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Entrepreneurial President

Entrepreneurial President: Richard Atkinson and the University of California, 1995–2003

Patricia A. Pelfrey
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 250
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  • Book Info
    Entrepreneurial President
    Book Description:

    Richard C. Atkinson was named president of the University of California in August 1995, barely four weeks after the UC Regents voted to end affirmative action. How he dealt with the admissions wars-the political, legal, and academic consequences of that historic and controversial decision, as well as the issue of governance-is discussed in this book. Another focus is the entrepreneurial university-the expansion of the University's research enterprise into new forms of scientific research with industry during Atkinson's presidency. The final crisis of his administration was the prolonged controversy over the University's management of the Los Alamos and Livermore nuclear weapons research laboratories that began with the arrest of Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee on charges of espionage in 1999.Entrepreneurial Presidentexplains what was at stake during each of these episodes, how Atkinson addressed the issues, and why the outcomes matter to the University and to the people of California. Pelfrey's book provides an analysis of the challenges, perils, and limits of presidential leadership in the nation's leading public university, while bringing a historical perspective to bear on the current serious threats to its future as a university.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95221-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Karl S. Pister

    I was delighted to be asked by the author to prepare a foreword for her book—a story focused on milestone events in the history of the University of California coinciding with the tenure of its seventeenth president, richard C. Atkinson. While this period represents only 6 percent of the University’s history, its temporal place in the history of our nation and the state of California gives it particular significance.Entrepreneurial Presidentis a story about a university in which I have spent virtually my entire adult life—as student, faculty member, and academic administrator—and about a man, colleague,...

    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Patricia A. Pelfrey
  5. 1 The Evolution of a Crisis
    (pp. 1-14)

    On July 20, 1995, the Board of regents of the University of California rolled back thirty years of history by abolishing the use of racial and ethnic preferences in admissions and employment. The two resolutions approved by the board, SP-1 (on admissions) and SP-2 (on employment and purchasing), passed by a narrow margin after a long and exhausting day of regental maneuvering and unsuccessful attempts at compromise. The vote itself was the culmination of eight divisive months of discussion and debate about the merits of affirmative action. It was a decision made against the advice of the president, the vice...

  6. 2 The Education of a Chancellor
    (pp. 15-37)

    Richard Atkinson became an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, as he put it, “by pure happenstance.” He was a sophomore in high school in February 1944, the child of immigrant parents—an English father and a French mother—neither of whom had attended college. One Saturday he went to an older friend’s house to play basketball. His friend had bigger plans, however—an appointment at the University of Chicago campus to take the entrance examination. Having nothing else in particular to do, Atkinson tagged along, hoping for a basketball game later in the day. A friendly University of Chicago...

  7. 3 Who Runs the University?
    (pp. 38-53)

    The institutional train wreck known as SP-1 handed the administration and the Academic Senate a political dilemma of daunting proportions. As a matter of longstanding tradition, the University of California was committed to high academic standards for entering students, a commitment that made UC an anomaly among public universities from early in its history. As a matter of politics, UC leaders understood that no public university could expect support from a legislature whose constituencies were sparsely represented on its campuses. Affirmative action had been an admittedly imperfect but increasingly successful tool for helping strike a balance between those two realities....

  8. 4 Seventeenth President
    (pp. 54-68)

    The office Atkinson walked into on his first day as president was near the top of a twenty-eight-story semicircular building with a commanding view of the Oakland hills. Commissioned by the industrialist Henry J. Kaiser and completed in 1960, the Kaiser Center’s sleek modernism and innovative design epitomized the company’s far-flung commercial empire and, along with it, the confident optimism of midcentury America. It was the largest building west of the rockies in the year it rose on the shores of Oakland’s Lake Merritt, clad in a facade of aluminum and glass. Kaiser had shrewdly foreseen the many potential uses...

  9. 5 A Problem in Search of a Solution
    (pp. 69-85)

    During the brief hiatus between Atkinson’s selection and the beginning of his tenure, he received a letter signed by the University’s nine academic vice chancellors about “the crisis that now engulfs the K–12 system.” California’s public schools lingered near the bottom of the fifty states by virtually every measure, from class size to teacher education. The state of California had no real plan to address the problems of the schools, the vice chancellors wrote, and neither did the University of California. The number of faculty focused on K–12 in its departments and schools of education did not top...

  10. 6 “A More inclusive Definition of Merit”
    (pp. 86-99)

    SP-1, which had hung like a storm cloud over every Regents’ meeting for nearly six years, was rescinded by the Regents in May 2001. Its demise was as steeped in political drama as its birth.

    The political complexion of the board was changing. In early 2001 there were five vacancies on the Board of Regents that Governor Gray Davis would soon be filling with Democratic nominees. Atkinson’s sense of the situation was that after six years the board was weary of the public criticism and internal divisions created by its July 1995 resolutions and that many Regents had come around...

  11. 7 Reinventing the Economy
    (pp. 100-114)

    In 1980 the san Diego economy, built largely on military contracts, banking, and the region’s attractiveness to tourists and retirees, was locked in a deep recession. Yet it had several latent advantages that pointed to a brighter economic future. One was a nascent high-technology sector with start-ups in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, computers, and electronics, many of them sparked by research conducted at UCSD, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and the Scripps Research Institute. Another was the robust individualism deeply etched in the culture of San Diego. According to Mary Walshok, dean of UCSD Extension during Atkinson’s time and...

  12. 8 An Idea and Its Consequences
    (pp. 115-138)

    “The admissions policy at the University of California is going through more proposed rewrites than a Hollywood script,” theChronicle of Higher Educationnoted in March 2001.¹ It was true that, as academic timelines go, UC admissions issues were moving along with unusual dispatch. Between the passage of SP-1 in summer 1995 and fall 2000, the University had embarked on an unprecedented effort to qualify thousands more K–12 students for UC, created a new path to admission through Eligibility in the Local Context, and begun Academic Senate review of a second, the Dual Admissions Plan. TheChroniclewas not...

  13. 9 History’s Coils: The Nuclear Weapons Laboratories
    (pp. 139-155)

    In fall 1998 Director John Browne of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) testified before a congressional committee worried about the safety of the nation’s nuclear secrets. LANL and a second nuclear weapons research laboratory—the lawrence livermore national laboratory, or LLNL—were both managed by the University of California for the US Department of Energy (DOE). Between them, these laboratories had invented every weapon in the nation’s nuclear arsenal. spies and nuclear weapons have a natural affinity for each other, and the backdrop of Browne’s testimony was a fight simmering in Congress over the Clinton administration’s decision in the...

  14. 10 Presidents and Chancellors
    (pp. 156-160)

    “It has been pointed out that I seem to have a knack for picking tumultuous times for my entrances and exits,” Atkinson told the Board of regents at his last meeting as University president in September 2003.¹ This was something of an understatement. Atkinson began his administration at the end of one budget crisis and was departing at the start of another. on the day he spoke, Gray Davis, who had been so instrumental to UC’s financial recovery during the middle years of Atkinson’s administration, was six weeks away from being swept out of office in a recall election won...

  15. 11 Epilogue: One University
    (pp. 161-172)

    Sproul’s admonition to UCLA’s students came at a sensitive moment in the history of the University of California. In 1932 the Los Angeles campus—long fought for by Southern California citizens and interest groups, long delayed by University leaders in the north, and only recently settled in the hills of Westwood where it stands today—had recently made UC the nation’s first multicampus university.¹ UCLA was a fledgling institution at that point, very much in the shadow of its distinguished older sibling four hundred miles away at Berkeley. Sproul’s remark was an attempt to lift morale and instill a sense...

  16. APPENDIX 1. Regents’ Resolutions SP-1, SP-2, And RE-28
    (pp. 173-176)
  17. APPENDIX 2. Atkinson Presidency Timeline
    (pp. 177-185)
  18. APPENDIX 3. University of California Indicators, 1995–2003
    (pp. 186-188)
  19. NOTES
    (pp. 189-208)
    (pp. 209-214)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 215-233)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 234-234)