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It Wasn’t About the House


Last week’s Angry Poodle Barbecue presented a very well-informed and perceptive view of Robert Huttenback’s record as chancellor of UCSB. But I need to add a correction: In the winter of 1986 I never asked for his resignation. We had a strong disagreement over policy and I resigned. But at that time no thought of his downfall entered my mind.

Months later, as the institution appeared to be sliding into chaos, I believed that Huttenback should resign. But the big issue by then was the house in Mission Canyon, which was something that had never concerned me greatly. Indeed, I had always been sympathetic with Bob over the house problem. Having been in most of the Chancellors’ houses in the system, I can say that the others are mansions, while UCSB’s is a middle range 1960’s Goleta tract house, transplanted to what is a great location in some respects and a terrible one in others. Bob’s decision not to live there was understandable. To put some things into perspective, at that time a Chancellor’s salary was about the same as that of a top professor; it was before the explosion in salaries for upper administration.

With respect to Huttenback’s trial in 1988, I will say that, assuming that the News-Press accounts were accurate, there were aspects of the testimony of then-President Gardner and of ex-President Saxon that I did not understand. Nick Welsh’s mention of Huttenback’s attorney’s possible conflict of interest is new to me, and also a bit worrisome.

I believed, and still believe, that by the spring of 1986 Huttenback’s resignation or dismissal as Chancellor was justified, and inevitable as well. But I believe that his later (1989) dismissal as a professor was not called for. To me it appeared to be both vindictive and procedurally flawed. Moreover, the chairman of the faculty committee making the recommendation had three years earlier launched a lawsuit against Huttenback and others, one pertaining to his own personnel case.

Bob’s qualities of intelligence, energy, and openness made it fun for me to work for him in the better times before 1986.

Ray Sawyer was the vice-chancellor of UCSB from 1982 to 1986.



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