Memories of Paul Saltman

Man with dark hair wearing a white shirt over a black vest sitting at a table with his hands crossed in front of him.

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“I was in one of his physics classes back in the 60’s and remember (with a smile) one of his more graphic descriptions of entropy: ‘You can’t pee up a fire hose.’

—Pat Smith ’70

“Paul Saltman was the Revelle College biology advisor when I was a senior. I was fortunate enough to have been accepted by several very good PhD programs, but did not know how to choose among them, so I sought his advice. He asked which programs, and when I told him he amiably exploded, “F— you, I’ve got kids with real problems to talk to.” After I blinked in shock, he followed up with, “What do your balls say? Go with your balls.” It was a different era.”

—Bruce Hamilton

“When I graduated from Warren in 1992 Paul Saltman was the speaker and he explained the law of entropy as you can’t pee up a firehouse. I’m pretty sure my grandmother was not happy.”


“I find it peculiar to hear Paul Saltman referred to as a Beloved Professor, unless his presence as a Biology Professor (I never had a class with him) is clearly separated from his persona and impact as Paul Saltman, Revelle College Provost- where his overbearing, profane, and narcissistic self was played out.  From the first time I heard him speak when he came to campus in early 1967, while still a professor at USC, to introduce himself to students and boasted about his surfing and being that big cool guy, he was offending.

He was always sanctimonious as he was convinced of his right to do as he pleased and he knew whatever he did was ‘the right stuff’. My primary contact with him was in terms of Student-Faculty-Administrative committees and in College Government; in both places he talked a good game of cooperation and collaborative decision-making, but it always came to his ‘My Way or the Highway’ attitude.  He also found his own ways to take it out of your skin as a student when he could exercise his Administrative discretion. He did this not only to me as a student of Revelle College, but once he threatened the pending tenure decision of an Assistant Professor who wanted to employ me for one of his classes because Saltman was still mad at me about things that happened in those Joint Governing Committees. Beloved? Who sold you that story?”