His âFinal Examinationâ: The Regents Dismiss President Kerr
Prepared for the San Francisco Chronicle of December 2, 1966; note on the reverse indicates it was never published.
In his first gubernatorial campaign in 1966, Ronald Reagan’s platform included a vow to “clean up the mess in Berkeley,” a promise he fulfilled by leading the Regents to dismiss Kerr soon after the governor’s inauguration. Reagan prepared for the showdown by requesting FBI intelligence on Kerr, the regents, and protesters at the university. The FBI assured Reagan that communist “subversives” had been involved with the Free Speech Movement and its aftermath.
From Kerr’s memoirs:
“The chairman announced, ‘Clark Kerr has been dismissed as president of the university effective immediately.’ …. What surprised me was the word ‘immediately.’ This was like a whip across my face…. I though I was to be given until the end of the meeting to complete the agenda and to say a short goodbye.”