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Owen Meredith Wilson Presidency, 1954-1960

Owen Meredith Wilson was born on September 21, 1909. He received his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and did graduate work at the universities of Heidleberg and London, receiving his doctorate in history from the University of California in 1943. He became the ninth president of the University of Oregon in 1954 where he stayed until 1960. He went on to be the president at the University of Minnesota and director of the Center for Advanced Studies of Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. He was known for his defense of intellectual freedom, and is credited for mandating the racial integration of fraternities and sororities at the University of Oregon. During his time at the university the Institute of Molecular Biology was created and the Museum of Art was opened to the public. He died November 7, 1998 in Eugene.

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Arthur S. Flemming Presidency, 1961-1968

Arthur S. Flemming’s 30-year career alternated between education and politics. He held degrees from Ohio Wesleyan University, American University, and George Washington University. He served as President of Ohio Wesleyan from 1948 to 1958. Flemming became President Eisenhower’s Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in 1958 and served until 1961.
In 1961 Flemming accepted the Presidency of the University of Oregon. Under President Flemming the University of Oregon accomplished a number of new projects. A comprehensive student conduct code was implemented and improved, giving greater authority to the students and removing the University from the role of in loco parentis. Flemming’s political experience enabled the University to greatly increase its federal funding. The campus developed and expanded at a great pace and added two new professional schools. The University was progressive in its outreach to the disadvantaged and its stance on discrimination. Open communication, free inquiry, and freedom of expression were strongly supported. The student body grew from 7500 to 13000 under President Flemming. He stepped down from the Presidency at Oregon in 1968 to take the job of President at Macalaster College, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Charles Ellicott Johnson Presidency, 1968-1969

Charles Ellicott Johnson was born on September 7, 1920 in Worland, Wyoming. His parents were Palmer Johnson and Rose Ellicott. He married Jeanne in 1942 and had three children. Johnson entered the University of Minnesota in 1939, studying accounting and business administration, and graduated in 1942. He worked as an accountant and served in World War II. Then Johnson resumed his studies at the University of Minnesota, earning an MBA in 1948 and a PhD in 1952.

Johnson came to the University of Oregon in 1952 as an Associate Professor in Business Administration, becoming a full Professor in 1957, Head of the Department of Accounting and Business Statistics in 1959, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts in 1963, and finally Acting President of the University in 1968. Along the way Johnson distinguished himself with many publications, garnered several awards, and was active in numerous professional associations.

Numerous controversies defined Johnson’s presidency: a dormitory grape boycott to protest farming and labor conditions, athletes disciplined for refusing to cut their hair, obscenities printed in the Emerald, Navy recruiters harassed by activists, a shanty town erected on the campus lawn, and other various protests over Vietnam, freedoms, and rights. Johnson was killed in an auto accident on June 17, 1969, while still serving as acting President.

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Robert D. Clark Presidency, 1969-1975

Robert D. Clark lead the University of Oregon during some of the most controversial and tumultuous years for higher education. For many he became an example of strength and understanding in administration during those stressful times.

Clark began his career at the University of Oregon as a professor of speech in 1943 and held that role until 1964. In 1946, Clark began to involve himself in university administration at UO, accepting an appointment as Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) in 1947, which he retained until being selected as Dean of CLA in 1955. In 1961, Clark was named Dean of Faculties at UO, and three years later, he accepted the Presidency of San Jose State College (1964-1969), a period characterized by student unrest, racial tensions, and a faculty strike in late 1968.  In 1969, he returned to the University of Oregon as its eleventh president, a position he held until his retirement in 1975.  Clark was a popular president at both institutions, and was known for his dedication to the rights of students and curricular innovation.

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Last revision: 10/09/2011
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