On the South Base, young Navy recruits were trained as aircraft mechanics. At one time there were 30,000 Navy personnel in Norman, “more than there were civilians living here at that time.” The university and city benefited greatly from those facilities, he said, and they added colorful memories from his childhood and youth.
As an OU student in architecture, he was mentored by the renown Bruce Goff. The architecture classes were on the North Base “and I had very few classes on the main campus,” he recalls of the campus which would be his professional home for 40 years.
Two years of ROTC training was required of all male OU students then and he followed that with another two years in the advanced program “because it paid $30 a month and I wanted that money.” At the end of four years, still short of the 185 hours required for the architecture degree, he was commissioned and soon he was in the middle of the Korean War, “a company commander at 23 years of age.”
The Korean War truce came about the time his two-year commitment ended, so he returned to Norman and OU to finish the degree. His experiences in Korea, seeing how South Korea was dealing with the refugees that flooded the area “were an eye-opening thing.”
He began to think about how communities establish orderly growth, and began his graduate studies in regional and city planning. Trying to finish his master’s degree while working as an architect in Wichita wasn’t working out, and when he was offered work with OU’s Institute for Community Development, he jumped at the opportunity.
The job was as a research assistant, but soon he found himself teaching classes. Then more classes until he was a full-time professor. Goins still maintains an office in the College of Architecture, and is a senior fellow in the Institute for Quality Communities.