Glenn T. Seaborg

Chancellor, 1958-1961

Educated at UCLA (A.B. 1934) and Berkeley (Ph.D. in chemistry, 1937), Glenn Seaborg joined the faculty at Berkeley in 1937. During the years 1942 to 1946 he was on leave at the Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicago, engaged in the Manhattan Project which developed the atomic bomb. Returning to Berkeley he directed nuclear chemical research until 1954, when he became Associate Director of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, a position he continued to hold during his chancellorship. In 1951 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry along with his fellow Berkeleyan, Edwin M. McMillan.

Named as the campus' second chancellor, Seaborg assumed office in July, 1958 when Clark Kerr became the University's president, and he saw to conclusion several of the projects begun by his predecessor, including the opening of Kroeber Hall and the first high-rise student dormitories in 1959, and the completion of the Student Union and Sproul Plaza in 1961. Planning was begun for the construction of the Lawrence Hall of Science, as a memorial to Ernest Lawrence who had died in 1958. Seaborg oversaw the transfer of the athletic program, hitherto managed by the Associate Students of the University of California, to the Chancellor's Office and the subsequent establishment of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. And while he served as chancellor, Berkeley won its first and only NCAA Basketball Championship in 1959, the same year in which the football team had played in the Rose Bowl.

Seaborg's stewardship was the continuing growth in student enrollment, from 19,344 in 1958 to 21,860 in 1960, and a growth in student activism as well. The campus' first political party, Slate, campaigned for the end to discrimination in fraternities an d sororities, for fair rent in local housing, and for "Fair Bear" prices form local merchants. There was, too, a testing of the "Sather Gate Tradition" which had for some decades allowed non-campus speakers to host rallies outside Sather Gate, but with t he closing of Telegraph Avenue in 1957 this area was now University territory. In his memoir, Chancellor at Berkeley (1994), Seaborg recalls his decisions relating to changes in student behavior, and reaffirms his commitment to quality education: "We mu st remember that bigness had some advantages as well as liabilities. A large university with a great faculty can offer students a richness and breadth of intellectual opportunity, as well as great libraries and research facilities that cannot be duplicated in a smaller institution."

Glenn Seaborg's chancellorship was cut short by his appointment to the chairmanship of the Atomic Energy Commission be President John F. Kennedy in 1961, a position he was to hold until 1971 when he returned to the Berkeley campus. He resumed his associ ate directorship of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, was named University Professor of Chemistry, and was appointed the first Chairman of the Lawrence Hall of Science in 1984.

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