University News

Winston Doby, UCLA and UC leader who championed student diversity and access, dies

[Memorial: A campus memorial service for Doby will be held Monday, Jan. 23, at 3 p.m. in Royce Hall. R.S.V.P. here or call 310-825-4868.]
Winston C. Doby, vice chancellor emeritus for student affairs at UCLA, who dedicated his career to increasing student diversity and access at UCLA and throughout the University of California system for more than three decades, died Thursday, Nov. 10, in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 71.
A visionary leader whose efforts to broaden opportunities for educationally disadvantaged students earned national recognition, Doby served as UCLA's head of student affairs from 1981 to 2001. During that time, he helped guide the campus through rough waters, fighting to preserve student diversity following the 1996 passage of California's Proposition 209, which dismantled affirmative action programs in admissions.
Although he had retired when UCLA faced a crisis of declining African American enrollment in 2006, Doby played an instrumental role in bringing together local African American leaders to serve on a task force aimed at recruiting more black students to UCLA and reinvigorating the campus's connection to the African American community.
"Throughout his career at UCLA and with the University of California, Winston Doby was committed to encouraging excellence for all students while leading the way for equity," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. "During his tenure as head of student affairs at UCLA, the campus became a national leader in every area of student services and programming. At every step in his career, his special genius for creating programs that were both visionary and pragmatic shone through. He was a leader in every sense of the word."
In November 2010, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities presented Doby with its Distinguished Service Award for his lifelong work to increase diversity and access, calling him "a shining example of the leadership needed in higher education to meet the challenges of serving increasingly diverse and low-income student populations."
Doby's career spanned more than 40 years of service to UCLA and the UC Office of the President, where he served as UC vice president for educational outreach and, later, student affairs.
After graduating from UCLA with a degree in mathematics, Doby fulfilled a promise he made to his high school mentor by taking a teaching job at his alma mater, Fremont High School in Los Angeles, where he worked from 1963 to 1967. He returned to UCLA in 1968 to pursue a master's degree in education and doctorate in higher education administration, during which time he served a one-year stint as a UCLA assistant track coach. He joined campus administration full time in 1969.
Throughout his tenure as vice chancellor, Doby played a prominent leadership role, chairing numerous high-level campus and systemwide task forces that helped shape university policies and practices in a variety of areas, including admissions and outreach, student financial support, student services, and community service.
In the larger community, Doby served as a "roving ambassador" for UCLA, especially in the area of K–12 education, helping to promote outreach, teacher quality and student achievement. For more than a decade, he served on the Los Angeles Unified School District's evaluation planning team, which tackled tough issues like school desegregation, busing and overcrowding.
In the 1980s, he co-founded the community-based Young Black Scholars Program, which has prepared thousands of young African American students for college. In the early 1990s, he founded the Black Male Achievement Project at Ralph Bunche Elementary School in Los Angeles and launched the Los Angeles Sports Academy, designed to promote academic achievement through sports. He also founded a charter school for high school dropouts and was a key contributor to a middle-school pilot program developed to improve mathematics competency.
Doby faced perhaps his greatest challenge in 1996 with the passage of Proposition 209, which effectively ended affirmative action in college admissions.
"It was clear that if we were going to achieve a level of diversity on this campus, which had become so competitive, we would have to get our students of color to perform at a much higher level," he said.
To help students of color in Los Angeles achieve their full academic potential, Doby created what he called the "optimal learning system," a form of "paying it forward." This system of values and practices became the basis for the Career-Based Outreach Program, which was taught on campus to UCLA students, who fanned out into the Los Angeles community and taught it to middle and high school students in low-performing schools. (Watch video)
"If these students performed to their fullest potential, they would be competitive for admission to any institution to which they applied," Doby said.
In recognition of his wide-ranging contributions to UCLA and the community, Doby was chosen by the UCLA Black Alumni Association as the 1999 recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Doby said he credited his lifelong commitment to others to his mother, who provided him with his life's credo: You pass this way but once. If there is any kindness you can show, any goodness you can do, do it now. For you shall not pass this way again.

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