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Interview with Harold Brown

Brown, Harold (2012) Interview with Harold Brown. [Oral History]

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An interview in March 1990 with former Defense Secretary Harold Brown, Caltech’s president from 1969 to 1977. He begins by reviewing his pre-Caltech career, his reasons for accepting Caltech presidency, his initial impression of Caltech’s faculty, administration, trustees, and students. He recalls establishing Environmental Quality Laboratory; 1970 admission of women undergraduates; proposed association with Immaculate Heart College. Comments on fund-raising, restructuring the development office, entertaining in the President’s House, relations with Arnold Beckman and other trustees. He discusses the roles of the provost, Institute Administrative Council, and division chairmen; his relations with provosts Robert Bacher and Robert Christy. Comments on successes of his presidency, including reducing Caltech’s “insularity” and improving its financial health, its student life, and JPL–campus relations. Views on how Caltech should prepare for coming societal changes. Comments on faculty’s role vs. that of administration. His establishment of five-year review of division chairs. Caltech’s process of moving into new research fields. Caltech’s finances in the late 1960s and 1970s; fiscal conservatism of Board of Trustees; “flattening” of government support; establishment of campus master plan and Fairchild Scholars program. He recalls Caltech’s lack of adverse reaction to his defense department background. Notes matters left incomplete in his tenure: improving engineering division, introducing applied biology, strengthening social sciences. Comments on hostility of science and engineering faculty to social science. His views on “Big Science.” Recalls his involvement outside Caltech presidency (SALT talks) and trustees’ attitude toward it. He concludes by discussing timing of his departure.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Administration, physics, United States Department of Defense
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Brown_H
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Brown, Harold. Interview by Alice Stone. Pasadena, California, March 19, 1991. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Physics
All Records
Subjects > Administration
ID Code:209
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:13 Dec 2012 21:15
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:23

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