IN MEMORIAM: Roberto C. Delgadillo and Chester ‘Chet’ McCorkle

Man stands at exhibit case, obeserving the exhibit, "Harry Potter Turns 21"
Roberto C. Delgadillo reviews the exhibit he curated in 2018 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book. (Pattie Chen/UC Davis)


  • Roberto C. Delgadillo, UC Davis Library
  • Chester O. McCorkle Jr., College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and UC Davis and UC administration

Roberto C. Delgadillo: Librarian

This obituary is excerpted from a memorial tribute by Jessica Nusbaum, director of communications and marketing for the UC Davis Library. You can read the library’s complete tribute here.

Roberto Carlos Delgadillo, student services librarian, died Oct. 30. A librarian at UC Davis for 17 years, he is remembered for his unwavering devotion to supporting students, wicked sense of humor and ability to dig up reams of research on topics from Latin American history to Harry Potter.

“The students were always number one. He was willing to go the extra mile to meet with them and support their research needs,” recalled fellow student services librarian Melinda Livas. “He had such a great rapport with students that when they left a research session, not only did they get the information they needed, they would always be smiling.”

Roberto was particularly passionate about supporting students from historically underserved communities. In 2017 he established a program of embedded librarianship at the Center for Latinx and Chicanx Academic Student Success, holding “Latte with a Librarian” office hours at El Centro to ensure that research was accessible and approachable for Latinx, Chicanx and first-gen students.

Two men converse across table
In photo from 2019, Cirilo Cortez, left, chats with Delgadillo at El Centro, home of the Chincanx and Latinx Academic Student Success Center where Cortez was the director at the time. “Having librarians interested in supporting diversity and inclusion has helped our students establish a sense of belonging within the library and the university,” Cortez said.

“Roberto’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion was unwavering. He inspired us all to try harder to connect with our underserved and marginalized communities,” said MacKenzie Smith, university librarian and vice provost of digital scholarship. “He inspired countless students to use the library and improve their research, and the faculty that he worked with adored him — so much so that they nominated him for the American Library Association’s prestigious ‘I Love My Librarian’ award.” He won it in 2012.

Dan Goldstein, researcher services librarian, said: “If he ever worked with somebody, he was their librarian for life. I know there are many, many faculty for whom he was ‘their librarian.’”

Following in his footsteps

Mario González ’22, a first-generation college student like Delgadillo, said Roberto became a mentor and friend. “He was my family here, he looked after me like a big brother,” Mario said. “He had a big role in my wanting to become a librarian, because I admired what he was doing to help students.”

With Roberto’s support, Mario applied for graduate school and is now pursuing his master’s in library and information science from San Jose State University. It’s an online program, allowing Mario to work in collection maintenance at the UC Davis Library.

Roberto was an “exemplary librarian,” Smith said, adding: “His legacy at the UC Davis Library will not be forgotten.”

Delgadillo is survived by his wife, Robin Gustafson, the library’s head of Access and Delivery Services; and his parents, Norma and Evelio Herrera. A private family service is being planned.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages contributions to EveryLibrary or SALALM, two organizations close to Delgadillo’s heart.

The library is assembling a memory book to give to his wife and family; anyone who wishes to share notes, memories or photos may drop them off at the library administration office on the first floor of Shields Library, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, or send them by email to be printed for inclusion in the book.

Chester O. “Chet” McCorkle Jr.: Professor and administrator

In a 1989 Dateline article, Chester O. McCorkle Jr. spoke about a simpler time in UC Davis history, in 1963, when he and Chancellor Emil Mrak comprised the administration’s upper ranks. “I was vice chancellor — not ‘of’ anything, because we had only one,” McCorkle said.

Chester O.  McCorkle Jr., UC Davis faculty, headshot
Chester O. McCorkle Jr.

He would go on to become “the” vice president of the UC system, serving from 1970 to 1978 when he decided to return to full-time teaching and research as a professor of agricultural economics. He missed the classroom, where he had been the recipient of an outstanding teacher award from students.

He retired in 1991 after 40 years as a member of the UC Davis faculty, interspersed with his service in the UC Davis and UC administrations in the 1960s and ’70s, a period of rapid growth in the UC system.

“Chet” McCorkle died April 20 at a private home care facility in St. Helena, Napa County, at the age of 97. He continued to work through 2019, the year he authored his final case studies — dozens of them — for the California Agribusiness Executive Seminar, which he co-founded and directed for 30 years.

Vice chancellor, 1963-69

He first served in the systemwide administration from 1962 to 1963, putting in a year as academic assistant to then-President Clark Kerr. Back at UC Davis, McCorkle served for a month as special assistant to Chancellor Mrak before moving up to vice chancellor, a position that included oversight of academic affairs, serving from 1963 to 1969. During this time, enrollment of undergraduates and graduate students grew by more than 1½ times, from 4,851 to 12,320.

I was vice chancellor — not ‘of’ anything, because we had only one. Emil and I were the administration. — Chester O. “Chet” McCorkle Jr., in 1963 Dateline article

McCorkle was named dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences in 1969 but would stay in the position only a year before being called back to UC, where he would serve as vice president for eight years under Charles Hitch and David Saxon.

Born in Gilroy, a third-generation Californian, McCorkle began his college education in 1941 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he studied agronomy and trained to be a Marine Corps officer. Amid World War II, school gave way to active duty as a captain at Camp Pendleton, working with troops who were training for duty on amphibious landing vehicles. He returned to Cal Poly in 1946 and transferred that same year to UC Berkeley, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics — and played in the Cal marching band.

Growing a university

He worked as an agricultural analyst for the Bank of America for about a year and as an assistant specialist for UC Berkeley’s Agricultural Experiment Station for two years before joining the Davis campus as an instructor in 1952, hired by Harry Wellman and Ed Voorhies, who had been tasked with assembling and leading an expanded ag economics department. The expansion coincided with planning to grow the old University Farm into a full-fledged UC campus, which happened in 1959.

McCorkle specialized in farm production economics and farm management, and he also studied resource use and development outside the United States. He had spent a year in Greece studying the country's agricultural sector and evaluating changes that it would need to implement for entry into the Common Market.

He is survived by his wife, Sandra Archibald McCorkle of St. Helena; daughter Sandy of San Jose, and sons Ken of Aiken, South Carolina, and Tim of Franklin, Tennessee; stepdaughter Alison Bowyer of St. Helena and stepson Jay Archibald of Napa; and five grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556,; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932,

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