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Koeninger: Regent Chairman Phoned Bircher among drop-outs of the high schools in Michigan; from the Alfred E. Sloan Foundation to study helping low economic groups through education; and from the National Council of Christians and Jews to help the Chippewa Indians in Central Michigan attain economic betterment with their basket-making crafts. In 1947 he, his wife, and their four children returned to Texas, and he became chairman and sole member of the sociology department at Sam Houston State. In 1949 he became director of the bureau of classification of the Texas Prison System, but he kept in an oar at Sam Houston by teaching one class until he decided to shift back to teaching as his primary work in 1954, the year the house on Avenue I was built. When he was fired last year, his department had five teachers and 174 undergraduate majors; three graduate majors had received their master’s degrees from the department that year, and graduates had gone on to more advanced work at Smith College, Tulane, the University of Texas; Washington University, L.S.U. People trained by his department were working in detention homes, probation and parole departments, state and federal prisons, child welfare, public welfare, employment systems, the Salvation Army, children’s homes, homes for unwed mothers, industry and business, and teaching. “We emphasized the down-toearth relationships of working with people who had problems,” Koeninger said. “We placed students in work situations to learn what social work was like. . . . We had every reason to be proud of these young men and women and their work and achievements. . . . I cannot see how a responsible board of regents, acting upon gossip and hearsay and without making any charges, can relieve me of my work of dedication to the service of my fellow man.” ‘Every Right of Citizenship’ “The Koeninger case” can properly be said to have begun when the teachers’ colleges’ board of regents adopted, in 1949, a rule sanctioning, and also encouraging, political activity by college teachers. Although the political complexion of the board changed as Allan Shivers, the governor of the early fifties, made his rotational appointments to it, as a corporate body it was of course constrained by its own rules. The hoard’s Rule 54 still says: “The College President, faculty member, or college administrator is recognized as a citizen, a member of a learned profession and an officer of an educational system. It is recognized that a college administrator, teacher, or employee has not only a right but an obligation to exercise as a citizen the right to citizenship, including the right to determine for himself or herself any political questions that may be presented. No member of this Board shall be authorized to attempt to in any manner affect the political thinking of any college teacher, faculty member, and others; and such faculty members and others under the jurisdiction of this Board are requested to exercise the every right of citizenship, and it is here and now declared by this Board that such is to be exercised free from institutional censorship and discipline.” The rule continues that the col, , leges’ people should “guard their political statement so that it may at all times be clear” that they THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 November 30, 1962 speak as individuals, not for the college; since some people tend to judge a college by what its people say, the board “recommends . . . that appropriate restraint should be observed. . . .” Koeninger was just the man to find out if this rule meant what it said or only hinted at what it meant, because he believed the Supreme Court decision of 1954 was the law of the land, and in politics he is a liberal Democrat. In 1955 he gave a talk, “The First Year of Integration,” to a meeting in Houston sponsored by the Southern Conference Educational Fund, Inc. He reviewed events since the 1954 decision and did not conceal, though he did not declare, his belief that the decision should be complied with. The speech was reported in the Houston press. A course on race relations has been taught at Sam Houston since the 1920’s, and in connection with it students from the college occasionally visited Prairie View A.&M., and vice versa. During a term when Koeninger was teaching the course, one of his students, a young Baptist preacher, heard Texas Southern University’s Baptist student director speak and obtained Koeninger’s permission to invite him to speak at Sam Houston. The Negro visitor addressed Koeninger’s class, but at lunchtime they found that the place they had intended to eat together had a full house, so they went out to the new Huntsville State Park and took their meal at one of the concrete tables. “As we were finishing and cleaning up,” Koeninger recalls, “the park manager came and told us that the state parks were not desegregated. Apologies were made all around. I apologized to the park manager and to Mr. and Mrs. Lawson and they, in turn, expressed their regrets that we had been embarassed on their account.” Having finished lunch, they left. This episode became a subject of gossip in the town. Though it did not figure in subsequent recitations of causes for Koeninger’s trouble, it was mentioned to the Observer by two members of the local chapter of the John Birch Society. “I learned after my dismissal,” Koeninger says, “that whenever the Texas Commission on Interracial Cooperation met in Huntsville, two or three calls came from women who did not identify themselves . . . asking if I had attended.” He had not, because of other commitments, but the calls were symptoms of an incipient conflict between town and gown. He Crosses Dowdy In January, 1960, Koeninger promoted the sale of poll taxes in the county. Another member of the faculty had taken the initiative and consulted the county tax collector to obtain the standard forms that were used. The Huntsville Item, a militantly conservative local sheet, said the county commissioners took a “dim view” of the matter. “We did nothing different from what had been done before, except that we did it openly,” Koeninger says. “The city attorney plainly stated that there was nothing illegal about the efforts of the students and faculty.” A question was raised whether all the students were old enough to be poll tax agents under the law. In the spring that year Koeninger attended a public program at which Congressman John Dowdy of Athens and his challenger, Rev. Bill Crook, were speakers. During a question period, Koeninger asked Dowdy why he had not voted with other Democrats to override President Eisenhower’s veto of a water pollution bill. Ac cording to Koeninger’s later accounts, Dowdy denied that he had not so voted; but Koeninger contends he has established that he did. Koeninger and six other local teachers signed a statement endorsing E. R. Wright’s candidacy against incumbent District Judge Max Rogers in the 1960 Democratic primary. Koeninger says he did not sign his title or the college’s name; Wright, in a sworn affidavit, says that he, Wright, added the title and the college name without verbal or written authorization by Koeninger. As it happened, Judge Rogers’ daughter was married to a son of Regent Richard F. Stovall of Floydada, a fact Koeninger did not know at the time. Wright lost. \(Later, when Koeninger was fired, Judge Rogers was quoted in the Houston Chronicle, “I can’t think of a nicer guy for it to have happened to. I did not have anything to do with it, but I’m not Koeninger was admonished that year because of the circular endorsing Wright. Meanwhile, C. Smith Ramsey of San Augustine, the chairman of the board of regents, brother of the powerful former lieutenant governor and present Railroad Commissioner, Ben Ramsey, and a most conserv, ative man who was put on the board by ex-Gov. Shivers, had given in to President Lowman on a dispute over the college’s acquisition of some land for a building which Lowman very much wanted for the college. “It was just mentioned informally,” Koeninger says on this curious facet of the affair. “He [Lowman] did say that Smith Ramsey was on his tail about the land. In other words, if he got the land . . . Smith would go along with a quid pro quo. I don’t think there was an out and out trade, anything as crass as that. He [Lowman] felt obligated to go along, it was a situation in which he was obligated; I think that’s true.” The event that proximately caused Koeninger’s firing was his dispute with a .leader of the John Eirch Society in Huntsville, W. H. Kellogg, during a showing of the film “Operation Abolition” at the Wesley Foundation on April 13, 1961. This event has been alluded to in many news stories, but the best account may be a sworn affidavit signed on May 18, 1961, by eleven persons who were there \(C. T. Vaughn, Phyllis Haney, Patsy Allen, Sandra Bales, Tommie Elliott, Betty Jo Lucas, Teff Shero, Donna Stringer, Bob Williams, Glenn K. Polan, and Clif= According to these eleven witnesses, the assistant director of the Wesley Foundation, Bob Williams, and Kellogg argued over Kellogg’s statement that “you were either right or wrong, that you were either American or Communist,” as the affidavit represents Kellogg’s position. Kellogg also contended, the eleven signatories said, that the Nation, the Reporter, and New Republic are in sympathy with the communist cause. They said Koeninger said that one could see that the film “was filled with all types of methods of propaganda. Also he pointed out that name calling in which Mr. Kellogg was participating was a type of propaganda.” “At no time was there any act of violence or anything resembling disorderly conduct,” their statement concluded. In a later statement, Koeninger said that when he was asked for a personal opinion, “I refused by saying that as a social scientist, I was interested in communication as a process and that movies could be generally classified as designed for amusement, education, or propaganda, and I thought the film offered students a chance to analyze it for documentary as well as propaganda values.” When a student asked Kellogg if he was a Birch Society member and he said he was, Koeninger continued, “Since the film had been shown before the high school students and other groups, I asked him if he had told the other groups he was a member of the John Birch Society. He said no one had asked him.” Ramsey Phoned Bircher Interviewing Kellogg, the Observer learned the most surprising unreported fact of the case. Ramsey, the chairman of the board of regents of Sam Houston State and the five other Texas teachers’ colleges, telephoned Kellogg and asked him for his account of the affair, and Kellogg gave it to him. Ramsey did not telephone Koeninger and ask him for his side of the story, though Koeninger was a member of the faculty of Sam Houston and Ramsey was about to join in firing him. What is Kellogg’s account of the affair? Kellogg, chief forester for the Foster Estate, says Koeninger “revealed his deep opposition to Senate and House investigating committees when it comes to the subject of communism. . . . He lost his temper in front of a bunch of students, Six Colleges The board of regents of the Texas State Teachers’ Col leges presides over six state im teachers’ colleges with a total “head-count” enrollment this IN fall of 20,246 students. The six and their enrollments are Sam Houston State in Huntsville, 5,270; East Texas State in Commerce, 3,844; West Texas N State in Canyon, 3,733; South P west Texas State in San Mar : cos, 3,463; Stephen F. Austin a State in Nacogdoches, 2,737; and 9. Sul Ross State in Alpine 1,19 banged on the table, got red in the face. He accused me of calling him a communist when I hadn’t called anybody a communist.” \(Koeninger says of this that Kellogg is “just having a field Kellogg says he visited a dozen times with the late Frank White, another member of the board, and, Kellogg says, “I knew Mr. Ramsey.” When the Observer asked Kellogg if he had discussed Koeninger with Ramsey before the firing, Kellogg replied: “No, sir, I think not.Well, now, wait a minute, a year ago, after the . . . student assembly, Mr. Ramsey called me on the phone, he was in town for a board meeting. I told him my part in it and Mr. Koeninger’s part in it.” Kellogg’s attitude toward professors and colleges could not be described precisely as deferential. “Aw, nuts to the academic community,” he said in response to a question using that unfortunate phrase. “If I were looking for a college to send my child to, I think I’d pick one that had been blacklisted by the A.A.U.P.” “It’s the duty of educators to teach the truth,” he said. “The truth is there. Certainly we do have ample acceptance of it. In America we accept as truth certain things, the free enterprise system being one of them. The Constitution, respect for America’s systems. These may not be true. Russians may have a better system, but society is either right or it’s wrong.” Kellogg believed at a previous time that the Southern Conference Educational Fund, Inc., which sponsored the meeting at which Koeninger made his 1955 speech, was on the Attorney General’s list. He has been advised by an attorney that it is not; however, he finds the previous organizational affiliations of some of the Persons on S.C.E.F.’s masthead,