Sesquicentennial Essays: Crisis of Confidence: Unrest Among the University of Rochester's Faculty, 1966-1969


First Place Winner
Crisis of Confidence: Unrest among the University of Rochester’s faculty, 1966-1969

Craig Linder
Prepared under the supervision of Professor of History Lynn Gordon




In the years following World War Two, American higher education transformed itself.  Where American colleges and universities had often been dedicated to the education of undergraduate students, the 25 years following the war saw the creation of a new type of institution, one that incorporated a variety of focuses from undergraduate education to community outreach to groundbreaking research.  The creation of universities with this vast, all-encompassing structure — termed “multiversities” by some — was the result of an interesting confluence of historical events. At the same time that the federal government was increasing the amount it spent on academic research, enrollments at American colleges and universities were skyrocketing. In 1930, grants from the federal government accounted for 25 percent of all spending on academic research in the United States.  By 1960, that percentage had risen to over 60 percent. The federal government’s contribution to research would then double again between 1960 and 1965.1 At the same time, enrollment in America’s colleges and universities had increased from 2,338,000 students in 1947 to 3,789,000 in 1960.  By 1965 enrollment would again climb to 5,921,000 students and would reach 8,581,000 students by 1970.2

With funds flowing in the universities’ coffers from research grants and tuition payments, the result was unparalleled growth among American institutions of higher education.  By 1965, this new era in American higher education had become as much a part of the collegiate experience as ivy covered walls, football games and beer blasts.  Yet, many students and faculty began to develop a deep sense of ambivalence toward the multiversity.  They began speaking out, trying to call attention to entanglements between universities and the military, assailing what they perceived as the increasing influence of corporations on the university, and trying to realize their vision of an ideal, participatory university governance.

At most universities, students led the battles.  The college students of the late 1960s had grown up on conflict.  They had watched Joseph McCarthy lead the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s and had seen black students stage sit-ins for civil rights in the South.  During their high school years they had heard of the Free Speech Movement that took root on college campuses.3  The college freshmen of 1967 were certainly open to activism.  Likewise, at most universities, faculty rarely seized the spirit of the era.  They were often content to leave the radicalism to the students.  This was not the case, though, at the University of Rochester during the late 1960s.  In an era that is perhaps best remembered for the development of significant student protest movements on campus, it is interesting that the University of Rochester was home not to a significant student movement but to a significant faculty movement.  To be sure, there was activism among students at the University — a vocal Students for a Democratic Society chapter led strikes, pickets and sit-ins during the era, for instance — but it was faculty activism at the University that posed the most significant threat and presented the most potentially damaging implications to the University of Rochester during the late 1960s.

The faculty was able to adopt their activist stance in large part due to the very events that drove their antipathy.  Though it was the growth of the multiversity that stoked the professors’ ire, it was that very growth that allowed faculty to believe they could always find another position at another university if their situation at the University of Rochester became untenable.  In eras where the job market for professors was not as healthy, faculty activism at the University became much more muted. Moreover, the ideas around which faculty at the University of Rochester rallied were not new or unique to the institution.  After administrators at Stanford University, for instance, dismissed a controversial professor for his political views in May 1958, many professors at that university raised the same questions and objections that professors at UR raised in 1969 when a similar situation engulfed the University.4  Again, the most significant part of the faculty unrest was not simply that it existed at the University of Rochester, but that it existed for so long and at such a high decibel level.

Who is the university?  Whose purposes should the university serve?  And what is the proper balance of power within the university structure?  These were the questions that confronted the faculty of the University of Rochester in the late 1960s.  In fact, they were questions that other universities had addressed before; in the years immediately following World War Two, a number of universities on the Pacific coast saw confrontations between administrators and faculty over the proper structure of a university’s governance.  At Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley in particular, administrators and professors clashed over the very issues that the University of Rochester faced in the late 1960s.5  A series of three incidents — each one dealt with in a manner that displeased the faculty — lead to what professors at the University of Rochester termed a “crisis of confidence;” a feeling among the faculty that the administration was not suited for the challenges facing the University.

In many ways the question of “who is the university?” goes to the heart of each of the three instances that precipitated this “crisis of confidence.”  In each the faculty either sought more influence in the daily governance of the University — in student disciplinary proceedings and in institutional endeavors, for instance — or sought to protect what influence it believed it had — the ability to evaluate professorial candidates, in this case.

The first situation surrounded the visit of a recruiter for the Dow Chemical Corporation to the University.  Students sought to block the interview and were cited for violating university regulations.  When the administration did not adhere to the punishment recommended by a faculty committee, many professors became angered and disillusioned with their role at the University.

When the faculty issued a report calling on UR President W. Allen Wallis to divorce the University from the Center for Naval Analyses — a military think tank that provided research for the Navy — and he refused, still more faculty members became embittered.

Finally, when members of the faculty became convinced that the Board of Trustees was interfering with the appointment of a new professor, many became outraged.

It was, then, the combination of these three highly charged incidents in a short period of time that precipitated the faculty’s “crisis of confidence” in the University’s administration.

The University of Rochester and its faculty

By the middle of the 1960s, the University of Rochester, which first opened its doors to 82 students in 1850 with one building, eight professors and no president6 had grown into a major research university with 8,166 graduate and undergraduate students, five campuses and 682 faculty.7  Much of the University’s growth came during the tenure of Rush Rhees (1900-1935), the third president of the University, who oversaw one of the most dramatic expansions in the University’s history. Rhees presided over the admission of women to the University in 1900 and cultivated the philanthropy of George Eastman, resulting in the creation of the University’s schools of music in 1918 and medicine in 1925 as well as the construction of the Medical Center (1925) and the River Campus (1930).  The University of Rochester did not again see such dramatic growth until W. Allen Wallis took office as the sixth chief executive officer of the University in 1962.

During Wallis’s administration (1962-1975), no new campuses were opened and no new schools were established, but the institution underwent explosive internal growth.  The University’s annual budget rose from $33 million to $200 million, the number of graduate students doubled, and the number of undergraduate students increased by 45 percent.8

As the student body grew, so did the number of faculty members and the number of courses offered. From Wallis’s first day as president to his last as chancellor, the University of Rochester’s faculty grew by 37 percent.  More specifically, in 1966 — the year before the first incident leading to the “crisis of confidence” occurred — there was a total of 682 faculty members at the University.  Of the school’s seven divisions, the College of Arts and Science had the most professors with 304.9  The School of Medicine and Dentistry was the second largest division with 195 faculty members. The other River Campus colleges were markedly smaller; the College of Engineering and Applied Science had 52 professors, the College of Education had 41, and the College of Business Administration had 34 members.  The Eastman School of Music in downtown Rochester had 53 professors.10  By 1970, the University’s size had exploded.  The institution’s faculty as a whole had grown by nearly 30 percent since 1966, with the most dramatic increases in the College of Arts and Science, which grew to 412 professors, and in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, which grew to 264 members.11

Many of the new faculty members were young Ph.D.s representing an emerging national professional culture.  The influence of the new faculty members was enhanced by the increasingly rapid turnover of professors at colleges and universities nationwide.  When eight faculty members announced plans to leave UR in a single week, the Campus Times reported: “One theme repeated by all the men interviewed was that a constant turnover of professors in universities must be viewed as a natural occurrence at this time.  There is a mobility today in teaching communities that was unheard of 30 years ago.”12

As the new faculty members built to a critical mass — especially in the College of Arts and Science — they adopted an increasingly activist bent.  Professors became more willing to break with the administration and speak publicly on issues.  Over a four-year period — from 1967 to 1970 — the faculty at the University developed their activism until it developed into what they called “a crisis of confidence.” The activism that created the “crisis of confidence” in 1969 likely had its genesis just three years earlier, when the University’s administration and its faculty became involved in their first significant controversy in decades — the battle over the Dow Chemical Corporation sit-in.

The Dow Recruiting Debate

At universities and colleges across the United States, students sought ways to speak out against the war in Vietnam.  In the fall of 1967, students at institutions like Oberlin College and Harvard University focused their antiwar activities on job recruiting visits by companies they considered to be part of the so-called “military-industrial complex.”  The University of Rochester would be no different.

Lead by the UR chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, a group of students called for the University to cancel a scheduled recruiting visit by a representative of the Dow Chemical Corporation.  The students believed that by allowing Dow — the makers of napalm — to recruit on campus, the University was supporting the American war effort in Vietnam.  The University disagreed and refused to cancel the interviews, arguing that students had as much right to speak with job recruiters as others did to protest those visits.  Dissatisfied with Wallis’s response, 91 undergraduates, 23 graduate students, and three faculty members staged a sit-in in the University’s placement office on the morning of November 8, 1967 in an attempt to obstruct the interviews.13

When Thomas Kabele, a graduate student in chemical engineering, arrived for his appointment with the Dow recruiter, Associate Provost Joseph W. Cole told the protesters if they did not move, they would be subject to university disciplinary hearings.  None of the protesters moved, and after three warnings, Cole collected their names for prosecution.  The Dow interviews were moved to Taylor Hall where they proceeded as planned, although students picketed outside.14

The 91 undergraduate students were brought before the All-Campus Judicial Council on November 17, and charged with obstructing the normal function of a university office.  In a five-hour long trial, the students claimed that their sit-in was not obstructive because the Dow recruiter was able to leave the Placement Office to go to Taylor Hall.  The ACJC deliberated for three days before finding all 91 students guilty and sentencing them to probation.15

The three professors who participated in the sit-in — Assistant Professor of Anthropology Christopher Day, Assistant Professor of Sociology Stephen Berger, and Assistant Professor of History Arthur Mitzman — met with Dean of the College of Arts and Science Kenneth E. Clark to discuss their actions.  The University took relatively little action against the professors, choosing only to place a letter in the file of each, noting his participation in the sit-in.  However, within two years of the strike, both Mitzman and Berger left UR for other universities.16

The case of the 23 graduate students involved initially looked as if it would be as easily to resolved as those of the undergraduates.  The minutes of the Faculty Senate recorded a discussion about the graduate students just a few days after the sit-in.  Wallis, acting as chair of the Faculty Senate, noted that “All the graduate students involved are in the College of Arts and Science.  There is a procedure for handling the non-academic disciplinary problems of graduate students, dating as far back as 1946; this involves the graduate committee [of the college].”17

Under the procedure Wallis laid out, Clark would convene the Committee on Graduate Studies of the College of Arts and Science to consider the charges facing each graduate student and to prepare a recommendation of an appropriate punishment.  The committee met with the 23 students, Cole, and Kabele in late November and prepared a unanimous recommendation to Provost McCrea Hazlett.  In his letter to Hazlett, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Ralph A. Raimi wrote that the committee felt constrained by the disciplinary options available to them.  “It was our view that as a faculty we could only impose expulsion, really, leaving fines and various inconveniences to the public courts. ‘Probation’ we interpreted as a suspended expulsion, and we decided against that too, since the question would arise: who may suspend that suspension?  We did not wish to assign that duty to any agency other than ourselves …”18

As a result, the committee reached a compromise recommendation acknowledging the inappropriate nature of the graduate students’ actions, but concluding that they “do not demand punitive action because though the situation was dangerous the consequences were not serious, and the participants acted in good conscience and with a  good measure of restraint.”19

Wallis and Hazlett met to discuss the committee’s recommendation that no disciplinary action be taken, and found it inconsistent with their statement that the students had infringed Kabele’s liberty, and with the penalty of probation leveled on undergraduates.  Hazlett asked Raimi whether the committee would be willing to reconsider the recommendation; Raimi said that they likely would not.

Still unhappy with the committee’s suggested punishment, Wallis and Hazlett held a secret meeting with the Steering Committee of the Faculty Senate on December 9.  After the meeting, Hazlett and Wallis decided to suspend all 23 graduate students for the Spring 1968 semester but to allow the suspensions to be set aside on an individual basis for graduate students who wrote to Hazlett requesting such action.20

Wallis and Hazlett had the graduate students go through the extra step of writing a letter asking for their suspensions to be set aside because they wanted to distinguish between the actions of undergraduates and those of graduate students.  They saw graduate students as being more mature and a more established part of the University.  “They are a different kind of student,” Hazlett told the Campus Times. “They are expected to be more committed to university goals then [sic] undergraduates.  They should have more sense.” 21

When faculty members learned that Wallis and Hazlett had decided to ignore the recommendation of the Committee on Graduate Studies, many were upset and felt betrayed.  The UR chapter of the American Association of University Professors strongly condemned the provost’s action. “So ill-considered, inequitable and severe an action seriously threatens the ‘fundamental spirit and moral foundation’ of this University,” they wrote, intentionally echoing the words Hazlett used in his letter to the graduate students.22

Individual professors also protested Hazlett’s decision.  Assistant Professor of Mathematics John Dollard, though disapproving of the Dow sit-in, wrote to Hazlett: “I consider your behavior in this matter to be capricious and destructive — capricious in that your appeal to the judgement of the Committee appears to have been purely formal, and destructive of the good will based on the belief that faculty members’ views on your vital decisions are of concern to you.”  Dollard saved his harshest criticism for his closing statement:

Your action will not benefit this University because there is no individual here whom it benefits.  It will offend thoughtful men, because it is a disastrous example of action without sufficient thought.  It will stampede the thoughtlessness into equally ill-considered actions.  It will arouse the members of the University to speak out in the name of justice, and rightly so.  The students will stop learning, the faculty will stop doing research, while they struggle with this problem.… I genuinely believe that your decision constitutes a much more effective obstruction of University business than the sit-in against Dow Chemical, and I hereby protest that decision and protest for its reversal.23

So many faculty members were disillusioned by the administration’s decision that Professor of History Willson H. Coates wrote to Wallis that “I am convinced that many of the most outstanding ones will seek appointments at other universities.”  Coates was the first to frame the crisis in the terms that were truly involved: the role of faculty in governing the University.  “But there is another consideration, an overriding one, in this unhappy situation — the shocked realization of many members of the faculty that their judgement in this crucial matter of student discipline counts for nothing,” he wrote.  In fact, “In nearly forty-three years’ association with the University of Rochester I have never seen brilliant and distinguished members of the faculty as deeply disturbed by an incident as by the action of Provost Hazlett …”24

Though Hazlett agreed to place the 23 graduate students on probation after meeting with the Committee on Graduate Studies and the Committee on Academic Practices on December 14, 1967, many faculty members were still dismayed at the situation.  As a result, the College of Arts and Science convened an emergency faculty meeting on December 16, 1967.  In addition to its subject matter, the meeting was unique due to its attendance and length — approximately two-thirds of the College’s faculty attended the three and a half-hour meeting.  Past faculty meetings had at times attracted fewer than a dozen professors.  The high attendance rate and the length of the meeting are testaments to the importance faculty in the College of Arts and Science attached to the provost’s decision.  The meeting was the first time most faculty members had heard the full story of the week’s events — including the until-then confidential meeting between Wallis and the Faculty Senate Steering Committee. 

Raimi explained his committee’s reasoning in finding the graduate students responsible for blocking the Placement Office, but recommending that no punitive action be taken. The committee believed that determining a student’s standing in the University was a faculty responsibility.  In explaining his letter to Hazlett, Raimi said “I think the letter represents our view fairly enough.  It is based on the idealistic view that the proper seat of authority, on the question: who shall and who shall not be our students?, was with the faculty, and not with Mr. Hazlett.”  Clearly, a majority of the committee members saw the case of the 23 graduate students as an opportunity for the faculty to assume a larger role in the governance of the University.  “My letter to Mr. Hazlett did not say we were the only agency which could apply that penalty, but we very deliberately threw down the gauntlet.  Traditions must start somewhere, and this case was worth a try,” he wrote.  “We hoped, and some of us expected, that the unanimous view of an elected body of the faculty would have authority enough to help create the tradition so far lacking here.”25

It was a tradition that was, in fact, lacking at the University of Rochester, and one that Wallis did not want to start.  At a meeting of the Faculty Senate in January, Wallis argued that the discipline of the graduate students “was entirely an administrative act.” He said that seeking the advice of the full Faculty Senate was never really considered, though the Steering Committee was consulted.  Interestingly, the chairman of the Faculty Senate’s Steering Committee, Professor of Psychiatry Otto Thaler, agreed with Wallis.  He said that at the height of the faculty’s concern — after Hazlett chose to suspend the graduate students — “convening the Senate did not seem constructive.”

Though in the end, the University placed the 23 graduate students on probation rather than suspending them, many faculty members were dissatisfied with the process; they felt that the administration had not listened to their concerns, and did not reserve a place for them at the decision-making table.  The Dow recruiting dilemma was the first confrontation of such magnitude between the University’s faculty and administration.  Though the Dow situation was resolved fairly quickly and with an outcome that most agreed with, many professors — especially those in the College of Arts and Science — developed a strong disdain for the process that was not unleashed until the next faculty-administration conflict.

The Center for Naval Analyses

During World War II the Department of the Navy contracted with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create a center for the analytic evaluation of naval operations.  This institute evolved into the Center for Naval Analyses, a military think tank that performed research for the Navy on a variety of topics.  Over the next 25 years, a variety of institutions managed the center until the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia adopted responsibility for it in the early 1960s.  On June 29, 1967, dissatisfied with the quality of the Center for Naval Analyses’s work, the Department of the Navy began negotiating with the University of Rochester over a contract to manage the center. After reaching an agreement with the Navy, Wallis agreed to take responsibility for the CNA effective August 1, 196726.  The Navy’s contract with the University was valued at $8,819,000, and provided funds to maintain the center and additional funds for general research at the University27.

The Center for Naval Analyses of the University of Rochester — as the institute became formally known — was based in Arlington, Va. and performed research for the Navy in the social sciences, the physical sciences, and engineering.  Wallis often described the CNA as an equivalent to the Rand Corporation, the well-known private think tank that performed similar work for the Army and Air Force28.

In 1967 the Center employed 300 support personnel and about 200 research personnel, of whom roughly 100 had some sort of an academic background, and approximately 80 had earned doctorates or equivalent degrees in their fields.  The Center also boasted a library and computing center to aid researchers.  Five major divisions undertook research in a variety of fields:

  • The Marine Corps Operations Analysis Group exclusively focused on work for the Marines.
  • The Operations Evaluation Group examined tactics, weapons usage and design and also explored fleet air defense and anti-submarine warfare.
  • The Institute for Naval Studies conducted long-range evaluations of the Navy’s role and the type of weaponry and equipment it would need in the future.
  • The Naval Warfare Analysis Group evaluated the size and composition of naval forces worldwide.
  • The Systems Evaluation Group considered models of weapons systems, cost analysis and logistics support29.

The University did not enter into management of the center without some hesitancy, and assurances from the Navy.  At a meeting of the Steering Committee of the Faculty Senate, Wallis noted:

We set certain conditions: that their staff be granted academic leave (perhaps to be spent in study and independent research here); that no classified work is to be done at Rochester; that the problems they studied were broad and beyond the moral problems raised by research such as biological warfare; and that their staff be permitted to publish unclassified work.  We set safeguards against our own dependency on such a relationship, should the Center’s standards and purposes change in ways we cannot approve.

At the time, though, the University had few objections to the Center for Naval Analyses’s standards and purposes.  Wallis appreciated the way the Institute examined contemporary problems through the lens of quantitative analysis — long a focus of his own work — and another senior administrator, Dean of the College of Business Administration William H. Meckling, had served as director of the center’s Naval Warfare Analysis Group prior to joining the University.  In fact, after the contract was signed, Wallis appointed Meckling president of the Center30.  While Meckling served as the Center’s president, several other administrators, including Hazlett, Clark, Vice President and Treasurer LaRoy B. Thompson, and Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science Robert G. Lowey, served on CNA’s Presidential Advisory Board31.

Though the Times-Union published a notice in June 1967 regarding the negotiations between the University and the Navy, and the University’s supervision of the Center was announced that August, most members of the UR community did not learn of the agreement until they returned to campus in September 1967.  In the first issue if the 1967-68 academic year, the Campus Times ran a long story about the Center on the top of the front page.  The University’s faculty formally learned of the deal when Wallis presented the agreement to the Steering Committee of the Faculty Senate at its September 26, 1967 meeting.  The minutes of that meeting record no dissent or debate among the committee members regarding the appropriateness of the University administering the Center.  The minutes, in fact, only note that “The Committee received this information, and elicited some of it, with appropriate solemnity.”32  Wallis informed the Faculty Senate as a whole at its October 2, 1967 meeting.  Here, too, the minutes reflect no dissent or debate33.

As the Faculty Senate minutes would seem to indicate, the University’s management of the CNA was simply not an issue among students or faculty at UR in 1967.  Only through an interesting confluence of events did the CNA become a source of controversy for the University.  Following the incidents surrounding the Dow Chemical recruiting strike, several faculty members decided to create a committee to “consider questions that ordinarily could not come up in established faculty bodies.34”  The resulting group of around 100 members, called the Faculty Committee of Concern, was decidedly informal — meeting over lunch at the Faculty Club — but serious about its perceived mandate.  Among the first issues the committee addressed was the Center for Naval Analyses.

Under the leadership of Assistant Professor of Biology Conrad A. Istock, members of the Committee of Concern created a list of twenty questions to ask Wallis regarding the Center for Naval Analyses.  Most questions focused on the specific details of the University’s contract with the Navy to run the CNA, but several sought Wallis’s opinion on larger issues.  “Do you think faculty (say the Senate) should be involved in a review of gov’t. contracts prior to acceptance?” they asked. “Should a University allow classified research to be done on its premises?  Under what circumstances if any might we do so?”35

Istock invited Wallis to speak to the Committee on January 15, 1968, and he and Wallis spoke on the telephone for 45 minutes later that month.  Wallis told Istock that he would not be able to meet with the Committee until after the middle of February.  The president suggested that Istock speak with Patrick J. Parker, associate dean for executive programs in the College of Business Administration and a member of the CNA’s advisory board, and Professor of Physics Elliott Montroll, also a member of the advisory board.  In the conversation, Istock told Wallis that he had already visited Parker and would speak with Montroll, but wanted to know if Wallis would still meet with the Committee.  Wallis said that he would probably not meet with the Committee if they spoke with the two members of the advisory board, and explained to Istock his “concern about the good faith” of the Faculty Committee of Concern36.  Wallis considered the Faculty Committee of Concern an activist group and likely feared they would consider the CNA information though a subjective lens, and not the cool, dispassionate one that he believed was best suited to a consideration of the University’s involvement in external contracts.

Apparently Wallis overcame those concerns after Parker encouraged him to deal with the matter personally “because of the potential sensitivity of the issue.”37  At noon on February 27, 1968, Wallis met members of the Faculty Committee of Concern to discuss the Center and the University’s management of it.  Rather than working from the list of questions Istock had complied, Wallis instead fielded questions from the forty professors at the meeting. The questions at the meeting were fairly similar to those the committee had posed by mail; professors were interested in the specific details of the University’s agreement with the Navy, the role of classified research in a university setting, and in reading a copy of the contract.  When Professor of Physics Everett Hafner asked whether the members of the Committee could see a copy of the contract, Wallis said that they would likely be able to, but then “raised numerous possible objections.  Two members of the [faculty committee of concern] present at the meeting gave the impression that they felt the president was unwilling to show them the contract.”38  When Hafner and Associate Professor of Mathematics Norman Alling asked David McBride, UR’s director of research administration, to see a copy of the contract, he said that the contract was a public document, but referred their request to Wallis.  The president agreed to give the professors a copy of the document, but only if they would meet with him to discuss it “since the contract is lengthy and confusing due to legal and technical terms.”39  The professors certainly must have noticed that this was the second time that Wallis had expressed a lack of faith in the faculty.  If his concern over the “good faith” of the Faculty Committee of Concern was based on his perception of their attitude toward the CNA, then perhaps his hesitation to allow faculty to review the contract without supervision was an attempt to neutralize their interpretation of the facts.

The Committee’s meeting with Wallis sparked a three-part series of articles on the Center for Naval Analyses in the Campus Times during April and May 1968.  The student newspaper wrote about the Committee’s meeting with Wallis, walked readers through the process by which the CNA arrived at UR, and detailed the center’s budget — which allocated 72 percent of its funds to classified research on naval warfare, 23 percent for Navy-oriented research and five percent for general research at the University.  The five percent of the CNA grant that UR was free to use for on-campus unclassified research in a variety of disciplines was considered the profit that the University made on the Navy contract40.

In late May 1968, Alling and Hafner prepared a report on the University’s involvement with the Center for Naval Analyses for the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors.  The report, which said that the University should end its affiliation with the CNA, argued that the agreement compromised the University’s independence by tying it to the military.  Alling and Hafner also wrote that the faculty, which “set[s] the character and embody the basic purposes of the University,” should have played a larger role in the decision to manage the Institute41.  The report concluded that the University should reject all portions of its contract with the Navy except for the portion granting UR $440,950 for on-campus, unclassified research.

The amount of attention that the Center for Naval Analyses attracted from UR faculty and students during this time is surprising, not because of the questions raised, but because of the seeming lack of importance the University community seemed to place on the Center.  Throughout the 1967-68 academic year, the CNA sparked only the three-part series in the Campus Times and the exchange between Wallis and the Faculty Committee of Concern.

The relative quiet surrounding the CNA dissolved in October 1968.  That month the UR chapter of Students for a Democratic Society wrote an open letter to Wallis calling on him to give an “immediate, complete, and detailed explanation on the nature of this program, on the benefits the military derives from it that justifies its existence. [sic]”42  The SDS letter and later public statements by SDS members calling for a forum on the CNA reignited faculty interest in the issue.  Of the three professors who led the short-lived anti-CNA drive of the previous year, Alling and Istock were still at the University, and their interest in the topic seemed unabated43.  Alling released a copy of the CNA contract, which he had received from his meeting with Wallis, to the Campus Times, marking the first time that the public document was placed into widespread circulation at the University.  In a letter releasing the contract, Alling wrote that “One could not but hope that the crisis of last December [surrounding the Dow sit-in] would have suggested that students and faculty of this university must be treated by the administration as constituencies to which it is answerable from time to time.”44

The Faculty Senate established its own committee on November 4, 1968 “to assess the impact that funding of research and other activities by outside agencies might have on the University, to recommend policies which might regulate such funding and to propose ways in which these policies could be effectively carried out.”45  Professor of Pharmacology and Associate Professor of Medicine Lawrence G. Raisz chaired this committee.

The Raisz Committee, as the Faculty Senate ad hoc subcommittee on contracts and grants was called, was largely the product of a new generation of leaders in the UR Faculty Senate.  With the 1968-69 academic year, a new slate of professors dominated the senate’s Steering Committee.  Led by Professor of Physics Robert Marshak, a member of the UR faculty since 1939 and later president of the City College of New York, the steering committee led the Senate itself into becoming a far more activist body, far more involved in the administration of the University.  These were not goals that Marshak sought to hide — in a presentation in May 1969 looking back on his term as chair of the Steering Committee, Marshak said, “this year’s Steering Committee was determined to acquire for the Faculty Senate a meaningful role in the decision-making process at this university.”46

One must wonder whether in pursuit of that “meaningful role,” activist faculty members created the Raisz Committee with an expectation of what it would find.  During the meeting that chartered the committee, the minutes record an exchange between Marshak and Thaler, the immediate past chair of the Faculty Senate Steering Committee: Marshak “stated that he saw no reason … why the UR should be involved in running the Center for Naval Analyses although the systems analysis program would presumably be consistent with the [university’s] principles.  Dr. Thaler felt it would be presumptuous at this point in telling this study committee what sorts of things it has to conclude.”47

Over the next four months, the Raisz Committee held a series of public forums and interviewed students, faculty and administrators regarding the CNA contract.  The report they issued on March 3, 1969 was divided into majority and minority sections.  Both agreed with much of the report’s conclusions, specifically:

  • That contracts and grants are necessary to the University but that they carry inherent dangers in the potential limitation of freedom of inquiry.
  • That the University’s administration should help faculty members receive grants and also develop safeguards to protect the freedom of inquiry and objectivity of researchers.
  • That classified research is not in the best interests of the University and should be minimized where possible.
  • That the University’s existing procedures for handling research funds were effective and provided sufficient safeguards for contracts and grants.
  • That the Faculty Senate should establish and the University administration should utilize, a standing committee on research policy and external contracts and grants.

The subject of the spilt between the committee’s majority and minority comes as little surprise — the Center for Naval Analyses.  The majority of the committee, made up of Raisz, Marshak, Professor of Philosophy Lewis W. Beck, Professor of Chemistry Marshall D. Gates and Professor of Sociology Raymond J. Murphy, recommended “that the University withdraw, in the contractually provided ways, from the management of CNA.”48

In a methodical, seven-point essay, the majority explained the logic underlying its decision.  First, they wrote, the University-CNA relationship was an exception to the standing policy that classified research programs were not ordinarily acceptable, since the relationship did not have a compelling reason — like a national emergency — requiring the conduct of classified research.  Second, few members of the UR community, beyond deans and selected professors, were consulted before the University agreed to manage the Center.  Third, they wrote, although the CNA was likely improved by the University’s management, and although the University performed a national service in managing the Institute, it was not necessary for UR to continue managing the CNA in order for it to maintain a respectable level of performance.  Fourth, the UR-Center for Naval Analyses relationship had little connection to the University’s principal goals of teaching and performing unclassified research.  Fifth, the majority saw the fund provided by the Navy for unclassified research at UR as potentially subject to political pressures.  Sixth, the University could better serve the CNA by strengthening the College of Business Administration’s program in systems analysis, and encouraging CNA personnel to enroll in the program.  Seventh, the University’s exit from the CNA agreement should maintain any “important collaborations in unclassified research which [sic] have been established between members of the faculty and CNA.”49

The majority strove to cast its decision as an impartial one, independent of the passions surrounding the issue.  “It is no part of our duty to make a moral judgement of CNA and the Department of Defense, either as a premise for or as a conclusion from our studies,” they wrote.50  They also argued that the CNA contract has “already chilled the good atmosphere which has pervaded the University, and that it will continue to do so, in increasing measure, as long as it exists.  The long-range consequences of such deterioration cannot be anticipated without foreboding.”51

In his minority dissent, Professor of Electrical Engineering Daniel W. Healy, the only member of the committee who chose not to join the majority report in full, rejected its arguments. “Statements about general principles and policies, useful as they are, do not provide an absolute guide for actions,” he wrote.52  Healy argued that because the relationship between the University and the CNA benefited both parties, it should remain intact.  Healy refuted the majority opinion using a format that intentionally mimicked the majority’s point-by-point explanation. 

First, he argued, because all classified research done at the Center was maintained in its Arlington, Va., facility, the existence of classified work and materials did not inhibit professors and students from meeting their academic responsibilities.  Second, Healy wrote, it was irrelevant whether faculty members or students were consulted before the University chose to enter into the CNA contract; the merits of the relationship existed whether or not the faculty was well informed about its terms.  Third, because the University’s management of the center improved the quality of its work and allowed UR to perform a national service, the relationship should be maintained.  Fourth, Healy argued that significant collaborations between UR professors and CNA researchers had not developed yet because simply not enough time had elapsed to allow interactions to develop.  Fifth, he believed that funds provided by the Navy for unclassified research were no more subject to external pressure than any other outside source of funding.  Sixth, Healy wrote that the majority’s call to strengthen the University’s existing systems analysis program was laudable, but did not require the elimination of the UR-CNA relationship.  Finally, Healy rejected the majority’s call to sever the ties between the CNA and the University of Rochester.53

In an attempt to prevent the Committee’s work from being viewed exclusively through the lens of the UR-CNA relationship, the committee also evaluated three other outside programs at the University: the Neighborhood Health Center on Vienna Street in Rochester’s inner city, the Regional Medical Program at the School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the systems analysis program in the College of Business Administration.  The Committee found that all three programs were conceived with care and were consistent with the principles they had laid out earlier in their report and that they believed should govern external efforts at UR.  Healy joined the majority in that portion of its report54.

At its next meeting, on April 21, 1969, the Faculty Senate voted 20-10-6 to adopt the Raisz Committee Report55.  The debate among senators was heated.  A resolution that would have allowed the University’s contract with the Center for Naval Analyses to stand provided that all research at the center was unclassified was defeated.

The Faculty Senate was not the only group lobbying Wallis on CNA that day.  The UR chapter of Students for a Democratic Society staged a protest march of about 250 students inside the Administration Building that afternoon and the College Cabinet, the legislative arm of the Students’ Association, called on Wallis to issue a statement “expressing the University’s desire to terminate our connections” with the CNA56.  That night, Wallis issued a statement of his own.

The subcommittee report discussing the University’s relationship to the Center for Naval Analyses deals rationally and responsibly with a complex issue about which much emotion has been generated and about which there are, as the subcommittee realizes, honest differences of opinion among men of equal good will, equal sensitivity to academic values, and equal knowledge of the matters involved.

Now that the Senate has endorsed the report and made it public, it goes without saying that the report will be studied with great respect by those who must make or share in a decision.

Those besides myself who must be involved in the decision include, besides the many groups and individuals whom the subcommittee invited to present views, the Cabinet of Deans, some department chairmen and faculty members, trustees, students, alumni and, of course, the provost’s staff.

It is to everyone’s interest that a decision be reached as soon as possible.  It must be a considered decision for it will affect not only the University of 1969, but the University of 1979 and 1999, and it will affect also the public interest.  A decision will be made and announced as soon as possible.  I share the impatience to have the matter settled once and for all, but we must consult others most intimately concerned57.

On the morning of April 22, 1969, things looked good for members of the UR community who wished to see the University sever its ties to the CNA.  Rarely before had the governing bodies of the University’s faculty and students found common ground on a major issue; even less frequently were they joined by a radical group like the Students for a Democratic Society.  Cracks, however, started to appear in the unified front.  Days after the Faculty Senate endorsed the Raisz report, professors who disagreed with its methodology and conclusions became more vocal.  More than forty professors signed a petition to the Faculty Senate during the week of April 26, 1969, attacking the Raisz Report, saying that it “can scarcely serve as a proper basis for policy.”  Signers called “to the Senate’s attention the many defects of that report.” “Its illogic, its double standards in the way it purportedly applies the same criteria to the CNA and to other programs, and its carelessness with facts are an embarrassment to the Senate and the University community,” they wrote58.  Signers were mostly professors in the School of Medicine and Dentistry, the Departments of Political Science and Economics, or the College of Business Administration.  It was not the first time professors had spoken in favor of the Center — several members of the Political Science Department had earlier that week forwarded Wallis a petition calling upon UR to maintain its connection to CNA59.

Among the members of the Faculty Senate voting against the Raisz Committee Report was Professor of Sociology Dean Harper.  The loss of Harper came as a blow to the anti-CNA camp, not only because of his important position as a member of the Faculty Senate’s Steering Committee, but also because he had initially opposed the University’s contract with the CNA, simply because he had not seen a good reason for the University to become involved with it.  In an April 16 letter to Marshak, though, he explained why he had come to favor the University’s continued management of the Center.  To Harper, the University’s actions should fall into one of two categories: education and research activities or support activities.  Because it provided money to support UR’s education and research activities, Harper came to see management of the CNA as a legitimate support activity for the University.  Further, Harper rejected the Raisz Committee’s claims that the only way to restore the sense of community at UR that the CNA contract had begun to destroy was to eliminate the contract.  Instead, Harper wrote, “What decline has occurred has probably come as much from the way the contract was entered into (a feeling that the faculty was not consulted) as it was from having such a contract.  Most actions of the administration will probably erode the sense of community if the faculty feel that they are not properly consulted.”60

More bad news for the Faculty Senate came at a public forum on April 28, 1969.  That night, Wallis said that though normal procedure dictated he respond to the resolution of the Faculty Senate at the May 5, 1969 meeting following its passage, he had been too busy keeping the University open in the face of near-constant student protests to consider the Senate’s resolution61.  Just two days after Wallis received a copy of the petition to the Faculty Senate, he also received a letter from Clark — one of the people the president had said he would consult on the CNA issue.  Clark called Wallis’s attention to “Several issues about the University of Rochester’s association with the Center for Naval Analyses [that] never seem to get mentioned.”

In some respects, the issues Clark addressed were similar to those Healy had mentioned in his dissenting opinion — classified research had not affected the free exchange of ideas, and funds provided by the CNA contract did not unduly influence the work of researchers.  But Clark’s second point was likely the most influential.

2.  Program of CNA.  Should a University be associated with an agency with the sort of program CNA has?  In recent weeks everyone seems to have forgotten what the program is, and to describe it only as one that improves bombing accuracy in Vietnam.  If that is its essence, let us sever relationships.  But what of the manpower studies, especially those showing the injustice and uneconomical aspects of the draft? …”62 (Italics mine)

Trained as an economist, Wallis had a flair for statistical analysis.  Among his pet projects was work showing that the United States should move toward an all-volunteer armed forces.  In a speech marking the fiftieth anniversary of the American Legion on November 11, 1968, Wallis said that the draft should be abolished “completely, lock, stock and barrel … immediately, with no ifs, ands or buts.” Wallis had two objections to the draft: “First, it is immutably immoral in principle and inevitably inequitable in practice.  Second it is ineffective, inefficient and detrimental to national security.” 63  Though it is unlikely that Clark chose the draft example in hope of swaying Wallis to his position, Wallis must have considered the role CNA’s research played in his own interests, and in his role as a member of President Richard Nixon’s Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force.

Over the next four months, Wallis consulted a variety of people on the CNA contract, and issued his decision on August 29, 1969: the University of Rochester would continue to administer the Center for Naval Analyses.  In a letter to the Faculty Senate explaining his decision, Wallis adopted nearly all the arguments put forth in Healy’s minority opinion to the Raisz Report.  The president emphasized the public service function of the University, placing it on the same level as the ideals of teaching and research.  The CNA contract, he wrote, allowed UR to support that ideal of public service while simultaneously gaining an institutional benefit — the $440,000 payment.  Wallis also believed that the interaction between the CNA and the University benefited both organizations — the CNA would become a stronger and more prestigious think tank, and the University would be able to use some of the Center’s resources to strengthen its own programs in systems analysis and urban studies.  Although he rejected the recommendation of the Faculty Senate, Wallis praised the Raisz Committee for its work.  At the same time, he emphasized the split in opinion on campus surrounding the CNA.  Wallis noted that in addition to the materials in favor of severance from the CNA, he had received petitions from professors and referenda from graduate students, calling on the University to maintain the Center.  After weighing the case, “The decision is that we will not in the near future alter our relation to the CNA.”64

Predictably, many faculty members who supported divorcing the University from the Center were upset with Wallis’s decision, as were many of the students who had fought for the split.  Yet despite the unrest the issue had generated the previous spring — and editorials in the Campus Times calling for students and faculty “to re-unite in opposition to the administration decision”65 — the CNA issue largely disappeared from the University’s agenda.  In a letter to Ernest L. Wilkinson, president of Brigham Young University, Wallis attributed the relative quiet in the fall following his decision to the way in which the news was released to the University.

By sending news of the CNA decision to students and faculty over the summer, Wallis believed the community could digest and understand the decision on its own merits; outside of any “ ‘thought control’ efforts of organized radical students.”  The effort seemed to work; as Wallis wrote, “To everyone’s surprise, most of all mine, the decision seems to have been accepted — though not by any means with satisfaction by everyone — and we have heard little or nothing more on the subject.”66

Though Wallis heard “little or nothing more on the subject,” the University’s decision to maintain its ties to the Center for Naval Analyses further damaged the weak relationship between the administration and the faculty.  Those faculty members who were most bothered by the University’s decision did not generally believe that the University should cut its ties to CNA because it aided the war effort in Vietnam — though there were those who held this point of view.  Instead, professors who believed the University should sever its relationship with the Center saw that as the only logical outcome of a process in which faculty and students had made their opinions known and asked the administration to grant them a seat at the decision-making table.  To people like Marshak, a decision by Wallis to accept the Faculty Senate’s suggestion and divorce itself from the CNA would represent nothing less than a dramatic shift in the governance of the University of Rochester.  Wallis’s decision to maintain the status quo with the CNA also represented a decision to maintain the status quo with faculty influence.

“Perhaps the most disconcerting implication of your arguments for the future of the University is that any dialogue between the administration and other members of the University community can become an exercise in futility as soon as a few intemperate voices are raised,” the majority members of the Raisz Committee wrote, expressing their disappointment in Wallis’s decision.67

In the end, the rejection of the faculty’s CNA suggestion following a process that many professors considered well-reasoned and reasonable, left much of the University’s faculty upset, embittered, and with little hope for future effective faculty-administrative interaction.

Eugene D. Genovese and the “crisis of confidence”

In the months before the University of Rochester community debated the propriety of managing the Center for Naval Analyses, the Department of History was dealing with what many believed would be a simple situation — hiring a new professor.  In April 1968, a departmental committee recommended that the University’s opening for a professor specializing in the history of the Civil War and the American South be filled by Eugene D. Genovese, at the time a visiting professor at Yale University.  The University’s procedure was to have the dean of each college approve or reject appointments to the faculty. Though the provost, president and Board of Trustees also were required to approve all appointments, these steps were simply rubber stamp approvals of the dean’s judgement.  “Never has the dean been overruled by the provost, the president, or the board.”68

In late June, Clark rejected the selection of Genovese based on the opinions presented to him by the department.  Although many of the outside scholars contacted by the History Department to appraise Genovese’s work were highly laudatory, others were critical.  “The letters were adequate,” said Raimi. “But Clark told me that the problem was that three members of the Board of Trustees would resign publicly in anger if we appointed him.”69

In his rejection letter, Clark invited discussion on the appointment.  Professor of History Perez Zagorin, the chairman of the department, said at the time, “We find something untenable when the persons in the field are overruled,” and agreed in September 1968 to establish a committee of senior professors in the college to reevaluate the appointment.70

The committee’s work — and Clark’s evaluation of it — was sidetracked by the controversy surrounding the Center for Naval Analyses.  The committee delivered its report to Clark in late November, but a month later, the University still had not made a decision on the appointment.  The delay irritated many.  “It seems that the Genovese issue increasingly furthers the split between the faculty and the administration,” the Campus Times wrote in an editorial.71

The report issued to Clark overwhelmingly endorsed Genovese for the position at UR and in November 1968, the University offered it to him.  Genovese, however, declined the position in a letter to Clark, assailing the University for its “professionally improper, not to say scandalous” handling of his appointment.72  Genovese was upset that member of the History Department had made his negotiations with the University’s negotiations public, and concluded that he “could not possibly enter into serious negotiations with [UR] and maintain my professional reputation and self respect.”  Following several developments at Sir George Williams University in Montreal, Canada, where he was teaching at the time, UR decided to reopen negotiations with him in the spring of 1969.73 

Five days after Genovese visited the University to discuss the position, Zagorin resigned as chairman of the department, citing “the delays and refusal we have encountered from the president and university administration in regard to the appointment of Professor Eugene D. Genovese.”  Zagorin argued that the delay in appointing Genovese was another example of the administration infringing on the traditional role of the faculty at the University. “The reason given me by the administration for its reluctance, namely that the recommendation of Genovese’s appointment would arouse the opposition and displeasure of the trustees, constitutes an abnegation of the right of a faculty to determine the qualifications of academic appointments,” he wrote.74  Professor of History Herbert G. Gutman, who stepped down as Associate Chair, Director of Graduate Studies and Chair of the College Committee on Black Studies, joined Zagorin in his resignation.75

In an open letter to Zagorin, Wallis denied any interference on the part of the trustees.  “I must reject, however, any implication of improper intervention in any faculty appointments at any time by any of our trustees.  Indeed, I, the Provost, the Deans, and most of the trustees themselves would be as unwilling as would the faculty to be associated with a university in which that kind of thing happened.”76  Many faculty members in the College of Arts and Science were surprised by the resignations of Zagorin and Gutman and moved to hold a special meeting of the College faculty on May 26.  At the meeting, Wallis attempted to reassure the professors.  “If I had the view of the facts which I understand most of this faculty has, I would feel the same way that I am told most of the faculty feels, namely critical to the point of outrage,” Wallis said.77  Based on his statements to the faculty meeting, either Wallis did not know of the threats made by three board members to resign if Genovese was appointed, or he chose not to disclose them to the faculty.  Days earlier, the trustees had also issued such a statement, saying “We appreciate the President’s statement … that he has unqualified confidence in the Trustees in such matters, and we share his belief that there has never been any improper trustee influence on faculty appointments.”78

Wallis’s words did not calm the faculty.  Seeking an objective analysis of the situation, the professors turned to the Committee of Named Professors, a panel of the most senior faculty members in the College of Arts and Science, to investigate what the faculty termed “a crisis of confidence and credibility regarding the openness and candor of the President, the Provost and the Dean of the CAS with respect to the handling of academic matters.”79

The committee, specifically charged with meeting with the Board of Trustees, consisted of Professor of Philosophy Lewis W. Beck; Professors of English George H. Ford, William H. Gilman and Bernard Schilling; Professors of Physics J. Bruce French, Robert E. Marshak and Elliott W. Montroll; Professor of Chemistry Marshall D. Gates, Jr.; Professor of Zoology Johannes F. K. Holtfreter; Professor of Economics Lionel W. McKenzie; Professor of Political Science Henry G. Manne and Professor of History A. William Salomone.

The day after their appointment, the professors attempted to arrange a meeting with the trustees.  Their reply came on May 27 and it was not encouraging.  The trustees were open to a meeting, wrote Mercer Brugler, chairman of the board, but “The Trustees have complete confidence in the President, including the greatest respect for his achievements for the University and tremendous admiration for him personally. … Attempts to diminish it are likely to be fruitless and even counterproductive.”80  From the perspective of the faculty, the administration and trustees were aligning with each other in opposition to their concerns.  The news that the committee would not be meeting with the Board of Trustees in full, but only with a few select members, was also discouraging.

While the committee “inform[ed] itself fully about the Genovese matter,” as Brugler’s letter had urged them to do, it would appear that the trustees did the same.  Wallis prepared a seven-page briefing for the trustees and the members of the Trustees’ Council of the College of Arts and Science on Genovese, his statements, and the reasons why the University should offer him an appointment.

Considering that their intellectual philosophies differed dramatically — Wallis being a free-market economist and Genovese a Marxist — Wallis’s argument was surprisingly passionate and robust.

Publicity about Professor Genovese has left a widespread impression which, in its harshest form, amounts almost to saying that he (a) is disloyal to his country, (b) has made treasonable statements, and (c) has abused the privilege of the classroom and the teacher-student relationship for propagandistic purposes.  I believe — and stated four years ago, one year ago, and several times in the past year — that not only are these charges false but that in fact Professor Genovese merits our admiration and respect on all three counts.81

Wallis noted that much of the criticism of Genovese stemmed from a statement he made at an anti-war teach-in at Rutgers University on April 23, 1965.  The statement was misquoted by the Targum, Rutgers’s student newspaper, and was actually not the anti-American screed that the media reported.  The president also praised Genovese for recognizing that the classroom was not a place for propagandizing and for disclaiming his opinions at the outset of his remarks.  “It was this that led me to tell you a year ago that I had more respect for Professor Genovese’s intellectual honesty and professional integrity than for that of several of our own faculty …”82  Wallis also noted the importance of Genovese’s work on the history of slavery, and the high praise he received from other historians.  In his memorandum, though, Wallis had harsh words for those in the History Department who violated the confidentiality of the hiring process.  These violations had led Genovese to reject the position the first time that it was offered to him.  Given Wallis’s strong endorsement of Genovese’s appointment, it came as little surprise that the University extended another offer to Genovese on June 6, 1969, and he accepted the position.

The hiring of Eugene D. Genovese, though, did little to quell the “crisis of confidence” the faculty of the College of Arts and Science perceived.  At a special meeting of the College’s faculty on June 10, 1969 called to receive the report of the Committee of Named Professors, several faculty members sought Clark’s resignation.  Though the motion did not pass the faculty, it indicates the charged emotions at the meeting.83 The report of the Committee of Named Professors itself was far less emotional but equally serious.  In the fifteen days since the committee had been created, it had met sixteen times, talked with members of the Board of Trustees, and interviewed more than thirty witnesses.  Their first priority, they wrote, was to investigate the “crisis of confidence.” 

By a crisis of confidence … we mean a level of skepticism concerning the statements made by responsible administrative officers of the University, and a distrust of their motives, of such a degree as to interfere seriously with the functioning and development of this University.

We believe that such a crisis has developed.84

As symptoms of the crisis, the Committee cited the resignations of departmental chairs in physics, philosophy, mathematics and history, and the resignation of faculty members.  The Committee studied the circumstances surrounding the Genovese appointment in some detail, and found “We have seen no evidence that the Board of Trustees, either individually or as a group, have exerted or attempted to exert any improper influence with respect to academic matters.  We believe that they are fully deserving of our trust.”85

The Committee was less kind to the administration.  “We find that there exists among the senior Administration of the University a marked sensitivity with respect to the possible feelings and opinions of the Board of Trustees coupled with a comparative insensitivity towards the Faculty of the College of Arts and Science.”86  While praising the close interactions between the administration and the Board of Trustees, the committee called on Wallis and other administrators to enhance their relationships with the faculty.

The committee acknowledged the role of the Dow recruiting dispute and the Center for Naval Analyses controversy as mitigating factors in the administration’s actions.  “We call attention to another factor which undoubtedly played a part … that there was a variety of emergencies requiring the attention of the administrative officers, who had to respond to various student pressures in order to avoid or settle still other crises.”87

The College’s faculty in large part endorsed the recommendations of the Committee, specifically calling for formal policies on academic appointments to be published, that the office of the dean of the College of Arts and Science be strengthened and that the University take steps to improve relations among the faculty, trustees and administration.

The difference between the faculty committee’s assessment of the situation and that of the trustee committee’s was dramatic.  Where the faculty accused the administration of being overly responsive to trustee concerns at the expense of those of the faculty, the trustees wrote that “… the Administration may have been — quite understandably — too responsive to faculty sentiments and too inattentive to Trustees, alumni, parents, and the public.”88  The trustees also criticized the faculty of the College of Arts and Science for exacerbating and publicizing crises at the University.89

The College of Arts and Science also came under criticism from the deans of the three professional schools on the River Campus.  In a letter to Brugler, they wrote that faculty members were continuing to teach and research “in spite of the voices raised in concentrated pockets of discouragement.”  The three deans also noted their support of Wallis and his administration — fitting, considering that in many respects the three were part of the very administration that they were praising.90

Again in mid-September 1969 the Committee of Named Professors met once more with the trustees committee.  At that meeting they learned that many of the recommendations they had issued in the beginning of the summer were either already in place or were being seriously considered by the University.  Specifically, Wallis had agreed to publish clear procedures for academic appointments, establish several committees of the Faculty Senate, appoint an associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, and appoint a senior administrator to oversee research.  The trustees said they were also considering issuing a formal statement giving the faculty the ability to evaluate the academic qualifications of any professorial candidate.91

Yet, despite the steps taken by the University, the “crisis of confidence” persisted.  Driven in large part by Wallis’s letter to the faculty announcing that the University would remain involved with the Center for Naval Analyses, faculty were still dissatisfied with his leadership.  The committee noticed the negative atmosphere on the River Campus, and mentioned it in the conclusion to its Fall 1969 report to the faculty of the College of Arts and Science.

“The degree of polarization of Faculty against Administration appears even higher than it was in June, and a crisis still exists,” they wrote. 

A specific and immediate cause of the worsening is the tone of the President’s letter announcing his decision on CNA and of his letter of August 11 to the students.  We find it deeply disturbing that he has again demonstrated that insensitivity towards the College Faculty which we commented upon in our first report.  Harsh words generate harsh words from others and poison the atmosphere even to the point where the real life of the University might become impossible; civility disappears; offended professors resign.92

The committee also criticized the faculty itself for not attempting to minimize the crisis by reaching out to the Board of Trustees.  To mature the level of discourse at the University, they issued a demand that “the President, his associates, and members of the Faculty … proceed to discussions based strictly on fact and principle, not permitting the intervention of personal animosities…”93

That, however, was not to happen.  Shortly after the committee issued its plea for professionalism and civility, 28 professors — nearly all in the College of Arts and Science — wrote an open letter to Wallis charging that “It is clear from Mr. Wallis’s recent actions that he believes that he, as the head of the University administration, is the sole citizen of the University.”  In many respects the letter defined the decline in civility that the Committee of Named Professors had hoped to reverse.  The end of the letter’s fifth paragraph may be the best example: “Mr. Wallis’s definition of the University is idiosyncratic; it is an authoritarian and anti-intellectual conception and as such it is unacceptable and repugnant to us.  Mr. Wallis’s autocracy must be opposed by all men of good and independent conscious if the continued decline of this university is to be averted.”94  The signers concluded with a three demands: that UR break its ties to CNA, that the Faculty Senate become a legislative body that would serve as a check on the administration, and that the Board of Trustees include faculty and student representatives.

It is questionable whether the letter truly reflected the opinion of either the University’s faculty as a whole, or even that of the College of Arts and Science.  Many of the letter’s signers were among the handful of professors always at the forefront of unrest at the University, including Mitzman, one of the three professors involved in the Dow sit-in, and Istock, who was a leader in the CNA dispute.

Wallis was not pleased with the letter. It “seems to me purely destructive, not just in effect but intent,” he wrote, noting that it was made public before he had received a copy.  The letter was “intemperate, emotional, dogmatic, illogical, ad hominem,” he wrote.95  Despite the harsh words, the faculty’s “crisis of confidence” began to dissipate over the Fall 1969 semester.  Professors who sought to change the University from within the established system focused much of their energy on an “augmented” Faculty Senate meeting to which students, alumni, administrators and trustees were invited.  The meeting, held on November 19, 1969, sought ways to improve the governance of the University — one of the major goals of the faculty during this time.  Though many of the speakers at the forum endorsed an all-university senate — one which would include faculty, administrators, alumni and students and have significant powers — Wallis and Honorary Chairman of the Board of Trustees Joseph C. Wilson, however, were noncommittal.96  Faculty members who opted not to focus their energies into reforming the system often grew more embittered with the University, many eventually choosing to leave the institution.


Taken separately, the Dow recruiting sit-in and subsequent controversy over graduate student disciplinary procedures, the debate over the University’s affiliation with the Center for Naval Analyses, and the alleged mishandling of the appointment of Eugene D. Genovese each appeared to be issues that frayed the rope of faculty-administrative relations.  When the three events happened so quickly — in a span of three academic years — and in the highly charged atmosphere that pervaded American college campuses in the late 1960s, however, it should come as no surprise that faculty-administration relations at the University of Rochester grew so tense so quickly.

What makes the question of faculty unrest at the University of Rochester so interesting is the relatively calm state of the student body during the 1960s.  While students had staged a variety of actions, most in opposition to the Vietnam war, they tended to channel their energy into progressive, non-disruptive efforts like the National Petition Committee, begun in 1970 by two political science professors. 

That the student body should be so quiet while the faculty was so vocal was not lost on the Committee of Named Professors.  “The existence of a crisis of confidence among the Faculty … is especially regrettable since the student unrest which is so prevalent at universities throughout the country is relatively mild at our institution,” they wrote in their first report.97

Could the “crisis of confidence” have been prevented by administrators and by faculty leaders?  Perhaps.  Had the University cultivated better relationships between the Administration Building and the Eastman Quad — as most of the disillusioned professors were in the College of Arts and Science — the dissatisfaction could have been lowered if not eliminated entirely.  For that to happen, though, the University’s senior administration would have needed to overcome the communication problem plaguing the institution.  The answer to that problem, though, would not have come simply in more communication between different parts of the University.  Instead, the University needed to build better types of communication among its branches.  In his report to the faculty of the College of Arts and Science, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Ralph A. Raimi described the situation as “no shortage of honest consultation.  What was lacking was freedom of consultation.  Every conversation was privileged, confidential, not to be repeated.”  A more open and collegial atmosphere — one in which professors and deans and perhaps even the president were free to begin a dialogue about their individual concerns and shared goals — could have improved the tone of discourse on campus. 

But what of the structure of the faculty at the time?  Certainly revisions to the mechanisms for internal governance could have released some of the pressure.  If the University had established the Faculty Senate as the legitimate, recognized voice of the institution’s professors, better coordination of the faculty could have resulted in a more unified response to concerns.  The structure that existed, though, resulted in a system wherein the faculty as a whole, represented by the Faculty Senate, could be working at a cross-purpose to the faculty of an individual school, represented by the opinion of professors at a faculty meeting.  This happened most often in Arts and Science. 

Whenever there has been a crisis at the University in recent years, the College of Arts and Science Faculty has considerably exacerbated it and usually publicized it.  As small a number as ten faculty members can on very short notice summon a meeting of the full Arts and Science Faculty of nearly 300 — although rarely half and never two-thirds actually attend.  The meeting then adopts on the spot various motions and resolutions that in the short run interfere with handling the crisis and usually aggravate it, and in the long run create additional troubles that last for years.98

Contrast that to the seemingly glacial pace at which the Faculty Senate moved to pass resolutions and make decisions.  The Senate itself met at regular intervals, limiting the opportunities for meetings to be called suddenly.  Any resolution, decision or statement that the body wanted to approve required two readings and passages before becoming official — allowing senators to reconsider hasty actions.  Had the Senate been considered the only formal expression of organized faculty opinion, it would have forced discontented faculty members either to work through its methods or develop a separate dialogue with administrators and other faculty members.

Then there is the possibility that the “crisis of confidence” and the events preceding it were beneficial for the University because they forced its many constituent groups to examine critically the University’s place, and how they believed the institution should develop.  Perhaps Marshak was right when he said, “Without rational controversy, neither faculty nor administration can learn how to create the greater University which is our common goal.”99