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Peter Bohmer Collection

Identifier: MS-0334

Scope and Contents

The Peter Bohmer Collection documents Bohmer's brief tenure as a professor of economics at San Diego State College from fall 1970 to summer 1972, the protracted investigations and occasionally violent events leading to his dismissal, and Bohmer's subsequent arrest and imprisonment for his role in blocking a section of railroad used to ship supplies to Camp Pendleton in protest against the Vietnam war. Additionally, the collection contains materials that document the prevailing climate of unrest in the late 1960s and early 1970s at San Diego State College and campuses nationwide, conflicts and tensions between students and administrators, student and faculty strikes, and campus disturbances. The records in this collection have come mostly from the college administration and campus organizations, including the San Diego State College and California State University administration, the associated student government, state legislators, faculty unions, and student groups. Significant correspondents include Peter Bohmer, San Diego State College Acting President Donald E. Walker, and CSU Chancellor Glenn Dumke. Groups whose records are present include the San Diego State College Strike Committee, Committee in Opposition to the Strike, Committee Against the San Diego State College Railroad, and the Center for Radical Economics. Materials include correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, press releases, policy documents, office notes, flyers and leaflets, newspapers and newspaper clippings. The collection is arranged into three groups of files, each arranged chronologically: correspondence and related materials, flyers, and newspaper clippings.

The records directly related to Bohmer date from 1970 to 1973 and document the numerous investigations into Bohmer's professional conduct following allegations made by two students that Bohmer used his class to push his views and lowered the grades of students who expressed opinions contrary to those of Bohmer. The collection includes records pertaining to the three separate investigations into Bohmer's conduct: by a Disciplinary Action Panel convened for the original complaint, an American Association of University Professors investigative committee, and a faculty grievance panel. Additionally, the collection includes correspondence and memoranda in connection with the Bohmer affair by Acting President Donald Walker and CSU Chancellor Glenn Dumke that details the administration's decision (which it reversed several times) whether or not to terminate Bohmer's employment. Correspondence, memoranda and newspaper clippings document the protests and clashes between students and police that attended the hearings in Bohmer's case. Additional correspondence documents the university's response to the shooting at Bohmer's residence by right-wing terrorist group Secret Army Organization, in which a visitor to the house, Paula Tharp, was shot and left with a permanently injured arm. News clippings from 1973 document Bohmer's arrest and imprisonment for his participation in the obstruction of the Santa Fe railroad line in Del Mar used to ship war materials to Camp Pendleton.

Records predating Bohmer's employment document the college administration's handling of campus disturbances and policies regarding student and faculty conduct. Importantly the files include the policies put forth in Executive Orders 112 and 113 governing the disciplinary procedures used in Bohmer's case. Additional materials not directly related to the Bohmer case document student and faculty protest actions from the 1960s to the mid 1970s. Noteworthy events include the alleged suppression of student literary magazine The Phoenix, the campus strikes of 1969 and 1970, the occupation of the AFROTC classrooms in the business administration building, and the Chicano students' protests and campus riot of May 3, 1972.

The following is a brief chronology of events:

1964, Circulation of student literary publication Phoenix is halted amid controversy over the inclusion of profanity in one of the stories.

May 15, 1969, Student James Rector is shot and killed by police during demonstrations at UC, Berkeley.

May 26-27, 1969, San Diego State College students stage a strike calling for the withdrawal of National Guard troops from UC Berkeley and for local control of colleges.

March 12, 1970, San Diego State students hold a sit-in at the administration building in support of four fired professors.

May 1970, Peter Bohmer is jailed for crimes related to his role in an antiwar demonstration at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and occupying the MIT president's office.

August 1970, Bohmer joins the economics department at San Diego State.

Oct. 5, 1971, Administrative Officer Dr. Leroy Pemberton informs Bohmer of charges made against him of unprofessional conduct stemming from incidents alleged to have occurred during the spring semester. Students allege that Bohmer harassed students and gave lower grades to students who did not agree with his political opinions. A Disciplinary Action Panel is formed to investigate the charges.

Dec. 1, 1971, A closed hearing on Bohmer case takes place off campus at the State Office Building in downtown San Diego, during which students clash with police and several people are arrested.

Dec. 16, 1971, Bohmer receives a letter of termination from Walker stemming from information related to his prior arrest and imprisonment in Massachusetts.

Dec. 31, 1971, The Disciplinary Action Panel concludes its investigation and clears Bohmer of all charges of professional misconduct.

Jan. 6, 1972, Members of the Secret Army Organization fire shots at Bohmer's residence, injuring Paula Tharp, a visitor to the house. Bohmer is not present at the time of the shooting.

Jan 20-21, 1972, At Walker's behest, an AAUP consulting committee conducts a second investigation in the Bohmer case; the committee clears Bohmer of all charges.

Feb. 22, 1972, Walker announces his intention to rehire Bohmer to the faculty senate; the senate unanimously accepts Walker's decision.

Feb. 28, 1972, Chancellor Dumke overrides Walker's decision to rehire Bohmer and orders a new investigation by a faculty grievance panel.

March 7-23, 1972, The faculty grievance panel conducts hearings in the Bohmer case and once again acquits Bohmer of all charges of unprofessional conduct.

April 20, 1972, Demonstrations disrupt classes.

May 3, 1972, A demonstration led by Chicano and minority students develops into a riot resulting in damage to the administration building. Chicano student leadership blame the riot on college officials' indifference to minority students' requests and neglect of Economic Opportunity Programs. Campus officials and faculty suspect non-student outside agitators may have been involved in the rioting.

May 8, 1972, Chancellor Dumke orders Bohmer's firing against the recommendation of the faculty grievance panel. Dumke explains his rationale in a letter to Walker dated May 5.

May 12, 1972, A group of antiwar protestors, including Bohmer, block a section of the Santa Fe railroad line in Del Mar in opposition to the shipping of war supplies to Camp Pendleton.

Dec. 12, 1972, Bohmer is convicted of obstructing the Santa Fe Railroad and ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation at Chino State Prison.

Feb. 21, 1973, Bohmer released on three years' probation after serving 35 days in Chino and two weeks in county jail.

August 1975, Bohmer summoned to court and ordered to leave San Diego or be found in violation of his probation.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1964 - 1973


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Peter Bohmer was an assistant professor of economics at San Diego State College from 1971 to 1972 known for his opposition to the Vietnam war and agitating for various left-wing, anti-racist, and anti-sexist causes on and off campus. Bohmer was subject to numerous investigations into his professional conduct after two students accused him of using his class to disseminate his political opinions, harrassing students and threatening to lower the grades of those who disagreed with him. The hearings in Bohmer's case were frequently attended by student protests that sometimes erupted in violence, including an incident at a closed hearing in dowtown San Diego which resulted in several arrest. Before the original investigation was concluded, Acting President Donald Walker gave notice to Bohmer that his employment would be terminated, having learned of Bohmer's prior arrest and jail sentence for his actions in connection with an antiwar protest while at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970. In January 1972, members of the Secret Army Organization, a right-wing paramilitary organization, fired shots into Bohmer's residence, hitting one Paula Tharp and leaving her with permanent injuries. Bohmer was not present at the time of the attack. The first investigation into Bohmer's conduct concluded in December 1971, and cleared Bohmer of all charges against him. Walker then ordered a new investigation by a consulting committee of the American Association of University Professors. The AAUP committee concluded its investigation in January 1972, finding in favor of Bohmer. Subsequently, Walker reversed his previous decision to fire Bohmer and announced he would be rehired for the next academic year. However, CSU Chancellor Glenn Dumke intervened, staying Walker's decision to rehire Bohmer pending the findings of a third investigation by a faculty grievance panel. The grievance panel again cleared Bohmer of the charges against him and recommended he be rehired. Nevertheless, in May 1972 Dumke announced Bohmer would not be rehired and gave his reasoning in a May 5 letter to Walker.

In December 1972, Bohmer was convicted of crimes in connection to a May 12 protest against the Vietnam war and the shippping of war supplies through San Diego, in which a group including Bohmer placed timber across the tracks of the Santa Fe railway and set fires. He was sentenced to Chino State Prison for 90 days and ordered to undergo psychological observation. After his release from prison in February 1973, Bohmer remained in San Diego for several years, working with the Center for Radical Education and seeking to have his conviction overturned in the courts. A separate suit filed on behalf of Bohmer and Tharp by the ACLU in 1975 seeking damages for harrassment and intimidation by local and national government officials was later thrown out of court. In 1975, having been ordered to leave San Diego or be found in violation of his probation, he left the state. He returned to MIT to finish his doctorate and later went to Pennsylvania State University for further studies. From 1987 to 2020 Bohmer taught political economy at The Evergreen State College, remaining active in left-wing causes, agitating and organizing. Bohmer married and had four children.


1.5 Linear Feet (One Hollinger box and one newspaper box )

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

1983, 1986, 1989

Related Materials

Radical Ephemera and Underground Publications Collection

University Senate Records

Associated Students Records

Harold Keen Papers

Related Publications

Advise and Dissent: LD705.8 .A3

Phoenix: PS508.C6 P3

Daily Aztec: LH1.C3 S316

Peter Bohmer Collection
Jennifer Hollander; Adam Burkhart
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • November 2022: This collection was reprocessed in November 2022.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US