Chapter 5: Golledge Takes the Reins

Dr. Golledge thumbnail

In 1980, Simonett made his last hire: Richard Church, a young Assistant Professor, to bolster human geography. Simonett then stepped down as Chair. With fewer duties, he was prevailed upon to take over the role of Dean of Graduate Studies at UCSB in 1981, although he still remained active in the Department. Golledge became the second Chair. The four years of Golledge’s leadership were a time of consolidation and growth.368

Filling the planned anchor position in oceanography, Golledge hired Ray Smith in 1981 as a full Professor. Smith was Associate Director of the Visibility Laboratory of Scripps Institute (San Diego), doing research on how we see things in a physical and physiological sense. He had done some early work in remote sensing of oceans and, thereby, met Jack Estes. Estes asked Smith to apply for the position at UCSB. Smith, along with Dozier, pushed the Department into digital remote sensing. Although Professor Emeritus since 1994, Smith is still involved in ocean optics research through ICESS, the Institute for Computational Earth System Science, which has strong ties with the Geography Department.6813

In 1982, Joel Michaelsen, Helen Couclelis, and Barbara Buttenfield came aboard as Assistant Professors. Michaelsen and Couclelis are both full Professors in the Department now. Buttenfield left in 1984, although she is active in a UCSB Geographer-run research organization. In 1983, Frank Davis was hired. He transferred to the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management in 2000, but is still affiliated with the Department. Few people leave who come here.44

Idle Conversation Can Be Beneficial

In the early 1980s, the Department received zero overhead dollars generated by Estes’ research contracts and grants. One day, while Golledge was Chair, he called in sick and asked Meryl Wieder, the most senior staff member, to go in his place to a meeting with Roger Horton. Horton was Head of the Budget and Planning Office. She arrived not knowing what the meeting was about. Chatting conversationally with Horton, Wieder learned he was a fraternity brother of her ex-husband. The conversation wandered around, and then she mentioned that Geography faculty were upset that no overhead dollars were coming back to the Department from their research, which was either second or third in volume on campus at the time for a single organization. Roger handed Wieder a list of where the overhead dollars were allocated. The list was labelled “University Opportunity Funds.” Golledge had sat on a committee for years whose charge it was to allocate Opportunity Funds. He had not known that they were really Overhead Funds.16

Horton told Wieder to go downstairs to the Office of Research to ask for a listing of the dollar value of contracts and grants generated by each department and research unit. She went and told them that Horton had told her to ask them for the information. She did not know that it was “secret.” She surmised they gave the data to her because she said that Horton had sent her. The documents revealed that the Geography Department was totally being shortchanged, while other departments and units generating much less research money were being rewarded with a lot of staff positions on overhead money.16

Golledge took a look at the papers, blew his stack, and scheduled an appointment with Provost Sprecher, which rippled up to the Vice Chancellor. Campus auditors came to the Department, audited the upstairs for two to three weeks and then spent six months downstairs in the Remote Sensing Research Unit. They recommended that1 The administration of Estes’ contracts and grants should not be paid for out of his grants – it was illegal because it charged the grant twice for the same service that overhead money was supposed to pay for. (But, of course, up until now, no overhead money was coming back to the department.) They said that[2] Administrative support should be paid for by the University – meaning University-funded staff positions should be created.16

Vice Chancellor Robert Michaelsen authorized the creation of 2.5 FTE to manage contracts and grants within the department, for the whole department, not just Estes. Wieder had been managing several non-Estes grants (Simonett, Tobler, Golledge). She was assigned the tasks of recruiting, training, and supervising the brand new Research Office staff. Mary Magnani (now McGlen) headed the operation. Wieder had already created the first spreadsheet on campus that calculated the salaries and benefits of employments and projected benefits in proposals on campus.[a] Magnani and her successor Suzanne Weiss improved upon it. This gave Geography an edge in processing contracts and grants and, thus, drew in more business.16

Social Life

One of the more important things that went on in those early years was not academic. It was the Friday afternoon dart competitions at the English Department, a local bar. Faculty and students from Geography, Geology, and other departments, would gather to socialize and play darts. They did this until the English Department closed in the mid-1980s. This built a lot of camaraderie.36[11]

The dart games were resurrected for a spell when Golledge was on the Board of Directors of the Faculty Club, a facility on campus ostensibly for member faculty and staff, but in effect serving the restaurant and social needs of the entire campus. They set up a bar and the dart board, and geographers and a few from other departments would gather. This lasted about five years until Golledge’s term was over on the Board.6

According to Robert Crippen, a 1989 PhD graduate, Golledge was a very skillful darts player. Even after losing his sight, he won a game at the Faculty Club. Here’s Crippen’s sportscast of the game: “The next bullseye for either team would win the game. Reg threw darts by feeling the edge of a table that was aligned with the target. We would tell him where the dart went and he would adjust. His three darts: the first dart missed by 1/2 inch to the lower left. ‘Oh!’ said the crowd. His second dart missed by 1/2 inch to the upper right. ‘Oh!!!’ they said again, ‘Split the difference, Reg!’ His third dart: dead center. Game over. I saw it with my own eyes. Amazing.”[48]

Holiday party thumbnail BBQ thumbnail

There have been other social events. Through the years, Estes, Ray Smith, and Golledge frequently offered parties. When Michaelsen was Chair (1992-1997), the Department began holding a beach barbecue at the beginning and the end of the school year. After Keith Clarke was hired (1996), he and his wife began hosting a holiday party. The September and June barbecues and the December gathering are still going on today. Faculty, staff, and students come. Attendance runs between 100 and 200. It is more challenging today, though, to build community through social events, since the Department has grown so large.68[40]


  1. “projected benefits in proposals on campus”: Wieder explains, “[Benefits in proposals] are the most difficult calculation to make because they are not a flat percentage of a person’s salary. They can vary considerably. They are ultimately calculated at the level of the Office of the President in Oakland. Even the personnel in [UCSB] Accounting are reluctant to make the calculation, so we have to make a projection [a guess based on previous payments].”

Chapter 6: Next Up to Bat: Richard Church »