Clark Kerr

American academic (1911-2003)

Clark Kerr (May 17, 1911December 1, 2003) was an American professor of economics and academic administrator. He was the first chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley and twelfth president of the University of California.

Clark Kerr


  • One of the most distressing tasks of a university president is to pretend that the protest and outrage of each new generation of undergraduates is really fresh and meaningful. In fact, it is one of the most predictable controversies that we know. The participants go through a ritual of hackneyed complaints, almost as ancient as academe, while believing that what is said is radical and new.
    • David Lance Goines, 1993, The Free Speech Movement: Coming of Age in the 1960's, Ten Speed Press, p. 68.
  • The university is being called upon to educate previously unimagined numbers of students; to respond to the expanding claims of national service; to merge its activities with industry as never before. Characteristic of this transformation is the growth of the knowledge industry, which is coming to permeate government and business, and to draw into it more and more people raised to higher and higher levels of skill. The production, distribution and consumption of knowledge is said to account for 29 percent of gross national product, and knowledge production is growing at about twice the rate of the rest of the economy. What the railroads did for the second half of the last century, and the automobile for the first half of this century, may be done for the second half of this century by the knowledge industry; and that is, to serve as the focal point for national growth.
    • David Lance Goines, 1993, The Free Speech Movement: Coming of Age in the 1960's, Ten Speed Press, p. 49.
  • [Students] aren't what we ideally would like to see them. They are not independent and individualistic, but they do fit the needs of our emerging industrial society. ... the employers will love this generation, that they are not going to press very many grievances, there won't be much trouble, they are going to do their jobs, they are going to be easy to handle. There aren't going to be riots. There aren't going to be revolutions. There aren't going to be many strikes.
    • Margaret L. Habein (editor) (1959), Spotlight on the college student; a discussion by the Problems and Policies Committee of the American Council on Education. American Council on Education. pp 40-41
  • The university and segments of industry are becoming more and more alike. As the university becomes tied into the world of work, the professor—at least in the natural and some of the social sciences—takes on the characteristics of an entrepreneur...The two worlds are merging, physically and psychologically...The campus and society are undergoing a somewhat reluctant and cautious merger, already well advanced. M.I.T. is at least as much related to industry and government as Iowa State ever was to agriculture.
    • Clark Kerr, 1963, The Uses of the University, Harvard University Press, p. 115.

Quotes about Kerr

  • Kerr, however, also had wit. The perfect university, he observed, provided sex for students, sports for alumni, and parking for faculty.
    • W.J. Rorabaugh, 1990, Berkeley at War: The 1960s, p. 12.
  • Kerr's wit extended even to the traumatic events that led to his firing. Following FBI investigations, black-listing, and machinations by Governor Reagan to stack the University of California Board of Regents against him, Kerr was removed from his office as Chancellor. A few months later, at a building-dedication ceremony at UC Santa Barbara, Kerr spoke (as previously scheduled), and in his remarks, he mentioned that he had left office just as he had entered it: "fired with enthusiasm."
    • Kerr, Clark (2001), The Gold and the Blue: A Personal Memoir of the University of California, 1949-1967, Volume 2. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 309–310.
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