Professor John C. (Jack) Bollens was born in 1920 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His career in the UCLA Political Science Department spanned more than 3 decades from 1950 to 1983. He was a graduate of the College of Wooster, Ohio, completed a Master of Arts degree from Duke University, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1948. Before joining the UCLA faculty, Bollens had been a Lecturer and staff member at the UC Berkeley Institute of Public Administration. He joined the UCLA faculty as an Assistant Professor of Political Science in 1950, and ten years later was promoted to full professor. During this period, Bollens also held positions as Acting Director, Bureau of Governmental Research (1954-55) and Director of Urban Studies, Bureau of Governmental Research (1958-62).
Bollens' publishing career began in 1945 with two articles followed by two books in 1947 and 1948 on County Government Organization in California and California City Government. His lifelong scholarly interests were directed toward study of the metropolis and urban growth. He was a prolific writer on this topic starting in 1965 with one of his most influential books, The Metropolis: Its People, Politics, and Economic Life, a 643-page volume published by Harper & Row, that was revised in 1970, 1975, and 1982. The book, co-authored with Henry Schmandt, provides an analysis of the social, economic, geographic, psychological, political and public administrative dimensions of metropolitan areas in the United States. It was adopted for use by more than 200 colleges and universities.
Over his academic career, Jack Bollens authored or co-authored 26 books. Among them, Local Government in California (1951); State and Local Government in California (1952); Your California Governments in Action (1954); California Government and Politics (1956, 1960, 1964, 1967, 1972, 1977); Exploring the Metropolitan Community (1961); A Study of the Los Angeles City Charter (1963); two editions of California Government and Politics (1960, 1964, 1967, 1972, 1977; American County Government (1969); A Guide to Participation (1973); Governing Urban America in the 1970s (1973); Yorty: Politics of a Constant Candidate (1973); Jerry Brown: In a Plain Brown Wrapper (1978). All told, Jack Bollens can be credited for 113 publications throughout his career.
Jack Bollens played an influential role in training UCLA students for professional roles in city and county government. He was a key shaper of the department's Master of Public Administration degree program and served as its Director from 1962 to 1968. This program operated from 1950 to 1977 and was phased out due to loss of support. He was departmental "Professor of the Year" in 1979. In talking about his commitment to teaching, Bollens said, "I have constantly striven to be well prepared and up to date in my teaching, which has taken much time to do because of the steady changes in the subject matter in which I specialize. I have also always tried to communicate with students and to teach them how to think critically…"
Much of Professor Bollens research interest derived from his many appointments to commissions or committees in the city, county or state government. He was appointed by former Supervisor Ed Edelman to the Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission in 1979. Other assignments include serving as consultant to the National Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (1966-69), The California Governor's Commission on Metropolitan Area Problems (1960-61), the Governor's Commission on the Los Angeles riots (1965-66), and the Los Angeles City Charter Commission (1968-69).
Professor Bollens died in 1983. Shortly thereafter, the Annual Bollens Lecture was instituted to honor his life and work.