Oral History Center - UC Berkeley Library

Watson Laetsch: Botanist, UC Berkeley Administrator and Fundraiser, Partner in International Development

Interviewee(s):
Laetsch, Watson "Mac"
Interviewer(s):
Rubens, Lisa
Title:
Watson Laetsch: Botanist, UC Berkeley Administrator and Fundraiser, Partner in International Development
Abstract:
Watson “Mac” Laetsch is a distinguished Professor Emeriti of Plant Biology and former Vice Chancellor whose outstanding career as a scholar, teacher, administrator and good citizen has long served UC Berkeley well. Mac has more titles than anyone currently associated with the university. Joining the Botany department in 1962, his career was meteoric. Having earned his Ph.D. at Stanford, after a year in India as a Fulbright Scholar, and then spending two years at SUNY Stoneybrook where he was deeply involved in that new college’s experimental curriculum, he was a tour de force at Cal. He wrote a textbook, co-edited two scholarly anthologies, taught thousands in Biology 1, and directed over 50 graduate students through his lab in the Life Sciences Building –for which he later secured a ten million dollar donation from the Valley Foundation to renovate the venerable structure. He was instrumental in the reorganization of the biological sciences, having already served as director of the Botanical Garden and the Lawrence Hall of Science. He was recruited by Chancellor Michael Heyman to serve as Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Affairs and then for Development. Subsequently he co-chaired the Bancroft Library renovation campaign and continues to serve on the UC Press Foundation and College of Natural Resources Advisory boards. Today he also co-chairs the Mark Twain Luncheon Club and is very active in the Learning in Retirement program organizing and speaking at panel discussions. He remains an enthusiastic Bear Backer and member of the Berkeley Fellows.
Subject area(s):
Education and University of California
Interview date(s):
2010 2011
Project:
Education and University of California - Individual Interviews
Oskicat record:
b20590065
Rights:
Laetsch, Watson "Mac". "Watson Laetsch: Botanist, UC Berkeley Administrator and Fundraiser, Partner in International Development." Interview by Lisa Rubens in 2010 and 2011. Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2012.