UCLA owes its very existence to two dissimilar men whose personal visions dovetailed in a most serendipitous way. One was journalist Edward Augustus Dickson, political editor at the Los Angeles Express and the first member of the University of California Board of Regents to represent the southern half of the state. The other was the austere Midwestern educator Ernest Carroll Moore.
Moore dreamed of converting the Los Angeles State Normal School into a great teachers’ college to rival those at Columbia and the University of Chicago. Dickson sought to establish a branch of the University of California in the Southland. On Oct. 25, 1917, they met at Los Angeles’ Jonathan Club. That lunch meeting forged a partnership that two years later resulted in the establishment of the Southern Branch of the University of California.
In his memoir, The University of California at Los Angeles, Dickson wrote:
“When I first received my appointment [as a Regent], there was no visible evidence of the University of California in this area. There did exist, however, a growing demand for higher educational facilities and I early came to the conclusion that this need must be met sooner or later.”
And since Dickson in 1919 had become editor and publisher of an influential metropolitan newspaper, he could bring the power of the press to bear on the issue. “I dedicated my newspaper – editorially and through its news columns – to an intensive campaign, setting forth the educational needs of this section of the state,” he wrote.
Born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin in August 1879, Dickson graduated from UC Berkeley in 1901. After a year spent teaching in Japan, he returned to the U.S. and launched his journalism career as a reporter with the Sacramento Record-Union, the San Francisco Chronicle, and finally the Los Angeles Express. He was 33 when he was appointed to the Board of Regents, and served for 43 years – the longest tenure in UC history. He died in 1956 at age 76.