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Founding university President Fred Harcleroad dies at 93


President Fred Harcleroad, at right, with public officials at the 1959 groundbreaking ceremony for the Hayward campus.

  • June 20, 2012

Fred F. Harcleroad, founding president of Cal State East Bay, died June 10 in Tucson. He was 93.

Harcleroad was named president of the university in January 1959 before it had an address, a faculty, enrolled students or a permanent name. He guided the institution through its formative years, including creating its first master plan, before his departure in 1967.

“To start a college is something every educator dreams of,” Harcleroad told the Oakland Tribune following announcement by the state school superintendent of his appointment.

Harcleroad – pronounced with a hard c –– formally took office Feb. 1, 1959, of an institution that at first was known as the State College for Alameda County. By 1961, the name changed to Alameda County State College, then switched two years later to California State College at Hayward.

In his initial days as president, Harcleroad said, his priorities were finding a campus site, faculty and temporary classrooms. Plans called for classes to start in September 1959 for juniors and seniors in just two fields: business administration and education. By the mid 1960s, enrollment had soared from 293 to some 4,000, instructed by a faculty of approximately 250 on the Hayward campus’ 365-acre site.

Harcleroad left the president’s office in 1967 when he was reassigned by state college system Chancellor Glenn Dumke. By September, his replacement, Ellis McCune, had been named.

Within two months, Harcleroad was named president of the American College Testing Program, best known for administering the ACT college entrance exam, which he led until 1974.

While Harcleroad’s post-CSUEB career took him out of state, including to the director’s position at the Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of Arizona, through 1980, he maintained ongoing interest in and followed developments at the Bay Area university he had helped shape.

When the institution’s leaders considered adopting the name California State University, East Bay in 2004, Harcleroad wrote to the CSU Chancellor urging the CSU Board of Trustees to approve the proposed title “to finally reflect its geographic mission.”

“Fred Harcleroad really cared about the university,” said Norma Rees, who served as the third president of Cal State East Bay from 1990 to 2006. “Its success was very important to him. When we were working on the name change for the university in 2004, he took the time to write a letter to the Chancellor and trustees to share with them the various suggestions for names that were considered before the university first opened. The background he provided was very influential in their eventual approval of the name change to Cal State East Bay in January 2005.”

Born Nov. 22, 1918 in Cheyenne, Wyo., Harcleroad earned a B.A. from Colorado State College, Greeley in 1939, followed by an M.A. in 1942. He pursued his Ph.D. at Stanford University, the first university in the United States to offer a doctoral program in the interdisciplinary field of higher education. In a 2007 video interview, Harcleroad said, he became the first person to complete a Ph.D. in higher education in the nation.

Harcleroad’s career started as a high school teacher and principal in Ault, Colo. He then served as a teacher and counselor for the junior college in Menlo Park (1943-1946) before joining the faculty at San Diego State College (1946-1952). He moved on to San Jose State College, serving first as dean of instruction and then dean of college (1952-1959).

Additionally, he served as visiting professor at institutions from the University of Southern California to Pennsylvania State University.

Harcleroad authored and edited many books in his field including “Issues of the ‘70s: The Future of Higher Education” (1970); “Audio-Visual Instruction, Technology, Media and Methods” (1959, revised 1983); and “Colleges and Universities for Change: America’s Comprehensive Public State Colleges and Universities” (1987).

“Dr. Harcleroad worked tirelessly in the development of the fledging institution, its development and hiring of the initial faculty and building at the Hayward site,” CSUEB President Leroy Morishita said. “I am saddened by his passing; my wife Barbara and I were scheduled to meet personally with Dr. Harcleroad and his wife in Tucson this coming July.”

Learn more about Harcleroad's contributions to CSUEB on the University Library Web site.

In closing his letter of support for the current university name to the CSU chancellor, Harcleroad wrote:

“It is thrilling for me to know that (the university) is approaching almost 100,000 graduates and has provided a superb opportunity for these and many others to contribute greatly to the economic success of the state, and the East Bay in particular.”

He is survived by his wife, Moyne, of Tucson; daughter Patricia Gregory of Arizona; and son Douglass Harcleroad of Oregon. A private memorial service will be held in Arizona next month.

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