On Leaving Texas Austin Some years ago in Oxford I read a book by a distinguished American philosopher. Part of the preface read: I have long hesitated to assume the risk of the incalculable harm these essays might do but now in view of the likewise incalculable good they might do, I have tossed a coin and it came down just as I thought it would. It stood on its head. And I knocked it down.’ My attitude to writing this valedictory article on Texas was much the same. Some people I respect thought that what I would write might do some good; on the other hand, I was aware that what I had to say might offend certain others whom I like. Fortunately these last are people who often in their behavior have vindicated the greater claims of truth over friendship, and the pages of the Observer are of course available for setting the record right. In my opinion \(speaking, of course, as a private individual and not as a regent or a there has been a gradual erosion of civil liberties in the state in general and in the 2 The Texas Observer The writer this issue begins setting out his view of the University of Texas at Austin after eight years service on that campus, including some time as chairman of the classics department and as a full professor. He left the Austin campus this summer to join the faculty of the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is a native of England whose bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classics were earned at Cambridge. He was for seven years a don at Oxford, leaving that position to come to Austin, attracted by the hopes Dr. Harry Ransom, then UT-Austin president, had of pushing the university into eminence in American higher education. Mr. Sullivan has published and edited several books in his field, is the editor of Anion, and, this issue, becomes a contributing editor of the Observer. Copies of Mr. Sullivan’s manuscript are being sent persons who particularly might wish to respond. Their replies, if any, will be carried at the conclusion of the Sullivan articles. This issue Sullivan discusses Ransom’s hopes, Roger Shattuck, the Southwest Center for Advance Studies, Frank Erwin, and the law school. In the following issue Lawrence Caroline, John Silber, and student unrest. university in particular. Perhaps this is happening all over the country and is to be explained by the fact that there’s a war on. At any rate the erosion struck me with great force when I returned to the university in September, 1968, after fifteen months absence in Europe and elsewhere, and it had better be recorded now in the hope that faculty members, students, and other second-class citizens will increase their vigilance. ON AUSTIN Eight years ago I thought Austin \(population 160,000, Oxford; when I returned last year to the city \(population 250,000, climate greater. In 1961 the city seemed to be Jon Sullivan liberating itself from outmoded social attitudes; the university, plagued by its past, was trying to become a first-class institution. In 1968 I returned to a city that rejected a fair-housing referendum, had school plans so inadequate in terms of integration that the Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare, even under a Republican administration, rejected them, and had thrown out moderate-to-liberal politicians such as Harry Akin and Emma Long in favor of a city council dominated by business and real estate interests. Even the atmosphere of cooperation and friendliness between the different elements in the city seems to be breaking down: between police, legislature, city council, students, professional men, and minorities. Legislators can’t get their traffic tickets fixed; ethnic picketing is treated more .sternly. All this results in certain inequities, of which I will offer just one example. During the 1967 session of the Legislature, a UT professor and a prominent local psychiatrist their names are unimportant testified before a Senate committee against certain proposed laws concerning dangerous drugs, whose penalties far exceeded the current’ federal laws. The hasty law that actually passed was eventually declared unconstitutional on technical grounds by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The two witnesses, however, found the proposed bills objectionable, the one because of certain apparent threats in them to civil liberties, the other on scientific and therapeutic grounds. Both of course may have ‘been wrong in their views: perhaps the laws would not be selectively applied, and perhaps they would in no way interfere with further research in this area. But the consequences of their respective testimony were startingly different. The professor was actually rewarded for his public spirit, being thereafter exempted from service on all university committees, not just the four or five on which he had been wasting his time previously. He was able, then, to devote more of his flagging energies to teaching and research. The psychiatrist , however, lacking the protection of a strong university bulwark against political and social pressure, was penalized in a number of ways. The cold shoulder from the Texas Medical Association he could doubtless bear with equanimity, but eventually his federally licensed researches into such dangerous drugs as cannabis were radically hampered by local law enforcement agencies. In the old Austin one might have expected the district attorney to discuss the whole matter of these researches, examine their legality from a state point of view, and in general discuss the whole thing in a civilized manner. Instead the psychiatrist got the midnight arrest-and-search treatment, to be followed by indictment and all the expenses of a trial. 2 From the fuss one would have thought he was experimenting with nerve gases or seeking a new strain of tularemia or Rocky Mountain fever. The outcry among UT scientists at this interruption of federally licensed research deafened several mice, but it was to no avail. Eppure si muove! \(So far as is known, the judges who struck down the law as unconstitutional Perhaps the feeling of renewal in 1961, of breaking with a disreputable past, was a reflection in Texas of the general mood of the country. The McCarthy-Cohn-Schine period, which had so shocked many European academics, seemed over. The McCarthy era, is it were, had struck Texas early and its victim had been the legendary UT President Homer Rainey, who had fought a series of dismissals and threats of dismissals aimed at suppressing freedom of thought. Finally, on November 1, 1944, over an almost unanimous protest of the general faculty, the regents dismissed the president, refusing even to honor his promised tenure status as professor of education. The regents clearly saw the university as a proprietary institution of which the faculty were employees, rather than a public institution of which they were but the trustees responsible for the public welfare. The American Assn. of University Professors saw in this “the reappearance of an old phenomenon, namely, an effort on the part of certain special-interest groups to control education,” 3 It was not to be the last time, but the university was then placed on the AAUP’s list of censured institutions. RANSOM’S DREAM In the late fifties, however, Chancellor Harry Ransom, with a vision uncharacteristic of distinghished bibliographers, decided that it was time that the University of Texas should take its proper place in the hierarchy of state universities, a place to
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