Clark Kerr? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: The most candid and blunt statement I have ever heard attributed to a university administrator was reportedly spoken in the 1950s:
The chancellor’s job is to provide parking for the faculty, and athletics for the alumni, and sex for the students.
Is this a genuine statement from the straight-laced decade of the Fifties? Who crafted this line?
Quote Investigator: Clark Kerr was the chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley in the 1950s, and he delivered a speech containing a provocative statement about administrative responsibilities that was reported in “Time” magazine in November 1958. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
At inaugural ceremonies for the University of Washington’s new president, Charles E. Odegaard, President Clark Kerr of the University of California last week offered some of the green fruit of his experience: “I find that the three major administrative problems on a campus are sex for the students, athletics for the alumni and parking for the faculty.”
The meaning of this quotation was ambiguous. Kerr may have been stating that the sexual behavior of students caused problems for administrators. Similarly, limited parking caused headaches, and major athletic contests caused headaches for governance. The word “provide” appears in some modern versions of the quotation, but it did not appear in the original.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1958 November 17, Time, “Education: View from the Bridge”, Time Inc., New York. (Online Time magazine archive; accessed July 23, 2014) ↩