David Prescott Barrows, political scientist and ninth President of the University (1919-23) was born in Chicago, Illinois, June 27, 1873. While he and his sister were small children their parents moved to a ranch in the Ojai valley, Ventura county, California. He obtained the A.B. degree from Pomona College, California in 1894, the M.A. degree from the University of California in 1895, and a Ph.D. degree in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1897. He taught history at San Diego State College for two years and then, in 1900, was appointed superintendent of schools in Manila by William H. Taft, Governor-General of the Philippines. Later, he became chief of the Bureau of the Non-Christian Tribes of the Philippine Islands and, in 1903, director of education for the Islands.
Barrows visited the University of California as a lecturer in anthropology in the spring of 1907. In January, 1910, he was called to the University as professor of education and in August, he was appointed dean of the Graduate School. In 1911, he succeeded Bernard Moses as professor of political science and in July, 1913, he was appointed dean of the faculties. He acted as President while President Wheeler was on leave during the fall semester of 1913.
During World War I, Barrows served with Herbert Hoover on the American Commission for Relief in Belgium, December, 1915-June, 1916. In 1917, he was commissioned major in the U.S. Army and was attached to the 91st Division stationed in the Philippine islands. He accompanied the American Expeditionary Force in Siberia as intelligence officer (and as lieutenant colonel), July, 1918-March, 1919. After the war, he continued in military service in the U.S. National Guard until 1937. As major general in command of the 40th Division of the Guard, he directed the protection of the Port of San Francisco during the three-month longshoremen's strike of 1934.
Barrows was elected President of the University in December, 1919 and took office at once. Caught in the aftermath of the war between doubling enrollments and rising costs, the University had again outgrown its basis of financial support. By means of a "deficit budget," the emergency was met until the meeting of the 1921 legislature when the basic biennial appropriation for University maintenance was increased from $4 million to $9 million. This permitted an increase in the faculty salary scale, one of Barrows' chief concerns. Another attempt to separate the College of Agriculture from the University was averted during his administration and the college was reorganized with freshman and sophomore University instruction offered at Davis as well as at Berkeley.
The years 1919 and 1920 marked a period of adjustment in the relations between the President and faculty of the University. The adjustment followed the so-called "faculty revolution" which took place in the interim between Wheeler's retirement and Barrows' election. Faculty and Regents' committees reached agreement early in 1920 and standing orders adopted by the Regents on June 24 gave the faculty increased powers of self-government including direct access to the Regents through authorized committees. To Barrows, trained in the concept that the President be party to all communication between faculty and Regents, this implied a lack of confidence in the office itself. Also, he did not wholeheartedly approve of the rapid development of the campus at Los Angeles, expressing concern that competition between the two campuses for funds and faculty members might result in the mediocrity of both. In May, 1922, he offered to resign the Presidency and be returned to his former teaching position, but at the request of the Regents, he remained in office another year.
He left the Presidency June 30, 1923. Having been accorded a sabbatical leave, he spent the next year in travel that included a 2,500 mile trek across the French Sudan in the interior of Africa. In 1924, he returned to the department of political science at Berkeley as chairman. During the 1930's, he made several trips to Central and South America under the auspices of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, acted as trustee of the California College in China and of Mills College, and was twice elected a director of the East Bay Utilities District. In World War II, he served as a consultant to the Secretary of War, and subsequently in the Office of Strategic Services.
He became professor emeritus in 1943 and for the next two years was a radio commentator for the International News Service. He also wrote a series of articles on world affairs for the California Monthly. He died suddenly at an outing on his "ranch" in Contra Costa county, September 5, 1954 at the age of 81.
Anna Spencer Nichols and Barrows were classmates at Pomona College and married July, 1895. Mrs. Barrows died April 12, 1936. There were four children: Anna (Mrs. Floyd W. Stewart), Ella (Mrs. Gerald Hagar), Thomas N., and Elizabeth (Mrs. Frank G. Adams). In December, 1937, Barrows married Mrs. Eva S. White, who survived him.
Barrows was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. by Pomona College, 1914; the University of California, 1919; and Mills College, 1925. He received the honorary degree of Litt.D. from Columbia University in 1923, and of Doctor by the University of Bolivia, 1928. He received the Order of the Crown from Belgium, the Croix de Guerre from Czechoslovakia, the Order of the Sacred Treasure from Japan, and was a chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France. In 1933-34, he was Roosevelt Professor at the University of Berlin.
He was the author of: Ethno-Botany of the Coahuilla Indians (1900); History of the Philippines (1903); A Decade of American Government in the Philippine Islands (1915); British Politics in Transition (1925); and Berbers and Blacks (1926); in addition to articles in professional journals and the California Monthly.