Under the direction of Leland Medsker and Lyman Glenny in the early 1960’s and 1970’s, the Center grew into a major R&D site for higher education, attracting national and international scholars and higher education leaders to UC Berkeley. However, federal funding of higher education research declined sharply in the early 1970’s. The Center then expanded its scope beyond large scale and largely survey-research projects.
Under the directorships of Professors Martin Trow, Neil Smelser, and Sheldon Rothblatt between 1977 and 1996, the research of the Center broadened and brought in multiple disciplines beyond Education to greater extent, as the School of Education turned its focus away from higher education. All three of these directors were prominent in disciplines other than Education (Public Policy, Sociology, and History, respectively). Trow and Rothblatt were each joined by a faculty assistant director. As an overall Center manager, researcher Janet Ruyle served as Deputy Director from 1976-1993, followed by university historian John Douglass and from 2002-2004, by Marian Gade, President Emeritus Clark Kerr’s long-time research associate.
During this period, the Center was relocated to South Hall Annex, on the north side of South Hall itself. With the guidance of Director Trow, the space was designed to be a hospitable and welcoming place where faculty, administrators, and research fellows and even state policymakers could readily congregate and discuss complex problems, long-range strategies, and future visions, in a relaxed setting outside the immediate sphere of decision-making and conflict. Weekly lunches and a fully stocked kitchen further encouraged informal and formal gatherings. Forums at the Center brought together scholars from all over the world to the Berkeley campus. Because of these activities, the Center achieved an international eminence and leadership role in discussions of higher education policy issues both here and abroad. A major feature of the Center’s operations over the past four decades has been the Visiting Scholars program, long overseen by Anne MacLachlan.
In part owing to close ties at various times with UC Presidents Emeriti Clark Kerr, David Gardner, and Richard Atkinson, the Center provided a forum for significant discussions of UC systemwide and campus policy. In addition, a central on-going role of the Center was to offer seminars on a range of higher education issues. For example, for many years, the Center sponsored robust interactions among California Community College leaders, also bringing them together with Berkeley faculty and administrators. The Center planned and hosted visits by lawmakers and legislative staff and by international officials and researchers, discussions between administrators from the Office of the President and their counterparts on the Berkeley campus, and ongoing seminars dealing with the topics such as student access, governance of higher education, university management, the history of higher education, the California Master Plan for Higher Education, the role of student services, and the future of instructional technologies.