Ivan Hinderaker, 91; was UC Riverside chancellor during Vietnam War era

Times Staff Writer

Ivan Hinderaker, the longest-serving chancellor of UC Riverside, who led the campus in its formative years as it struggled for students and respect, has died. He was 91.

Hinderaker died Sunday in an Irvine nursing home. The cause of death was not released, but friends said he had been in declining health since his wife died four years ago.

“He was well-known for being a real advocate for students and the community and the arts,” said Bettye Miller, a spokeswoman for the university.

Colleagues described Hinderaker as a solid leader who was moderate in his views and quick to dispense kindness and compassion.


Hinderaker was chancellor from 1964 to 1979. He came along when the college, which opened in 1954, was struggling to boost its enrollment and name recognition. Professors would speak at local high schools to drum up interest among students.

“It was going to be the Swarthmore of the West, a small liberal arts college,” recalled Francis Carney, one of the school’s founding faculty members and a retired professor of history and political science. “But that didn’t work out. It didn’t grow until the late 1970s.”

During those years, Hinderaker had to deal with campus unrest concerning the Vietnam War. At one especially volatile protest, a group of angry students gathered under the chancellor’s window.

“Ivan invited them all in for coffee and doughnuts,” Carney said. “He talked to them and he listened to them. I think he handled the riots better than other chancellors would have.”


Carney said Hinderaker did a lot of listening, which made him both a rarity and especially good at his job.

“He was grave without being somber; he was jovial without being a glad-hander,” he said. “He governed this campus at a terrible period in its history. He was a centrist in his views on educational policy, and his manner was easy to take.”

Hinderaker, along with former UC Regent Phil Boyd, pushed for the building of the Carillon Tower, a landmark bell tower on the Riverside campus, Miller said.

He also helped spearhead efforts to open the UCR/California Museum of Photography.

“We fought many battles together to advance, not only the museum, but also the fine arts on campus and in the community,” said museum founder Ed Beardsley. “He cared deeply about higher education, UCR in particular. He was more than a colleague. We were good and close friends.”

Hinderaker was born in Hendricks, Minn., and received his bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Minnesota. He served in the Minnesota state Legislature in 1941 and 1942 and in the Army Air Forces from 1943 to 1946.

Before joining UC Riverside, Hinderaker taught political science at UCLA and in 1963 served as vice chancellor of academic affairs at UC Irvine.

After retirement, he and his wife, Birk, moved to Corona del Mar. She died in 2003. Their son, Mark, died in 2004.


He is survived by his brother, Theodore Hinderaker of Tucson; grandson Blake Hinderaker; and daughter-in-law Janice Hinderaker of Albury, Australia. Services will be private. Instead of flowers, the family has suggested that gifts be made in honor of Hinderaker to the UCR Carillon Tower Fund.--