Portrait of Johnson, Oliver A.

Johnson, Oliver A.

July 30, 1998

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Oliver Johnson, founding Philosophy professor and avid authority on history, discusses the early campus development and the relationship with the Universitywide Academic Senate.
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Johnson: I never went back to New York for the interview at Binghampton because the people at the new campus in Riverside thought because of my background experience in great ideas and great books with Mortimer Adler, I would know a little bit about Western Civ.

They were going to have a core course in the History of Western Civilization at the new school at Riverside. It would be a mandatory two year course for all students.

Erickson: Um hmm.

Johnson: It was the best course this campus ever offered. The students learned more from that Western Civ course than from any other course they took-bar none, even their majors. And I have had students from those earlier years come back and say, "We learned more in Western Civ than we ever learned in any other course we ever took."

It was two years mandatory-and then the scientists complained. They didn't have time to get their majors done, so they decreased the Western Civ to one year.

The scientists kept complaining and finally they made a one year Western Civ requirement for social science and humanities majors but not for the scientists.

It is out of that course in Western Civ that our book, (Jack Beatty's and my book), Heritage of Western Civilization, came to realization. We built the book out of the course.

Questions Regarding this Oral History Project should be directed to Jan Erickson at jan.erickson@ucr.edu.