Aubrey Wendling was born in San Francisco in 1918. He graduated from San Francisco State College with an A.B. in 1944. He received an M.A. in Sociology in 1952 and a Ph.D. in Sociology in 1954, both from the University of Washington. He held teaching positions at the University of Washington and in 1954 became an Assistant Professor at San Diego State College. From 1962 to 1982, Wendling was a full Professor of Sociology and became Department Chair as well as Director of the Social Science Research Center in 1962, the first research center in any of the California State Colleges. . He directed the Center’s activities for twenty years. From 1982 to 1988, he was Professor Emeritus at SDSU and from 1985 to 1991 he was President of the SDSU Retirement Association.
Throughout his career, Aubrey Wendling directed numerous research projects that have added to general and specific knowledge as well as provided practical information vital for local, national, and international policy decisions. These projects include Ecological Studies of Suicide (1952-57), Community Leadership in Border Cities (1957-60), The Community and Mental Health (1962), Dropout, Delinquency and the Social Milieu of the School (1963-68), An Evaluation of the El Cajon Drinking Driver Countermeasure Program (1972-76), An Evaluation of Jury Selection Procedures (1975), and New Town Development and Implications for Urban Planning (1975-91). Dr. Wendling remained actively involved in research on New Towns well into his retirement. He has authored dozens of research publications and from 1973-78 he was Editor of the Pacific Sociological Review which became a major national publication attracting worldwide readers and contributors during his editorship.
Aubrey Wendling was a member of the SDSU Senate from 1960-65 serving on several Senate committees. As Chair of the Lectures and Concerts Committee from 1963-65, he brought to SDSU several outstanding and creative persons such as Dave Brubeck, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ella Fitzgerald. In 1984, he directed a special and very successful fundraising project for the Department of Black Studies. He was also instrumental in getting an Elderhostel established at SDSU, teaching several of its classes. Wendling was the first President of the SDSU Retirement Association, and in 1990 his desire for the Association to award scholarships to deserving students was realized with the award of two scholarships. In 1993, Dr. Aubrey Wendling received the SDSU Faculty Outstanding Service Award.
Dr. Wendling was also actively involved in environmental issues for over forty years, serving as President of the San Diego Chapter of the Sierra Club and the national Sierra Club Council. He co-founded the Sierra Club Mountaineering Course for the San Diego Chapter and co-authored the text Basic Mountaineering about safe wilderness travel and mountaineering.
July 25, 1994 interview with Aubrey Wendling, Professor of Sociology and Department Chair, 1962-82, and Director of the SDSU Social Science Research Center.
In part 1 of his oral history, Dr. Wendling recounts his early college studies at San Francisco State University and his subsequent graduation from the University of Washington. Dr. Wendling describes how he became professor of Sociology at San Diego State College in 1954 as well as his involvement with its Social Science Research Center, of which he was Director for twenty years. During this time Dr. Wendling helped to further establish the Research Center, expanded the staff and conducted population studies.
Dr. Wendling’s main research in the early 1960s at SDSC were focused on a 5-year, longitudinal study of delinquency and drop-out rates for San Diego and East Palo Alto school districts. He also recalls the obstacles that accompanied his efforts to initiate a city-wide survey of San Diego adolescents which lead to a Grand Jury investigation over the supposed content of survey questions. Part 1 of the oral history ends with Dr. Wendling's description of his professional relationships with President Love and other faculty.
In part 2, Dr. Wendling discusses his involvement with the Elderhostel and the faculty Senate. Dr. Wendling also devoted much of his time at SDSC and the University of Washington to strengthen the ineffectual retirement system for professors, then collaborating with Sue Earnest and Norma Summersgill to establish the Retirement Association for faculty and staff. During this time he also served two terms as President of the Sierra Club San Diego chapter.
He recounts the evolution of the Sociology department and the benefits of its budget. The oral history ends with Dr. Wendling's reflection on his experiences teaching within the CSU system. He was heavily involved in the separation of the Sociology Department from the departments of Social Work and Anthropology. In later years, Dr. Wendling took two sabbaticals: the first to study suicide rates in Oslo, Norway, the second to study the development of New Towns from the WWII era in Great Britain and mainland Europe. Part 2 concludes with Dr. Wendling reflecting on his time at SDSU, at which point he comments that surprisingly the greatest upheaval concerned not Vietnam or social issues, but promotion procedure and faculty tenure.