in a new direction by writing the official biography of the 32nd Governor of Oregon.
Former Gov. Victor Atiyeh asked Moore to personally write his biography last October. Moore said Atiyeh asked him to write the biography specifically because he was familiar with his commentary work and wanted his biography to be a true telling about his political place in the 1970s.
“Atiyeh knows that I tell it like it is and I think that’s what drew him to approach me,” Moore said. “It felt great to be personally asked. It’s a huge honor and responsibility.”
Moore’s familiarity with Atiyeh skyrocketed from professional familiarity to friendship four years ago when Atiyeh donated all of his professional and personal papers to the Pacific archives. Moore traveled to Atiyeh’s home for seven visits with Pacific librarians to discuss his donations to the archives.
In addition to being the 32nd Governor of Oregon from 1979-1987, Atiyeh was the first elected governor of Arab descent and the latest Republican to govern Oregon.
Moore is deep in the research phase of the project. When Atiyeh died in July, Moore had collected approximately 65 hours of recorded interviews with him.
Due to his responsibilities as a professor and political commentary, Moore just finished reading the transcripts of the interviews three weeks ago. From there, he began to interview those close to him in both a personal and professional way.
“When I began the book, Gov. Atiyeh told me that this was my project and my choice,” Moore said. “It’s very rare to see a political figure be so forthcoming, but Atiyeh and his staff didn’t believe in secrets.”
Moore has been working in partnership with the Pacific archives for the biography and commended the extensiveness and accessibility of its information.
The archives contain all of Atiyeh’s documents, from transcripts of meetings, personal letters and notes about policies implemented during his time as Governor.
“The archives are such a huge resource for me,” Moore said. “You really get a good sense of how he viewed himself as an Arab
American.” In addition to being the first Arab Ameri-
can governor, he grew up in a strong multicul- tural neighborhood, which strongly contrib- uted to his focus as a political leader.
Because of the depth of the biography, Moore is being offered sabbatical in the spring to commit more of his time to writing and researching.
He said he plans to hire both a research assistant and a work study student to help. He will be hiring in the spring.
While he has had a few ideas for books in the back of his mind, Moore said he never considered writing books to be a feasible career path. He said he prefers teaching, specifically to large audiences.
Moore said he is excited to have the time to devote to researching and writing more in depth and looks forward to continuing with his first published written work.
Atiyeh’s biography is scheduled to be published in 2016 and is being written as a pro- totype to using the archives as a main resource for research.
By publishing this book, the archives hopes to assist other authors with their work.