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Spring 2002
Why I Give
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"In addition to Meighan's being charismatic, a lot of fun and a real joy to be with in the classroom and the field," Johnson recalls, "he gave all kinds of people all kinds of opportunities."

Among Johnson's opportunities was a summer spent directing UCLA's archaeological field school in Cedar City, Utah, a responsibility typically reserved for senior faculty members.

"Meighan would take a grad student out of state and turn him loose," Johnson recalls. "He didn't worry about the consequences. He just sort of said, 'OK, here's something for you to do.' He'd think you were going to do OK, even though you weren't quite so sure of that. And then you went and did it."

Even after Johnson graduated and moved to Chico, letters from Meighan would routinely arrive in his mail, missives describing tempting opportunities elsewhere. Although Johnson decided to stay put, he notes, "If I ever ran into any trouble, I could contact him and he would help. If he recommended something, you would have no reason not to think that it was going to be a great success."

When Meighan died in 1997, hundreds of admirers showed up at his memorial service, a powerful reminder to Johnson of how much Meighan had meant to him.

"Looking back, I thought, 'If it hadn't been for this guy, where would I be?' " he says. "I decided I wanted to do something. That's when I thought, how about a fellowship at UCLA in Meighan's name?"

To make it happen, Johnson continued to teach part-time for five years after his retirement, putting every cent of that additional income into the Clement W. Meighan Graduate Scholarship Fund. When fully endowed at the end of this year, the fund will support graduate research in the Department of Anthropology.

"It's my attempt to give back to the university for what was a fabulous education. I'm hoping," Johnson says, "that with Professor Meighan's name attached to it, some student will someday say, 'I just won all this money from the department. So, who was this guy?'

"And, hopefully, somebody will know the answer."

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