Dean Carl D. Riggs
Carl Riggs succeeded Arthur Doerr as Dean of the Graduate College in 1965. During his six-year tenure, Riggs did much to improve the image of the college, both within the university and throughout Oklahoma. Riggs attended defenses of degrees, increased the dean’s participation in university councils and panels, made trips to local colleges and publicized university achievements in an effort to promote both the Graduate College and OU as a whole.
Before becoming Dean of the Graduate College, Carl Riggs had already served the university for 12 years. While working on his doctorate at the University of Michigan, Riggs taught as an instructor in the zoology department at OU. He was named director of Oklahoma Biological Survey in1949 and director of the Oklahoma Biological Station in 1950. Riggs deserves much of the credit for the development of the Biological Station into one of the premier biological research centers in the nation. Riggs also served as curator of zoology for the university museum.
The deanship of the Graduate College was a controversial position when Riggs accepted it in 1965. For the previous five years, the university faculty and the Deans’ Council had debated whether or not to do away with the post and redistribute the responsibilities of the graduate college into the individual departments throughout the university. Though this idea never came to fruition, it remained unclear what the dean of a college with no direct control over a budget or students actually did. In 1967, Riggs redefined the responsibilities of the graduate dean, strengthening a position that had been largely stagnant for 20 years.
In addition to presiding over graduate faculty and Graduate Council meetings, Riggs reasserted the responsibility of the dean for providing student guidance, obtaining financial support for graduate studies and assessing the viability of each degree offered. Riggs emphasized the sovereignty of the graduate dean in managing the college’s budget and overseeing its personnel, equipment and procedures. Riggs also stressed the importance of the dean as a university leader serving on panels and committees to set cross-departmental policy.
Riggs also recorded the strengths and weaknesses of the Graduate College as he saw them in 1967. In addition to the usual requests for more funding and space, Riggs noted a need for more planning. He called for the modernization of curricula and new doctoral programs. Riggs recorded the strengths of the college in the fields of chemical and petroleum engineering, history, physiology and psychology, but he also pointed to areas where the college should be stronger, including anthropology and meteorology. Riggs also saw a need for a better public image, focusing on the college’s publicity and the need to improve morale to keep top faculty. During Riggs six-year tenure, he achieved many of his goals in strengthening the college and improving its image.In addition to his service as Graduate Dean, Carl Riggs was active in many local and national societies. He was a member of the Oklahoma Academy of Science; the Southwestern Association of Naturalists; the American Fisheries Society; the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists; the Wilson Ornithological Society; and the American Institute of Biological Sciences. He also was a member of the local Presbyterian Club and Norman Lions (president 1958-1959).