v1 ,441,17…..,-.000.. idc rtZPINeatim.4.tog ,,,..4,4,. Two Colleges Face Censure I Austin It appears that the administrations of two Texas institutions of higher education will be censured next month by the influential American Assn. of University Professors for alleged violations of academic freedom. As reported in the Feb. 2 issue, the Texas A&M administration is one of these. It has lately come to the Observer’s attention that the administration of Amarillo College, a public junior college of some 2,800 students, also is likely to be censured. Each school has been the subject of reports published in the AAUP Bulletin, a step that almost invariably is followed by a vote of censureship. The Amarillo College case was discussed in the Bulletin last fall, a fact the Observer had been unaware of until just recently. Other Texas newspapers, including those at Bryan and Amarillo, have not reported the impending censureships of two more state colleges. If censure is voted by the association at its annual meeting April 26-27 in Washington, D.C., that would bring to three the number of Texas schools so castigated. Presently among the 16 censured US college administrations is that of Sam Houston State, Huntsville, which was placed on the list in April, 1963. The most practical effect of censureship is that an institution’s recruiting of faculty members is impaired to some degree. A corollary, less tangible effect, is the damage done a school’s academic reputation. ‘The Amarillo College case involves Elizabeth Miesse, who first joined that school’s faculty in 1947, serving most recently, as a psychology professor. Her troubles, began in early 1962. The college president, A. B. Martin, heard that Miss Miesse had made “an unwarranted personal attack on the administration” of the college during a meeting of a faculty organization. As the situation developed Miss Miesse was given a reduced teaching load in the fall of 1962, teaching three instead of five classes, which resulted in a salary cut. In the spring of 1963, Martin wrote Miss Miesse that her teaching load would be cut even further in the 1963-’64 year, to two courses, with a further salary reduction, to $3,140 annually. Martin concluded his letter to Miss Miesse by saying, “This information is given you so you can make your plans for the next year. It is my suggestion that in view of the low salary you would draw at Amarillo College you may wish to seek employment elsewhere.” The AAUP report says: “Professor Miesse states that for personal reasons, including a long standing attachment to Amarillo and the college, and because of her belief that this problem could be resolved satisfactorily, she chose not to make a serious effort to obtain an ap 6 The Texas Observer pointment elsewhere.” With the beginning of the fall, 1963, semester, she taught just the two courses. Matters came to a head in November, 1963, when Martin learned that Miss Miesse had consulted an attorney to see if her tenure status had been violated by the reductions in her teaching load and pay. She was suspended by Martin, received a hearing before the college board of regents, but, the day after, was dismissed, to receive her current salary for the rest of ` that academic year. HE AAUP national office was contacted by Miss Miesse in December, 1964, a year after her dismissal. As is usual association procedure, an ad hoc committee was appointed to go to Amarillo and investigate the situation. On the committee were Kendall P. Cochran, economics teacher at North Texas State; Margaret Goodman Malamuth, English teacher at Long Beach, Calif., City College; and George G. Williams, English teacher at Rice. The committee report covers three areasthe questions of tenure and academic due process and the substantive bases for Miss Miesse’s dismissal. As to tenure \(that is, the status wherein a teacher no longer is on probation and can be removed from the staff only for cause and after a hearing of complaints it was President Martin’s position that Miss Miesse had divested herself of tenure because of “contumacious conduct.” Martin told the regents at Miss Miesse’s hearing \(a tape recording of which was made available to the AAUP ad hoc comthe president to ascertain the true attitude of any faculty member. And Miss Miesse has acted in such a way over so long a period of time that we can’t continue her on the faculty. Tenure is not required by law; it is only an accommodation. The board of regents delegated this right to the faculty. But this is good only so long as the faculty member acts in good faith.” The AAUP committee report says, “This concept seemed … clearly incompatible with the generally understood meaning and implications of tenure. If the rights of tenure are an ‘accommodation’ that can be withdrawn at the discretion of an administration, or of which a faculty member can be divested with none of the procedural protections of due process, then a tenure programand the academic freedom it protectsis meaningless.” The committee said it found no faculty organization at the college to consider problems of tenure. The committee concluded, “As a tenured member of the faculty … Professor Miesse had every right to expect security of appointment which could be interrupted only for adequate cause, and that to be determined by full due process.” As to the issue of due process, the committee reports that the sequence of steps taken in reducing Miss Miesse’s standing and salary were contrary to accepted academic standards and to stated regulations of the college itself. The committee complains that she received less than 24 hours’ notice of the hearing before the regents, was not given a written statement of charges, and was not advised that legal counsel or witnesses in her behalf could accompany her to the hearing. “In short,” the committee report charges, “Almost every major feature of acceptable due process was ignored in the proceedings ….” As to the substance of the reasons for the dismissal, the committee report says: “. .. the ad hoc committee can only conclude that it found no valid substance for the dismissal of Professor Miesse. There were indications of eccentric and nonconformist behavior, but, especially when judged on the basis of the evidence presented at the [hearing before the regents], the charges brought by President Martin were in the committee’s judgment essentially unsubstantiated.” CONCLUDING, the report says: The dismissal of Professor Miesse was in clear violation of her rights as a tenured member of the faculty …. [T]he charges brought against her, even if sustained, would not constitute adequate cause; and, in any event, … they were substantially unsupported …. “A final comment must be made about the board of regents and their role in this matter, for it is the conclusion of the ad hoc committee that once Professor Miesse had been suspended by the president, the board felt that it had no choice but to support the president’s decision. Many of the comments by the board members on the tape recording of the hearing reflected an overriding concern for the necessity to achieve a smooth, harmonious operation of the college, even if this end could be attained only at great cost to an individual professor. Furthermore, the meeting seemed to be permeated by an ignorance of the proper nature of an institution of higher learning, which nurtures difference, rewards originality, and respects academic freedom …. “Until the board of regents and the administration subscribe to those standards [here referring to Gov. John Connally’s charge, ‘including recommendations as to academic freedom, to the newly-created Coordinating Board of Texas Universities and Colleges] and that conception of the faculty at their institution, the principles of academic freedom and tenure so clearly violated in the dismissal of Professor Miessecannot be secure at Amarillo College.” G.O.