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Lyman Glenny, UC Berkeley professor emeritus and higher education authority, dies at 83
17 September 2001

By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations

Berkeley - Lyman Glenny, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, who was an authority and influence on higher education, died Sept. 6 at his home in Walnut Creek, Calif., after a brief battle with bone cancer. He was 83.

Glenny authored the first major study of the efforts of state governments to coordinate the public colleges and universities that grew rapidly in the wake of World War II. Under his direction, UC Berkeley's Center for the Study of Higher Education was the nation's leading university-based research center on higher education.

He taught, published and consulted widely about higher education topics including coordination and planning, budgeting, management, programming, maintaining quality and accountability, and student financial aid.

"The biggest challenge facing American higher education during the apex of Lyman Glenny's career was the need to grow fast enough to meet the educational needs of the baby boom," said Paul E. Lingenfelter, executive director of the State Higher Education Executive Officers in Denver, Colo. "He understood, far earlier than most, that quality higher education systems would become essential for individual opportunity and economic prosperity." he said.

A native of Trent, S.D., Glenny developed an indomitable spirit despite a childhood spent in poverty and constantly on the move, said stepdaughter Jean Thompson. He joined the Signal Corps in World War II and saw duty in France. During the Korean War, Glenny was assigned to the Pentagon.

In 1942, he married Joy Ballou; they divorced in 1977. He married Helen Thompson in 1978. She died of cancer in 1986, and he remained a widower.

Glenny earned bachelor's degrees in political science and English in 1947 from the University of Minnesota at Duluth, a master's degree in political science from the University of Colorado in 1948 and Ph.D. in political science from State University of Iowa in 1950.

He launched his teaching career in 1948 at the University in Iowa, where he worked as a political science instructor, then moved to what is now California State University, Sacramento, as an assistant professor of government. He was on the faculty there from 1950 to 1962, but took on numerous consulting posts during leaves from teaching during that period.

In 1960, he also headed the Nebraska Study of Administration of Higher Education for the state's legislative council, and from 1962 to 1968 Glenny served as associate, then executive director, of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Glenny joined UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education in 1968 as a professor of higher education. In 1983, he became an emeritus professor, but actively consulted on many higher education issues.

He prepared reports and plans on higher education policy for a multitude of clients including the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, International Council on Educational Development, Education Commission of the States, California Postsecondary Education Commission, National Education Association, Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education, U.S. Office of Education, American Council on Education, and National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jerry Miller, a former professor at the University of Michigan's Center for the Study of Higher Education, praised Glenny for major improvements in higher education in Illinois during the 1960s.

"He established a model from which many states learned," Miller said. "In Illinois, he firmly established his own reputation as one of the influential figures in American higher education.

"He transformed the politics of that rather typical Big Ten state from a system dominated by the major state university and otherwise characterized by political pork-barreling on behalf of regional institutions into an arrangement in which a single agency of state government provided counsel and advice to the governor and legislature concerning the state's needs, ways of meeting those needs, and ways of harnessing and even capitalizing upon competition between institutions."

Colleagues also commended Glenny for taking the lead in developing community colleges to serve local communities, working for articulated systems of higher education that let students transfer between institutions without losing credits, and establishing a system of more affordable fees for education.

Bernard Gifford, a professor of education at UC Berkeley and former dean of its Graduate School of Education, met Glenny when Gifford took over the school's reins in 1983. Gifford came from outside the UC system, was the youngest dean on campus and the only African American dean on campus at the time. The school was scheduled for closure due to years of poor ratings. He said he was young, alone, and under tremendous pressure when Glenny befriended him.

"Lyman was ... one of the first senior professors to invite himself into my office," recalled Gifford. "He just sat down, shook my hand and said, 'I'd like to help you be successful.'...He didn't know me, but he was willing to help. He really cared deeply about teaching and learning."

In the coming years, the school rankings improved dramatically as it moved to the No. 1 spot, and Gifford said faculty members such as Glenny deserve a lot of the credit.

William Chance, executive director of the Northwest Education Policy Center in Olympia, Wash., recalled working with Glenny for the past two years on higher education projects in Kansas and Colorado. "I admired his ability to relate to officials in the way he must have related to graduate students, hoping they too might leave the room a little more enlightened," said Chance. "I also admired his comfortable somewhat existential approach to life, enjoying deserts, mountains and dinners in small rural towns ... for what they were - aspects of life with their own meaning and merit."

He had a great love of running - a hobby he picked up in high school and took up competitively upon retirement. He exercised dutifully every day and remained a dedicated runner averaging five miles a day until late last year.

A Contra Costa County running club, the Diablo Valley Roadrunners, named Glenny runner of the year in 1998.

Celia Baker, his daughter, added that her father's passion for learning "prompted him to learn more about the Middle Ages by buying up half a dozen books on the subject and reading them in chronological order - not everybody's choice for recreational reading."

He is survived by his son Terry Glenny of Los Angeles; daughter Celia Baker of Camarillo, Calif., stepdaughter Colleen Sullivan of Chandler, Ariz., stepdaughter Cindy Thompson of Tacoma, Wash., stepdaughter Diana Thompson of Santa Rosa, Calif., stepson Doug Thompson of Fremont, Calif., and stepdaughter Jean Thompson of Oakland, Calif. A memorial service is planned for Tuesday, Oct. 2, at UC Berkeley's Alumni House.

In lieu of flowers, family and friends may make contributions to the Lyman Glenny Memorial Fund through University Relations, 2440 Bancroft Way, Berkeley CA 94720-4200.