Tribute to Dean and Jane McHenry

Photo of Dean and Jane McHenry.

Founding Chancellor Dean McHenry and his wife Jane were photographed in the courtyard of McHenry Library in 1997. Photo by Greg Pio.

Quite a group turned out today to share stories and memories of founding Chancellor Dean McHenry and his wife Jane. Nothing quite compares to the recollections of people who knew this dynamic duo.

Take economics professor and founding Stevenson College Provost David Kaun's story about the "revolutions in the dorms." McHenry was devoutly religious and became quite concerned over the years as the residential divisions on campus between men and women broke down. At first, the sexes were segregated in completely separate buildings located at opposite ends of the hills of Cowell and Stevenson colleges. Then dorms became integrated, and finally individually floors went co-ed, which raised all kinds of questions about bathrooms that McHenry found positively baffling. Times changed, and ultimately, McHenry did, too.

It was great to hear founding Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance Hal Hyde recount stories of the earliest days of the campus. And Bill Doyle, a founding faculty member who has recently written two books about the founding and early history of UCSC, explained some of the factors leading to the establishment of our university in Santa Cruz.

Dan Aldrich, our former assistant chancellor of University Advancement, reminded guests that McHenry, a native of Southern California, had run unsuccessfully for Congress and had subsequently hoped to be the first chancellor of the new UC campus in Orange County. But his left-leaning political views were too liberal for that conservative enclave, either in Congress or at UC Irvine, and the rest is history—fortunately for us.

Astronomer John Faulkner regaled the crowd with tales of McHenry's remarkable memory. John, who served at one point on the Committee for Academic Personnel, described discussing faculty cases with McHenry and being floored by Dean's ability to quote verbatim from faculty files without even opening them.

For me, it was a pleasure to read a greeting and remembrance from Herman Blake, founding provost of Oakes College. Herman described guiding Dean and Jane through the Gullah Geechee community of Daufuskie Island in South Carolina, a remote barrier island off the Atlantic Coast that had become familiar to UCSC because many students interned there, living in the homes of descendants of Africans enslaved there generations before. The day-long tour had ended with an impromptu conversation on the front porch of a woman who was picking boiled crabs, with Dean sitting on the edge of the porch and Jane rocking in a wooden chair. The free-ranging conversation wandered to the topic of winemaking, and a lively exchange ensued. The McHenrys, of course, were winemakers themselves. Later, during the return trip to the mainland, Jane and Dean were animated and energized, reflecting on the sights and sounds and surprises of the day. Herman said he always remembers them that way: together, fully immersed in the creative adventure of life.

For my part, I told the story of being called to the chancellor's office shortly after my arrival on campus in April 1972. I was intimidated and worried, wondering what I'd done wrong. But I showed up, with my long hair and my long beard, and it turned out McHenry just made a point of personally welcoming each new faculty member to campus. Now, as chancellor, I try to keep that invitation from McHenry in mind when I call people to my office. It can be nerve-wracking, after all.

Kudos to Emeriti Faculty Association president Michael Nauenberg for bringing us together, and thanks to the Arboretum for hosting the gathering.

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