Born in Germany in 1923, Werner Baum became a naturalized citizen in 1934, and the seventh president of the University in 1968. He joined URI after a distinished career in government and academic service including an appointment by President Lyndon Johnson as the Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Science Services Administration.
His five-year tenure was marked by tumult and controversary. He inherited close to a million dollar deficit and had three governing boards in five years. He faced University-wide student strikes and protests against the Vietnam War, the invasion of Cambodia, the shootings at Kent State, and an African-American student take-over of the Administration Building. Students demanded more privileges and their parents demanded they not have them. Despite the upheaval, Baum made numerous contributions to the University including expanding the holdings of the University Library by more than 50 percent.
The most obvious change in students has been in the psychological areas of new awarenesses and expectations around the youth culture as separate from the rest of society. It goes without saying that youth and more particularly college-age youth are making distinctive, confronting, and shockingly controversial contributions to our forms of dress, language, and manners of relating and using our leisure. College-age youth seem generally satisfied to create and perpetuate their culture quite apart from what is traditional and acceptable to their parents — of whom I am one.
Werner A. Baum