Alex Garber (1950)

Alex Garber came to California State University, Sacramento as an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the fall of 1964. He had been on the faculty at the University of Colorado Boulder. He received his BA and MA in sociology from the University of Chicago and his PhD from UC Berkeley. He was promoted to associate professor and then full professor during his tenure. He chaired the department from 1968 to 1974.

Upon arriving in Sacramento, Alex introduced three courses to the curriculum: Political Sociology, Soviet Society, and Arab-Israel Conflict. He also taught theory and social organization, both at the graduate and undergraduate level. He always had a group of students, both undergraduates and graduates, who followed him around and who were greatly influenced by him. He was an imposing figure. He could talk on and on about many topics, always giving an insightful analysis, even when discussing baseball statistics! He retired in 1982 at the age of 70 and died in Los Angeles in 1984 at age 72.

Alex was extremely bright, very well read, a macro sociologist in the best tradition of those graduating from the sociology department at Berkeley in those days. He knew history, read history and combined his historical knowledge with the sociological perspective. In that sense, he was I would guess a product of the Teggart-influenced department at Berkeley.

Alex did not publish much, but took his passion and considerable erudition into the areas union organizing and politics, especially his involvement over the years with the Democratic Socialists of America. He was a close friend of Michael Harrington, for example. He helped organize the first faculty union on the campus. He was one of the original seven members of the founding AFT chapter. Garber was interested in both the professionalization of faculty and the unionization of faculty. For him this was not a contradiction. Through professionalism faculty gained a voice in running the university in ways they thought were best for students and for themselves, and through unionization faculty gained support for increased resources such as graduate TA's, travel money, assigned time for research, etc.

When I came to CSU Sacramento in 1964 as a young man just out of graduate school, it was the first time in my life that I was in a position to interact with faculty members as a peer. Alex was older and wiser. I learned a great deal from him, as he was one of my early mentors.

Fond memories, Dean Dorn.

Dissertation Title: 
The Ideological Dimensions of the Historical Explanations of the Russian Constituent Assembly, January 18, 1918