Winston C. Doby, former UCLA vice chancellor for student affairs and University of California vice president known for his commitment to student diversity and his founding of the UCLA Academic Advancement Program, died Thursday after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 71.
Doby holds the distinction of being one of the longest serving vice chancellors in university history. During his 33-year tenure, Doby strived for cultural diversity on campus and new opportunities for students of all backgrounds.
In this vein, he emphasized community outreach to encourage minority students and those from low-income families that it was possible to attend college without severing themselves from their families and neighborhoods, said Aimee Dorr, dean of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.
This initiative gave rise to the multitude of programs he created, including AAP and the UC-wide Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships, a community outreach program that helps to prepare low-income students for college. Through these efforts, Doby helped thousands of students realize their potential at the university, Dorr said.
This level of commitment to students fit perfectly into his role as the vice chancellor for student affairs. During a time when universities saw students simply as young people to be served with education, Doby integrated students and their opinions into administrative and academic decisions, said C.Z. Wilson, former UCLA vice chancellor who worked with Doby under then-chancellor Charles E. Young.
With his problem-solving skills ““ largely derived from his background as a mathematician ““ and natural leadership abilities, Doby was able to tackle many difficult issues during his time in the UCLA administration, Wilson said.
“We would talk about any problem together,” he said. “We were the best of friends ““ he was like a brother to me.”
It was Doby’s willingness to listen to all sides of an issue that won him the greatest respect from his students, said Van Scott, a 1987 UCLA alumnus who greatly interacted with Doby during his time as a student activist and after graduation in the UCLA Black Alumni Association.
“There were times when we agreed and when we didn’t see eye to eye, but there was always a mutual level of respect that extended past college,” Scott said. “You weren’t afraid to disagree with him because what he wanted to do was best serve the community.”
Doby’s dual commitment to the university and the Los Angeles community conflicted in 1996 when Proposition 209 was passed, an initiative that effectively banned affirmative action. While Doby understood the limitations of the proposition on the university, he refused to put UCLA in a position to go against the state measure, Scott said. Instead, he encouraged the UCLA Black Alumni Association to provide assistance to black students, a suggestion that became today’s legacy scholarships.
In spite of Doby’s active engagement in the UCLA administration, he always made time for his family. Each day, he would drive his daughter, Monica Doby Davis, to school, playing jazz music over the car stereo. It would eventually fuel her love for jazz.
His son, Chris, spoke of his father’s love for UCLA basketball and how Doby seamlessly integrated his son into his university life by taking him to games from Doby’s office in Murphy Hall. On the way, Doby would greet numerous students and faculty, always taking the time to inquire after each one.
“He could strike up a conversation with anyone,” Monica Doby Davis said. “He really taught me how to put myself in someone else’s shoes and said the most important lesson was to foster relationships.”
Doby was born on Feb. 20, 1940 in Alabama, the youngest of eight children. At age 5, he moved to California with his family and grew up in the Watts area of South Los Angeles. While attending Fremont High School, Doby was a straight-A student who also ran track.
Though he had initially planned to attend Compton College, his track coach encouraged him to seek higher education and took him to meet then-UCLA track coach, Elvin Drake. He later graduated from UCLA with a degree in mathematics and proceeded to fulfill a promise made to his high school track coach to come back to his community and teach for three years.
Doby returned to his alma mater in 1968 as the assistant track coach before joining the UCLA administration one year later. During this time, he also received his master’s degree in education and eventually his doctorate in higher education administration. In 1981, Doby became the vice chancellor for student affairs, a position he held until he moved to Oakland to accept the position of UC vice president for educational outreach and later vice president for student affairs.
In 2005, Doby came under fire for his role in a controversial hiring decision regarding the son of Doby’s then-superior, former UC Provost M.R.C. Greenwood. During this time, Doby was placed on paid administrative leave while UC mounted an investigation. An internal audit found that he did not violate university policy, and in 2006, Doby resumed his position as vice president for student affairs, albeit with reduced authority. He retired from UC later that year.
He is survived by his life partner, Linda Baldwin; daughter, Monica Doby Davis; son, Chris; and grandchildren, Anthony and Marina. Details about an on-campus memorial service have yet to be announced.