Everett Carter, who served as acting chancellor of UC Davis and acting president of the University, among his various administrative roles, as well as being an exceptional teacher and scholar of nineteenth-century American literature, died of viral pneumonia November 23, 2002, at the age of 83, in Davis.
Born April 28, 1919 in New York City, after high school there Everett attended UCLA for his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., earning the last in 1947. He met his wife Cecile Doudna in Los Angeles, and they married in 1940. Cece taught school to support the family, and Everett wrote publications for Southern Counties Gas and lyrics for songs in Universal Pictures musicals; in the last year of his life he still received modest royalties for the songs.
He taught at Claremont Men’s College from 1946 to 1949, then at Berkeley for eight years.
After a year as visiting lecturer at Harvard, Everett came to Davis in 1958 as Chancellor Emil Mrak’s vice chancellor specifically to develop the academic plan, as UCD looked toward to becoming a general campus in 1959. His particular charge was to enlarge the humanities; he also wrote Chancellor Mrak’s speeches. After three years at Davis and a year as a visiting scholar in Copenhagen, Everett returned to Berkeley to serve as President Clark Kerr’s vice president, coordinating the activities of the various campuses and developing an early form of affirmative action for students. He served as University Dean of Research in 1964, the year of the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley. When a scientist complained to him, questioning what did a humanist know about writing grants, Everett replied that he had won two Guggenheim awards, one in 1952, and a second, an unusual honor, in 1961.
Thereafter he returned to UC Davis and finished his career here, interspersed as it was with eight Fulbrights abroad–at Copenhagen (twice), Hyderabad, Luxembourg, and France–and two two-year stints as Director of UC’s Education Abroad center at Bordeaux. He was such a welcome guest at Bordeaux that he was awarded an honorary doctorate by that University. That love of travel continued after his retirement: he and Cece would take annual vacations each spring to Italy or France, sometimes to both, renting places in the country, enjoying the food, the architecture, and the history. While in California, they regularly attended the San Francisco Opera.
Everett was a consummate teacher, outlining each day’s lecture on the blackboard so that students knew exactly what was going to be covered. His book Howells and the Age of Realism, written in Switzerland during his first Guggenheim, was published by Lippincott and won the Commonwealth Gold Medal for non-fiction in 1954; it was reprinted by Archon in 1966. His The American Idea, published in 1977 by the University of North Carolina Press, explored the thesis that most American literature of the nineteenth century reacted to the notion of progress and essential goodness in man, either endorsing and enlarging upon the notion or rejecting it. After retirement he continued to publish–on Twain, James, Frost, among others–insisting on close readings of the texts and precise historical awareness in an attempt to refute interpretations that he felt read the text through preconceived theoretical perspectives.
Throughout his career, Everett was characterized by his behavior: he was always a gentleman: quiet spoken, polite, encouraging. He is survived by his wife Cece of 63 years, by his sons Dale and Tim, both Ph.D.’s, by his grandchildren, Jeremy, Benjamin, and Jonathan, and by his many friends here and abroad. His example of scholarship and decorum will be missed, as much as the man.