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The Texas Observer JULY 22, 1966 A Journal of Free Voices A Window to The South 25c \(IA ZIP A/J Governors and Universities J. R. Parten Probably the surest way to injure a university is to misgovern it. We have had our ups and downs at Texas over the years due directly to pressure or control by the governor. The Texas statutes provide that a board of regents of nine members shall control and direct the affairs of the University. Regents serve terms of six years and appointments are staggered. Three retire and three are appointed at the beginning of each two-year elective term of the governor. Of course, the appointees of the governor must be confirmed by the Senate but are seldom rejected. So at the start of his second two-year term, the governor will have appointed his sixth regent representing a two-thirds majority of the board of nine, which often means control. This procedure has, at times in the past, resulted in a great deal of trouble. As examples of such resultant disturbance, directly due to this procedure, I would like to discuss briefly two cases. Once a retiring governor of Texas, facing unemployment, got the board of nine Regents, of whom he had appointed six, to elect him the president. Of course, there was faculty revolt, but fortunately the fast and effective work of Mr. Will Hogg of Houston, a distinguished alumnus [and the son of ex-Gov. James HoggEd.], prevented the president-elect from taking office. This ended the misconduct of this board. J. R. Parten, or “Major Parten,” is a powerful figure in Texas affairs, but keeps in the background. A Houston oilman, he contributes to the candidacies of many liberal candidates for office. He has played a variety of roles in national committees having to do with federal oil and gas policy. He was a regent at the University of Texas from January, 1935, to February, 1941. In this engrossing reminiscence, which he delivered recently to a convocation in Los Angeles on “The American University,” Parten recalls, for those who do not know about, the Hather Rainey affair at the University of Texas, gives some new insights into that affair, and proposes a reform to ”prevent such things from happening again. Parten is a director of the Fund for the Republic, whose principal endeavor has been the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. In the 1930’s, when I had the honor to serve on the Texas board, there developed a well organized campaign to effect the dismissal of several economics professors because, it was claimed, they were teaching socialism, and particularly because they taught the Keynesian theory of national economy control, then regarded by some as communistic. One of my colleagues of the time related to me that his employer, a prominent businessman of Galveston, had persuaded the then governor to appoint him for the specific purpose of getting a certain senior economics professor dismissed from the faculty. He asked my advice, as board chairman, how to do it. His candor was refreshing, but I’m happy to relate his efforts failed. However, it was not insignificant that the board divided six against but three for his formal motion to dismiss this professor without a hearing and contrary to the rules. TWO YEARS LATER, the governor did an unusual thing, at least for Texas. In January, 1941, among the three regent appointees there were two prominent Republicans. Difficulty on confirmation was encountered in the Senate. This you may better appreciate by knowing that there was not a single Republican in the Senate at the time. As a retiring regent, my help was solicited to urge several of my personal and more liberal friends in the Senate to recant and support confirmation. This I did cheerfully, for certainly there is no sound reason for political preferment in the selection of university regents. After a few weeks the governor’s appointees were confirmed. But I soon discovered that I had made a grave mistake. The organizers were again on the prowl. These two regents had banded with others and taken final action, over the protest of the president, to dismiss three economics teachers on a complaint from Dallas. Investigation by the American Association of University Professors developed that these teachers had been discharged improperly. Pressure from the AAUP and a recommendation from the president forced an offer of reappointment to these three teachers. But, before long, an incensed board of regents discharged the president, having worked up a public campaign based upon the following facts: The president had advocated for Texas the establishment of graduate education for Negroes, a step to implement “the doctrine of separate but equal.” The book, U.S.A., by John Dos Passos, had been discovered on the shelves of the University library; and The president’s previous administration at Bucknell University had been criticized by a federal district judge of Pennsylvania who volunteered a letter of condemnation to the new regent from Dallas, who had become chairman of the board. It was peculiar that, while several Texas newspapers reported fully the regents’ charges against the president, no statement of the president’s defense was ever reported. Particularly, no Texas newspaper picked up the current news reports from Washington, D.C., showing that the certain federal district judge of Pennsylvania, who had given a testimonial against the president, was then indicted and actually being prosecuted for malfeasance in office, or that he was later convicted. Moreover, the Texas Quality Radio network, owned by three large Texas newspapers, refused to sell radio time at commercial rates to the president in order that he might place his case before the public. Thus ended the administration of President Homer Price Rainey within six years after his election by unanimous vote of the regents, supported by the unanimous approval of a faculty advisory committee and the unanimous approval of an alumni advisory committee and after installation with great expectations. Dr. Rainey had literally fought in defense of the faculty to his presidential death, but it will long be remembered that he successfully protected his teaching faculty. Not a single member remained discharged. THESE INCIDENTS and facts are discussed in a spirit of neither rancor nor emotion. At this time, they are important only as they may serve to guide us against mistakes in the future. It is readily admitted that governor control of the state university on occasion has been materially beneficial. I recall that Governor Huey P. Long, of Louisiana, not