The Regional History Project conducted three interviews with former Chancellor Angus E. Taylor on January 28-30, 1997. Taylor was appointed the campus's third chancellor in February, 1976, by UC President David S. Saxon during a difficult period in UCSC's history, when the campus's second chancellor, Mark N. Christensen, resigned amidst controversy after a tenure of barely 18 months. Saxon asked Taylor to assume the chancellorship and to stabilize the young campus while a permanent chancellor was selected.
Prior to his appointment, Taylor was a professor of mathematics at UCLA from 1938 to 1966; and served in the UC systemwide administration as vice president for academic affairs from 1965 to 1970, and as University Provost from 1970 to 1975. He was a seasoned veteran of the University and its unique system of shared governance; he knew the workings of the academic senate and University policies inside out and was well acquainted with the key figures in the University's administration, all of which stood him in good stead when he became chancellor at UCSC.
Taylor begins his narration with the story of his early life and family history, and his years at Harvard College. He then describes the background leading to his appointment as chancellor of UCSC in 1976. Interspersed throughout his narration are comments on many aspects of his experiences as both teacher and administrator in the UC system (his participation in avoiding a confrontation between the UC Regents and the faculty during the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley and his comments on the history of affirmative action in the University) which influenced his approach to UCSC.
He discusses the campus's most pressing problems and how he addressed them-the management and organization of the chancellor's office; interaction with divisional deans and college provosts; faculty recruitment; budget allocations and the budget process; and a serious decline in enrollment. Applications to the campus were down by over 22% in 1975, and had been declining for five years.
Addressing declining enrollment was his first order of business and in his opinion proved to be the most significant and difficult problem of his tenure. He made a careful analysis of the admissions office situation, aided by the Stanford committee (appointed by President Saxon), which resulted in the difficult political decision to dismiss the controversial director of enrollment, Roberto Rubalcava. He then reorganized the admissions office and created a new position, vice chancellor of student affairs, to oversee this important campus function.
Taylor addresses the major issues he faced in his efforts to stabilize the campus, including the relationship of colleges and boards of studies, the campus budget, reorganizing the chancellor's office and setting up various committees which improved communication among campus administrators, fundraising, town/gown relations, the role of the colleges, and completing the campus's academic plan. During his tenure he faced two major student political demonstrations-- the first protesting his handling of the Rubalcava affair and then protests over South African apartheid and the University-wide divestiture movement, which pressured the University to sell off its stock holdings in companies doing business with South Africa. He discusses his approach to student trespassing and law-breaking and how his solution (he declined to encourage prosecution) met with some disapproval from administrators at other universities who thought Taylor was setting a poor precedent. He also reflects on the mission of the University of California, his thoughts on affirmative action, the search for a new UCSC chancellor, and his relations with University Hall and with President Saxon.