March 5, 1999

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No one could ever accuse Glenn Seaborg of being one of those intellectuals who huddle up in an ivy-covered tower and never take their nose out of their books. He often expressed his belief in the dictum of Thomas Edison that genius is ninety-nine percent perspiration and said the secret to his success was that he could work harder than most. A reason for this was that throughout his life Seaborg kept in remarkably good shape.

Besides all the backyard pickup games of ball or swimming with his children, Seaborg loved to hike. Generally, every weekend that he was home, he and his wife, Helen, would hike 10 to 15 miles. In 1979, the couple laid out an inter-connected network of 12-mile trails in the East Bay hills that extended from Contra Costa county to the California-Nevada border. It has been reported that the Seaborgs actually hiked across the entire network which is now a link in a cross-country trek put together by the American Hiking Society.

Seaborg was an avid sports fan as well. Amongst the accomplishments of which he was most proud is that in 1959, while he was UC Berkeley Chancellor, the Cal Bears won their first and only National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball championship. That same year, the football team won the conference title and played in the Rose Bowl.

The victorious athletic seasons were especially sweet for Seaborg because in 1952, Clark Kerr, who had just been appointed to be UC Berkeley's first chancellor, asked him to be the university's faculty representative to the Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Serving as both the press spokesperson for the conference and a delegate to the NCAA, Seaborg quickly found himself caught up in the discovery of widespread conference recruiting violations. He championed the drive to clean things up. The conference was disbanded and a new conference was formed, the Athletic Association of Western Universities, that eventually became today's Pac-10.

"On the Berkeley campus, I led what one writer called the revolt of the intellectuals against the excesses of big-time sports," Seaborg would write. "I helped redraw the rules that led to the formation of what is now the Pac-10."

With the success of the Cal basketball and football teams coming at a time when the university ranked third nationally in academics, Seaborg with justified pride was able to write: "Berkeley proved it was possible to combine athletic and academic excellence."

Further Information about Glenn Seaborg: