Faculty profile

C. Judson King: Steering the UC System

Among Jud King’s administrative responsibilities as Provost and Senior Vice President are the oversight of academic planning and of research and academic policies for the UC system. As well, through the Vice President for Educational Outreach, he oversees the University's greatly expanded outreach programs to K–12 schools, teachers and pre-college students.


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Jud King is an influential man. From his office overlooking a bustling downtown Oakland, he makes decisions that affect ten UC campuses, three national labs and a great number of outreach programs that extend down throughout the elementary and high school levels.

King is Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs for the UC system and has one of the most challenging positions in the state. “We deal with admissions policies for the UC system, among other things, and that is quite a target for politicians,” King said. A professor of chemical engineering, he was formerly Provost, Professional Schools and Colleges; Dean of the College of Chemistry; and Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering, all on the Berkeley campus. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and he has received a number of major awards from professional societies for his research on separation processes and spray drying.

On a recent morning while seated in his administrative office, King reflected on his journey from the lab to the administrative ranks and now to the second highest-ranking position in the UC system, one of the nation’s premiere public university systems.

King came to the Berkeley campus in 1963 as an assistant professor after four years in a similar position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his masters of science in chemical engineering in 1958 and doctorate of science in 1960 from MIT, having graduated from Yale University in 1956 with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. “My engineering research, which I ‘suspended’ three years ago, focuses on solutions and mixtures, how to take them apart and remove impurities. I am especially interested in drying and solvent extraction as well as adsorption,” he said.

“I got into the separations field quite by lucky chance, actually,” King said smiling. “One day in 1964, Art Morgan, the engineering director of the local department of agriculture laboratory, called, looking to sponsor research in the department. I looked at his list of four topic areas, one of which was freeze-drying, and picked it. Freeze-drying is a way to remove the water from a substance by going from ice straight to water vapor, bypassing the liquid state. I thought there would be a large number of faculty members responding to this solicitation since they had money to give, but it turned out I was the only one! So I started a freeze-drying and spray drying program, eventually branching out into other chemical engineering separations methods and writing a well-used text in that area.”

King became involved with administration early in his career, becoming the graduate admissions officer for chemical engineering in 1964, soon after he had joined the faculty. “It was a very satisfying position because you could watch someone whom you admitted into the program bloom and grow as a scientist,” he said.

From there he proceeded to move up the ranks as department chair (1972–1981) and college dean (1981–1987). “One of the main issues I faced during those years was the space problem. There was never enough space for research; faculty always needed more lab space than what was available. I worked hard on creatively finding space for our scientists and getting the Tan Hall project launched, dealing with the funding and the planning, and making sure the faculty were happy. I’m very proud of what we accomplished,” he said.

King spent another eight years working as a campus administrator, serving as Provost of Professional Schools and Colleges before moving up to the UC system level as Vice Provost for Research in 1994. “I was the first person to serve in this capacity,” he said. “They wanted a senior administrator to coordinate systemwide and multi-campus research and technology transfer matters at the state and federal level. It was a very worthwhile position.”

“I enjoy the new things that come along with each opportunity of advancement. I have been able to learn about different worlds. Especially now at the system level, each campus even has its own pace and flavor. It’s intriguing to learn the dynamics and the different worlds. As you go from the department to the campus to the UC system, you learn that they each have their own issues and even their tempo. The biggest difference that I see going from the campus level to the UC system level is the pace, since we interact with The Regents and the legislature. The rate that things move here is so much faster. At the campus level, you can have up to a week to mull over an issue before deciding anything, but at the UC level you can find out about an issue one morning and have to make a decision on it the next day.”

He is deeply involved in admissions policies. “I think everyone should have the opportunity to pursue education. The passage of Proposition 209 in 1996, which did away with preferences in admissions, made my job more difficult and led to lots of discussions. We have made substantial gains in learning how to work effectively with the constraints,” said King. “We have had to change our approach to admissions,” he explained. “We still want diversity in the UC system because we serve a very large and diverse state. And we really want to overcome differences in educational opportunity.

To do this, rather than looking at race, we go to where students are educationally disadvantaged, schools with low college-attendance rates, low SAT scores, and work with them to encourage students to attend college and choose professional careers. For a lot of students, their parents didn’t go to college so they don’t have first-hand experience. What we have found is that the outreach programs create an interest in the university experience and we get higher yields of students coming to college. Students in the outreach programs take the college-prep courses and improve their test scores, thereby becoming eligible through the traditional way.”

Jud King and his wife, Jeanne, at the Tan Hall dedication.
photo by Jane Scheiber.

When he can actually escape the office and enjoy his free time, King can most often be found in the hills. “I love to spend my free time outdoors, hiking and backpacking in the mountains,” he said. “You can’t do the same old stressful job day in and day out; it’s not good for your health! So we go often out to Mammoth Lakes and spend portions of the summers there, though of course I have email. With a job like mine, the work doesn’t stop when I do.”

“And I have to be organized,” King laughed, “Otherwise I’d never make it. I long ago abandoned any notion of control over my schedule. Now I just show up and go where my assistant tells me to go. But I really love what I do, and I think that is vital.”


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