Interview With Glenn Seaborg
- Version 3.1 (10 June 94)
- [for consistancy of style, punctuation, etc.]
- Glenn Seaborg, Chancellor 1958 - 61
- Dan Cheatham, Drum Major, 1957
- Date of Interview:
- June 16, 1992
- Lawrence Berkeley Lab
- Barbara Gabler
- [Cheatham edited his own remarks for clarity and grammar on 15 February 1994 and took a second look in April 1994. At Seaborg’s request, some last minute changes were added in June 1994.]
- [Chancellor Seaborg edited his own remarks for clarity and grammar on 10 March 94.]
- [Editorial notes are attributed thus:
- Norden H. (Dan) Cheatham - NHC]
Keywords: His research on campus, first Cal/UCLA game 1933, 1938 Rose Bowl, Pappy Waldorf, 1949 Rose Bowl, Don Mulford, 101 yard kickoff return (Frank Brunk) against USC, USC and UCLA requesting the Straw Hat Band to stay home from invitational basketball tournament, football player Johnny Olszewski, breakup of the Pacific Coast Conference
Cheatham: Give us a brief self introduction.
Seaborg: I graduated with a major in chemistry from UCLA in 1934, then I came immediately to Berkeley for my graduate work in chemistry. I also worked in the Radiation Laboratory conducting a number of bombardments [using a cyclotron] to find a number of radioactive isotopes, which in the meantime have been found to have applications in nuclear medicine. I went on, through the use of the 60 inch cyclotron, to the discovery of plutonium. Then during the war, I went to the University of Chicago where I worked in the Metallurgical Laboratory to establish the chemical processes for the use of plutonium and for the separation of plutonium, which was used in the atomic bomb that brought an end to the war with Japan.
I was interested in athletics, both at UCLA and at Berkeley. I was an avid follower of Pappy Waldorf’s football teams in 1947, ’48, ’49 and ’50, the last three years being Rose Bowl teams. When Clark Kerr became Chancellor, Stanley Freeborn, who had served as Faculty Athletic Representative, resigned this post in order to go to the Davis Campus to become Chancellor. Clark Kerr, the new Chancellor at Berkeley, had learned of my interest in athletics and persuaded me to assume the position of the Faculty Athletic Representative for the Berkeley campus. I served in this position, beginning in January of 1953, until I became Chancellor of the Berkeley campus in the summer of 1958.
Cheatham: Here’s a little side story about my first interaction with you. In 1954 I was taking freshmen chemistry in the old Freshmen Chem Lab which stands approximately where the current Physical Sciences Lecture Hall now stands. I can remember hearing short caravans of automobiles with sirens screaming, going up the hill from campus to the Rad Lab. I learned later that that you were doing some experiments in which you had to hurry the results to the Rad Lab for final analysis.
Seaborg: Yes, the cyclotron that we used to make our bombardments, the 60 inch cyclotron in the Crocker Laboratory, was right next door to the Freshmen Chemistry Laboratory. We made our bombardments, then put the bombarded targets in a automobile because it was important to get them to the chemical laboratory for analysis as soon as possible. The analytical equipment was up on the hill in the Radiation Laboratory and the samples were driven up with a siren escort as fast as possible. You heard the sirens as the caravan passed the Freshmen Chemistry Laboratory.
Cheatham: At the time, the professor teaching the course was Dr. Powell and I remember him explaining to us what you were doing. It was fascinating for me to hear “real time” lectures on the frontiers of science. As a student it was a big thrill to be that close to the forefront of science. As you know, one of the thrills of going to Cal is being close enough to rub elbows with pioneer researchers.
Well, let’s get to the Band. Give us some insight on your first awareness that there was such a thing as the Cal Band.
Seaborg: The first time I saw and heard the Cal Band in action was in my last year at UCLA. In November 1933, when I attended the first Berkeley-UCLA football game which ended in a 0 to 0 tie. I remember the half-time ceremony when President Sproul and the Presidents of the student bodies of both Berkeley (Wakefield Taylor) and UCLA (Porter Hendricks) appeared in the ceremony on the field at the coliseum in Los Angeles where the game was played.
It was a memorable game at which UCLA vowed to not let Berkeley score. They weren’t able to score themselves but they held Berkeley scoreless for 60 minutes, and the game ended in a zero-to-zero tie.
Then of course, when I came to Berkeley in the Fall of 1934, I attended all of the home games and saw the California Band in action at these games, and I continued to attend the games from that time on including, as I’ve indicated earlier, of course, the games during the Pappy Waldorf era when we had the Rose Bowl teams corresponding to the seasons of ’48, ’49 and ’50.
Cheatham: What are your recollections of the Band in the 1930’s?
Seaborg: Well, as I recall it in the 1930’s, there was already a rather large band and rather flamboyant ... certainly capable of attracting the attention of the audience as it performed on the field. Yes, I have rather vivid recollections of them appearing on the field and performing in a attention-grabbing manner.
Cheatham: Tell us about your adventures going to Los Angeles for the 1938 Rose Bowl.
Seaborg: Well I went down for Christmas in 1937 as usual to spend it with my parents in South Gate, the place where I had lived when I went to UCLA, and then I attended the game on January 1, 1938 with my sister and other friends. The University of California defeated the University of Alabama by a score of 13 to 0. I remember some of the players -- the backs, Vic Bottari, Dave Anderson, Sam Chapman, Johnny Meek and the famous linemen Bob Herwig, Perry Schwartz and Dave DeVarona. The California team was very strong. I would say it dominated the game throughout. They had a good part of the same team return in 1938 and they came within one game of going to the Rose Bowl again. USC beat them that year so they fell short of a repeat appearance in the Rose Bowl.[Ugh! NHC]
We of course attended the Rose Parade but I don’t believe that I recall anything that relates to the California Band in connection with the Rose Parade.
Cheatham: The next important part of this story comes when Pappy Waldorf arrived in late summer, 1947. What is your recollection and insight of the significance of this?
Seaborg: Pappy Waldorf took pretty much the same players as had played on the 1946 team under Frank Wickhorst and turned them into winners within one year. In 1947, they lost the game with USC or they would have gone to the Rose Bowl the very first year, [Again? NHC] as I recall it. In 1948, with Dick Erickson as quarterback, they went undefeated and went to the Rose Bowl and played in the January l, 1949 game against Northwestern, a game I didn’t see because my wife Helen was pregnant at that time so we decided not to go down to Los Angeles. That’s the game in which they had the disputed play at the goal line where it appears that California scored but fumbled and, even though it occurred after crossing the goal line, the touchdown wasn’t allowed.
Then I watched the 1949 team. I saw the famous run by Frank Brunk in the Memorial Stadium, against USC, which enabled the Cal Bears to go on and beat USC after it looked like they had lost. He ran l0l yards on a kick- off return, to score a touch-down, which resulted in winning the game. Then they went on to the Rose Bowl where the team played on January 2, 1950 - Ohio State I believe - and lost. My wife Helen and I attended that game.
Cheatham: Let’s go back to 1930’s for a moment. We have an oral history from a former Cal Bandsman named Don Mulford. He had a dance band in the late 1930’s. Do you remember dancing to his band?
Seaborg: Yes, I remember dancing with my dates in the 1930’s to the music of Don Mulford’s Band. I believe they played at the Claremont Hotel and I became acquainted with him later during the period when he was a state legislator and particularly had a number of contacts with him during the period when I was Chancellor, from 1958 to 1961 -- not all of them amicable because he was sometimes critical of the behavior of our students. I felt that the behavior of the students was rather normal (laughter) and didn’t feel that they should be criticized to the extent that Don wanted to. [Assemblyman Mulford’s views come out in his oral history. NHC] Then I went to Washington after I was Chancellor and served for nearly 11 years as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, returned to Berkeley in 1971 and from that period on, have had a number of contacts with Don, particularly in his role as Protocol Officer for the City of Oakland.
Cheatham: A Protocol Officer is someone who arranges for greeting important guests to a city, state, or nation, that sort of thing. One has to know what honors are due a King, President, Ambassador, or Senator etc., as well as who sits next to whom, and that sort of thing.
Since I have the microphone, let me make a comment on that run by Frank Brunk. As a water boy for the Band, I remember seeing that same run and the excitement of it. The only difference of opinion I have with you is that I thought it was l04 yards instead of l0l yards, but nevertheless...
Seaborg: My wife Helen and I were sitting in the end zone, behind the goal posts, which was one of our favorite places to sit because we could watch the play better and Frank Brunk picked up the ball in the end zone, right in front of us. Now, as to whether that was l yard back or 4 yards back of the goal line, I don’t recall.
Cheatham: I don’t imagine it’s very important, but it was exciting to see us start in our own end zone on a kick off and run all the way back, and we were behind in the score besides.
Glenn I have a feeling you and I could reminisce about players like Jackie Jensen and Bob Celeri and a whole bunch of other players, because those were very special days ...
Seaborg: ...Jim Monachino and Pete Schabarum were the star half backs of the 1950 team. Star quarterback Jackie Jensen, of course, played in the 1948 team. I’ll never forget the big game that year which he managed to win due to his heroics.
Cheatham: I’d like to mention the name of Dick Erickson, who was the quarterback of the 1948 team. I remember him because at that time, I think he was the only football player that wore short sleeves. Everybody else had long sleeves. That was his distinguishing mark. He later told me he did that because the color of the ball would blend in the color of his arm so it was easier to make a successful fake hand-off. Later he became very active in the University, including being Executive Director of the Alumni Association.
Those three Rose Bowls you talked about have significance in the history of the Cal Band.
Seaborg: Well I had the impression that the Ohio State Band in the Rose Bowl of January 2, 1950 and the University of Michigan Band in the Rose Bowl of January 1, 1951 outperformed the University of California Band. [Chancellor Seaborg is being polite. We were soundly out-performed. The resulting comeback to the Band’s present state of eminence is covered elsewhere in the Band’s history project. NHC]
Cheatham: What are your recollections of the Band’s trip to Brussels, Belgium in 1958?
Seaborg: That was just before I became Chancellor. Immediately after I became Chancellor, in September of 1958, I attended the Second Atoms for Peace Conference in Geneva, leaving my Chancellor’s office for a week or ten days. During that visit to Geneva, my friend Stanley Thompson and I flew from Geneva to Brussels and visited the World’s Fair over the weekend.
I do have the impression that...people told me about the visit...about the University of California Band, at that time, and were impressed by it but that’s all I recall about that. [The Band was wildly received. See other oral histories. NHC]
Cheatham: Well, the next big event in the life of the Band is the Pete Newell Basketball Championship in the winter of 1959 and the Band’s trip to the playoffs at Louisville, Kentucky and other similar related events. [See, among others, the oral histories by Larry Anderson, Coach Pete Newell, and Mike Flier. NHC]
Seaborg: I remember attending the basketball game in which the University of California at Berkeley defeated Oregon State in Harmon Gym in, I suppose it was early March of 1959, clinching the title of the Pacific Coast Conference and there was a ceremony there participated in by myself, as Chancellor, Clark Kerr as President of the University of California and the performance by the Straw Hat Band. [At this point, Chancellor Seaborg gave me some pages out of his personal journal of these times. We’ll make them part of the record.]
Excerpts From Seaborg’s Journal
7 March 1959
In the evening I attended the basketball game in Harmon Gym in which we played Oregon State College. The Cal Bears, winning the [Pacific Coast Conference] title with Washington’s loss to the Bruins last night, defeated Oregon State by a score of 55-52. The squad received a standing ovation after the game.
After the game there was a ceremony honoring our basketball team put on by the Californians. This began with playing by the Straw Hat Band with the pompon girls in action. Art Delleray [Could it have been stadium announcer Art Arlett? NHC] then introduced Bill Stricklin (ASUC President) who made a few remarks. Bill then introduced me and I spoke briefly before introducing Clark Kerr who made a few remarks. Art then introduced Forrest Brinkerhoff (President of the Californians on the Berkeley campus). Art then thanked the Straw Hat Band for their spiritual contributions to the year’s successful basketball season. He next introduced the parents of senior members of our basketball team -- Sam and Sylvia Buch (parents of Al Buch), Louis and Margaret Fitzpatrick (parents of Denny Fitzpatrick), Donald and Elizabeth Dalton (parents of Bobby Dalton), Wes and Ruth Grout (parents of Jack Grout), E.B. and Margaret Langley (parents of Jim Langley), and Ben and Lee Simpson (parents of Bernie Simpson). Coach Pete Newell was introduced and he introduced all of the basketball players and presented a certificate to each of the players. Captain Al Buch responded on behalf of the California basketball team. The rooting section then saluted the team with a yell and the ceremonies were concluded with the singing of “All Hail”.
16 March 1959
I held my Student Open Office Hour from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM and had a lot of “customers”, including Bill Stricklin (ASUC President) who is deeply concerned with the antics of SLATE and thinks that [campus] recognition should be withdrawn from this organization [This is a reference to events that laid the ground work for the Free Speech Movement, a few years later. NHC]; Hugh Barnett, who asked me to try to provide for the Straw Hat Band to go to Louisville for the NCAA basketball semi-finals and finals with the team, which I said I would try to arrange, Robert Irvine, Joe McCord and Dave Toll together to discuss the Pelican (I warned them to shape up or the publication will have to be suspended) [The Pelican was the campus humor magazine that was always in trouble for pushing the bounds of good taste. NHC]; Dave Christen; Michael Hone (ASUC Representative) [one of the elected student officers] who wanted to discuss SLATE; Irene Takei and Sylvia Takeda (pompon girls, also representing Lou Vienop, another pompon girl) who want me to raise funds to enable them to accompany our championship basketball team to Louisville (I said will do everything I can to accomplish this); and Bruce Haldane.
Anna Carol told me that Arleigh Williams [ASUC Executive Director at the time and later Honorary Life Member of the Cal Band. NHC] called at about 1:30 PM this afternoon and wanted to know what arrangements I have made for the support of the travel of the Straw Hat Band and the pompon girls to Louisville in support of our basketball team. I said that I told Hugh Barnett of the band this morning that I will provide $1250 from the Chancellor’s Office if the ASUC will match this with $1250 and then in addition I pledged $100 of my person funds and $100 from Clark Kerr (who had assured me that he would do this) and that the band should raise the additional $300, which would make a total of $3000. I said that with respect to the pompon girls, I told Irene Takei and Sylvia Takeda, when they came to see me this morning, that I would pledge $300 from the Chancellor’s Office if the ASUC would match this with $300 and that I would add $100 from my personal funds, making a total of $700.
22 April 1959
Arleigh Williams (Director of Student Activities) wrote to express thanks on behalf of the Associated Students of the University of California for my “very generous contribution which enabled us to send our Straw Hat Band, the Pompon girls, a yell leader and Oski” to the NCAA tournament in Louisville, Kentucky.
Cheatham: You also gave me copies of your journal relative to an invitational basketball tournament in southern California. It was hosted by both UCLA and USC and the two athletic directors down south requested that the Straw Hat Band not accompany the basketball team for that tournament. Your written account of that event is in my hands and will become part of the record, but will you ad lib a little bit on your recollections of this event.
Seaborg: Well, the reason that Wilbur Johns, the Athletic Director of UCLA and Jess Hill, the Athletic Director of USC gave was that the “Big Ten” schools, the other participants in the tournament, wouldn’t have the advantage of having their bands there. I think they were also influenced by the fact that the University of California Berkeley Band was an attention-getter. The Band was flamboyant and Wilbur C. Johns and Jess Hill didn’t like that, thinking that it might detract from the central event, which was the basketball tournament. [I wonder. Would they have also barred their own bands if they had pep bands? NHC] They were probably somewhat afraid also that this would inspire our basketball team to a maximum performance and perhaps have some advantage over the other teams that were playing. [In other words, I would editorialize, they wanted to assure that their teams would dominate the tournament and they feared the Band’s ability to inspire our team to victory. NHC]
Excerpts From Seaborg’s Journal
15 September 1960
I signed a note to Pete Newell nominating Nello Pace and Raymond Sontag as the faculty guests for the Cal-Army football game. A note from [Vice Chancellor] Adrian Kragen informs me that football player Roland Lasher has been declared eligible to play. Pete Newell has informed UCLA and USC that we are not willing to play in the L.A. Invitational Basketball tourney unless our Straw Hat Band is allowed to enter the pavilion and play as usual. We are willing to pay admission for them, but Pete believes that we should not participate on other terms. He intends to stand on this unless I disagree; I support his stand.
28 September 1960
Before leaving for the day, I went through a few more items on my desk. A very long letter from Pete Newell offers considerable detail about the problems he is having trying to resolve the conflict with UCLA over their refusal of the Straw Hat Band to play at the basketball tournament. Newell expresses his support for the band, as follows:
“I believe a very important point must be considered on this matter, and that is simply student support of the our athletic program. Our band, in particular, as well as our general student body, while vociferous and unruly at times, particularly the student body, have been very active and strong in support of our program during my years here at the University. I feel we should not only recognize this support but we should treasure it. At any athletic contests where the University of California is a participant the right of the students and spirit groups that are supporting the team should first be recognized. There is an implied right of any band or cheering section to support its team in any contest, and this is the ground I stand upon. We certainly can’t discourage student support. I feel that maybe one reason we have it is because we have always encouraged it, and I should like to continue to so.”
In an accompanying note Adrian Kragen supports Newell’s stand that we should not play in the tournament unless our band plays in the stands. He reports that Wilbur Johns simply refused to discuss this matter with Newell when they met at the AAWU and NCAA presidents meeting last week, an attitude which Kragen identifies as insufferable and typical of Johns. They both question whether I want to bring this up for discussion with Chancellor Murphy [UCLA]; I made a note that I would prefer to have our Faculty Athletic Representative Robley Williams discuss it with UCLA’s Faculty Representative Brad Booth rather than to bring it up directly to the Chancellorship level.
10 October 60
While at the [Rad] Lab I tried placing a call to UCLA Chancellor Franklin Murphy to talk to him about the issue of the Straw Hat Band’s exclusion from the basketball tournament. However, I learned that Murphy is in Kansas City due to a recent death in the family and I don’t want disturb him there over this. I wrote a note to Kragen, who had passed along a message from Pete Newell asking me to call Murphy, explaining this and promising that I will talk with Murphy about it if, by some chance, he attends the Regents meeting.
11 October 1960
Adrian Kragen left me a note asking what we should do about the Straw Hat Band-UCLA tournament conflict since Pete Newell has been unsuccessful in talking with Wilbur Johns and I will not have an opportunity to discuss it with Franklin Murphy. I said that my inclination is to go ahead and participate in the tournament this year and withdraw next year if we can’t get agreement for participation of our band.
4 November 1960
At 2:30 p.m. I attended the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Intercollegiate Athletic Advisory Council [IAAC] in University Hall. Present were members [UCLA Chancellor] Franklin Murphy, [Vice Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry at UCLA] Bill Young and [Faculty Athletic Representative and Professor of English at UCLA] Brad Booth from UCLA, [Faculty Athletic Representative and Professor of Biochemistry at Berkeley] Robley Williams, and [University General Counsel and Vice President] Thomas Cunningham, and guests Pete Newell [Director of Athletics and former Head Basketball Coach at Berkeley], [Director of Athletics at UCLA] Wilbur Johns, and [Associate General Counsel of the University] John Sparrow, [Vice Chancellor at Berkeley] Adrian Kragen substituted for me at the end of meeting (when I had to leave for the alumni leader meeting at University House).
A disproportionate amount of time was devoted to a debate about the appropriateness of our Straw Hat Band accompanying the basketball team to UCLA. Murphy, Booth, and Johns were unwilling to make any sort of compromise.
I now quote from the minutes of that meeting: Supplied to me by Ray Colvig, former Public Information officer at Berkeley and Seaborg’s coauthor of Chancellor at Berkeley (U.C. Institute of Governmental Studies. 1994).
(After other business...) Newell then stated to the Committee that a difference of opinion had arisen between him and Johns as to the presence of the Berkeley Straw Hat Band at the Christmas Invitational Tournament in Los Angeles, jointly sponsored by UCLA and USC. Newell stated that the Straw Hat Band was an integral part of the basketball team effort, and he regretted any action which limited student participation in the athletic program and student spirit. Chancellor Seaborg and Faculty Athletic Representative Williams each pointed out the danger of cutting down student participation in the athletic program as indicating that all we are working for is entertainment of the public instead of seeking to have athletics an integral part of student life. Newell further pointed out that, absent an express prohibition, no tournament of which he was aware in the United States has ever denied a participating team the right to bring its own band if it so desired. Newell stated that the question came to a head last year when the Straw Hat Band, although permitted to witness the game, were forced to leave their band instruments outside. Athletic Director Johns in reply stated that of the eight teams appearing in the Tournament this year Berkeley was the only one which had requested the inclusion of its band, and that four of the eight, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan State, being from out of state, could not as a practical matter bring their own bands even it they so desired. (The other teams participating are Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, and USC.) Athletic Representative Booth pointed out that it would be unfair to the out-of-state teams, which are already under handicap playing on a foreign court, to have the added drawback of playing before a partisan band. Chairman Cunningham suggested as a compromise that Berkeley be permitted to have its Straw Hat Band play if its opponent were one of the four local teams. Chancellor Murphy then indicated that such a proposed compromise in his opinion would lead to more student frustration, and in his opinion it should be an all or nothing or nothing-at-all situation, and it should be kept in mind that since UCLA was a joint sponsor with USC, the latter would also have a voice in the matter. Booth indicated that Hill of USC felt as strongly as Johns on the matter of banning partisan bands, and Murphy indicated that Topping [President of USC] felt the same way. Murphy stated further that he regarded the matter as essentially a UCLA problem, and that the question was not one within the jurisdiction either of the IAAC or of the President [of the University of California, the convener of the IAAC]. Williams invited the attention of the Committee to Paragraph II of the NCAA Recommended Policies and Practices for Intercollegiate Athletics, which among other things suggests that where an athletic event is not staged on campus grounds in campus buildings, steps should be taken to create as much collegiate atmosphere as possible by having rooting sections, cheerleaders, and bands. Murphy further pointed out that since the Tournament takes place within the Christmas holidays, it really was not one for students but essentially was one for public relations purposes and for the alumni. After further discussion, the matter was left on the basis that a decision will be made by the appropriate officers concerned.
Cheatham: Ending his letter transmitting these minutes to me, Colvig says:
Seaborg left Berkeley only 2 1/2 months later to become Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and the issue about the Band does not appear again in his records. Did the band play at the tournament in December of 1960? And what happened the following year -- was the L.A. tournament held again?? [Cheatham was not on the scene then and hasn’t yet determined this.]
Cheatham: This whole event is consistent with the relationships, at our level (in the Band), with our counterparts down south. They were (and still are to some extent) just difficult people to get along with. From our perspective, we felt as if we have been purposely discriminated against over the years. Almost any time the Band goes south, whichever school is involved finds some way to display their lack of hospitality toward our band. We think it is a deliberate attempt to limit the influence of the Band on the outcome of the game.
I’m just wondering Dr. Seaborg, if you might have any similar insights from the lofty view of being a Chancellor?
Seaborg: Well I think I found Wilbur Johns as somewhat difficult to get along with. I would perhaps characterize him as irascible. Similarly, I had problems dating clear back to my days as Faculty Athletic Representative with Jess Hill. Just before I became the Faculty Athletic Representative - in the 1951 football game between Berkeley and USC, played in the Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, there was the famous Canamella incident, where Canamella tackled John Olszewski. Berkeley was ahead at the time and Canamella tackled Olszewski and then raised his legs above his head and twisted his knee and put him out of the game and then USC went on and won. As a matter of fact, Olszewski wasn’t able to play the following week when we played UCLA and we lost that game too. We were, I would say, knocked out of the Rose Bowl for the 195l team. [Aaargh! Not again? NHC]
One of my first acts as the Faculty Athletic Representative, the following year, was to bring up this incident and I succeeded in getting a majority vote from the conference, exacting a apology from the President of USC for that action.
Cheatham: Once again, our lines have crossed, because I was there on the sidelines in front of the Band, at that same game. It happened on the south 45 yard line, or thereabouts - as I recollect - very close to where I was. I remember the boos and the bad feelings that were generated. The relationships between the two schools really plummeted after that.
Johnny Olszewski was, in fact, a superstar and an All- American. I would say, it was a blatant effort on behalf of USC to put him out of the game.
Is there any other anecdote you would like to share with us with regards to the athletics during this era?
Seaborg: Well, during my period as Chancellor, we were sensationally successful in athletics, a degree of success that wasn’t equaled before or after that time. We had a football team that went to the Rose Bowl - the 1958 team played January l, 1959, the last Berkeley team to go to the Rose Bowl. [We lost to Iowa. It was my last performance with Cal Band. We met them again in the first-ever Alamo Bowl in December 1993 and beat them soundly. In both of these bowl games the Band competed successfully against the Big-10, Iowa Band. See other oral histories for the story of the 1959 Rose Bowl and Mike Flier’s oral history about the time (1960?) we played in Iowa’s home stadium. NHC] We won the NCAA championship in basketball in 1959 [See Larry Anderson’s oral history. NHC] and reached the finals-- defeated by Ohio State in 1960, won the national crew championship, had a rugby team that was undefeated during the whole period, won two league championships in water polo, won a league championship in Baseball and so forth. There may have been others but this is what I recall.
Cheatham: There’s at least one other significant event you participated in. Tell us about the break-up of the old Pacific Coast Conference, the conference that prevailed at the time of all of this athletic prowess you mentioned?
Seaborg: While I was the Faculty Athletic Representative at the University of California at Berkeley and hence representing the Berkeley Campus at the meetings of the Pacific Coast Conference which were held twice a year, in the spring and in the late fall, we had the spectacle of the scandals, of cheating and so forth, of illegal aid to athletes, particularly football players, at a number of the schools that led to the players being declared ineligible and schools placed on probation. The chief offenders were my alma mater, UCLA, which made it rather embarrassing for me, and USC [...programs presided over by the same Messrs. Johns and Hill that we just spoke about. NHC] and the University of Washington. At meetings held in the middle 1950’s, these sanctions, these actions, were taken against these three schools, declaring the players ineligible and so forth. Towards the end of this period, some minor infractions were also found to occur at Berkeley, condoned by Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf. These were chiefly the providing of funds to pay the incidental fees which was against the rules of course. It was legal from the standpoint of the Pacific Coast Conference for the schools to pay these fees for athletes if they chose to do so, but Berkeley had never adopted this rule for itself, so it was technically a violation of the rules ... so Berkeley also suffered penalties, but minor compared to the other schools. The result of all of this was more than the Pacific Coast Conference could stand and there was a breakup of the conference.
Part of the reason was that the University of Oregon had a very inflexible Faculty Athletic Representative, Orlando Harris, and he kept insisting on these sanctions and the obeying of the rules to the letter of the law, to the point where it introduced such a strain on the conference that it finally broke up. The first schools to withdraw were UCLA, USC, Berkeley and the University of Washington. Stanford was reluctant to go along. They had a more or less holier-than-thou attitude toward the whole thing.
As this breakup was taking place, I was cast in the role of leader in putting together the new conference, which was called the Athletic Association of Western Universities and we had our final meetings in putting together this conference in the Spring of 1958 and we drew up the articles of incorporation, the by-laws and so forth with the date for the new conference to go into effect at the start of the summer of 1959.
The original members of this conference, after we finally convinced Stanford to join us, for California schools, were UCLA, USC, Berkeley and Stanford, and the University of Washington. There were five schools at the beginning and then pretty soon Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State joined so it became the “Pac 8”. It continued as the Pac-8 for many years until Arizona and Arizona State joined and it became the Pac- 10, But, I was cast in the role of being the leader in putting together this new conference which had the technical name The Athletic Association of Western Universities.
Cheatham: For the record, when Dr. Seaborg referred to the Incidental Fee, that’s the equivalent of what we know today as the Registration Fee, which I think was probably about $62 in those days, or something like that. It was a very small amount compared to what it is today.
Well I think we’ve run out of suitable questions and as a final sign off here, perhaps you could give us a brief resume of your career subsequent to being Chancellor at the Berkeley campus.
Seaborg: In January of 1961, I received a call from John F. Kennedy, President-elect, asking me to come to Washington to serve as Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. I accepted this and our family moved to Washington and I served as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission successively under John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and 2 l/2 years into the term of Richard Nixon. Then I returned to the University of California to the Department of Chemistry and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and of course in the years since then, I also served on the National Commission on Excellence in Education under President Ronald Reagan. This commission came out with the famous report, A Nation At Risk and I have advised George Bush on a number of occasions, including a trip to Washington in April of 1989 to advise him on the process of “cold fusion”. I told him to be very skeptical about this. [This refers to a report out of the University of Utah about creating energy through fusion of atoms at room temperature. It caused quite a stir in the scientific establishment. The reports proved to be bogus. NHC]
In the course of my career, to recapitulate, I have served as a national advisor to the last ten presidents of the United States, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt, when I worked on the atomic bomb, indirectly under his supervision, Harry S. Truman, who I served on the first General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission, under Dwight D. Eisenhower, where I served on the first President’s Science Advisory Committee. I have already mentioned my service under John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon, as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. I was a friend of Gerald Ford when he was a member of Congress and knew him, in fact, introduced him for a speech as I recall when he was Vice President. I have known Jimmy Carter over the years and advised him on a number of occasions and as I’ve indicated, served Ronald Reagan as a member of his National Commission on Excellence in Education and served George Bush in a number of capacities so that means I’ve known -- and usually on a first-name basis - the last l0 Presidents of the United States.
You said that you recall the sirens coming by the Freshmen Chemistry Laboratory in 1954. This was at the time that we were working on the discovery of the element with the atomic number 101. We announced the discovery the following spring, the spring of 1955. We named it mendelevium, after the famous Soviet ... Russian, I should say ... chemist, the originator of the Periodic Table of the Elements, Dmitri Mendeleev. This was only a few years after we had discovered and named the elements with the atomic numbers 97 and 98, berkelium and californium, in honor of the city and state where we did so much of this work on the discovery of the new elements.
Cheatham: This has been a very wonderful hour, as a matter of fact, hour and a half of your valuable time which I really appreciate. You’ve been a very gracious host; you’ve shared with me some xeroxes of your personal papers - this sort of stuff. I want you to know that I think this has been a valuable contribution to the project on the history of the Cal Band.
I do have, however, if you don’t mind, a personal request. If you should ever have the opportunity to discover or to invent another chemical element, I think it would be neat if you were to call it Cal Bandium!!
And finally, one bit of Cal lore that I really love, is that SEABORG is an anagram for GO BEARS!
[March 1994: Dr. Seaborg’s coworkers have in fact, had another opportunity to name a new element. Number 106, which they named seaborgium (symbol Sg).]