Noble, Lela Garner

Noble, Lela Garner

Date Updated



Political Science

Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU


Educational Background

Rhodes College, International Studies, 1961 B.A. with Honors

Tufts University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, 1962 M.A.

Tufts University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, 1963 M.A.L.D

Tufts University, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, 1965 Ph.D.

Teaching Experience

Woodrow Wilson Foundation Intern, Tennessee A. and I. State University, 1965-1966

Instructor, Peace Corps Training Program for the Philippines, San Jose State University, Summer 1966

Political Science, San Jose State University, Assistant Professor, 1966-1969; Associate Professor, 1969-1975; Professor, 1975-2002.

Administrative and Professional Experience

Acting Chair, Department of Political Science, Spring 1977

Associate Dean, College of Social Sciences, 1977-1979

Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, 1979-1980

Associate Academic Vice President, Faculty Affairs, 1981-1990

Dean, College of Social Sciences, 1996-2002

Interim Provost, 2000-2001

Acting Dean, College of Social Work, 2004-2005


Various Department, College, University, and CSU Committees, 1966-2002, 2005-2006

Selected Publications

Noble, Lela Garner. Philippine Policy toward Sabah: A Claim to Independence. The Association of Asian Studies, Monograph No. 33. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1977.

Suhrke, Astri, and Lela Garner Noble, co-editors. Ethnic Conflict and International Relations. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1977.

Silliman, G. Sidney, and Lela Garner Noble, co-editors. Organizing for Democracy: NGOS, Civil Society, and the Philippine State. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998.

Approximately 25 chapters or articles in various journals or books on issues in Philippine politics and policies, including many on Muslim separatism in the southern Philippines.

Personal Commentary

I came to San Jose State because of Gerald Wheeler, then chair of the History Department, who was a Fulbright Scholar in Manila the same year that I had a Fulbright there to do research for my dissertation. Two years later, Gerry asked me to join the staff of the Peace Corps Training Program at San Jose State that summer and told me of an opening in the Political Science Department in Asian politics; I accepted his offer, and the Political Science Department accepted my application.

During my 36 years on campus, I spent approximately half my time teaching and the other half as an administrator. The early years of teaching were particularly gratifying. Probably because of the Vietnam War, many students were interested in American foreign policy and international affairs, and the Department had a thriving graduate program with both American and overseas students. I supervised about a dozen M.A. theses and learned much from the students and their research; the experience also honed my editing skills.

By the time I moved on to work with Gerry as Associate Dean, enrollments had dropped in the Social Sciences, and we spent much of our time finding placements for History Professors to avoid lay-offs, but I also learned how much departmental faculty and politics differed. It was good preparation for my next role, working with Bob Sasseen in the Faculty Affairs Office. That first year there was a major sexual harassment case that made national news when a faculty panel recommended the firing of a full professor. Then Bob left for a college presidency in Texas, the CSU moved into full collective bargaining, and the campus faced the challenge of revising our policies to conform with contracts that had been negotiated elsewhere by sides that frequently disagreed over their intent and implications. Revisions frequently resulted in grievance hearings that were rarely pleasant. What was pleasant, however, was working with University RTP Committees, which had interesting, competent, and dedicated faculty from across the campus, and initiating a much broader program of faculty development.

After ten mostly stressful years in Faculty Affairs, I returned to teaching and found a very different study body. The Political Science Department decided to drop its graduate program because of declining enrollments, and students generally seemed less interested in international subjects and more focused on jobs, both ones they already had and those they hoped to have. A sabbatical gave me an opportunity to return to the Philippines to work on a book project (and to experience having armed guards to protect me from kidnaping), and there was a follow-up semester in the Bath Program. Meanwhile I was resuming committee activity as a faculty member, including service on a college committee participating in the campus –wide activity that presumably was to result in dropping some majors or departments. I doubt that anyone engaged in the activity (directed by Provost Linda Bain but the initiative of new President Bob Caret) thought it was productive, but somehow it resulted in my being drafted to be Acting Dean of the College of Social Sciences when Adnan Daoud suddenly retired.

Aside from several CSU programs intended to distribute monetary rewards to faculty on ill-defined criteria with an equally ill-defined process, I found being Dean generally rewarding. The College staff were thoughtful and helpful, most of the departments were collegial and ran well most of the time, and the opportunity to interact with the new faculty we were hiring was quite satisfying. I chaired the Campus Writing Committee, which included faculty working with writing at the surrounding community colleges as well as those dealing with writing on our campus, and we found our cooperative efforts productive. I failed to get satisfaction for Comm Studies faculty who called me on winter mornings to report the temperatures in their offices in Hugh Gillis, but I think they knew I was at least as frustrated as they.

Then Linda Bain retired suddenly, and Bob Caret pushed me to accept the position of Interim Provost. Working with Deans and other campus administrators I respected made the job tolerable, but it was a period when finances were difficult, campus schedules were being renegotiated, and mixed messages from CSU headquarters were constant. When Marshall Goodman was hired as Provost, the situation worsened, and, after six years as Dean, I decided it was time to retire.

I returned briefly after Don Kassing became Interim President and Carmen Sigler became Provost to fill the position of Acting Dean of the College of Social Work. It was an opportunity to work with different faculty in a transitional situation, and I enjoyed them and the new leadership of the campus. When I retired again after the units of the College were redistributed, I felt the campus was again in good hands.

I feel fortunate to have worked with so many people—faculty, administrators, students—who have enriched my life and given me a sense that we were all engaged in activities that also enriched the lives of others.


Noble, Lela Garner