San Diego State University Oral Histories



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Dr. James Cobble, Distinguished Faculty and AdministratorDr. James Cobble

Dr. James W. Cobble was born in Kansas City, Missouri, but moved to San Diego when he was thirteen.  After graduating high school, Cobble began taking classes at San Diego State College, focusing on chemistry.  During World War II, Cobble decided to join the Navy's V-12 program.  The program sent him to Northern Arizona University to take classes and train to become a naval officer.  Eventually, Cobble was sent to Japan to join his ship.  After the war ended, Cobble obtained a Master's of Science in chemistry at the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies.  Cobble then went to Berkeley to start postdoctoral work.  He also taught part-time.  In 1962, Cobble started an associate professorship at Purdue University, where he taught chemistry and conducted research for almost twenty years.  He also served as a consultant for U.S. Rubber.

In 1973, Brage Golding, President of San Diego State University, offered Cobble a position as Dean of the Graduate Division and as Vice President of the San Diego State University Foundation. Cobble accepted the offer and moved back to San Diego.  During his tenure at SDSU, Dr. Cobble helped to found the Graduate School of Public Health and fought to increase wages for graduate student teaching assistants.  He also held the position of Vice President of Research in 1997.  Dr. Cobble retired in 2002.

Oral History

Download the PDF transcript.

Dr. James Cobble's oral history documents his personal, academic and professional activities. The oral history is divided into three parts. In Part 1, Cobble discusses his childhood in Kansas and San Diego. He reflects on his time at San Diego High School and at San Diego State College's Department of Chemistry during the early 1940's. He also gives a wonderful account of trying to find his naval ship in Japan during World War II. The second portion of Dr. Cobble's oral history details his research at the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies, including his research with Technetium, a rare element. He also mentions his career at Purdue University as a Professor of Chemistry. The third part of the history focuses on Cobble's career at San Diego State University. He emphasizes the changes in the academic review process, the reorganization of the Graduate Council, changes at the Foundation, and the administrations of the various university presidents.

Interview digitally recorded by Susan Resnik, Ph.D on March 4, 2008.

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