G. William Domhoff: The Adventures and Regrets of a Professor of Dreams and Power

1886G. William Domhoff, at McHenry Library, UC Santa Cruz
For the complete text of G. William Domhoff: The Adventures and Regrets of a Professor of Dreams and Power (escholarship). Includes complete audio (streaming or download) for the oral history. Note: Due to editing by the narrator and the Project, there may be minor differences between the audio recording and the transcript. Please quote from the transcript as the record and not the audio. Audio will be found under "Supporting Material."

G. William (Bill) Domhoff is a research professor of psychology and sociology at UC Santa Cruz. He arrived at the campus in the fall of 1965 as an assistant professor in the psychology department, affiliated with Cowell College, and is one of UCSC’s founding faculty members. Domhoff was born in 1936 near Cleveland, Ohio; he received his BA at Duke University, his MA at Kent State University, and his PhD in psychology at the University of Miami. He taught at California State University, Los Angeles for three years before arriving at UCSC.

Domhoff’s reputation as a scholar extends far beyond UCSC; four of his books were among the top fifty best sellers in sociology for the years 1950 to 1995: Who Rules America? (1967, #12); The Higher Circles (1970, #39); The Powers That Be (1979, #47); and Who Rules America Now? (1983, #43). While he began his career as a psychologist; what is remarkable is that Domhoff has made significant contributions to two fields: sociology (in power structure research), and psychology (research on dreams). Domhoff’s dual career was perhaps more possible at UC Santa Cruz, which, particularly in its early years, encouraged faculty to engage in cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research.

This oral history has two major foci. The first is Domhoff’s recollections of UC Santa Cruz over the entire (nearly) fifty year history of the campus, including his memories of the early years playing baseball with students at Cowell College; his thoughts on the unique features of UC Santa Cruz such as the colleges, the Narrative Evaluation System, and the Banana Slug Mascot, as well as his administrative work on several key committees, as chair of the Academic Senate, and as dean of social sciences. Domhoff took early retirement from UCSC in 1994 and continued to be an active scholar in both of his fields.

The second focus of this narrative is to explore the trajectory of a prolific, eclectic, and accomplished scholar. As is evident in this oral history, Domhoff has never truly retired; he continues to research, write, and publish. In 2007 he received the University of California's Constantine Panunzio Distinguished Emeriti Award, which honors the postretirement contributions of UC faculty. Much of his work is now accessible on two web sites: and