YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Aldrich Takes On Yet Another Hitch as a UC Chancellor

July 12, 1986|BILL BILLITER | Times Staff Writer

He keeps trying, but Dan Aldrich, the founding chancellor of UC Irvine, just can't seem to stay in retirement.

Aldrich had just announced in 1984 his plans to step down at Irvine when he returned to duty as interim chancellor at UC Riverside, a job he held until July, 1985.

Now, barely a year into "real" retirement at his ocean-view home in Laguna Niguel, Aldrich again has been tapped by UC President David Gardner for yet another turn as chancellor--this time as interim head at UC Santa Barbara. Aldrich assumes the post Sept. 1, replacing Robert A. Huttenback, who resigned Friday.

"I told President Gardner that I would serve (at Santa Barbara)," Aldrich said in a telephone interview Friday. But, Aldrich added jokingly, "I thought to myself that there are times when an individual shouldn't answer the bell--that he should quit while he's ahead." Aldrich held the top post at UCI for 22 years, the longest tenure of any UC chancellor.

The UC system announced Aldrich's third chancellorship on the eve of his birthday. He is 68 today, and his associates say that he is an amazingly vigorous man.

A fiercely competitive athlete at 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, Aldrich will be taking part next week in the National Senior Track and Field Competition at Hampstead, N. Y. "I'll be in the discus, the hammer and the shot," he said.

Aldrich said that he and his wife, Jean, will live in Santa Barbara until a permanent chancellor is appointed. He said the selection process could take six months to a year, noting that it took almost a full year for a new chancellor to be named at UC Riverside during his interim appointment there.

"At Riverside, I was close enough (to Orange County) to commute there, but Santa Barbara is too far for commuting," Aldrich said. "But Jean and I are not so far away that we can't come back to Niguel Shores every two weeks or so."

Aldrich said that Gardner contacted him about 2 1/2 weeks ago about the UC Santa Barbara job. "I told him that my only concern was that I wondered about what my colleagues--the other chancellors and the vice presidents of the university--would think of my coming back again," Aldrich said. "President Gardner told me, 'Your colleagues are the ones who've told me to call up Dan.' "

Aldrich said he welcomes the new assignment. "Santa Barbara is a fine campus with an international reputation for quality," he said. "I simply want to help where I can. I understand the University of California. I know what it takes. I just want to help them get squared away. . . ."

Aldrich was born on a farm in New England and majored in agriculture at the University of Rhode Island.

Some Orange County critics accused Aldrich of being a "leftist" in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of his vigorous defense of academic freedom and free speech. In 1970, he was excoriated by right-wing groups because he did not try to block a scheduled appearance on the UCI campus of former anti-war activist Tom Hayden and other defendants in the so-called "Chicago Seven" trial stemming from protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Close friends say, however, that Aldrich is, in fact, a "moderate Republican."

He has a quick temper, associates point out, though they also say he vents his emotions quickly and doesn't bear a grudge. Moreover, they say, Aldrich will not hesitate to admit when he is wrong.

"Show him (Aldrich) where he's made a mistake or introduce evidence he wasn't aware of, and he'll reconsider his decision and say, 'Well, I blew that one,' " said former UC Riverside Chancellor Ivan Hinderacker.

Aldrich was dean of agriculture for the UC system when he was asked by former UC President Clark Kerr in 1962 to become chancellor of a new university planned in Orange County. Kerr later said that Aldrich was "probably the only man I know of who could do the job . . . because we were acutely aware of the special problems that would be presented by the existence of a university campus in so conservative an area as Orange County."

Aldrich became chancellor at UCI three years before the university actually opened for classes in 1965. The late Los Angeles architect William Pereira recalled in 1984 that Aldrich personally picked the site for the Irvine campus--then a treeless, wide-open part of the Irvine Ranch.

In 1970, after years of anti-Vietnam War activities on the UCI campus, there were rumors that Aldrich had tired of the controversy and planned to step down. Aldrich dismissed the rumors at the time. Fourteen years later, he retired.

Then came UC Riverside.

Now comes UC Santa Barbara.

"I've been around before," said Aldrich on Friday.

"And I think I can be of help."

Robert A. Huttenback resigned as chancellor of UC Santa Barbara after a series of controversies. (Part I, Page 1.)

Los Angeles Times Articles