Portrait of Turner, Arthur Campbell

Turner, Arthur Campbell

April 20, 1998

April 6 and May 28, 1998

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Arthur Turner, respected political science authority and one of the four founding divisional chairs, discusses the philosophy that was the basis for the original campus. He traces its impact on the current campus.
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Erickson: Approximately how many faculty did you start out with that first year?

Turner: Well, in the spring of 1954, very few indeed. I would say I didn't have more than six or seven or eight probably in the six subject fields for which I was responsible. But, of course, that number expanded rapidly because a lot of the people I had interviewed in the first go round-I had made a number of these trips east-they came on board in the fall of 1954 because very few people could leave whatever they were doing in the middle of the academic year. So the numbers went up fairly rapidly. In the end, I must have appointed twenty or twenty five people, I suppose, over the next decade or so. Some of these, of course, being people who were appointed to fill out people who had been here and had already left, because we did manage to appoint some very good people, but other universities noticed this, and some of them were picked off...

Erickson: They were recruited from you.

Turner: even though they had only been here a few years.

Erickson: Who were the members of the inner core? Who were the decision makers in those early days?

Turner: Yes, decision making is often difficult to define, but it wasn't very difficult in those days. The campus was created, the people who were present at the creation, if I may borrow a phrase from Dean Atchison, were half a dozen in number and they basically ran things for about the first decade of the campus. There wasn't a great deal of democracy at that point. They were starting at the top, Gordon Watkins, the Provost, who was in charge, not only of the college (our end), but also the Citrus Experiment Station. I mean, that was in his bailiwick and authority, though I don't think he interfered very directly or very much in the operation of the CES. Then immediately below him was Dean Nisbet, who, as I said, had been Professor of Sociology at Berkeley, and then the four Division Chairmen of whom I was one. These were: Olmsted, Chairman of Humanities, who had been Assistant or Associate Dean under Watkins at UCLA and who was Professor of History; Conway Pierce, of Natural Sciences; Herman Spieth, Life Sciences; and I, Social Sciences. These were, quite simply, the decision makers.

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