Erwin’s future Under the custom of “senatorial courtesy” in the Texas Senate, a senator can block a gubernatorial nominee from his home district. When Frank Erwin of Austin was reconfirmed as a regent in 1969, it was decisively helpful that the state senator from Austin, Charles Herring, would not invoke senatorial courtesy against him. Now Herring’s successor, Lloyd Doggett, has decided that he will do this if necessary. Erwin’s term on the board expires this year. Alfred Schild, Ashbel Smith professor of physics at UT-Austin, wrote Doggett directly, saying that “Mr. Erwin, in my considered opinion, is the worst thing that ever happened to the University of Texas. I hope that Governor Briscoe will not choose to reappoint Mr. Erwin. If he does, I hope that you will block his confirmation in the Senate . ..” If Erwin was renominated, Schild told Doggett, “I shall be very happy to testify before you and your fellow senators against Mr. Erwin’s confirmation. I am certain that a large number of my colleagues on the faculty will be glad to join me in this.” \(In 1969 faculty opponents to Erwin’s renomination flaked Senator Doggett wrote Schild that he had visited with Briscoe on the need for “new academically oriented regents.” “Hopefully,” Doggett wrote, “Mr. Erwin will not be reappointed by the governor. If such action is taken I will oppose the appointment vigorously and publicly and with every resource that the institution of senatorial courtesy implies.” Doggett also told a group of Young Democrats in Austin that, without meaning it in a personal sense, he will, if necessary, declare, in the terms of the tradition of senatorial courtesy, that Erwin is “personally obnoxious” to him. The governor’s stated position is that he will not be making end of the year that is, until after the November elections. Briscoe’s GOP opponent, Jim Granberry, told UT-Austin students last week that if elected he would not reappoint Erwin. Erwin was quoted as having said last January that there was “no chance” Briscoe would reappoint him. George Kuempel reported in the Houston Chronicle Sept. 27 that members of Briscoe’s staff said Briscoe knew, during the 1972 gubernatorial campaign when Erwin was supporting Ben Barnes, that Erwin was attempting to discredit Briscoe and that Briscoe was angry about it at the time. “Rumors of Briscoe’s alleged psychiatric treatment flourished in the closing days of the primary campaign,” Kuempel reported. “But it was of little help to Erwin’s candidate, Barnes, who ran third in the race . . . Erwin detailed his efforts to establish that Briscoe had mental problems to a reporter and some local politicos at the Quorum Club here last Jan. 5.” Last week a rumor swept some circles in Austin that Chancellor Charles LeMaistre, faced with the demand of the faculty that he resign, will do so, and the regents will appoint Erwin to replace him. There was no known substance to support the rumor, and it probably was just another proof of the large part Erwin plays in the imagination of the Austin left. R.D. did not know about Spurr’s firing. UT is under serious pressure from the federal government about equal treatment for women, and this may have been a factor in Dr. Rogers’ appointment. She has degrees in English literature and biochemistry and has taught chemistry and nutrition. She opened the general faculty meeting by reading a letter from LeMaistre to her in which he made the concession to her \(obviously under the gathering threats of student and faculty representation, with vote,” on the committee to select the new president. In 1972 the faculty asked that the selection committee be composed of and chosen by faculty and students; in context it appears LeMaistre meant. he would appoint the faculty and students he preferred for the committee, which theretofore was to have been almost altogether administrators. There were 488 voting members of the faculty present, out of a potential 1,600 \(a these were an angry bunch of professors. Rapid fire, with little debate, they passed, with no more than five nos on any of them, resolutions commending Spurr, Mrs. Johnson, and the public officials who had called for a full explanation. Neil McGaw, professor of English and a spokesperson of the American Association of University Professors on campus, presented the resignation resolution. He stressed the AAUP’s expressed disapproval The Texas Observer of the way LeMaistre and the regents slipped a president over on UT at El Paso and of the seven-year contract program at UT at the Permian Basin which abolishes the academic tenure system there. Lanier Cox of the BBA school, saying Charles Alan Wright agreed with him, opposed slamming down LeMaistre. Cox said the censure was premature, precipitate, and emotional and would cost the faculty public support. Parker Fielder of the law faculty said that a remark that censuring LeMaistre was an urgent cause “is the call of a lynch mob.” James Sledd of English rebuked Fielder for characterizing a faculty member as “a lyncher” and warned that not censuring LeMaistre would be kin to submission in the secrecy that has recently demeaned the national life. APROFESSOR proposed to strike the charge that LeMaistre had shown “complete contempt” for the faculty and the people and to say instead he had “disregard” for them. Another professor wanted to change “disregard” to “apparent disregard.” But the faculty voted overwhelmingly for the .term, “complete contempt.” As submitted, the resolution had not asked the chancellor to resign, but now Brian Cooney, an assistant professor of philosophy, proposed to add the demand that he do so. “When we are faced with this kind of violent action,” Cooney said, “we can’t say ‘Come let us reason together.’ This is an educational institution we are the educators surely we are in a position to evaluate the incidents of the last week.” Cox tried one last time. How could they hope to deal with LeMaistre fruitfully in the future if they told him to resign? Professor Schild closed for the prosecution. He did not know, except for one professor, “a single academic person who has any respect for LeMaistre. Now is the time to hit and hit hard.” At about 5:45 p.m. on October the first, with about 50 or 60 nos in a voting assembly of 488, the general faculty of the state university said their chancellor should resign. For good measure they. asked Briscoe for “three new regents” committed “to the principle of campus autonomy on matters of academic program.” The problem facing the faculty is what to do next, if anything. There were tentative discussions, during various faculty meetings, of going to the Legislature for an investigation or for some legislative correction of the UT System that rests so heavy on the constituent campuses, but the professors are nervous about going to politicians they do not know and from whom they tend to expect the worst. An official of the -national AAUP sharply criticized the UT System’s firing of Spurr with no accountability to the academic community, raising the specter of another AAUP blacklisting of UT like the one that followed the firing of Homer Rainey in the 1940’s. Charles Laughton, associate dean of the graduate school of social work, wrote LeMaistre that faculty morale is at “rock bottom.” Still ahead lay the faculty-student committee inquiry into the firing and nobody knew what else. R.D.
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