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July 22, 2002

UCSC publishes biography of founding vice chancellor Hal Hyde

By Ann M. Gibb

Hal Hyde's resume might list "founding" as a job title. A fifth-generation Santa Cruz County resident, Hyde has been in on the creation of organizations and institutions ranging from UCSC and Cabrillo College to the Community Foundation and the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County.

As UCSC's first vice chancellor of business and finance, Hal Hyde oversaw construction of the first colleges and residence halls as well as the siting of campus roads. Photo: Don Harris, UCSC Photo Services

"In those days when something was needed and you didn't have an organization to do it, then you'd start one," said Hyde with considerable modesty.

His contributions to California and Santa Cruz are documented in his oral history, Harold A. Hyde: Recollections of Santa Cruz County, which will be published July 30 by the University Library's Regional History Project.

Regional historian Randall Jarrell conducted the interviews with Hyde and edited the volume, which extensively documents 20th-century Santa Cruz County history and the founding of UCSC.

Following infantry combat service with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II and graduate studies in business at Harvard, Hyde returned to Santa Cruz County and a career at Ford's Department Store.

By the late 1950s he was chairing a committee to promote a local bond issue for higher education, had been elected to Cabrillo College's first board of trustees, and was also on a local committee helping the University of California select a Central Coast location for a new campus. All this was in addition to his position as merchandising manager of Ford's.

The Cowell Ranch Carriage House, pictured here just after Hal Hyde managed its renovations, creating the first administrative office space at UCSC. Photo: Vester Dick, courtesy UCSC Special Collections

After the UC Regents selected the Cowell property for their next campus and named Dean McHenry founding chancellor, McHenry approached Hyde with a suggestion. "He said, 'You're spending so much time in higher education, have you thought of it as a career?'" recalled Hyde. "And he offered me a job."

That job, vice chancellor of business and finance, made Hyde responsible for the start-up of all nonacademic aspects of the new campus.

Central to Hyde's work was overseeing creation of UCSC's infrastructure, including construction of the first colleges, residence halls, and administrative buildings, and the siting of campus roads. He also hired key staff. "It was Dean McHenry's show but we had a lot to do to carry it out," said Hyde.

Hyde held the vice chancellor position from 1964 to 1975, a period in which the campus grew from no students and some decaying ranch buildings to an enrollment of 5,600 students with modern classrooms, laboratories, residence halls, playing fields, performing arts theaters, and administrative buildings, including those for Lick Observatory.

"It was a major challenge on a beautiful site," said Hyde, who even had to create his own work space by managing the renovation of a Cowell Ranch building--now known as the Carriage House--into offices for himself and his colleagues. He had direct responsibility for campus fire and police support during a tenure that included student protests against the Vietnam War and a fire, started by faulty lamp wiring, in the central administration building.

The fire caused no injuries but forced the entire administrative staff to temporarily relocate to Family Student Housing apartments below Porter College, then called College Five, where one of Hyde's daughters was a student.

Hyde's commitment to UCSC continued after he returned to retailing in 1975. He was a founding member of two groups supporting UCSC, serving as the first president of the Arboretum Associates and a trustee of the UC Santa Cruz Foundation.

"I guess I'm an 'Old Blue,'" said Hyde, who graduated from Berkeley in 1947. "If you stuck me I'd probably bleed blue and gold."

The Hyde biography, and other oral-history volumes documenting UCSC history, are available in Special Collections at UCSC's McHenry Library and at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library. The volumes may also be purchased for the cost of duplication. For additional information, email UCSC's Regional History Project or call (831) 459-2847.

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