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African American Faculty and Senior Staff Oral History Project

About the Project
Interview Transcripts
Audio / Video Excerpts
In Memoriam

Norvel Smith Transcript: A Life in Education and Community Service

Conducted by Nadine Wilmot in 2002-2003, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2004.


Photo of Norvel Smith

Dr. Norvel Smith lived through several seminal chapters in the City of Oakland's history. Graduating from Berkeley with an EdD in 1956, he was the first African American Vice Chancellor in the UC System, serving as Vice Chancellor-Student Affairs from 1973-1982. He was President of Merritt Community College for five years, from 1968-1973. From 1963 to 1968, he entered the area of community development, as Director of the Oakland Department of Human Resources and Deputy Director of the Western Region Office of Economic Opportunity. Dr. Smith was part of a group of African American men, with its beginnings in the East Bay Democratic Club, who were important actors in East Bay politics in the decades after World War II.

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