Dr. Donald E. Walker was born on July 13, 1921, in Springfield, Mo. He received his bachelor's degree in religion from the University of Southern California in 1943, a Master's of theology from USC in 1947, and a Ph.D. in sociology in 1954 from Stanford University. His career path intersected with San Diego State University several times, first as an instructor of sociology beginning in 1949, then again two decades later as the Vice President of Academic Affairs, and eventually Acting President of San Diego State University for the years 1971-1972, succeeding Malcolm A. Love.
While Acting President at SDSU, Walker's calm demeanor was credited for helping to quiet student protests on campus and keep them from getting out of hand. His reputation as a consensus-builder paved the way for his next position, President of Southeastern Massachusetts University (now the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth) in 1972. Walker's career also included highlights such as President of Idaho State College, and Chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in El Cajon, CA. His best-selling textbook, The Effective Administrator: A Practical Approach to Problem-Solving, Decision-Making, and Campus Leadership, published in 1981, was a favorite among university administrators.
Dr. Walker retired in 1992 and died on August 12, 2011.
1993 interview with Donald Walker, Acting University President, 1971-1972, and Vice President of Academic Affairs, 1968-1971.
In this interview totaling 55 minutes, Walker talks about what brought him to San Diego State in 1949, and what it was like serving under President Hepner. He discusses why he became a university administrator as well as some of the major accomplishments during his presidency at Idaho State. Walker talks in depth about the process of selecting a new SDSU President after Malcolm Love stepped down, and about his philosophy regarding higher education. He also converses with the interviewer about his 1964 article, "The American Dream and Crisis," and his early career as a Methodist pastor.
Interviewed by Michael Milligan on 4/20/1993.
Image credit: Donald Walker in 1960, University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections & University Archives.