Erickson: Tell me about Provost Watkins, if you would, please? I noticed in your scrapbook that he was very prominently pictured in many of the photos. From your perspective, what was he like?
Baker: He took the job, as I understand it, and I am sure that you know more about this than I do having talked to John Gabbert, but he took the job as Provost because of his stellar reputation as an academician and a person who could put together a staff of really top quality professors because people would want to come because Gordon Watkins was here and wanted them.
He knew everyone's name that freshman year. He was very visible, very available. We all loved him, and we loved his wife Anna. They were just a charming pair. They were kind of like grandparents but with such wonderful credentials.
The faculty that he put together, of course, has an incredible reputation to this day. I would have to say that I didn't know Gordon and Anna Watkins well enough to go to their house for dinner, but he knew my name, and he always spoke when I passed him in the hall. I never had much interaction with him that freshman year. And then after my sophomore year, he left.
Erickson: Oh, so that would have been 1995.
Baker: Yes, 1955. And then in 1956, or 55, Herman Spieth was the next Chancellor and again a very hands-on person, a very different person from Gordon Watkins.
Herman Spieth and his wife Evelyn were good friends of Charlie's parents. The Spieths often had us over for a glass of wine or dinner when Charlie's parents came out to see us. Charlie's father was Associate Dean of the Medical School at UCLA, and they lived in Brentwood. He was the only Medical School dean in the country who was not an M.D. He had his doctorate in Physiology from Stanford.
The Spieth's had a Doberman Pincher, who was a really vicious dog. They lived over on Third Street near Fairmont Park in a lovely home. The first time we all went to visit, the four of us, Charlie and I and his parents, the dog was lying in front of the fireplace in the living room. Evelyn served us all tea or something and Charlie's father said, "Tell us about the dog." Herman said, "This is a wonderful watchdog. We never have to worry about anyone breaking in our house. She is very, very gentle if you don't make any fast moves."