Texas and the AAUP ‘Blacklist’ Many people concerned about higher education in Texas frequently express concern for its character as represented by the persistence of state colleges and universities being on the “blacklist” maintained by the influential American Assn. of University Professors. The association lists administrations of colleges it believes have acted, in specific instances, against the best interests of academic freedom. Characteristically, a college so castigated finds itself having problems in recruiting faculty members, particularly ones of some prestige. Presently 19 college administrations are blacklisted by the AAUP, three of them of Texas institutions: Sam Houston State College at Huntsville state has as many as three schools on the AAUP list. Frequently Texas news media incline to be indifferent to, or unaware of, the implications of AAUP censure. This was not the case in Amarillo, where the censure of the lo cal college has occasioned editorial concern on the part of KVII, channel seven. This fall, in an editorial, channel seven castigated the Amarillo College president, A. B. Martin, saying that “in his singularly breezy fashion [he] dismisses the American Assn. of University Professors as not much more than a labor union. As he put it to this reporter: ‘They have as much to do with us as we have to do with the Los Angeles Assn. of Topless Go-Go Dancers.’ . . . “Instead of trying to win back the approval of the AAUP, Dr. Martin apparently prefers the ostrich theory if he sticks his head in the sand and keeps it there long enough, the legitimate academic world will go away. “Well, it won’t, and neither will the troubles of Amarillo College, which, in a year of record college enrollments, is barely holding its own enrollment to last year’s totals. On the other hand, the ostrich theory may have some value. If we all adopt it maybe Dr. Mar tin will go away. . ..” pus who are all for student activism until their life is on the line. Then they wait to see how much support we have before they come out in our favor.” TWO COMPOUND questions arise from all of this. One, does Williams actually want the presidency and if so just how close is he to being named? Secondly, why are these students so opposed to him and how much support do they have? Williams has remained silent on whether he wants the appointment. His term as mayor expires next spring and he has indicated he will not run for re-election. The news reports which announced Dr. Ray’s resignation mentioned Williams as a possible replacement. As to his chances, absolutely no one in a position of authority will say anything officially. Privately they will admit he has “a friend” on the board of regents and ‘therefore has a good chance of being named. One university official who refused to let his name be used said, “Jud is in.” He has strong local business support, has been highly complimented by Gov. John Connally, and both local newspapers and one of the TV stations are actively campaigning in his behalf. There are two facts and one persistent rumor which counterbalance these proWilliams indications. Last spring a committee comprised of nine faculty members and the president of the student association was formed by the regents to screen applicants and make recommendations to the chancellor and the board for the presidency. The usual anonymous “reliable source” leaked the information that Williams’ name was not on the list of five names submitted. The board was expected to take action at its August meeting but declined to do so and formed another, enlarged committee for further deliberation. Another reliable source said the matter was not even brought up at the general meeting of the board but was handled in the executive committee meeting. There is indication that the board has not actually made up its mind since members John Peace and Frank Ikard made an unpublicized trip to El Paso to interview business leaders and the selection committee again just after the fall term opened. The reason Williams was not named, according to the rumor which no official will confirm or deny but which persists in committee meetings, classrooms, cocktail parties and the faculty lounge, is that Regents Chairman Frank Erwin, Jr. wishes to appoint Williams but that Chancellor Harry Ransom opposes it. That dissension is present somewhere within the university structure is obvious or surely someone would have been named at the August meeting so he could be in office for the start of the fall term, the most logical time for a new president to take office. Deliberation is called for in choosing a university president but it has been almost nine months since Dr. December 13, 1968 3 Ray announced his resignation. The longer it takes the board to act, the more agitated the school will become. A MULTITUDE of reasons for objecting to Williams has been given. The serious ones tend to fall into four areas. The first, that this would be a “sellout to the establishment,” was summed up by SAC leader Reynolds, who said, “Downtown interests want to run the university. We think the university ought to run itself. If Williams is appointed, the university will become not the market place of ideas it should be but the executive suite.” The second is that Williams’ appointment would be for political favors rendered. Dr. Keven O’Neil of the philosophy department combined these two reasons in stating, “Williams’ appointment would result in loss of autonomy and academic freedom on the campus and loss of the school’s freedom from the city and the state. It would be a political plum as a reward for service to downtown interests.” Sal Sandoval of NOMAS, a Mexican-American organization, called Williams a “puppet of Governor Connally and East Texas conservatives.” Doug Conwell, student association vice-president, added, “We need a president with educational experience and background, not one controlled by political hacks of either local or state government or one who censures a different point of view.” The weakest argument is that Williams is not academically qualified. He was at one time head of the UTEP journalism department and later was dean of students. However, Roger Ellison, former student association vice-president, feels that “a PhD should be a minimum requirement for the position,” and Williams holds his doctorate in education. LaSalandra of SAC added that “he left academic life years ago to enter politics. He doesn’t even know what’s going on politically in his own city in areas like discrimination and the slums, so how could. he know what’s going on in a university now? Universities have changed radically since the 1950’s when he left.” The other major argument is that Williams is simply not suitable for the position. Sandoval called him “anti-Mexican and anti-black” Alex Sutton, chairman of the United Afro-American Students, said, “The university is becoming more liberal, but the appointment of a conservative to the presidency would set the institution back.” Dr. O’Neil added, “He represents the world at large and cannot fit in at the university. The university should look beyond the mayor of a small city for its leadership.” As student association cards were picked up during the week of October 21-25, the students were asked to vote on Williams. Slightly less than two-thirds of the 7,000 full-time students met this deadline and expressed an opinion. Of these, 2,439 were against Williams as president of the school, 542 in favor and 888 had no opinion. This ballot may not be a completely accurate gauge of student and faculty support for SAC but it definitely shows that the prevailing feeling on campus is anti-Williams. No other action by SAC is planned at present but if Williams is appointed, “There is a potentially explosive situation here,” SAC’s Reynolds said. “The likelihood of disturbance is very great. That’s not a threat but a statement.”
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