Locke, Hubert (1934-2018)

  • By Mary T. Henry
  • Posted 10/28/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8343

Hubert Gaylord Locke was a longtime professor and administrator at the University of Washington, where he served for five years as dean of the School of Public Affairs. Locke was a moral leader, an author, a Holocaust scholar, and an authority on police and urban affairs. He was described as "a sort of civic-wise-man-in-residence, counseling patience and understanding in politicians and offering a voice of reason on contentious issues from race relations to growth management" (The Seattle Times, July 9, 1995).

Early Years

A Detroit native, Locke was born there on April 30, 1934, to Willa L. Locke (1909-1997) and Hubert H. Locke (1907-1998).  His mother was a housewife and his father worked for 32 years in front of the open hearth at Ford Motor Company.  Locke earned  a bachelor’s degree in Latin and Greek from Wayne State University in 1955, and a bachelor’s in divinity from the University of Chicago in 1959.  For 12 years he was minister of the Church of Christ of Conant Gardens in Detroit, which in 1958 had a membership of 23 parishioners, but which grew substantially under his leadership.
Continuing his education, Locke received a master's degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan in 1961.  He said he never intended to be an administrator and intended to pursue a career as a clergyman.  He was sidetracked, however, by studies of the Third Reich and the effects the Nazi government and churches had on each other.  Three-quarters of the way through his doctoral studies in American Intellectual History, the civil rights movement caught his attention and he never finished his thesis. In 1962, he left school to become executive director of the Citizen’s Committee for Equal Opportunity, a civil rights organization in Detroit.

With full intentions of returning to the university to complete his doctorate in 1966, he was convinced by black leaders in Detroit to accept a position created inside the police department by Mayor Jerome Cavanaugh.  He took the job, serving as Administrative Assistant to the Detroit Commissioner of Police and published The Detroit Riot of 1967, a definitive account of the worst civil disorder in twentieth-century urban America. 
University Affiliations
For the following five years (1967-1972) Locke served as Adjunct Assistant Professor of Urban Education and Fellow of the Center for Urban Studies at Wayne State University. In 1972, he became the first head of the new College of Public Affairs at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. 
Locke came to the University of Washington in 1976, half time as assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and half time in Public Affairs.  In 1977, he became Vice Provost for Academic affairs and in this capacity worked closely with faculty and administrators of various departments, schools, and colleges, assisting them in management, program planning, and review. 
As dean of the School of Public Affairs, the position he held from 1982 to 1987, he was praised by University of Washington President William Gerberding for serving through financially perilous times while maintaining excellence for the program.
After a sabbatical in 1988, Locke returned to the university and directed courses on ethics, administration of justice, and urban policy and resumed research on policing in western societies and studies of the Third Reich and the Holocaust.   He retired from the university in 1999, as Dean Emeritus of the Evans School of Public Affairs.
The Holocaust and the Third Reich
Locke maintained a passionate interest in the Holocaust and the Third Reich throughout his career as a historian and an ethicist.  In 1970 he was cofounder with Frank Littell of the Annual Scholars Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches. His research and publications on the role of the churches during the Holocaust have earned him national as well as international acclaim.  In a speech at the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust in 2000, he alluded to the reason for his commitment to the topic: 

“Those of us who have devoted our professional careers to probing the record of the great calamity of the century which has just drawn to a close, take heart in the commitment of leaders of the world’s nation states not to let the lessons of that catastrophe be lost on the minds and hearts of the peoples of their countries ... . If there is any hope for the world, it lies in recognizing and acknowledging our capacity as human creatures to wreak havoc and destruction on one another.” 

Locke's books on the topic include Learning from History: A Black Christian’s Perspective on the Holocaust, The Church Confronts the Fatherland, Exile in the Fatherland: The Prison Letters of Martin Niemoller, The Church Confronts the Nazi Barmen Then and Now, The German Church Struggle, and Searching for God in Godforsaken Times and Places.
Crime, Justice, and Ethics

In addition to his interest in the Holocaust and the Third Reich, Locke’s research and writing on the criminal justice system and justice in American society was extensive.  He published widely on these topics and his essays appeared in The New York Times, The Journal of Criminology and Police Science, and the Journal of Urban Law.   With funding from the National Science Foundation he conducted research on “Human Values, Technology, and Law Enforcement.”  Under a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, he has explored “The Police, Institutional Racism, and Change.”   He was a frequent contributor to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Times on local and national ethical issues.
In 1993 Locke was appointed by Governor Mike Lowry (1939-2017), along with Delores Teutsch, a former legislator, and Ruth Coffin Schroeder, past president of the League of Women Voters, to a Citizens Commission on Government Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform.  The commission reviewed the role of the Public Disclosure Commission, which had been accused of mishandling the investigation of illegal campaigning.  Locke also served as chair of the Washington State Sentencing Guidelines Commission, as chair of the Ethics Board of King County, and as co-chair of the Washington State Commission on Ethics and Political Accountability.
With a long and distinguished record of community involvement, Locke was frequently selected to sit on panels studying Seattle police activities.  In 1999, 10 days after a Seattle detective was charged in a theft case, Mayor Paul Schell (1937-2014) named him as a consultant to a review panel chaired by King County Superior Court Judge Charles Johnson. It was the first review of the department in 15 years. In 2001, Schell again called on Locke to co-chair one of three review panels that investigated the Mardi Gras riot in Pioneer Square that left one young man dead. In 2007, Mayor Greg Nickels (b. 1955) named Locke to a panel of prominent citizens to review the handling of internal investigations in the police department and the performance of Chief Gil Kerlikowske. 

Community Service

In addition to his writing, public-speaking engagements, teaching, research, and civic appointments, Locke found time to serve on numerous local and national boards. From 1970 until 1981 he served as one of the first 12 directors of the Police Foundation created by the Ford Foundation to investigate police problems. For nine years he served as the first of two non-family members on the board of the Bullitt Foundation. 

Among the local and national institutions on whose boards he served were the Russell Family Foundation, Lakeside School, Common Cause, the Institute of European Studies, the Pacific School of Religion, the Museum of History &  Industry (MOHAI), the Seattle Symphony, National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Disciples Divinity House at the University of Chicago, Disciples Seminary Foundation at Claremont, the Washington State Judicial Conduct Commission, and Historylink.org, the online encyclopedia of Washington state history (this website). He also served on the Committee on Church Relations for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. 
Hubert Locke received honorary doctorates from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the University of Bridgeport,  Richard Stockton College,  Payne Theological Seminary of Wilberforce University, University of Akron, and the Chicago Theological Seminary.
The annual Hubert Locke Distinguished Service Award was established in 2002 at the University of Nebraska-Omaha to honor an individual who has demonstrated exemplary commitment to the ideas of public service through their professional activities, community service, and philanthropy.  "The award is named in his honor because his distinguished record of public and community service represents the highest ideals of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University."
The  Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington has established the Locke Fellowship in Social Justice in honor of Hubert Locke's years of service to the School of Public Affairs and to the field of social justice.  There are three awards at $3,000 each to provide support for a student pursuing an internship in a non-profit organization devoted to domestic social justice issues.

Hubert Locke died at the age of 84 on June 2, 2018.


“Members of Mayor’s Panel on Police Oversight,” The Seattle Times, June 30, 2007 (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/); Stephen Farr, “Locke Steps Down From Public Affairs Deanship,” University of Washington Daily, February 11, 1987; Megan German, “Garfia, Locke Join Administration,” University of Washington Daily, April 12, 1977;  Mary Henry Interview with Hubert Locke, Seattle, October 9, 2007; Rosie Hubrier, “Hubert Locke, Public Affairs Dean to Take Time Off from Line of Fire,” University of Washington Daily, January 19, 1988; Beth Kalman, “Mardi Gras Panel Hindered,” The Seattle Times, July 18, 2001;  Steve Miletich, “Panel Named to Review Police -- Mayor Appoints Group in Wake of Theft Case,“ The Seattle Times, May 7, 1999; Steve Miletich and Sharon Plan Chan, “Mayor Forms Big Name Panel to Scrutinize Police Oversight," The Seattle Times, June 30, 2000;  Eric Pryne, “Group Clears Times in Complaint About Mardi Gras Coverage”, The Seattle Times, October 14, 2001; Speech by Professor Hubert G. Locke, Stockholm International Forum, Conference Series 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004 (www.manskligarattigheter.gov.se/stockholmforum/2000); "Studies on Justice in Society: Hubert G. Locke," UW Showcase website accessed October 25, 2007 (www.washington.edu/research/showcase/1976a.html); "cpacs alumni award for excellence in public service," University of Nebraska, Omaha website accessed October 25, 2007 (http://www.unomaha.edu/cpacs/alumni_awards.php);  "Hubert G. Locke," The Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs website accessed October 25, 2007 (http://evans.washington.edu/fac/Locke/); Joel Connelly, "Dr. Hubert Locke -- Scholar, Civic Conscience, UW Dean -- Dies at 84," SeattlePI.com, June 4, 2018 (https://www.seattlepi.com/local/politics/article/Connelly-Dr-Hubert-Locke-Scholar-12967367.php).
Note: This article was updated on June 4, 2018.

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