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Robert D. Clark papers

Identifier: Coll 285

Scope and Contents

The Robert D. Clark Papers are arranged in seven series. The Personal papers series contains personal correspondence by Clark. The Education series includes Clark’s Matthew Simpson manuscripts and doctoral dissertation. The series of Work-related materials contains reports and correspondence relating to the faculty strike, Olympic boycott, and issues of student unrest during Clark’s five years as President of San Jose State College. The papers from his tenure as President of the University of Oregon include general administrative correspondence and memoranda, many speeches oclon various subjects, and materials relating to Honors programs and the Robert D. Clark Honors College. A few items of note include one note from Ken Kesey, correspondence between Clark and Faye Kesey, many letters between Clark and Tom McCall, Governor of Oregon, and an early (March 30, 1943) letter written and signed by Orson Welles. The collection contains only scant materials relating to student unrest at the University of Oregon, and contains nothing specifically relating to Clark’s year as a pastor (1936).

The Professional papers series covers Clark’s professional work with debate and symposium teams, his correspondence and reports from professional organizations and conferences, plus notes and reference files relating to all of the above. The Writings series includes Clark’s research copies, early writings, drafts, and publications, as well as correspondence and documents relating to his writings for professional publication. A large portion of the series is the Thomas Condon manuscripts and research materials. The sixth series contains correspondence arranged chronologically, in the order they were kept by President Clark. When possible, the correspondent or general subject of the correspondence is noted in the folder title. The final series, Reference Files, contains a large volume of clippings and publications on a wide variety of subjects, including student unrest, speech and oratory, higher education and honors programs, and political issues, the last of which Clark probably used as debate topics. The materials are arranged by broad subject area, then alphabetical by topic.


  • Creation: 1928-1990


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Boxes 34 and 35 are closed due to the presence of confidential student and personnel information. Final access restrictions lift in 2086.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Robert Donald Clark, professor of speech, dean, author, public speaker, and university president, was born in Frontier County, Nebraska, in 1910. He received a B. A. in English (with a minor in History) from Pasadena College in 1931 and a M. A. in Speech from the University of Southern California in 1935. During this period he also taught Freshman Composition classes at Pasadena College (1931-1935 and 1937-1938), and was the pastor of the Riverside Nazarene Church for one year (1936). Clark earned his Ph.D. from USC while teaching speech, first at the College of the Pacific, Stockton Junior College (1939-1942), and subsequently at the University of Oregon (1943-1964), where he reinstated extracurricular debate in a program called Symposium. Clark earned his Ph.D. in 1946 with a dissertation entitled “The Platform and Pulpit Career and Rhetorical Theory of Bishop Matthew Simpson.”

Around this same time, Clark began to involve himself in university administration at UO, accepting an appointment as Assistant Dean of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) in 1947, which he retained until being selected as Dean of CLA in 1955. His administrative duties did not keep him from his writing, and in 1956 he published The Life of Matthew Simpson.

In 1961, Clark was named Dean of Faculties at UO, and three years later, he accepted the Presidency of San Jose State College (1964-1969), a period characterized by student unrest, racial tensions, and a faculty strike in late 1968. In 1969, he returned to the University of Oregon as its eleventh president, a position he held until his retirement in 1975. Clark was a popular president at both institutions, and was known for his dedication to the rights of students and curricular innovation. While at San Jose State, Clark established an interdisciplinary undergraduate education program called the New College, and at University of Oregon he worked on committees dedicated to similar ends. At the conclusion of his educational and administrative career, Clark was chosen as the namesake for the Robert D. Clark Honors College at UO in 1975.

After retirement, Clark continued to take an active role in the Eugene community, participating in local and international citizens’ groups. He also continued to research and write numerous articles and books, including The Odyssey of Thomas Condon: Irish Immigrant, Frontier Missionary, Oregon Geologist, published in 1989. Robert D. Clark died June 28, 2005 at the age of 95.


38.25 linear feet (85 containers)

Language of Materials



Robert Donald Clark (1910- ) was a professor of speech, author, public speaker, and university president. The Robert D. Clark Papers are comprised of correspondence, schoolwork, speeches, writings, research notes, publications, administrative reports and memoranda, and reference files.


Collection is organized into the following series: Series I: PersonalSeries II: EducationSeries III: Work-RelatedSeries IV: ProfessionalSeries V: WritingsSeries VI: Correspondence, 1940-1988Series VII: Reference Files Series VIII: 2011 Additions Series IX: Photographs (PH320)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection donated by Robert D. Clark to Special Collections & University Archives in increments from 1977 to 1992.

Related Materials

Robert D. Clark photographs, PH320, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Or.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Carter Soles, Archives Student Processor, Andress Barnes, Archives Student Assistant, Rachel Hanan, Archives Student Processor, and Nicole Harwood-Sloan, Archives Student Assistant.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Robert D. Clark Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by processing staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA