University of California, Riverside

UC Riverside Foundation Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

Dean Thomas L. Broadbent Award Endowed Fund

Dean Thomas L. Broadbent Award Endowed Fund


AVC/Dean of Students D01164


Undergraduate Student Support

History and Purpose:

Thomas L. Broadbent was UCR's first Dean of Students. Respected highly by colleagues for his judgment, Professor Emeritus Broadbent served the campus when its rules and policies were first created. In 1964, Dr. Broadbent became full professor of German. Before his retirement in 1977, he also served as associate dean of the College of Letters and Science.

Before the beginning was Tom Broadbent. He came to campus in 1953 as associate professor of German and as UCR's first dean of students, before there were students, before there were buildings in which to teach them. Tom was a frontiersman, a pioneer for UCR, much beloved in Riverside. He was well suited to this place, this life, his era.

Tom was born in Provo in 1910. After his father died, when he was six, the surviving members of the family moved in with his maternal grandfather in Lehi, Utah, where Tom learned about the West firsthand from a man who had once been friends with Jesse James. His grandfather was a handyman, janitor, gardener, occasional night watchman. He whittled wooden whistles and puzzles for his grandson, telling him stories to while the time away. Too poor to buy a bicycle from the Sears-Roebuck catalog, Tom and his grandfather constructed one from parts found in the city dump. He learned to be resourceful, not to mention to be adept at poker-playing, gardening, and story-telling. Notwithstanding poverty and the harsh seasoning of Utah, Tom learned to make the West his home.

Tom received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Brigham Young University, earning his doctorate in German language and literature at the University of Michigan in 1942. He had been to Germany in 1933 and had seen the Nazis come to power. He took home and taught the lesson about the importance of individualism and the dangers of a politics of fear. Tom's respect for human dignity had grown up with him from childhood, became focused in his experiences in Germany,
and was part and parcel of his scholarship on Lessing, Goethe, and German Romanticism, as well as his career at UCR.

But in-between had come the war. Tom served as an officer in the Navy, returning after the war to teach at Brigham Young and at the University of Utah, where he was associate professor of German and an academic counselor, before he was recruited by Provost Gordon Watkins to come to UCR as a professor of German and dean of men. Tom insisted on teaching while a dean, and the first semester there were students he taught a class of three. It is a tragedy, he said, "when administrators isolate themselves from students by not meeting them in the primary relationship of teacher and student."

The campus Thomas Broadbent came to had been designed to serve a maximum of two thousand students, as a publicly-supported college of arts and sciences. That first semester there were fifty faculty teaching one hundred and twenty-six students. As Tom was fond of saying,

In 1959 plans changed, as the UC Regents designated Riverside a general campus, anticipating as many as twenty-seven thousand students. As a consequence, the self-identity of students, faculty, and administrators at UCR began to change over to a different kind of university community.

Broadbent continued on as dean until 1963, when he went on leave to Gottingen, to help create the UC foreign study center there. The next year he resigned as dean to continue for a second year in Gottingen, returning to the campus in 1965 as a member of the faculty. He was the last of the original officers at UCR to leave its administration, after a decade of genesis and change. He retired from the campus in 1977, but he continued to remain active in service to the Riverside community. He served as foreman of the Riverside County Grand Jury, remained active in the Red Cross and the Boy Scouts. He continued to work until he died, helping with the literacy program sponsored by the Riverside Public Library, teaching students how to read and enjoy their reading. The Broadbent Award for the Outstanding Male Graduate is, of course, named after him, as is a street in Riverside.

Thomas Broadbent was deeply loved by those whose lives he touched, but it is also worth considering the love he gave. His love for his wife, Wilma, and her love for him energized their dedication to the campus and the town. And so, when Tom was dean, Wilma gave her loving support to the creation of a campus health center. Together they extended their familial love beyond their own children to friends of more than forty years by now, students, colleagues, strangers of all ages. As a caring dean, Tom lent money to students in need; as a caring person he visited the sick in hospitals. Tom knew of no division between the life of mind and the life of service, no barrier between his work and the community.

Generosity is often born of hardship and tragedy. Like so many of the other founding faculty, Tom Broadbent knew both. During the dark days of the forties it sometimes seemed the war might well be lost, freedom vanquished by fascism. Growing up in Utah, Tom learned how family and community kept hope alive. For the founding faculty who had endured the tragedy of the world war, many came to UC Riverside with a rededicated sense of mission and a faith that the future could be better than the past. There was a certain spiritual presence in their scholarship, their teaching, and their service to the community at large.

In 1965 upon his leaving the Dean's office for the German department, the Associated Men Students conceived the Dean Thomas L. Broadbent Award to honor Dean Broadbent. In 1988, with a gift from Dean and Mrs. Broadbent, the award was created. Overseen by the Office of Student Services, the award is presented at Commencement ceremonies to a graduating undergraduate male for outstanding participation in extracurricular on-campus activities and leadership in student organizations. This award was established by the Associated Men Students in 1965.

Selection and Guidelines:

This fund will be presented to a graduating undergraduate male student for outstanding participation in extracurricular on-campus activities and leadership in student organizations. Eligibility requires a 3.2 GPA. A personal plaque, inscription on a perpetual plaque, and cash are awarded.

 Request for Information:

Joe Virata
Assistant Dean of Students
Request Scholarship Information

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Office of Development
1955 Chicago Avenue, Ste. 200, Riverside, CA 92507

Roberta Albert
Assistant Director for Stewardship and Donor Relations
Tel: (951) 827-5247

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