Author: Damian Mendieta|Damian Mendieta
The Glenn S. Dumke Commons, built as an extension of the recently renovated John Swan Hall, opened its doors to faculty and students in time for the current academic year.
Dumke, after attending and teaching at Occidental, served as the Chancellor of the California State University system during two decades of unprecedented growth and expansion. Prior to his Chancellorship, Dumke attended Occidental as a member of the class of 1943 before going on to teach history and then serve as a Dean of the Faculty at his alma mater.
Dumke continued to champion the liberal arts after he left the college in 1957 to become President of San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University). Along with Occidental President Arthur G. Coons, Dumke collaborated with a team of educators to draft the Master Plan for Higher Education in California. As a President and then Chancellor of the Cal State System, Dumke sought to make higher education available to a greater pool of students.
“I think there is a group which has been short-changed by American education in general – the gifted, with potentialities that deserve special consideration by any faculty,” Dumke said to the San Francisco State College faculty during their first formal meeting in 1957.
Dumke served as Dean of the Faculty from 1950 until 1957 at Occidental. Prior to becoming a Dean of Faculty, Dumke was also a distinguished professor of history, earning the Norman Bridge endowed Professorship of Hispanic-American History in 1951.
Dumke moved his way up from his instructor post at Occidental until he attained full tenure in 1950 when he was 33 years old. A prodigious student since advancing through five elementary grades in three years, Dumke won a scholarship to Occidental when he was 16 and graduated with Phi Kappa Beta honors, according to a biographic article published by the San Francisco State student newspaper.
Before Dumke obtained tenure, he taught a student who would go on to work with him at Occidental. Professor Emeritus of American History Andrew F. Rolle attended the College at the urging of Dumke. Currently a research fellow for the Huntington Library, Rolle published a remembrance passage when Dumke passed away in 1989. Superb writing ability and a laudable reputation as a historian were among several of Dumke’s lesser-known accomplishments and qualities, Professor Rolle wrote in his passage.
“Dumke’s shift into administration represented a real loss to the historical profession,” Rolle said in his writing “Glenn Schroeder Dumke 1917-1989 A Remembrance”. “He had more writing talent in his little finger than most historians possessed in both hands.”
Dumke’s publications focused on the growth of Southern California, especially in the Los Angeles area. Among his celebrated works “The Boom of the Eighties in Southern California” remains in print to this day, a distinction of which Rolle made note.
“That book [‘The Boom of the Eighties in Southern California’], which the Huntington Library has kept in print, became the prototype for all subsequent histories of the complex Los Angeles region,” Rolle wrote in praise of Dumke’s writings in his Remembrance of Dumke.
In his later life, Dumke retired from the Chancellorship in 1982 but continued to serve as a member of the governing boards of Pepperdine University, the University of Redlands and the California Chamber of Commerce. Dumke died of a heart attack in 1989, at his Encino home near Los Angeles. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, of 44 years.
Thanks in part to a financial gift by Dumke’s widow, the College was able to incorporate expansion plans into the renovation of Swan Hall, according to Tranquada. The Dumke Commons fulfill the role of faculty lounge, event venue and flexible lecture room. While Occidental maintains several outdoor locations, such as the Academic Quad and Sycamore Glen for student and staff events, Tranquada said the College lacks indoor places.
“Having been here for 12 years, you could say there’s a shortage of those indoor spaces,” Tranquada said. “It’s got access to the terrace so you can have a nice flow, indoor and outdoor, which is what was done for the start of the year barbecue for faculty and staff.”
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