Clark Kerr

Chancellor, 1952-1958

With degrees from Swarthmore College (A.B. 1932), Stanford University (M.A. 1933), and the University of California (Ph.D. in economics, 1939), Clark Kerr came to Berkeley from the University of Washington in 1945 as associate professor of industrial relations in the School of Business Administration and as founding director of the Institute of Industrial Relations.

Within four years of his arrival the Loyalty Oath issue erupted and the University of California, particularly the Berkeley campus, underwent its most difficult disruption until the onset of the Free Speech Movement in 1964. In 1950 when President Sproul sought to have non-signers of the oath restored to their teaching positions, several faculty spoke on behalf of his request, including Professor Kerr, and the recommendations were accepted by The Regents. The following year, as consideration was given to the initial appointment to the newly-created position of Chancellor at Berkeley, Kerr was regarded as the choice of the Berkeley faculty, having become widely respected for his role during the oath controversy.

As the campus' first chancellor he determined the organization and scope of the office for which he created quarters in the newly-opened Dwinelle Hall. Immediate attention was given to the matter of student housing-at that time the campus had but two dormitories, both privately given, Bowles Hall (1929) and Stern Hall (1942)-and construction was soon begun on the twelve high-rise dormitories on land purchased within the city of Berkeley, south of campus. The space limitations at Stephens Union, built in 1923, led to the planning and development of the new Student Center, including the Dining Commons, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Union, Eshleman Hall, and Zellerbach Auditorium and Playhouse, all completed by 1968. The chancellor directly involved members of the faculty in advising him on various problems, naming them as part-time assistants and later as Vice-chancellors in his office, and he also sought out student participation in long-range physical and academic planning for the campus.

The campus' development plan was reported to The Regents in 1956. It called for the development of the central campus for academic purposes, with clusters of buildings devoted to related subject matter. Natural groves and woodlands along Strawberry Creek were to be retained, as were historic landmarks such as South Hall, President's House (now University House), and Sather Gate. Non-academic facilities, such as institutions, were plotted on the campus periphery. Recreational areas for students and st aff were created in Strawberry Canyon, largely through private beneficence.

In 1957 twenty-four of Berkeley's academic departments were rated as outstanding in a national poll, and the campus was ranked third in the nation, immediately behind Harvard and Yale among the top ten universities in the country. During that year the Regents were seeking a successor to the retiring president, Robert Gordon Sproul, and Chancellor Kerr's impressive five-year record led to his selection as the University's twelfth president. Now, some forty years later, Clark Kerr maintains an office on the Berkeley campus and is completing a memoir of his years as Chancellor and as President.

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