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Obituary
Martin Trow

14 March 2007

Martin Trow, professor emeritus of public policy and an internationally recognized leader in higher-education studies, died Feb. 24, seven months after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

Trow is credited with being the first scholar to describe the transition in higher education from elite to mass to universal student access - in a 1973 paper for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a coalition of 30 countries that aims to address the challenges and opportunities of globalization.

"It was controversial at the time, but the change in higher education over the years has largely happened the way Marty described it," said Burton Clark, a professor emeritus of higher education at UCLA who shared an office with Trow when they were both young professors at Berkeley. "Countries still use that paper today to see where they are on the trend line."

Clark worked closely with Trow on a number of projects, including some of this country's earliest typologies of student and faculty cultures.

Trow began his career at Berkeley as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology in 1957, the same year that the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE), the first academic research institute in the United States to focus on higher education policy issues, was established on campus. He joined the center in 1958, taking a scholarly approach to such topics as faculty recruitment, undergraduate peer influence, and gender and ethnic diversity in academia.

As director of CSHE from 1977 to 1988, Trow was credited with increasing the interdisciplinary nature of the center and encouraging more studies and seminars on graduate education, undergraduate curriculum, and new modes of instruction.

Trow was born in New York City in 1926 and grew up in Brooklyn. Following military service, he earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey in 1947 and a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University in 1956.

Trow taught and did research at Bennington College in Vermont from 1953 until he joined the Berkeley faculty in 1957. He was promoted to associate professor in 1962 and to full professor in 1968. In 1969 he moved to the Graduate (now the Goldman) School of Public Policy.

Although Trow is most recognized for his research in comparative higher education, he also published influential research on populist movements. In Union Democracy, a book he co-authored in 1956 with Seymour Lipset and James Coleman, Trow explained the lively internal political life of a printers' union.

"Similarly, he wrote one of the earliest and best articles on the social basis of Joseph McCarthy's right-wing populist movement," said Harold Wilensky, a Berkeley professor emeritus of political science and a colleague and friend of Trow's for 50 years. In that 1958 paper, "Small Business, Tolerance and Support for McCarthy," Trow found that "prominent among the supporters of this demagogue were self-employed entrepreneurs," said Wilensky. McCarthyism was attractive because the unstable, unpredictable life of small-business owners fosters a tendency in them to find scapegoats for problems, according to the paper. Since then, many similar protest politicians have found core support from small- business owners, Wilensky added.

At Berkeley, Trow held many offices with the Academic Senate, including a term as chair of its Berkeley Division from 1980 to 1982. He chaired the Academic Council of UC's systemwide Academic Senate from 1991 to 1992. In 1997 he was awarded the Berkeley Citation the campus's highest award.

Upon his retirement in 1993, Trow, the author of more than 150 articles and 11 books, became an emeritus professor at the Graduate School for Public Policy.

Trow is survived by his wife, Katherine Bernhardi Trow of Kensington; sons Paul Trow of Natick, Mass., and Peter Trow of Santa Barbara.; daughter Sarah Eydam of Antioch; and a grandson, Daniel Trow of Franklin, Tenn.

Plans for a campus memorial are pending.

- Sarah Yang