21. Tale of Two Campuses: The Early 1960s

Alma Mater/Spring 2014
April 16, 2014

21. Tale of Two Campuses

Several modestly positioned interwar universities trying in post-war era to make it up
the institutional ladder:
Criteria: research funding/PhD placement/raiding or being raided? # of academic stars….;
peer assessment; foundation favorites….number of top departments….

Rankings from 1890s to 1930s strikingly consistent:        [ 1925/1934/1948]
Harvard/Columbia/Yale/Chicago among the top privates – Princeton/Penn/Cornell/JHU next tier
Wisconsin/Michigan/UCalifornia among the top publics – UNC/Illinois/Indiana next tier

Upstarts in 1950s à Stanford/MIT/Duke/Michigan State/Texas/UCLA/NYU….

Two case studies:
U. California, Berkeley  – Consolidating its place as #1 public and going for #1 overall
Generous state funding  for instaters – welcoming of out-od-state graduate students
Attractive campus, climate, location – a bridge away from San Francisco
Acknowledged strength in sciences – physics/engineering – acquiring in English/History….

Ambitious leadership:
Earl Warren (BA and LLB) and Edmund ‘Pat” Brown as pro-education governors (1958-1965)
Robert  G. Sproul (president UC 1930-58)
Clark Kerr (PhD economics UCal 1939); chancellor at Berkeley and then president of UC system

“Master Plan” of 1960 – Universities (Berkeley/LA/Davis/SD)
State colleges – Chico….
Community/junior colleges….

Attracted some of the nations’/world’s top scholars with salaries, teaching arrangements, homes in the Berkeley hills….
1962 summer school – History Department —

William J. McGill – Harvard/MIT to Columbia in 1956 – actively recruited – quickly promoted
Left in 1963  — sabbatical at Stanford – raided by the about-to-open UC San Diego/La Jolla
To be founding chairman
Psychology at Columbia ‘beginning to decline…. I didn’t want to go downhill simultaneously with Columbia…. The future is in the west.” U Cal – “no obsequies to the past.”
Aspersions on life in NYC in the early 1960s
Was Columbia going downhill in the late 1950s?

Leadership
Last decade of NMB’s presidency – an elaborate endgame…
Interregnum from 1945 – 53 à Frank Fackenthal and Dwight Eisenhower
Eisenhower with doubts about accepting federal funding???
Off campus more than on
Spared fundraising chores….
Grayson Kirk – a competent administrator/no transformative leader….
Took good care of the social sciences and area programs…..
Not much of a fundraiser among alums – no capital campaign before 1966….

NY State building its own sytem durin Nelson Rockefeller governorhip (1959-1973)
Bad blood between CU and Rockefellers
Thoughts of buying out Columbia – as done with CCNY
Stony Brook/Binghampton/Purchase to compete directly with CU….

Funding – Endowment now well below the rich competition; tied up in real estate and defensive buying of neighborhood buildings; Yale and Harvard in the stock market big time – and alumn fundraising far more successful…
Biggest gift – Henry Krumb – $16 million — paid for Mudd

Faculty
Some very prominent scholars in several departments
Physics – Rabi and other Nobelists (Charles Townes)
History – Hofstadter/Barzun
English – Lionel Trilling
Sociology – Robert Merton/Paul Lazarsfeld (Daniel  Bell)
Economics – CU dep’t trained Milton Friedman – off to Chicago

Trouble holding recently tenured faculty – offers from elsewhere to be head of dept; hire your own department colleagues — Same with engineering school —

Jacques Barzun – “The era of the packed suitcase”

Two jolts in mid 1960s

American Council of Education departmental rankings survey (1964) – report in 1966
CU not doing as well as its internal evaluations in 1958 had indicated:

Few departments among the top-ranked top half-dozen:
“Quality of Faculty”  consistently higher than “quality of program”
Lagging/Leading indicators à “going downhill”

CU poised to be the first of the top-tier universities to be downgraded to second-tier….
—————————————————————————————–
Meanwhile, back at Berkeley
Whereas Berkeley topping several departmental rankings

1962 visit of JFK on Founders Day – noting the role of Cal grads in New Frontier…
Speech in football stadium – Cal’s 40 odd Nobelists

Still this “academic paradise” not without its problems – campus with substantial numbers of east coast graduate students  27,000 students – 35% graduate students
not naturally given to cooling out in the sun…. [Mario Savio/Jack Weinberg/Bettina Aptheker… ]

Some from University of Michigan, Birthplace of Students for Democratic Society (SDS)
“Port Huron Statement” —  June 1962  38-40 wonkish pages
The work of Tom Hayden – another lower middleclass  left wing ex-Catholic…
Call for a “New Left”  – Universities replacing unions  as agencies for social change

Not looking to New-Deal traditional iDemocratic party – controlled by Southern segregationists;
Not looking to JFK/New Frontier – too fixated on prosecuting the Cold War; harassing Castro….
These graduate students the  antithesis of the “frat boy” contingent at Berkeley   —  “Freddies” vs. SLATE

Common complaint — campus unwieldy and bureaucratic; too many new graduate students teaching too many undergraduate courses; too many faculty on leave or not teaching…..

Mark Schorer – 20th-century American lit course with 1000 students…..40 TAs

Political activism part of the Berkeley ethos
San Francisco – a labor town/active Communist s into 1940s; Loyalty Oath controversy in California…
Oakland a reminder of race problems;  Oakland Tribune owned by William Knowland, Republican…; shipping out point for Vietnam…
First campus demonstration against HUAC  on San Francisco City Hall steps — May 1960 –
“Operation Abolition”
Some students going South in summer 1963

Summer of 1964 – Bureaucratic limiting of area where political solicitations
could take place (Sather Gate)
September –Students respond with United Front à Free Speech Movement à set up tables in disputed area

October – Demonstration inside Sproul Hall – surround police car – 32-hour standoff

Two months of negotiations between FSM leaders and Kerr/Chancellor Strong

December 2 – Mario Savio speech
Brooklyn Italian – father a steelworker
Manhattan College/Queens
1963 – Catholic Relief in Mexico
Summer 1964 – Freedom March in Mississippi – SNCC organizer
Graduate student in Philosophy

Early 1965 – FSM to “Filthy Speech Movement”

1965 –Faculty split over backing Strong/Kerr or siding with students – some faculty leave

1966 — Disruptions turn political – William Knowland and Regents à Ronald Reagan runs as governor;
no friend of UC Berkeley . Still a leading university – but its moment as the be-all-and-end-all-of universities over….

Meanwhile, the view from Cambridge, New haven, MS — An isolated incident on the west coast  and  so Californiary…

Last updated: April 16, 2014
ram31@columbia.edu

 

 

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