Silber as dean has compiled a prepossessing record of educational innovations and has toured the state -aking on behalf of the university and its Alicia’ needs. Under his influence, the Arts and Sciences Foundation has formed to raise funds from wealthy supporters of the university for the college of which he is is dean. A special committee of this foundation lamented Silber’s firing as “a staggering blow to the efforts to secure effective teaching” for the college. Silber, the statement said, had achieved national recognition for innovations to meet “the individual needs of students who would otherwise become lost and alienated” and had been successful in recruiting a strong faculty. The statement regretted that he had been removed “at the height of his effective service.” Among the signatories were J. R. Parten, wealthy Houston oilman and a former regent; Mrs. Radcliffe Killam of Laredo, a Republican and a member of a well-known ranching and oil-owning family; Mrs. Theodore Strauss, wife of a Dallas bank president whose brother is Robert Strauss, the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee; and C. B. Smith, Sr., Austin Volkswagen dealer who has been a leader in a project to honor the late historian, Walter Prescott Webb. r MOST OF THE regents were governor. Erwin was Connally’s chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, and Connally’s national Democratic committeeman from Texas. Erwin has also been publicly, consistently allied with Lyndon Johnson in many disputed matters, from the Vietnam War to a controversial foundation for a federally-funded geriatric center. In the last several months, many once-mighty heads have rolled in the UT System. First, Norman Hackerman, the president of UT-Austin, was induced to leave to become president at Rice University in Houston. The invitation from Rice may have been engineered by Erwin and his friends in the Houston establishment, who include Connally, now practicing law there. Hackerman had crossed Erwin and Erwin’s powerful friends on a certain matter which may or may not become public knowledge. Hackerman also helped cool the situation during the big peace march last May at the university without “taking on” the dissenters, as Erwin is famous for doing. At the first of the summer, Chancellor iN’Harry Ransom quite suddenly resigned. 12 -Frwin had harassed Ransom and finally in 111 ect neutralized him. Erwin in fact ran .Le UT System on matters of primary concern to him, as when he telephoned the other regents and got them to agree that the University at Austin would keep classes open during the Cambodian invasion protests despite a contrary vote by the faculty. The University of Texas at Austin now faces the most chaotic and dangerous period of protest and repression since the Rainey years. There is talk of one or two hundred full professors signing some kind of statement of protest. The academic job market is tight, and it is the full professors who are least vulnerable to dismissal and most able to get jobs elsewhere. Whether a substantial part of the faculty will buck under Erwin’s now almost total control is a question. When Sen. A. R. Schwartz, Galveston, sought to stop Erwin’s reconfirmation as regent, there was much anti-Erwin talk among faculty members and no public testimony from faculty members when the chips were down. William Arrowsmith, a close friend of Silber’s and another of the seven or so senior faculty members who hold the special title “university professor,” at once fired off telegrams that must have astonished the new chancellor, Charles LeMaistre, and the interim president, Bryce Jordan. He wired Jordan: “You have never enjoyed the faculty’s confidence, and now you have earned its contempt. . . . Rumor says you are leaving, but where will you go? In any case, good riddance.” To Chancellor LeMaistre, Arrowsmith wired: “Your administration as chancellor has begun with an action which has earned you the just contempt of all intelligent members of the Texas faculty.. . . Many of us are now doubtful that the university of Texas is a desirable place to teach. Once it could be said of the university that it had the courage to appoint first class men like Silber to positions of power.” But LeMaistre’s administration, Arrowsmith continued, “is interested only in mediocrities and nonentities who can be counted on to carry out the megalomaniac wishes of Chairman Erwin” and is characterized by an “atmosphere of corrupt arrogance and raw and vulgar exercise of Owen” ARROWSMITH IS University Professor in Arts and Letters, professor of classics, and chairman of comparative studies. He is probably the most widely published critic of higher education in the United States. In a letter to Jordan released to the press earlier in the week on the LeMaistre-Jordan administration’s decision to split up the College of Arts and Sciences contrary to the formally determined wishes of its faculty, Arrowsmith said: “I view, with something like bitterness and disgust, the apparent contempt felt by members of the administration for the faculty’s autonomy in academic affairs. “I did not join the faculty of the University of Texas in order to become a silent and subservient salaried employee of an arrogant administration. . . . I have the distinct impression that the chief danger to the university these days comes above all from the vindictive vanity of an arrogant chairman of the Board of Regents, and from policies of timid obsequiousness in an administration without apparent principles or educational philosophy.” Arrowsmith sent copies of this letter and of his wire to LeMaistre to all the regents and the governor, Preston Smith, who gets to appoint a couple of new regents in December and is reported to intend to designate some who will counter Erwin’s domination of the board By one rumor, Smith intended to appoint Sen. Ralph Yarborough and ex-Atty. Gen. Ramsey Clark to the board. A member of the governor’s staff told the Observer that the possibility of of those appointments has not been discussed by the governor. There has been speculation that Erwin himself wants to run for office and is building an image of a sort of Texas Hayakawa for this purpose. However. Erwin’s voice is somewhat high of pitch for politics, and he knows he is uncordially disliked in many quarters. It has been seriously conjectured by responsible sources in the university hierarchy that Erwin wants to provoke confrontation and even riot in the fall so that, with LeMaistre on the outs with the faculty, the regents will turn to Erwin as a strong man and make him chancellor. The far-flung UT System is now a significant factor in the building of the political power base of the conservative Texas Democrats. Contracts worth many millions of dollars are let by the system all over the state. It has been an undisputed fact since the protest resignation of Regent John Redditt of Lufkin that architects are chosen by the UT System on the basis of political favoritism. Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes began his fast political rise as a protege of Erwin’s in Erwin’s law office. Well-placed political contributions to such politicians as Barnes, close to Erwin and University of Texas contracts. Erwin’s sweep of those he has viewed as obstacles is not complete. Keeton remains in place. So does Alan Taniguchi, dean of architecture. There has been a veritable deans’ revolt in protest against the imminent division of the College of Arts and Sciences. However, Silber’s firing has already muted some of these deans’ voices. Silber will stay on as a professor of philosophy. He, too, is one of the handful who hold the status of a University Professor. Presuming that the regents will not reverse his dismissal as dean, he will be free as a prominent professor to take part in faculty deliberations. The principal academic issue over which faculty dispute can be expected is division of the College of Arts and Sciences into three segments, contrary to the expressed wishes of a majority of its faculty, but this is only one of the several major disputes ravaging the university, even now with August 7, 1970 3
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