Two older gentleman stand at a podium.Caption: L. Donald Shields, Cal State Fullerton’s second university president, responds to Senate Chair Jack Bedell’s reading of a resolution of commendation during the May 3 Academic Senate meeting. Photo: Greg Andersen Download Photo

Once and Always a Titan

University’s Second President Returns to Campus

Cal State Fullerton’s Academic Senate welcomed back L. Donald Shields, the university’s second president, to campus May 3, presenting Shields with a resolution commending the former president for his achievements on behalf of higher education.

Jack Bedell, senate chair, called Shields a “special friend” as he introduced him to the senate, whose members greeted him with a standing ovation. Bedell noted that when Shields was appointed president of CSUF, he was the youngest university/college chief executive in the country. He was 34 years old at the time and served the campus for 10 years before becoming president of Southern Methodist University.

“I have had a passion for this university for a long time,” said Shields, after the presentation was made and he was given the “Senate key chain.” Shields discussed the practice of collegial governance on campus, noting “the role of the senate and that of the faculty senators, like Jack, make a difference in the quality of this institution.”

Shields also discussed the ongoing budget concerns and the effect on the quality of the education that the California State University and University of California will be able to provide to students. “I believe we’re in need of a bully-pulpit action by students, faculty, the institution and most importantly, the citizens of this state,” Shields said.

“I wish you all well,” he concluded, adding that he would be happy to return to campus and talk further with the senate. During his campus visit, Shields was interviewed for an article for an upcoming issue of the Senate Forum.

The text of the resolution presented to Shields:

Whereas Don Shields joined the CSUF faculty in 1963 and quickly established himself as an extraordinary teacher and scholar; and

Whereas Don received the California State Legislature Distinguished Teaching Award; and

Whereas Don was Professor of Chemistry and President of CSUF from 1970-1980, and at the time of his appointment as President of CSUF, he was the youngest university/college chief executive in the country, but exercised uncharacteristically poor judgment when he left to become President of Southern Methodist University; and

Whereas President Gerald Ford, a great Republican, had the good sense to appoint Don to a 6-year term to the National Science Board, which oversees the National Science Foundation, and where he was the first representative of a non-Ph.D. granting institution in its 20-year history; and

Whereas the American Institute of Chemists, Western Chapter, honored Don by placing him on their Honor Scroll for his leadership in science and higher education; and

Whereas Don served as the First Executive Director of the California Council on Science and Technology and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, where he founded The Beckman Scholars Program; and

Whereas under Don’s leadership and on “his watch” as CSUF President, for the first time in CSU history, and with great risk to his employment as our President, and to the deep consternation of then-Chancellor Dumke, state funding was provided for new and needed physical facilities which were NOT originally in the Governor’s budget, i.e., the Visual Arts Building addition and what we now call the Education-Classroom Building; and

Whereas on Don’s “watch,” Heritage House was located on campus, the Center for Internships and Cooperative Education was established, the Medical Professions Advising Program began, the President Associates support group started, the Pacific Chamber Orchestra, which later became the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, was established, the Fullerton Arboretum opened, the President’s Scholars Program was initiated, the faculty went from 489 to 617 and student enrollment went from 9,000 to 22,000; and the Performing Artists in Residence program and the Visiting Scholars in Residence Program were initiated; and our men's basketball team became “Fullerton Who” when it reached the Final 16; and

Whereas Don served as Chair of our then Faculty Council, which is now our Academic Senate, and from this Chair he was plucked by President Langsdorf to be a key administrative leader at CSUF; and

Whereas through Don’s leadership, the FIRST joint-venture project between ANY CSU and a municipal government was approved and this resulted in what we and our region know as the Fullerton Arboretum; now be it

Resolved that the Academic Senate thank one of our own for all of his work in helping in innumerable ways to make CSUF what it is today and will be tomorrow and for his unswerving support for collegial governance and civility, and be it further

Resolved that the Academic Senate respectfully requests that President Hagan confer upon our colleague, L. Don Shields, the title of President Emeritus with all rights and responsibilities attached thereto; and be it further

Resolved that the Academic Senate wishes Don continued good health and welcomes his participation in things CSUF!

John (Jack) W. Bedell, Chair, the Academic Senate.

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