Fiat Lux Redux: Ansel Adams and Clark Kerr

Loyalty Oath Controversy, 1949-1952

By this announcement, faculty were informed by the Regents that they must sign a “loyalty oath” or lose their positions

 

In the post-World War II “Red Scare” that swept the country, the Regents required university employees to sign an oath swearing they were not members of the Communist Party. Those who refused lost their jobs although the State Supreme Court later ruled in their favor.  Kerr’s consummate mediation skills helped resolve the crisis, and won him the gratitude and respect of the UC faculty, administrators and regents.

University of California Faculty Bulletin 19:1 (July 1949) 1-2, “Regents’ Meeting”

University of California Faculty Bulletin 19:1 (July 1949) 1-2, “Regents’ Meeting”

Kerr was instrumental in the Senate committees that defined a policy and process for Senate review of the non-signers’ cases. The Regents largely ignored the Senate’s recommendations.

Recommendations of the Committee of Five, April 22, 1950

Recommendations of the Committee of Five, April 22, 1950

Sproul’s successors, Kerr and David P. Gardner, believed Sproul “never fully regained … the prestige he had earlier and almost universally enjoyed” for his mishandling of the Controversy and the oath’s repudiation by the courts.  Kerr regarded the Controversy as the worst administrative blunder in the university’s history

Portrait of President Robert Gordon Sproul, June 6, 1950

Portrait of President Robert Gordon Sproul, June 6, 1950