John Blake (1960)

Humanities Scholar in Residence, Medical University of South Carolina

My 36 years in higher education have been an extraordinary personal experience. I have had the opportunity to build a strong relationship between my commitment to teaching undergraduates and my research, scholarship and community service. While much of my time has been spent in higher education administration, the teaching and research have always been extremely important.

The pattern of my academic career was established early in its first decade. Between 1966 and 1973 I started teaching at the University of California at Santa Cruz; completed a doctoral dissertation on social change in Mexico; published a book on the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense; and founded an undergraduate college at Santa Cruz.

The process of working with outstanding undergraduate students at Santa Cruz while simultaneously working closely with extraordinarily angry Panthers in Oakland who were the same age as many of my students had a great impact on my intellectual development. In both venues the youth were intelligent and talented and had an infectious joie de vivre. However in Santa Cruz they were building for the future through learning. In Oakland the youth picked up the gun because they did not believe they had a future.

Ultimately for me my mission in higher education became how to use my skills in undergraduate teaching and learning to provide a hopeful future for all youth, regardless of background or social circumstance. I always maintained a regular program of teaching regardless of my administrative appointment. The teaching focused exclusively on lower-division students because of my belief it was important to give new students a strong beginning.

I developed a philosophy of teaching/learning that has guided all my work: There is no known limit to the capacity of the human mind to learn, grow, develop and change. As a result my courses emphasize active student involvement in the learning process and high expectations of students, all within a context of respect for their intellect and support for their academic goals.


Dissertation Title
Social Change and Population Trends in Mexico
Entry Year