Clark, Robert D. (1910-2005)

Clark, Robert D. (1910-2005)

Date Updated



Administration (President)

Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU

1969 (resigned)

Educational Background

University of Southern California, 1946 Ph.D.

University of Southern California, 1935 MA

Pasadena College, 1931 AB

Teaching Experience

University of Oregon (President), 1969-1975

San Jose State University (President), 1964-1969

University of Oregon, 1943-1964

College of Pacific, 1943-1943

Stockton Junior College, 1939-1943

Pasadena College, 1931-1939

Selected Publications

The Life of Matthew Simpson, Macmillan, 1956.

The Odyssey of Thomas Condon, Oregon Historical Society, 1989.

Rain Follows the Plow, Foundation Book, 1996.

Numerous articles in history, speech and education journals.

Informal essays on natural history in magazines and newspapers.

Personal Commentary

My education is not well defined in formal terms. In my boyhood and youth I had two passions: sports and reading. The latter still governs me. When a boy we moved from a small village to a large town with a public library. We were allowed to check out two books a day. I did so, boys' books, of course, read one during the day, after hurrying through my chores, the other in the evening or next morning. One day I finished the first book in the afternoon, the other before 9 o'clock. Rushing to the library on my bike, I turned in my books and brought two others to the librarian. "Young man," she asked, "didn't you check out two books today?" I admitted my guilt. "The rule says two books in one day," she said. "I'll let you have these but don't do it again."

In college I worked and lived only four blocks from the magnificent Pasadena City Library. It was my haven. I learned more from the books than from my classes. Three I recall, especially, that gave direction to my life: Lewis Browne's This Believing World, William James' Varieties of Religious Experience, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Ubervilles. The girl whom I had come to love, Opal Routh, read the same books and took the same direction.

I battled the Depression to pursue graduate studies, taking most of my classes in the summer. The University had great scholars as visiting faculty. I audited classes freely, in literature, history, philosophy. In my teaching I turned to books as the source of topics for student speeches. The most fortuitous choice, and one that was to have a profound influence on me, was Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma. I learned the principles and practices of administration, not from books, but as an apprentice to two of the most able executives I have known in higher education: Eldon L. Johnson, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and 0. Meredith Wilson, President, both at the University of Oregon. Equally important among my great teachers were the faculty who, I believed‑‑having come up from the faculty‑‑should have a vital role in administration.

My years at SJSU, although sometimes stressful, were among the richest and most satisfying of my professional life. I left, reluctantly, after having first said no, because I thought it was time to go. And to return to another institution that I loved. J. W. Peltason, President Emeritus, University of California, observed in a recent lecture that "it is neither illegal nor immoral to be in love with two universities at the same time."

The receipt of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1950 and the opportunity to spend a year in the Library of Congress and other eastern libraries gave great impetus to my scholarly research and writing. The interest held through the years of my administration, if largely through reading. Since retirement I have returned to the library, to reading, research of a sort, writing: biography, history, natural history. Life has been good to me.

Date Completed: 11/96

Adapted from: Biographies of Retired Faculty San Jose State University 1997: A Project of the Emeritus Faculty Association of San Jose State University. San Jose, CA: The University, 1997.


Clark, Robert D. (1910-2005)