University of California Seal



J. A. C. Grant

 Professor of Political Science, Emeritus

Los Angeles



Cliff Grant left an important legacy to both UCLA and the University of California. Chancellor Charles Young declared:


“During his illustrious career in the Political Science Department at UCLA, Cliff Grant contributed greatly to the study of constitutional law and showed deep devotion to his students. I have lost a personal friend, and the University has lost an advocate who, in many ways over many years, helped nurture it to greatness.”


He devoted a good deal of time to Universitywide problems at Berkeley when Clark Kerr was President. President Emeritus Kerr remarked:


“Cliff Grant was one of the University’s most active faculty leaders, always full of energy and ideas. I saw him at work as a leader of one of the most influential departments at UCLA (Political Science), as an opponent of the firing of the non- signers by the Regents during the great oath controversy of 1949-50, as a faculty adviser handling many sensitive assignments when I served as president of the University. He was always optimistic, always assumed that all problems had solutions, always devoted to the general welfare of the University.


Cliff Grant died on the eve of Thanksgiving, November 22, 1995 at the age of 93. Of a Canadian family, he was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota in 1902. Thus, his lifetime spanned the twentieth century and his life was rich in accomplishment and warm human relationships. He married Helen Allison in 1928 and she was at his side when he died. They had two children, William and Beverly, who between them produced seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren for Cliff and Helen.

The family moved to Southern California when Cliff was a child and he graduated from Inglewood High School in 1920 and attended the Southern Branch of the University of California, which would become UCLA, for two years. He studied at Stanford for four years, receiving the B.A. in 1924, the M.A. in 1925, and the Ph.D. in 1927. It was there that his intellectual interest focused on the junction of political science and the law and remained fixed there for the remainder of his life, basically on the American experience but with a substantial comparative admixture. Cliff’s first academic job was at the University of Wisconsin for three years before shifting to the UCLA faculty in 1930 just after the opening of the Westwood campus. He became a full professor in 1940, moved to overscale in 1950, and retired in 1969, receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from UCLA that last year.

Cliff loved the University of California, particularly UCLA, and made enormous contributions beyond his basic research and teaching. They were so numerous that only some can be mentioned here. He was chairman of the Political Science Department, divisional dean of Social Sciences, chairman of the Budget Committee, and chairman of the Academic Senate. Shortly after the war he played an important role in the establishment of the UCLA Law School and the selection of a first dean. In the late sixties and into the seventies after his retirement he worked on systemwide problems in Berkeley for President Clark Kerr and for Academic Vice-President Frank Kidner.

Cliff was much in demand for service outside the University. During World War II he served as vice-chairman of the Regional War Labor Board in San Francisco. After the war he became a labor arbitrator. His “retirement,” of course, was mandatory and could hardly be taken seriously. His health was splendid and his faculties showed no decline. Thus, being a brilliant teacher, he was called back to give his traditional courses. He helped to establish UCLA’s affirmative action program. He was a member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. He helped the government of South Vietnam draw up a constitution. Perhaps his greatest pleasure came from serving on the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise, which supervises projects funded from the estate of the former Supreme Court justice.

Cliff loved books and took a special interest in the departmental library by providing it with a large part of his personal collection. He wrote the chairman in 1975:


“I note that the departmental library, originally christened the Charles Grove Haines Library of Public Law, does not have the current edition of the Library of Congress’ Constitution of the United States, Annotated. Since it costs $20.20, I suppose your funds cannot stand it. So I have bought you one, as a gift to the Library.”


Until his retirement, Cliff was a dedicated and prolific scholar. While he edited and contributed to several books, like most law professors, he specialized in articles which were published in law reviews and political science journals. The topics fell within his general field of interest: constitutional law, criminal law, apportionment, judicial review, the Supreme Court, and many, as noted earlier, comparative studies with Canada, Latin America, and Italy. This scholarship led to a number of invitations to lecture, several times abroad.

But, everyone agreed, Cliff’s forte was teaching, for which he was renowned. Herbert Morris of the UCLA Law School and Philosophy Department put it this way:


“It was in 1948 that I took his course on the Anglo-American Legal System. This is surely one of the great courses offered at the University. The lectures were consistently outstanding because of the amount of knowledge conveyed, the clarity and force of the presentation, the imaginative suggestions for new interpretations, and the constant stimulation of thought. I have vivid memories of those days in class and also of the labors involved in mastering the voluminous reading materials. I can honestly say in my case, but I know it to be true of others as well, that with this course alone Cliff managed to turn a mild interest in the law into an alive enthusiasm. I can also say that its historical and comparative emphasis was of considerable assistance to me at the Yale Law School where, despite the riches of curricula in law, there was nothing that approached what Cliff did. In my judgment his course would be an excellent course at any law school.”


For those of us a generation or two younger than Cliff and Helen who came as newcomers to the department they were warm friends who greeted us on arrival, helped us get along, and comforted us in adversity.


Irving Bernstein