Portrait of Ruibal, Rudolfo

Ruibal, Rudolfo

May 11, 1998

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Rudy Ruibal, founding faculty member and former advisor to President Kerr, discusses the formative years of the campus. He compares teaching and research to the current campus climate and emphasizes the impact the sciences have had on the campus.
Excerpt from Transcript
Erickson: I know that you worked for President Kerr when he was the UC President, Clark Kerr. How did that come about and in what capacity did you work?

Ruibal: I got to work for Clark Kerr, because when Kerr was President, he always had in his office, one faculty member and that faculty member would work for Clark Kerr by taking care of the correspondence that Kerr got from faculty throughout the university system.

If Kerr received a letter complaining about something from a faculty member, it went to this academic who would then investigate it. I think I was recommended to Clark Kerr by Metcalf who used to be up in the Citrus Experiment Station.

Erickson: Robert Metcalf.

Ruibal: Right. And, what I did … I would go up for a couple of days every week.

Erickson: Office of the President was then at …

Ruibal: At Berkeley. I would fly up and spend two days up there almost every week. And what I would do in the office … There would be a stack of letters that Kerr would receive. I would read the letters, and then I would find out what the facts were. You know, if there was a complaint, if there was a request for something, I would do all the legwork that was necessary, and then I would draft a response, I would draft an answer. And this I would then put together with the letter and in the late afternoon, this would go to Clark Kerr.

Ruibal: And Clark Kerr actually used to take all that home with him. And then he would come back the next morning, and I would get the stack back with either comments from him or modifications of the letter or whatever it was. And then I would do the final form, and I would leave it for him.

So, basically, it was his way of simply making sure his faculty were being treated by an academic who knew what the score was, rather than somebody who was just a bureaucrat. He was very careful about it, he was a very great person to work for. I would have to say … he was brilliant. He was just a very, very bright person.

One of the examples of, you know, how good he was … What I did for him was a minor thing, you understand. A minor thing of …

Erickson: It was a part …

Ruibal: Yes, but it was minor compared to all the other things he had to worry about, and all the other things he was doing.

And I always remember one morning I came in just as he was coming in, and in the elevator ride from the first floor up to the main office, he just (clicking his fingers in succession) one right after another snapped out all the problems that I was having in the work I was doing. And he had it all right there, you know. And I was very, very impressed, because it was stuff that I would have no idea that he was that attentive to. And he was a great person to work for.

Erickson: So he was a good leader.

Ruibal: Yes. And I was up there, this was during the campus rebellion when Savio and all the other people were …

Erickson: Oh, tell me about that. What kinds of things…

Ruibal: Oh, I used to go since I wasn't quite a participant, but I went with considerable sympathy to what was going on, because I don't know whether you realize that at the time, part of the argument was The Regents had set up a system where you could not discuss politics on campus.

Erickson: No, I am not aware.

Ruibal: That was the main argument. That was what started much of the argument. In other words, if you had a student group that organized and wanted to discuss Vietnam, you couldn't do it on campus, you weren't supposed to do it on campus.

Questions Regarding this Oral History Project should be directed to Jan Erickson at jan.erickson@ucr.edu.