After almost 30 years as perhaps the most well-regarded chancellor in UCLA’s history, Chuck Young, 81, deserved a relaxing retirement. Instead, when he and his wife, Judy, moved to Sonoma, he quickly volunteered to be on the board of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, and today he is helping to work his magic on Sonoma’s schools.
“Chuck has a unique understanding of what our students need to be well-prepared for college, and he is helping us strengthen that ramp for Sonoma students,” said Laura Zimmerman, the Education Foundation’s executive director.
Young reigned over what is widely regarded as UCLA’s golden years. He set the goal of moving UCLA “from the second level of good universities to the first rank of excellent universities,” as he put it. By the time he retired in 1997, he had achieved that goal and he was the longest serving university head in history.
Young grew up in Southern California and attended San Bernardino High School. He served in the Air Force in the Korean War, then spent his undergraduate years first at San Bernardino Community College and then on the brand-new campus of UC Riverside, where he was that school’s first student body president.He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from UCLA. He was a faculty member at UC Davis and UCLA, during which time he helped create the California Master Plan for Higher Education.
Appointed chancellor of UCLA in 1968, Young was the youngest chief executive of any major American university. He held the post during a period of considerable tumult, including the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. Under his now legendary tutelage, UCLA became one of the largest employers in Southern California and the university now educates more students than any other California college, public or private.