Ellis Arnold Stebbins (1961-1962)


Ellis Arnold Stebbins was born March 14, 1900 in Ellsworth, Iowa and attended Pacific University. Stebbins occupied many different positions over his forty-year tenure on Oregon College of Education (OCE) campus, including Assistant to the President, Dean of Administration, Business Manager, and Interim President. He was known for his expertise about the college history and was respected by all.

Stebbins began his long career at the college by filling what was initially intended to be a temporary position as secretary and assistant to President Joseph Samuel Landers. When he began at the college, it was still a two-year Normal School. During his tenure at on campus he saw the student population shrink to only 117 due to the Great Depression and World War II, then its resurgence during the post-war era and saw the institution become a four-year college.

Most controversially, Stebbins allowed the General Secretary of the U.S. Communist Party, Gus Hall, to speak on campus in 1962, which sparked protests and outrage. He received hate mail for months, including letters addressed to "Comrade Stebbins." Stebbins believed Hall’s right to free speech was crucial for showing the importance of academic freedom and intellectual discourse. He issued a manifesto defending those principles on February 6, 1962. For his stand on the Gus Hall controversy, Stebbins was nominated for the Meiklejohn Award, given each year by the American Association of University Professors to the “person in higher education who contributes most significantly to academic freedom.”

Stebbins was a central figure at the college from 1928 until 1968 when he retired as Dean of Administration. His forty-year tenure saw him serve the institution, through the terms of office of seven college presidents. After his long professional service to the institution, Stebbins helped to facilitate the one hundred-year time capsule unveiling in 1971. Stebbins was honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the Oregon State Employees Association, and "Man of the Year" by the City of Monmouth. He served on the Monmouth City Council. During his retirement, Stebbins wrote a book called The OCE Story, which described the history of the college from the mid-19th century beginnings to the late 1960s. The book was later expanded by Professor Gary Huxford and renamed Since 1856… Historical Views of the College at Monmouth. Ellis Stebbins is credited for establishing the university archives. Ellis Stebbins died in Salem, Oregon on June 1, 1992.