Skip to main content

Ken Metzler papers

Identifier: UA 007

Scope and Contents

The collection contains the research files Ken Metzler used to write his book, Confrontation: The Destruction of a College President, about University of Oregon Acting President Charles Ellicot Johnson. Johnson served as Acting President from 1968 until his fatal car accident on June 17, 1969. Although this collection spans from 1934 to 1973, the bulk of the material dates from 1968 to 1971. The collection contains correspondence, clippings, publications, notes, and manuscripts.

The collection is arranged into five series using Metzler’s original organization: I: Files about Charles E. Johnson, II: Files by Charles E. Johnson, III: University of Oregon files, IV: Higher Education Files, and V: Miscellaneous Research Files. Metzler’s original notations for his filing system are written on the top of most of the files. For example “1-B” is filed under Series I, letter B.

Series I contains interviews, correspondence, and clippings about Charles E. Johnson organized alphabetically by correspondent or subject.

Series II contains correspondence, clippings, and publications by Johnson filed alphabetically by correspondent or subject. Series II contains the oldest material in the collection from 1934.

Series III contains files from Johnson’s tenure as Acting President at the University of Oregon. It is divided into two subseries: Alphabetical files and the President’s Fact Notebook. Material in the alphabetical files reflect the many controversies that Johnson confronted as Acting President, including a grape boycott, athletes who refused to cut their hair, harassment of the Navy recruiters, an obscenity scandal regarding the Oregon Daily Emerald, and a poverty village erected on the University of Oregon grounds. The President’s Fact Notebook contains mostly budget, salary, and statistical information.

Series IV contains materials on higher education organized alphabetically by correspondent or subject.

Series V consists of Metzler’s working files which contain his notes, correspondence directly related to the book, magazine and newspaper clippings, and a draft manuscript. The clippings are organized chronologically and cover such subjects as student unrest, job stress, suicide, and higher education finances.


  • 1934-1973
  • Majority of material found within 1968-1971


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.

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

Ken Metzler received his B.S. in journalism from the University of Oregon in 1956. He worked as a reporter as earned his M.S.J. at Northwestern University. In 1961, Metzler returned to the University of Oregon as Director of Student Publications and taught in the School of Journalism. Metzler is the author of five books.

In 1973, Metzler published Confrontation: The Destruction of a College President, his biography of University of Oregon acting President Charles E. Johnson. Charles Ellicott Johnson (1920-1969), accountant and university administrator, came to the University of Oregon in 1952 as an Associate Professor in Business Administration and became a full Professor in 1957. In 1959, he was appointed as Head of the Department of Accounting and Business Statistics, and then became Dean of the College of Liberal Arts in 1963. Johnson was appointed as Acting President of the University of Oregon in 1968.

Johnson’s presidency was defined by several controversies, including the grape boycott in the dormitories to protest farming and labor conditions, the athletes who were disciplined for refusing to cut their hair, and the obscenities printed in the Oregon Daily Emerald. During his tenure, student activists harassed Navy recruiters, set up a shanty town on the campus lawn, and protested the Vietnam War. Charles E. Johnson was killed in an automobile accident on June 17, 1969. As Metzler’s book explains, there was speculation as to whether the stress of his job as Acting President contributed to Johnson’s accident.


3 linear feet (6 containers)

Language of Materials



Ken Metzler was a Professor of Journalism at the University of Oregon and published a book about UO acting President Charles E. Johnson, titled Confrontation: The Destruction of a College President in 1973. The collection contains Metzler’s working and research files for that book including correspondence by and about Charles E. Johnson, clippings, publications, notes, and manuscripts.


Collection is organized into the following series:

Series I: Files about Charles E. Johnson

Series II: Files by Charles E. Johnson

Series III: University of Oregon Files Subseries I: Alphabetical Files Subseries II: President’s Fact Notebook

Series IV: Higher Education Files

Series V: Miscellaneous Research Files

Related Materials

Other collections relating to Charles Ellicott Johnson at Special Collections and University Archives include: Office of the President: Charles Ellicott Johnson / N. Ray Hawk records, UA 001.11; Charles Ellicott Johnson papers, UA 008.

Physical Description

6 manuscript boxes

Processing Information

Collection processed by Rachel Edford, 2007.

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 Ken Metzler Papers
Revise Description
Rachel Edford and Tanya Parlet.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

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

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA