Miles D. McCarthy, one of five original faculty members and a one-time acting president at Cal State Fullerton, died Wednesday of heart failure. He was 80.
University officials mourned the loss of the popular biology professor and administrator, who played a leading role in the growth of the 36-year-old Fullerton campus from four buildings in a vast orange grove to a bustling campus with more than 20,000 students.
Even after being granted emeritus status in 1983, McCarthy, fondly referred to on campus as "our Mr. Chips," continued to teach at least one biology course a semester, including this summer.
During his tenure at the university, McCarthy also held numerous administrative posts including biological science department chair; dean of the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences; vice president for academic affairs, and founder and coordinator of the Health Professions Program.
The highly successful Health Professions program prepares top students for the nation's finest medical, dental and optometry schools. Some years the program has enjoyed a 100% placement record, directing as many as 30 students into very competitive medical and dental schools.
"There is no one in the history of Cal State Fullerton who has contributed more to its development as has Miles McCarthy," said Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon. "He personified what this university is trying to accomplish with its mission--to hold learning preeminent."
He was also the first of four Fullerton faculty members to be named an "Outstanding Professor" both on campus and the entire 23-college Cal State system, having received the honor in 1965.
McCarthy also was only one of five people ever to serve as president. He filled in as acting president for nine months in 1981, after the resignation of L. Donald Shields--whom he had originally recruited to the university.
In spite of his lengthy administrative service, McCarthy primarily viewed himself as a teacher. In a 1989 interview, he said: "The only year I haven't taught . . . ever since I got out of school, was the year I played president. I just couldn't manage it. All the time I was vice president [four years] I taught six units every semester . . . I lived for those six hours."
In 1984, the university's Science and Letters Building was renamed in McCarthy's honor. The building was erected in 1963 as the university's first permanent structure, and its interior was designed by McCarthy.
McCarthy is survived by his wife, Martha, and five children: Matthew, Martin, Scott, Ellen Lamb and Lynn Hosken. Miles and Martha McCarthy resided in Fullerton, but kept a second home in Carlsbad, where Miles died.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Miles D. McCarthy Health Professions Scholarship c/o the President's Office, Cal State Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton 92634.