Former four-term CFA Sonoma president, Victor Garlin passed away in February after a brief illness. He was a professor emeritus of economics at Sonoma State University.
In an obituary, Sonoma State emeritus professor and former CFA Chapter President Andy Merrifield mentioned that, “Vic worked tirelessly for faculty regardless of rank or job. This work included recruiting and mentoring campus union leaders in all ranks.”
“At one senate meeting, Victor continued pushing the Sonoma State president to give a full report demonstrating management’s contempt for the people who ran the university, the faculty, and the staff. He didn’t let up. Even after the meeting ended, he stood toe to toe with the president (both of them liked to have the last word.) Forty-five minutes later, as I left campus, I saw the president going to his office. He looked throttled,” remembered Merrifield. “I didn’t see Victor, but I knew to a moral certainty that he had that spring in his step that came with enlightening the faculty of the need for vigilance and the joy of the struggle. Few of our members had a better time fighting the good fight than Victor Garlin. May he rest in power.”
Merrifield further explained that after four-plus two-year terms as president, “Vic stayed in the middle of the fray, as a leader without portfolio, as a continuing voice for the union in the (Academic Senate) no matter what chair he sat in, and as a reliable organizer, who never failed to show up on the picket line, but never crossed one.”
According to the family’s obituary, Garlin was born in Moscow, then USSR, on Dec. 18, 1935. His father was a foreign correspondent for the communist publication Daily Worker. The family would eventually immigrate to the United States, and Garlin would grow up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Garlin’s orientation toward progressive thought started early.
“He came of age at Camp Woodland (a civil rights-oriented summer camp in the Catskills), where he learned the left-wing folk canon on guitar. He spent many Sunday afternoons in Greenwich Village’s Washington Square Park, where the folk scene was taking shape,” according to the family remembrance.
While at UC Berkeley, Garlin was involved in the undergraduate student movement.
“Garlin was politically engaged in campus activities and national movements, including Students to Combat McCarthyism, the Committee to Abolish the House Un-American Activities Committee, the student political party SLATE, and the Free Speech Movement. Garlin wrote for the Daily Cal newspaper and was on the editorial board of Root and Branch, a short-lived journal of radical scholarship,” stated the Berkleyside obituary.
He would stay at UC Berkeley to earn a Ph.D. in economics.
In 1970, Garlin became an assistant professor of economics at Sonoma State University. He created and taught two popular radical economics courses: Power and Freedom in the American Economy and Economic Encounters and Humanistic Values. Galvin co-authored the groundbreaking article “Towards a Radical Political Economics.”
Outside of campus work in 1977, Garlin was appointed to the California Health Facilities Commission. The family noted that “when he left the commission in 1982, he was honored with a joint resolution of commendation by both houses of the California Legislature.”