thumbnail of Dimensions in academic freedom; #1 (Reel 2)
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The rationalization of public higher education has proceeded from three demands by the public demanded to be massively increased in Roman's demand of the less wasteful operations and demand that the local economy expand. These demands speak eloquently to the importance that is now attached to a once rather overlooked enterprise. So high is the positive correlation between income to be earned and degree awarded. That we may set to have made a college education compulsory. Not by edict of law but by edict of ambition. So expensive is this operation so fast that the public education sector growing that we've had to look for structural efficiencies whatever the human cost and so close is the symbiotic association between the tertiary industries of America and the skills and resources of the academy that we have come to conceive the latter as an infrastructure exceeded only by tax abatement as a lure to out-of-state investment is the two shoes that had once been little more than schools for a class that could afford them. I'm now
keys to the life chances of every man and stimulants to a rising GNP. There is a relevance have been added but in the process the attribute of localness has been stripped away. This is not to say that local administrations have been rendered powerless. Even in the more integrated public systems they still retain among other things the right to discipline personnel. But even in this area of acknowledged competence they have lost a good portion of that author already starting in one thousand sixty one the federal courts have taken the position that the officials of state colleges and universities must adhere to the due process clause of the Constitution and less conclusively at this moment for the free speech requirement of the Constitution. When they discipline members of their student bodies. At this moment there has not yet been a clear decision as to whether dismissed professors can also resort to the constitution or whether officials of private institutions are also subject to this restraint. But given the current inclination to extend the state action doctrine to businesses possessed of a public character private businesses possessed of a public character and given the
current erosion of the doctrine that employment is a privilege not a right. One can expect that the ambit of judicial review will be extended. The initial impetus to this new judicial assertiveness was applied by a non academic issue in the groundbreaking places cases of the early 60s the plaintiffs were Negro students who had been punished for their participation in freedom rides and sit ins by the administrators of Negro colleges yielding to the pressures of southern politics. It is fairly clear that the judicial defense of student rights owed much to the judicial interest in civil rights and to the perception that the campus had become a battlefield in the intensifying fight for racial justice. Here again an increment of social significance brought a detriment of institutional autonomy. But here at least one may conclude that in the net there was a social gain. I come finally to the D localizing impact of the federal involvement with academe. This is perhaps not the order or the language that certain passionate critics would prefer.
But the merit in confronting this matter last is that we can then see it not as something so we generous but as part of a multi form development and the merit of using the word localizing when a more accusative vocabulary is at hand is that we can then avoid the dubious imputation of a consciously considered plot. Nevertheless I hasten to admit that the advent of the central state. Harnessed almost without limit for a struggle apparently without end. Enrich beyond any other benefactor by the dominance of the income tax resource freed by a nationalized Constitution to palliate almost any domestic element and if need be purchased compliance with the cure has created a new order of magnitude in the siphoning of authority from the campus in part but only in part the speed and volume of the drain can be measured by the increase in assistance in 1064 federal contributions to higher learning. Total 1 and a half billion dollars though this came to only about a tenth of the total sum
raised by higher learning it constituted because of its distribution and enormous proportion of the income of the major places 83 percent of Kalak Texas budget 81 percent of MIT's 75 percent of Princeton's less incidentally of the public institutions receive state funds. For a homey reference it may be noted that Columbia third among recipients that year got fifty one million dollars an intake that amounted to about half of its operating budget. While the University of Illinois then six the New Order got 44 million dollars. A small but sizable sum. One thousand sixty six. The federal contribution had doubled and the federal share of total contributions had risen to approximately one fifth. In that year the largest was a bit more evenly distributed. But the major institutions were even more glaringly beholden to the generosity of the central state. It isn't the how as well as in the how much that we find the localizing pressure during and after World War Two academics scientists high in government and
government military officials high on science hit on two devices for funneling cash to the universities. One was the project grant a contract with the academic scientist negotiates with a particular federal agency with minimal involvement by his institution and the other was the specialized research center which the institution operated for the agency sometimes without the participation of its faculty. Many important advantages have been claimed for these devices. It is claimed that they correct a weakness inherent in interior financing instead of colleagues who know one another raiding colleagues specialists are summoned by the agency to sit in judgment on other specialists and the result presumably is that each applicant gets more just desserts is claimed also that these are the devices you need if you're going to support the expensive instruments needed in the atomic in space age. And it is claimed that you place these devices still allow for a great deal of research initiative for the academic scientist as free as a governmental scientist is not to apply only for that
which he wants to do. It would be tempting to investigate these claims to ask whether lobbying of special interest doesn't go on at the federal level. Or whether certain kinds of extravagantly priced equipment like accelerators with zooming BBB EVF deserve the national priority. Or whether choice is not subtly constrained by the workings of that well-known principle that a man need not marry for money. You can just go where the rich girls congregate and then marry for love. But these are not the issues before me. What is germane is that both of these devices undermine the authority of the institution. The one by making it a bystander in the fostering and review of its members talents the other by making it a subcontractor dispensing somebody else's money to obtain somebody else's aims. Here. One might add a quantitative footnote. It has been estimated that from two thirds to three quarters of all money spent on academic
research comes from the federal giveaway through the circumvented routes. The full effect of federal sponsorship cannot be measured statistically this society does not trouble to keep careful records of the spiritual decay of its institutions. But the evidence of difficulty is abundant as anyone can tell who has read Clockers little volume on the Multiversity the DI localized institution par excellence. Taking what is given without question and doing what is asked for by the gift that institution now finds itself rich but very troubled. Powerful in its impact but powerless over its own affairs. It falls prey to distortions of its program which Clocker refers to as imbalances the dominance of science of humanities the dominance of research over teaching the dominance of graduate interest of undergraduate concerns. It loses control over its personnel by hiring what Clocker calls the UN faculty. Prime uses of scientific manpower these
institutes and projects add an anomalous army to the conventional workforce of academe those who manned these projects are hired by the research Pedro NIS not by there or by a regular department. They are loyal to the sponsored task but they perform no other academic duty. They stay as long as the funds can support them but they may not get academic tenure. In 1015 only a relatively small group of graduate students were in so marginal a position since then that group has grown to take care of the burden of instruction. With the increase of students has created and their research minded faculty will not assume. But together the unfledged teachers and the non-teaching researchers make up a very significant body and some camp campuses a majority of all appointees who are in but not all of the university sharing in its tasks but not its perquisites living under the predestinarian doctrine so alien to professional doctrine that good works can never secure election. In the light of
what I've said. Another development becomes more explicable. The use of secrecy and deception not as isolated happenings but as part of the academic way of life. It is easy enough to see how federal sponsorship sponsorship of research when the aims and auspices are military Faustus secrecy on the campus. The aim of most military research is to secure a time advantage against the enemy. That time advantage can be lost by a premature disclosure of the findings to prevent such a premature disclosure. There must be checks on the discretion of participants. Control over access to facilities. A careful watchfulness of the records and supervision over what appears in print. Federal funds for military research though actually far less than sums allotted for other purposes. Make up a considerable part of the yearly bounty in 1066 the Department of Defense gave three hundred million dollars to universities. The Atomic Energy Commission one million dollars
more. Not all of that was for military or classified research but one wants to compare that figure with the 50 million dollars on all academic research spent in 1040 by our universities. Much of this money goes to the federal contract research centers like the Columbia Hudson laboratory and the Penn State ordnance research laboratory. Academic institutes that are subject to security regulations as any military installation. This is an obvious connection between the localization on the one hand and the loss of openness and candor. That university life represents. But there are links of a more subtle kind. You get a project financed by a mission centered agency not the NSF but one that has a particular mission given to it. You run it with para academics. You just set it up within the shell of the university with a minimum of administrative control and you invite a great deal of that hugger mugger away.
We quaintly call intelligence operations. That's us. That's what happened at Michigan State that a program for training policemen for Vietnam financed by the Agency for International Development. Run very largely by the UN faculty was heavily infiltrated by the CIA. What else one might almost ask would you expect. Of course if the agencies legitimize deception. Were restrained by the basic distinction between a foreign and a domestic operation. Or by the belief that universities need integrity and the nation needs at universities that might be less imposture from this source. But the revelation of CIA subventions of area study institutes in many places international relations centers in many places publishing houses that deal with academics. Student groups. All this makes it abundantly clear that our G2 force is not restrained. Once trickery under governmental auspices
grows it seems to know no bounds. It seems to become almost routine. So the State Department tries repeatedly to plant its offices on the faculties of various universities so that under Academic cover they might better expound their employer's point of view. Not even in the Linnean days of business domination of the university where Rockefeller have placed a hireling of Standard Oil on the faculty of the University of Chicago and he was known to be an arch practitioner of sheets of secrecy and chicane. It should be noted that certain forms of dissimulation have been practiced in academia for decades before the localization actually. Usually these were associated with the shady side of law enforcement. The student doubling as policeman or the policeman masquerading as a student. The classrooms by their secret file builder. The FBI training faculty members into third party informers. All these were fairly familiar academic types
but they were fairly well discredited academic types. The tricks and cover ups of these informers were seen as hostile to the profession and were consistently denounced by it. I find that the new forms of deception are not nearly so inflaming to professors for a decade or more they went undetected. They're not without administrative connivance and a good many professors in the know. When some of these practices word uncovered largely by student muckraking organs hardly at all by the academic profession. They did attract some professional opprobrium and in some cases academic institutions did make a number of corrective moves. Still it is all but certain that these forms of routinized fakery continue to be practiced on the campus and that a great deal of winking still goes on in the main with important and honorable exceptions. Professors do not seem
persuaded that these methods pose a professional crisis for them that in fact the uncovering of a hump or a star a petition creates a mountain of suspicion and a massive loss of credibility. Nor have administrators shown must much disposition to chase off the CIA ghosts and the Stooges that make everyone in contact with them. Do you use clock care for always iván caught awarenesses. I was convinced in 1964 that the federal government was operating fully within academic traditions. He may have learned something sense but I doubt that even now he would change the title of his book from the uses of the university to how the university has been used. How do you explain this sluggish reaction. One might suggest that there is a rather critical difference between secret sponsorship of research and police penetration of the campus. The first in Rich's professors The second may work to chastise them. But I don't believe that self interest
operates quite so crudely. What I think is really controlling is the professor's way of looking at the institution and at his responsibilities in it. If I were to put my finger on one factor responsible for this relative passiveness I would put it on the lingering hold of the academic freedom philosophy. There are several ways in which this this. Our archaic notion of what is required. It serves to inhibit action for one thing. Professors who use the tests of academic well-being that have been supplied by the past on doctrine might very well be sanguine about what has happened in recent years. Academic freedom by that definition seems more secure than ever before. It is illogical dismissals have become rare to the point of becoming oddities in the larger d localized institutions and this is all the more
impressive because it is in these very places that opposition to the Vietnam War and to the war administration have become most feverish. Moreover with very few verified exceptions the granting agency and see agencies seem not to discriminate against applicants of an anti-war persuasion. So memories of the heyday of McCarthy still give some professors an apprehensive twitch. It's not only the relative reduction in the incidence of crime but the possibilities of crime prevention seem seem so much more favorable today. Tenure for those who have it is at least as safe in the integrated public systems as in any other due process has if anything become more codified as these scattered little gamine shafts are collected into elaborate because all shots federal grant universities with their countries of disconnected projects are less likely to get domineering presidents. In fact they're lucky if they can get presidents alert enough to keep abreast of what is going on. Other institutions that aspire to federal
grants are not very likely to press their ideologies. This may be one of the reasons why certain Catholic institutions are moving toward lay boards of control and toward a norm of institutional neutrality. Be more renowned members of the profession particularly have have good reason for confidence and cheer. If they have greater leverage in bargaining with their institutions they may think the federal grant are for adding to their other assets the value of a movable money prize. The tie that brings these professors to Washington as recipients or evaluators of recipients dissolves their dependence on the local paymaster. The split between agency and Alma Mater. Forms a union of influence and brains. So status satisfactions only dreamed up can now actually actually be possessed. But it's not for me just this. This inherited yardstick of what constitutes well-being or the relatively
happy state of things seen from certain perspectives that inhibits professional response. I think the defense of the integrity of the university has been greatly impeded by a ritualistic application of the norm of institutional neutrality in the theme of personal freedom. Two of the ideas in the legacy which have rolled through our synapses so often we no longer challenge them with thought. The response of the academic community to one of the recent draft laws offers for me an illuminating case in point. By decreeing that all college students would be deferred. Just in a minute. All college students would be deferred if they passed a certain test or they had certain grade standing. I think the Selective Service Institution encroached on the academic preserve in a particularly menacing way. It didn't just classify students by status. All students classify them by status and performance. All good students and there was the menace. Can you imagine what the
response from from the people directly influence would be if the draft board decided to exempt not women but only good women not husbands but only good husbands not workers in defense industry but only good workers. I would be seen as a totalitarian move. Yet by and large the academic response was weak as I heard the debate in my institution. The argument went something out those who believe that this cooperation was definitely required. They I mean when it follows institutional resistance what it consisted of the benefit system not giving him the grades was barred by the higher demand of institutional neutrality by the need not to do anything that would imply a partisan political motive or have partisan political effects. And the same kind of hesitancy and the same allusions are heard when it is suggested that the institution eliminate classified research as Harvard has had the strength to do and very few other places and break its ties to the CIA and not infrequently one hears the argument which is the other side of the coin of neutrality that the personal and hence academic freedom
of professors would be violated if they were forbidden to work in secrecy except anonymous gifts from whomsoever. And keep their researchers under lock and key. This is certainly not the place and most decidedly not the time for me to write a new academic freedom credo. But I'll just if I may take a moment or two to sketch out what I think ought to be some of the central conceptions in that creed. It didn't give up. The emphasis on security but it must now place its emphasis on autonomy and up to date formula should limit the norm of neutrality to those functions carried on by the university that require a freeplay of ideas. The rest ought to go under what I would call a norm of institutional self regulation and it's under that norm that the institution should fight against secrecy and deception to work at odds with the government when its integrity is at stake. And supervise academic projects. The line between what ought to be and not what not to be regulated is not always easy to market. But it should not be impossible to determine when something is clearly one thing or the other.
Whether the state should develop horrendous weapons is clearly a political question. On this the university should be mute. But whether the federal government should subsidize necrophilia. On the campus and in so doing turn the campus into a secret place that is clearly a university question on that. The university should be heard. Finally a theory that is adequate for today should come to grips with the social processes that are undermining local authority. That's easier to exhort than to accomplish the localization is part of a in part a product of the growing importance of the university. One cannot realistically suggest that there ought to be a retreat to the old or in significance the localization is in part an answer to the economic problems of the university. It would be useless to propose a formula that would require heavy dollar sacrifices one of the nice things about the old academic freedom idea with it came comparatively cheap. Nevertheless it seems to me that something can be done that would not require impoverishment or romance or even a hostile attitude toward government. One
method might be be to increase the consumer's contribution to the university through a vastly increased student fellowship and loan programs as accurately as plan. Another might be to have the federal government give lump sums to institutions on the line of the British UGC and new forms of scientific subsidy can certainly be worked out. But in any case at the head of the document I envision they would be the following legend which I think Marks what we have learned in 50 years. What profit a professional man if he shall keep his own job and the university should lose its own soul. But. Thank you. Well thank you. You're a professor of history at Columbia University and author in the fields of academic freedom academic history and social history. This has been one in a series of programs about dimensions of academic freedom today presented by the University of
Dimensions in academic freedom
Episode Number
#1 (Reel 2)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-s46h5m2t).
No description available
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-10-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:24:18
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Dimensions in academic freedom; #1 (Reel 2),” 1968-12-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 21, 2021,
MLA: “Dimensions in academic freedom; #1 (Reel 2).” 1968-12-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 21, 2021. <>.
APA: Dimensions in academic freedom; #1 (Reel 2). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from