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Transcript of interview with Dr. Donald Baepler by Suzanne Becker, April 23, 2007






Dr. Donald Baepler was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in July of 1932. The family moved to Springfield, Illinois in 1936, where his father was president of Concordia Seminary. Donald decided at the age of seven that he wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in ornithology, not an unusual goal in his family. By the time he graduated high school, he knew that he wanted to attend Carlton College in Minnesota to study under Olin Sewall Pettingill. He followed world-famous ornithologist and artist George Sutton to Michigan and then to Oklahoma to complete his doctorate. In 1960, having completed his doctorate, Donald met with a recruiter from Las Vegas. It seemed like an intriguing place, so he took the interview and was offered a job on the spot. Instead, he took a job as professor of biology at Central Washington University, and within four years was vice president for administration and business. He had also been appointed to an accrediting team by the Northwest Association to accredit colleges in the western states, including Nevada Southern University in Las Vegas, and saw the growing town and university for the first time in 1965. Two years later, he was invited to take the job of Academic Vice President at SNU, which he accepted, and he and his family made the move to Las Vegas in 1968. Upon arriving in Las Vegas, Donald discovered that he had been named acting president because of Donald Moyer's abrupt resignation. He simply decided to do both jobs. He was successful in changing the name of the school to University of Nevada Las Vegas so that it would not be confused with a teacher's college. This was wholeheartedly accepted by the regents. Once Roman Zom was appointed president in 1969, Donald went back to the vice president position. In 1973, Dr. Baepler was appointed president of UNLV. He held that position for live years and then turned in his resignation. His intent was to teach, focus on a Museum of Natural History, and start a research center. Instead, he was offered the chancellorship of the university system, and he decided to accept the job By 1981, Donald was ready to return to teaching and research, so he resigned as chancellor and came back full-time as museum director and professor of biology. He built up a high-hazard chemistry lab and got the grant monies to sustain it. Dr. Baepler was also influential in adding the Harry Reid Center to the museum. Today Dr. Baepler is still involved with the bird program and gives advice to graduate students, but he no longer teaches. He stays occupied with a private consulting business.

Digital ID



Donald Baepler oral history interview. 2007 April 23. OH-00055.[Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Dr. Donald Baepler An Oral History Conducted by Suzanne Becker The UNLV @ Fifty Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas 2007 ©UNLV@ FIFTY Oral History Project