Portrait of Mayhew, Wilbur W.

Mayhew, Wilbur W.

August 10, 1998

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Professor Bill Mayhew, a founding faculty member, was instrumental in helping found the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS) to establish land reserves throughout the state for teaching and research. His goal was to have a protected land representative of every habitat that thrives in California for faculty and students to conduct research.
Excerpt from Transcript
Mayhew: When the campus was established, Mr. Philip Boyd, who was the legislator who helped get the campus established and was the first mayor of Palm Springs, lived in the desert.

He had gotten a forty year lease from the Coachella Valley Water District for forty acres of land in Palm Desert that he wanted to establish as a reserve-which he called The Living Desert Reserve.

Erickson: Uh hmm.

Mayhew: Well, when the campus was established, he asked Frank Vasek and I to serve on a committee with him to administer that particular reserve. He had the idea that this could be used as it is currently being used-visitors coming in and looking all over. It could also be used by the faculty here for teaching and research.

And I was stupid enough to tell him that it couldn't be done, he had to do one or the other. Well, I learned from other people it's a wonder that he ever talked to me again, because usually when somebody crossed him, he was written off.

Erickson: Is that right?

Mayhew: For about six months he didn't talk to me. But then one day he called me up and said, "Bill, I've got some property further up the canyon. Do you think that could be used for teaching and research?" I said, "Well, let's go up and look at it." So I got in the jeep and went with him and my tongue practically drug the ground. It was Deep Canyon.

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