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Cal Poly Memories - by Will Alexander

When I was hired into the Social Sciences faculty in 1958, the fact that no one had tenure did not bother me. I imagined myself a great and invaluable teacher at Cal Poly. In those days the academic year was started with a barbeque in the Poly grove. Anna and I were seated at a table reserved for the new faculty. Julian McPhee came to the platform to make some remarks and present awards.McPhee was an impressively big man; I had never even seen him before. In fact, in all my years at Cal Poly, I never did have an occasion to speak to McPhee, sit at his table, or shake his hand.

President McPhee

I had been hired by the then dean of the Division of Arts and Sciences, Bob Kennedy, on the recommendation of the head of the Social Sciences Department, Norman Cruikshanks. I recall McPhee greeting the assembled faculty and staff and, turning to the new faculty, welcoming us into the "Cal Poly family." I was to learn as I watched the behavior of Norman Cruikshanks and Bob Kennedy over the years, McPhee really meant "loyal" members of his family would anticipate what he saw as good for Cal Poly--questioning any part of his vision for the university and how it should be carried out was childish behavior which deserved just punishment.

Speaking directly to the new faculty, I can still hear McPhee's words. "I may not be able to do all the things you might want to make your life happy here at Cal Poly, but I will try. If you find that you are not happy working here, come and see me. I can do something about that." I did learn to appreciate tenure, and I never did go to see Julian. - Will Alexander

President McPhee


 

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