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Historical Overview

The Organic Act of 1868 made several specific references to the powers and duties of the President of the University after stating that he be elected to office by the Board of Regents. Most significantly he was charged with being the "President of the several faculties and the executive head of the institution in all its departments. . ." The present bylaws of the Regents regarding the duties of the President state that he "shall be the exexcutive head of the University and have full authority and responsibility over the administration of academic and student affairs and business and fiscal operations of the university." Seventeen men have held the office in the 129 years since Henry Durant was first elected to the post in 1870, with President Wheeler and Sproul accounting for 48 of those years between them.

See more documents related to the UC Presidents


1899-1923 1923-2004
Henry Durant William W. Campbell
Daniel Coit Gilman Robert Gordon Sproul
John LeConte Clark Kerr
William Thomas Reid Charles J. Hitch
Edward S. Holden Harry R. Wellman
Horace Davis David S. Saxon
Martin Kellogg David Pierpont Gardner
Benjamin Ide Wheeler Jack W. Peltason
David P. Barrows Richard C. Atkinson
  Robert C. Dynes


Henry Durant

Henry Durant, Congregational clergyman, and first President of the University (1870-72), was born in Acton, Massachusetts on June 18,1802. He attended Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, and Yale University, graduating in 1827. While studying for the ministry at the Yale Theological Seminary, he tutored at the university. He was ordained pastor of the Byfield, Massachusetts, Congregational Church in 1883, and, in that same year, married Mary E. Buffett of Stanwich, Connecticut. After 16 years in the ministry, he resigned his pastorate to become head of the Dummer Academy at Byfield, a position which he held from 1849-52.

When California was admitted to the Union in 1850, Durant became absorbed in ideas for the development of higher education in the new land. His decision to come west may have been hastened by the death of his daughter.

Durant arrived in San Francsico by ship May 1, 1853 shortly before a joint session of the Congregational Association of California and the Presbytery of San Francisco at Nevada City. Encouraged by his fellow clergymen at this meeting, he rented a house in the young community of Oakland on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, and on June 6, opened the Contra Costa Academy as a private school for boys. In April, 1855, the school was chartered as the College of California.

In 1860, the College of California began instruction with Durant as professor of Greek and Latin.

In 1867, the College of California offered to disincorporate and give the state its lands and properties in order that the state's resources for higher education could be combined into a true university. When this offer was accepted by the state, it was implemented by a report prepared by a committee of which Durant was a member. This report was expanded in the Organic Act that brought the University of California into being on March 23, 1868.

On August 16, 1870, the Regents elected Durant as first President of the University. He undertook the office with zest, but as his 70th birthday approached in the summer of 1872, he observed that the upbuilding of the new university required the energies of a younger man and resigned his position.

Following his resignation, he engaged in real estate enterprises. He was elected mayor of Oakland and while serving in this office died suddenly on January 22, 1875.

Durant left no writings. His contribution was the unceasing effort which brought into existence the College of California and the University of California.

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Daniel Coit Gilman

Daniel Coit Gilman, geographer and second President of the University (1872-75) was born in Norwich, Connecticut on July 6, 1831. His ancestry was Welsh on both sides, his father's family having come to America in 1638, his mother's in 1647. He attended Norwich Academy and Yale University, graduating in 1852. A year of graduate study in geography at Harvard was followed by two years as attaché to the American Embassy at St. Petersburg. While in Europe, he became interested in the rise of scientific and technical institutions of learning as opposed to classical universities.

Gilman spent the next 16 years at Yale, first as librarian, then as professor of physical geography and secretary to the governing board of the Sheffield Scientific School. He declined offers of a presidency from the University of Wisconsin in 1867 and from the University of California in 1870.

However, discord developed between the "old Yale" element which wished to maintain the classical curriculum, and the "young Yale" group, which hoped to secure Gilman's appointment as president of Yale, and which would introduce more science and stronger lay influence in Yale's government. Personal matters also intervened. His wife, Mary Ketchum of Norwich, whom he married in 1861, died in 1869 leaving two little daughters. The younger of these became ill, and a milder climate was prescribed for her benefit. Accordingly, when a second offer of the Presidency was made by the University of California in September, 1872, Gilman accepted.

The University was still in temporary quarters in Oakland when Gilman arrived. One building was under construction at Berkeley, but funds had failed to materialize for a second one that was planned. Gilman at once sought out leaders in the community, formed the Berkeley Club to cement "town and gown" relationships, obtained financing for a second building, and whenever possible, gave addresses to arouse interest in the University. On December 1, 1873, 14 months after his arrival, he could report not only the establishment of the University on its permanent campus, but the beginning of instruction in science and engineering, formerly largely theoretical, and the bestowal of a number of important private gifts. Among these were the endowed Toland Medical College in San Francisco, an endowment for a professorship in Oriental languages, ten additional acres of land for the Berkeley campus, and funds for the purchase of books for the library.

The following year, criticism of the management of the University and its funds was made by organized agricultural interests within the state. Although a legislative committee justified the administration of the University and most of the criticism was counteracted, the episode distressed Gilman. When he was offered the presidency of the newly established Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, he accepted and resigned from the University of California in March, 1875. In an editorial, the Overland Monthly of San Francisco called him "a man of surpassing talent for organization, of extraordinary insight and sympathy as to the strong and weak points of colleges and students, who can do more with poor material than most men can do with good."

Gilman returned to Berkeley in October, 1899 to speak at the inauguration of President Benjamin Ide Wheeler. He retired from Johns Hopkins in 1901 and was persuaded by Andrew Carnegie to undertake the presidency and organization of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. He retired from this position in December, 1904 and died in Norwich, October 13, 1908 survived by his daughters and his second wife, Elizabeth Dwight Woolsey, whom he married in 1877.

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John LeConte

John LeConte, physician, physicist, and third President of the University (acting president, 1875-76; president, 1876-81) was born of French Huguenot descent in Liberty County, Georgia on December 4, 1818. He was the fourth child and second son in a family of seven and was the older brother of Joseph LeConte. His father maintained a chemical laboratory, a botanical garden, and a scientific library on his plantation and trained his children in natural history and science.

LeConte attended Franklin College (later the University of Georgia), graduating in 1838. He received the M.D. degree in 1841 from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.

Shortly after graduation, he married Eleanor Josephine Graham of New York and began the practice of medicine in Savannah, Georgia. He preferred teaching to medicine, however, and in 1846 became professor of physics and chemistry at Franklin College. In 1855, he accepted the position of professor of chemistry in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, but resigned after a year to teach physics, which he preferred, in South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina).

He was an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, supervising a niter works in Columbia, South Carolina. After the war, with his home and property destroyed, his livelihood precarious, and feeling running high in the north against men from the south, he followed the advice of friends at Harvard and applied for a position at the newly established University of California. At the November, 1868, meeting of the Board of Regents, he was elected professor of physics and the first member of the University of California faculty.

LeConte arrived in Oakland in March, 1869 and, with a committee of the Regents, determined the academic organization of the University, set the requirements for admission, and established a curriculum which was followed in its essentials until 1892. In June, 1869, he was appointed acting President of the University and performed the two-fold duties of President and professor until Henry Durant was elected President in August, 1870.

Upon the resignation of President Gilman in March, 1875, LeConte again was acting President until June, 1876, when he was elected President. His five-year administration was marked with the advent of several important private gifts to the University. In December, 1875, James Lick made a trust fund of over $700,000 toward the building and endowment of an observatory. In November, 1877, Henry D. Bacon offered his private library and aft collection together with $25,000 to be matched with state funds for a library building. In January, 1879, a gymnasium planned and constructed by A. K. P. Harmon was presented to the Regents. The Hastings College of the Law, established in San Francisco by S. C. Hastings in March, 1878, was affiliated with the University in August, 1879. Also in 1879, a bequest of $50,000 for a library fund was received from the estate of Michael Reese.

The social and political unrest which had disturbed Gilman's administration continued into LeConte's, but was partially resolved in a revision of the State Constitution by a Constitutional Convention in 1879. When provisions concerning the University came under discussion, attempts were made to separate the agricultural studies from the rest of the University and to strengthen legislative control. An amendment to constitute the University as a public trust subject only to such legislative control as would be necessary to insure compliance with the terms of its endowments met with strong opposition, but was finally passed.

Internal dissension over the administration of the University reached a crisis in June, 1881. LeConte was respected as a scholar and teacher. His research, represented in over 100 papers, was significant, but he was not considered an effective administrator by some Regents. The teaching methods of several members of the faculty were also sharply criticized by a committee of the Regents and one teacher was dismissed. On June 7, LeConte tendered his resignation as President, asking to be returned to his faculty position. To this the Regents agreed, and his administration terminated on August 1.

On April 29, 1891, while still active as professor of physics, LeConte died at his home in Berkeley survived by his wife and older son, Louis Julian LeConte. A younger son, John Cecil, and a daughter, Mary Tallulah, died in young man- and womanhood.

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William Thomas Reid

William Thomas Reid, school administrator and fourth President of the University (1881-85) was born near Jacksonville, Illinois on November 8, 1943. When he was eight years old, his father died and he was brought up under stern discipline on his grandfather's farm. At 17, he entered Illinois College, but at the outbreak of the Civil War, he left coIlege to enlist in the 68th Illinois Volunteers. After the war, he decided to attend Harvard University and studied for the entrance examinations as he guided a plow on the farm. He passed the mathematics examination, but did not do so well in Latin and Greek. However, when Harvard officials realized he was largely self-educated, he was admitted. He earned the A.B. degree from Harvard in 1868. From 1868-71, he was principal of the Newport, Rhode Island, High School, then became assistant headmaster of the Boston Latin School and studied at Harvard for the M.A. degree, which he obtained in 1872. After two years as superintendent of the public schools of Brookline, Massachusetts, he came to California in 1875 at the invitation of Horatio Stebbins to be principal of the Boys' High School in San Francisco. While in this position, he was elected President of the University in June, 1881.

During his administration, Reid had to contend not only with disturbances within and without the University, but with the unpopularity of his election. He was not the unanimous choice of the Regents and was not received cordially by the press.

Political party power changed with the election of 1882, and elements of the new legislature were antagonistic to the University. There was also disunity among the Regents. William T. Welcker, whom the Regents deposed as professor of mathematics in 1881, came on the Board as state superintendent of public instruction. He worked to abolish the Regents' Advisory Committee which he felt excluded the remainder of the Board from management of the University's affairs. The legality of the organization of the Academic Senate was also questioned, and months of discussion ensued before the senate was safely re-established. The students were restless, for Reid was unsympathetic with disobedient pranks or indifferent scholarship.

In spite of these difficulties, Reid strengthened the position of the University by raising the admission requirements to equal those of eastern universities, and by establishing the accreditation system by which graduates of those high schools which met the requirements of the University were admitted without examination. This system not only improved relations between the University and the public schools, but raised the standards of high school education throughout the state. His support helped Deans Hilgard and Hesse overcome continuing outside pressure to make the Colleges of Agriculture and Mechanics into trade schools. His choice of Irving Stringham to fill the vacated professorship of mathematics and George H. Howison as the first occupant of the chair of moral philosophy and civil polity, established by a gift of $75,000 from Darius O. Mills, brought two distinguished men to the faculty who were to serve the University long and well.

On March 3, 1885, Reid presented his resignation. In a letter to Regent D. O. Mills dated that same month, he gave his reasons: The Regents. . .have so hedged the President about with restrictions as to make it impossible for him to carry out a vigorous individual policy. . .; the President in name should be the President in fact, and not merely the executive officer of the Board of Regents."

Reid left the University August 1, 1885 and opened a private school for boys in San Mateo county. He successfully guided this school for 33 years. In the year of his retirement, 1918, he was given an honorary degree by the University at Charter Day exercises. He came to live in Berkeley and died there December 17, 1922. Reid married Miss Julia Reed of Jacksonville in 1870. She died in 1917, as did his daughter, Julia (then Mrs. Charles W. Willard). He was survived by a son, William T. Reid, Jr., of Boston.

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Edward Singleton Holden

Edward Singleton Holden, astronomer and fifth President of the University (1885-88) was born of New England pilgrim ancestry in St Louis, Missouri, November 5, 1846. Educated at a private school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he became interested in astronomy through visits to the Harvard College Observatory where a relative was an observer. From 1860-62, he attended the Academy of Washington University in St. Louis, then entered Washington University where he studied astronomy under William Chauvenet and obtained a B.S. degree in 1866. The same year, he was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from which he graduated in 1870, third man in his class.

After three years in the U.S. Army, during which time he married Chauvenet's daughter, Mary, he resigned his commission to become assistant to Simon Newcomb at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. Newcomb was impressed with the energy and ability of his assistant, and when D. O. Mills, president of the James Lick trustees, came to Washington to consult with him about a proposed observatory on Mt. Hamilton, Newcomb suggested that Holden might well qualify as its director.

In 1879, Holden was appointed librarian of the Naval Observatory, but resigned that post after two years in favor of the directorship of the Washburn Observatory at the University of Wisconsin. While at Washburn, he made trips to Mt. Hamilton in 1881 and 1883 to advise on the installation of the scientific equipment.

On October 20, 1885, Holden was elected President of the University of California and director of the Lick Observatory with the understanding that the Presidency was an interim position which would terminate upon the completion of the observatory. He took office in January, 1886. The University was then in financial straits and needed a sound reliable basis of tax support. In 1887, the legislature granted a permanent tax levy of one cent on the dollar for University purposes.

Holden advocated the establishment of departments of biology and of physical education; a marine laboratory; short courses in agriculture; and special lectures on the administration of cities and railroads, on commerce and on journalism "which is becoming a profession." He recommended the acceptance of Adolph Sutro's offer of land in San Francisco for the AFFILIATED COLLEGES and the purchase of the Bancroft Library "which should remain undivided." He worked to improve the relations between the public schools and the University and established in the President's office a file of the names and qualifications of University graduates who were available for teaching positions.

When Lick Observatory was completed in January, 1888, Holden resigned the Presidency to devote his entire time to the directorship as previously agreed. He recruited able young astronomers, guided their research, and rapidly brought the observatory to a position of international prominence. In October, 1897, he resigned the directorship to devote himself to scientific writing. In 1901, he was appointed librarian at West Point, a position he filled with distinction and in which he was still active when he died on March 16, 1914.

Throughout his scientific career, Holden wrote and published extensively. His bibliography contains more than 360 entries. As a librarian, he contributed bibliographies and subject-indices of scientific subjects. He received many honors from foreign governments including Knight Commander of Ernestine Order of Saxony, 1894; Knight of the Royal Order of the Danneborg, 1895; and the Order of Bolivar, 1896. He received the LL.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1886 and from Columbia University in 1887. The University of the Pacific awarded him the Sc.D. degree in 1896, and Fordham College gave him a Litt.D. degree in 1910. He was elected a member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1884 and the National Academy of Sciences in 1885. He was also a member of the Astronomical Society of France and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Horace Davis

Horace Davis, sixth President of the University (1880-90) was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, March 16, 1831. He was the son of John Davis, governor of Massachusetts. A brilliant student, he graduated from Harvard College in 1849 at the age of 18 and entered the Harvard Law School. His eyesight proved unequal to the strain of intensive study however, and he was forced to withdraw. In 1852, at the age of 21, he sailed around the horn to join his brother, Andrew, who was operating a coast-wise sailing ship out of San Francisco.

In San Francisco, he worked at a number of occupations. At one time, he was a lumber surveyor. At another time, he was purser with the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. Hopefully, he became librarian of the Mercantile Library, but again the work proved too difficult for his eyes.

In 1860, the Davis brothers received a flour mill as payment of a bad debt. Under their management, the mill flourished, and in time, the Golden Gate Flouring Mills became one of the leading businesses of the city. Horace Davis, in particular, became known as an authority on wheat and the production of flour and served as the president of the Produce Exchange of San Francisco from 1866-76.

Elected to the House of Representatives in 1876, Davis served two terms. In January, 1878, he introduced the bill which restricted immigration from China. On his return to California, he continued to serve the Republican National Committee for eight years.

In January, 1888, Horace Davis was unanimously chosen President of the University of California to succeed Edward S. Holden. One of the requirements of the office was that its incumbent reside in the East Bay. Davis, in accepting the Presidency, asked for three months time in which to settle his San Francisco business affairs and move to Berkeley. Settlement did not come about readily, and on April 4, 1890, he tendered his resignation explaining circumstances beyond his control prevented his carrying out the condition of residence.

Davis maintained an interest in higher education by serving on the original board of trustees of Stanford University for many years and as president of the trustees of the California School of Mechanic Arts in San Francisco.

He was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. by the University of the Pacific in 1889, by Harvard University in 1911, and by the University of California in 1912.

Davis was married twice. His first wife died in 1872. In 1875, he married Edith, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Starr King, pastor of the First Unitarian Church in San Francisco. He died in San Francisco, July 12, 1916.

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Martin Kellogg

Martin Kellogg, Congregational clergyman, professor of Latin, and seventh President of the University (acting president, 1890-93; president, 1893-99) was born in Vernon, Connecticut, March 13, 1828. He was educated at Williston Seminary, Easthampton, and at Yale University, where he graduated In 1850 as valedictorian of his class. He prepared for the ministry at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. Ordained in 1855, he was sent as a home missionary to California, where he became the pastor of the Congregational Church in Grass Valley.

In 1859, he was chosen one of the two faculty members for the College of California.

He married Louisa Wells Brockway in Ellington, Connecticut in September, 1863. Two children born to them died in infancy, and an adopted daughter, Annie, died in Berkeley in young womanhood.

On December 1, 1868, he was appointed professor of Latin and Greek for the newly established University of California, following John LeConte as the second member of the faculty. In October, 1870, he was elected dean of the Academic Senate, a position to which he was re-elected annually for 14 years. As "the Dean" he was second in command to the President. Upon the resignation of President Davis in 1890, Kellogg was appointed acting President; on January 23, 1893, he was elected President. With his inauguration, he was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. by Yale University.

During the six years of Kellogg's administration as President, decisive changes were made in the University's organization. Rigidly prescribed curricula were modified to allow more elective studies, Colleges of Natural Science and Social Science which granted degrees without requiring studies in Latin and Greek were organized, a College of Commerce was established, and a new Department of Pedagogy brought the University into closer relations with the public school system of the state. Summer sessions were undertaken, and the number and scope of extension lectures were increased. The single deanship, of the Academic Senate was abandoned, and deans with whom the President conferred were appointed to head each college. A Graduate Council was appointed to regulate the studies of increasing numbers of graduate students, and the Regents recognized faculty research by appropriating funds for the publication of their writings by the University Press.

His term as President was also a time for receiving splendid gifts. Land donated by Adolph Sutro in San Francisco made possible the unifying of the professional schools of medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy on one campus; Miss Cora J. Flood gave her family estate in Menlo Park and stock in the Bear Gulch Water Company toward an endowment for a foundation for the study of economics; Edward Searles gave the Mark Hopkins property in San Francisco for a University-affiliated institute of art; and finally, Mrs. Phoebe A. Hearst provided the funds for a world-wide competition for an architectural plan for the Berkeley campus.

As he neared his 70th birthday, Kellogg tendered his resignation. It was accepted by the Regents on March 23, 1899, and Kellogg was appointed professor emeritus of Latin with the understanding, however, that he continue to act as President until the end of the academic year.

Following his retirement, he made a trip around the world with Mrs. Kellogg and then returned to Berkeley where he continued in active teaching almost until his death on August 26, 1903.

At a memorial service held for him, President Benjamin Ide Wheeler said, "For 43 years--that is, from the very beginning of the University in the form of the little college in Oakland--he was more intimately connected with the full life of the institution than any other man. I believe, taking all things into consideration, there is no man whose service can be matched against that of Dr. Kellogg."

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Benjamin Ide Wheeler

Benjamin Ide Wheeler, classical philologist and eighth President of the University (1899-1919) was born in Randolph, Massachusetts, July 15, 1854. He attended Colby Academy in New London and graduated from Brown University with distinction in 1875. During his undergraduate days, he was an athlete as well as a scholar, making the varsity in crew and baseball. After graduation, he taught classical languages at the Providence High School for four years and obtained an M.A. degree from Brown University in 1878. Between 1879 and 1881, he was instructor in Greek at Brown University.

He married Amey Webb of Providence in 1881 and with his wife spent four years in Europe studying at the Universities of Leipzig, Jena, Berlin, and Heidelberg. From the latter, he received the Ph.D. degree summa cum laude in 1885. On his return to America, he was instructor in German at Harvard for a year, then in 1886, he went to Cornell University as professor of comparative philology and Greek.

Wheeler taught at Cornell for 13 years becoming well-known not only for his scholarship and ability as a teacher, but as a link between students and faculty, and as a bond between the University and the community because of his deep interest and participation in affairs relating to both.

When offered the Presidency of the University of California in June, 1899, Wheeler, knowing the difficulties which had beset the position in previous years, presented four conditions which he felt must be agreed upon before he could consider acceptance: 1) that the President should be in fact as in theory, the sole organ of communication between faculty and Regents; 2) that the President should have sole initiative in appointments and removals of professors and other teachers and in matters affecting salary; 3) that the Board, however divided in opinion during discussion, should in all things that the President is called upon to do regarding the faculty, support him as a unit; 4) that the President should be charged with the direction, subject to the Board, of all officers and employees of the University. The Regents agreed to these conditions and on July 18, 1899, Wheeler accepted the Presidency.

He arrived in Berkeley on October 1 to find the University, like the century, at a turning point. Its founding days were over, the well-publicized Hearst Architectural Competition had made it well- known throughout the world, and it was ready to move even further away from the classical university tradition. An excellent speaker, Wheeler sought continually to interpret the University to the people of the state. He proved skillful at obtaining funds for University purposes from private as well as legislative sources. He was about the campus and concerned with student interests whenever possible. He considered student self-government an education for later life and encouraged it.

In the 20 years of his administration, the student enrollment of the University and the membership of the faculty trebled. Eleven granite or concrete structures of the Hearst Plan (five of them, including a new library, financed by private gifts) were added to the Berkeley campus. Twenty new departments began instruction under distinguished scholars and teachers. Research funds were assigned for faculty use, and research stations were established through legislative grant at the University Farm at Davis and the Citrus Experiment Station at Riverside. The Scripps Institution for Biological Research at La Jolla and the Hooper Foundation for Medical Research in San Francisco were established through private endowment. A Graduate Division was organized and Summer Sessions were conducted in Los Angeles as well as in Berkeley. The Extension Division was formally organized and greatly developed.

Wheeler retired from the Presidency on his 65th birthday, July 15, 1919, with the title of President Emeritus of the University and professor of comparative philology. For two years, he taught a graduate course in philology, but could not continue because of failing health. In 1926, he and Mrs. Wheeler made a trip to Europe. While in Vienna where their son, Benjamin Webb Wheeler, was studying, Wheeler died on May 2, 1927.

Most of Wheeler's published writings were accomplished before he came to California. The best known are Greek Noun-Accent (1885); Analogy and the Scope of its Application in Language (1887); Introduction to the Study of the History of Language (1891); Organization of Higher Education in the United States (1896); Dionysus and Immortality (1899); Alexander the Great (1900); and Unterricht und Demokratie in America (the Roosevelt lectures, 1910).

He received many honors. In 1898-99, he delivered the Ingersoll Lectures at Harvard University and in 1909-10, he was appointed Theodore Roosevelt Professor at the University of Berlin. The honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred upon him by the universities of Princeton, 1896; Brown, 1900; Harvard, 1900; Yale, 1901; Johns Hopkins, 1902; Wisconsin, 1904; Illinois College, 1904; Dartmouth, 1905; Columbia, 1906; Kentucky, 1916; and California, 1922. Colgate University gave him the honorary degree of L.H.D. in 1915.

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David Prescott Barrows

David Prescott Barrows, political scientist and ninth President of the University (1919-23) was born in Chicago, Illinois, June 27, 1873. While he and his sister were small children their parents moved to a ranch in the Ojai valley, Ventura county, California. He obtained the A.B. degree from Pomona College, California in 1894, the M.A. degree from the University of California in 1895, and a Ph.D. degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1897. He taught history at San Diego State College for two years and then, in 1900, was appointed superintendent of schools in Manila by William H. Taft, Governor-General of the Philippines. Later, he became chief of the Bureau of the Non-Christian Tribes of the Philippine Islands and, in 1903, director of education for the Islands.

Barrows visited the University of California as a lecturer in anthropology in the spring of 1907. In January, 1910, he was called to the University as professor of education and in August, he was appointed dean of the Graduate School. In 1911, he succeeded Bernard Moses as professor of political science and in July, 1913, he was appointed dean of the faculties. He acted as President while President Wheeler was on leave during the fall semester of 1913.

During World War I, Barrows served with Herbert Hoover on the American Commission for Relief in Belgium, December, 1915-June, 1916. In 1917, he was commissioned major in the U.S. Army and was attached to the 91st Division stationed in the Philippine islands. He accompanied the American Expeditionary Force in Siberia as intelligence officer (and as lieutenant colonel), July, 1918-March, 1919. After the war, he continued in military service in the U.S. National Guard until 1937. As major general in command of the 40th Division of the Guard, he directed the protection of the Port of San Francisco during the three-month longshoremen's strike of 1934.

Barrows was elected President of the University in December, 1919 and took office at once. Caught in the aftermath of the war between doubling enrollments and rising costs, the University had again outgrown its basis of financial support. By means of a "deficit budget," the emergency was met until the meeting of the 1921 legislature when the basic biennial appropriation for University maintenance was increased from $4 million to $9 million. This permitted an increase in the faculty salary scale, one of Barrows' chief concerns. Another attempt to separate the College of Agriculture from the University was averted during his administration and the college was reorganized with freshman and sophomore University instruction offered at Davis as well as at Berkeley.

The years 1919 and 1920 marked a period of adjustment in the relations between the President and faculty of the University. The adjustment followed the so-called "faculty revolution" which took place in the interim between Wheeler's retirement and Barrows' election. Faculty and Regents' committees reached agreement early in 1920 and standing orders adopted by the Regents on June 24 gave the faculty increased powers of self-government including direct access to the Regents through authorized committees. To Barrows, trained in the concept that the President be party to all communication between faculty and Regents, this implied a lack of confidence in the office itself. Also, he did not wholeheartedly approve of the rapid development of the campus at Los Angeles, expressing concern that competition between the two campuses for funds and faculty members might result in the mediocrity of both. In May, 1922, he offered to resign the Presidency and be returned to his former teaching position, but at the request of the Regents, he remained in office another year.

He left the Presidency June 30, 1923. Having been accorded a sabbatical leave, he spent the next year in travel that included a 2,500 mile trek across the French Sudan in the interior of Africa. In 1924, he returned to the department of political science at Berkeley as chairman. During the 1930's, he made several trips to Central and South America under the auspices of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, acted as trustee of the California College in China and of Mills College, and was twice elected a director of the East Bay Utilities District. In World War II, he served as a consultant to the Secretary of War, and subsequently in the Office of Strategic Services.

He became professor emeritus in 1943 and for the next two years was a radio commentator for the International News Service. He also wrote a series of articles on world affairs for the California Monthly. He died suddenly at an outing on his "ranch" in Contra Costa county, September 5, 1954 at the age of 81.

Anna Spencer Nichols and Barrows were classmates at Pomona College and married July, 1895. Mrs. Barrows died April 12, 1936. There were four children: Anna (Mrs. Floyd W. Stewart), Ella (Mrs. Gerald Hagar), Thomas N., and Elizabeth (Mrs. Frank G. Adams). In December, 1937, Barrows married Mrs. Eva S. White, who survived him.

Barrows was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. by Pomona College, 1914; the University of California, 1919; and Mills College, 1925. He received the honorary degree of Litt.D. from Columbia University in 1923, and of Doctor by the University of Bolivia, 1928. He received the Order of the Crown from Belgium, the Croix de Guerre from Czechoslovakia, the Order of the Sacred Treasure from Japan, and was a chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France. In 1933-34, he was Roosevelt Professor at the University of Berlin.

He was the author of: Ethno-Botany of the Coahuilla Indians (1900); History of the Philippines (1903); A Decade of American Government in the Philippine Islands (1915); British Politics in Transition (1925); and Berbers and Blacks (1926); in addition to articles in professional journals and the California Monthly.

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