Eugene C. Lee
Eugene C. Lee
Professor Eugene C. Lee, whose multifaceted career as a public servant included roles as a distinguished scholar of California government, a leading administrator of the University of California, and the longtime director of UC-Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies, died Wednesday, April 27, peacefully at home in Sonoma with his family. He was 86.
Lee served as director of IGS from 1967 until 1988, a period during which the Institute solidified its existing reputation for nonpartisan research, helped launch a variety of major new programs and experienced a sixfold increase in program funding. He also twice served in the UC Office of the President, including service as vice president-executive assistant.
Lee's scholarly output included extensive writing on state, regional and local governments and on the administration of higher education. His books, either authored or co-authored, included "The Politics of Nonpartisanship," "The Challenge of California," "The Multicampus University, Managing Multicampus Systems" and "The Origins of the Chancellorship."
In 1999, in recognition of his long and varied service to the University, Lee was awarded the Berkeley Citation, the highest honor the campus can bestow.
"As a scholar, administrator and friend, Gene Lee was a valued member of the IGS community for more than half a century," said the Institute's current director, Jack Citrin. "His contributions in building the Institute continue to benefit all those who are involved in IGS programs - faculty members, visiting scholars, students, and members of the general public. All of us benefit daily from Gene's wonderful legacy at IGS."
Lee's involvement at IGS and Cal continued long after his retirement. He remained a frequent presence at IGS events as recently as this January, when he attended the Institute's conference on the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
"Gene kindled in me a deep interest in how state government operates in California," said Michael Heyman, who was chancellor of the Berkeley campus during much of Lee's tenure at IGS. "He knew the institutions and the players in Sacramento and shared his knowledge freely. He sparked my intellectual interests in the mechanisms of state and local government, and I learned a lot about how the system worked and who were the important participants. All of this helped me immensely when I became Chancellor. But most importantly, Gene was a splendid person whom I enjoyed being with, and I shall miss him."
Lee was born in Berkeley on Sept. 19, 1924. He graduated from UCLA in 1946 and became an assistant to the city manager in San Leandro. Five years later, he called on IGS Founding Director Samuel May to ask if he should remain in local government or enroll in the inaugural class of the newly created UCLA School of Law. May told him to do neither, suggesting instead that Lee enroll in the doctoral program in political science at Cal and work at the Institute while he was in graduate school. Lee later earned his doctorate in political science at Cal and joined the University's faculty in 1955.
Beginning in 1958, he advised University President Clark Kerr on budgetary matters, and later, after a brief return to full-time teaching and scholarship, was named vice president-executive assistant of the University. In that role, he helped plan the reorganization and decentralization of the University, showing "great initiative and much wisdom," in Kerr's words.
In 1967, Lee was appointed director of IGS, the state's oldest public policy research center. Lee later recalled that during his time as director, IGS continued its service to the state's policymaking community by sponsoring conferences on statewide issues, a forerunner to the California Policy Seminar. IGS also shepherded the creation of a statewide data center and organized briefings for newly-elected members of the state's Congressional delegation, a project that resulted in Lee's appointment as a bipartisan consultant to the delegation.
At the same time, Lee oversaw a continuation of the traditional IGS interest in local and regional government, publishing research on the governance of metropolitan regions around the world and policy issues facing the Bay Area. One of those reports played a critical role in the creation of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission.
During Lee's tenure, IGS initiated a series of seminars on California art and culture, automated the catalogue records of the IGS Library, developed two public television programs on important public issues and published major research projects on issues such as, the ethics of intensive care for newborns, the impact of Proposition 13 and rural growth patterns and economic development.
All of this activity resulted in robust financial growth for the Institute. Annual funding of IGS programs increased under Lee's leadership from $267,000 to $1.8 million. Lee also played an instrumental role in acquiring a $2.7 million bequest from the late Professor Joseph Harris, inventor of the Harris Votomatic voting machine. The resulting Harris Endowment continues to play a critical role in supporting IGS programs to this day.
Lee was also the first chairman of the Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy ("The Little Hoover Commission") and served as a director of the Trust for Public Land and the Cal-Tax Foundation. Other teaching and administrative posts were at University College, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and at the University of Puerto Rico. In 1984-85, Lee was an academic visitor at the London School of Economics and Political Science and at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in London.
On the 75th anniversary of the founding of IGS, Lee was asked to write about his long experiences with the Institute. "Seventy-five years and still going strong!" he wrote of the organization he had led. "It is wonderful to have contributed to and to continue to be a part of this exciting enterprise."
Lee is survived by his wife, Joanne Hurley; son, Douglas Edwin Lee; daughter, Nancy Gale Lee; daughter-in-law, Susan Gahry; son-in-law, Anoush Zebarjadian; and grandchildren, Alexandra Lee and Morgan Lee.
A celebration of Lee's life is planned for Thursday, May 12. Details will be forthcoming.
The family suggests that donations in Lee's memory be made to the Institute of Governmental Studies, 109 Moses Hall #2370, University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-2370; or The Trust for Public Land, 101 Montgomery St., Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94104.