of UC Presidents"
David A. Hollinger (Moderator), Clark Kerr, David Saxon, David Gardner
Note: The video tape of the proceedings did not capture the first sentences of the introduction to this panel. Thus, the transcript begins shortly after Professor David Hollinger has started his introduction. The panel included three former UC Presidents, David Saxon, Clark Kerr, and David Gardner.
DAVID HOLLINGER: First, each has a very special personal relationship to the Loyalty Oath controversy. David Saxon as a 'non-signer,' Clark Kerr as a leading Academic Senate figure during the time that the Senate was debating these issues and trying to resolve them, and David Gardner as the author of the standard book on the topic. There's that combined with the fact that, secondly, all of them, as I think nobody else in this room with the exception of Jack Peltason has had the opportunity, the responsibility of being in charge of the whole UC system. So we have then speakers that not only are integrally involved in the event, but have also borne the responsibility of trying to figure out how to run the University of California, how to deal with the politics of the state, how to deal with the Regents, how to deal with the faculty, how to deal with the voters--a very unusual combination. And we're going to proceed in the order on the printed program. And I won't introduce them one-by-one, but I'll just introduce them all collectively now, and have you understand that first, David Saxon, then Clark Kerr, then David Gardner. And after David Gardner has finished, then I'll invite questions from the floor. David Saxon.
DAVID SAXON: Thank you, David. It's really a great pleasure and privilege to be here. In fact, it's a great pleasure and privilege to survive for 50 years, and my delight is not in small part related to that simple fact.
I'm going to resist several temptations in my remarks, perhaps not with all equal success. For example, I'm going to try to resist the temptation to embellish the record. I'm going to try to resist the temptation to place myself at the center of events. But I'm also going to resist the temptation to talk about things I don't know anything about. And my expertise in this matter is confined to three things: first of all, I know something about the University; secondly, I know something about being the University President; and third, I know something about the University of California Loyalty Oath. I don't know anything about the larger topics or themes, I have no expertise with respect to those, and I am going to focus narrowly on the Loyalty Oath and the University of California.
A background remark or two is in order. The time of the Oath was the time of Harry Truman, of Civil Service Loyalty Boards, of federal and state committees investigating subversive activities, but not yet the time of Joe McCarthy. It was also the time of Joe Stalin, however. And it was a time when the Cold War was heating up quite rapidly. 1949, 50 years ago, was really quite a year. Last week, the People's Republic of China celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding, October 1, 1949. In 1949, the first Russian atomic bomb was tested. And in 1949, we had the University of California Loyalty Oath. Now, I think on that scale, the University's Loyalty Oath is pretty small potatoes, but it is nonetheless, a very important event, and it was a very disruptive event. And I'll try to explain a little bit about why.
In my view, and I'm going to focus, as I said, narrowly on this, the University of California Loyalty Oath had very little to do with most of the issues we've been talking about, for me. I'm going to give you a personal perspective; I'm going to talk about what I know about it, not about what others might say. And it was not, for me, a political issue, it was not an ideological issue, it had nothing to do with national politics, federal politics, international politics. It had to do with the University governance, it had to do with a breakdown in University governance. And it had to do with a breakdown by the President of the University, President Sproul, and by the Regents, who I think did not follow their solemn responsibilities, responsibilities to shield the University from external forces and pressure and not to yield to those pressures. So to me, it was that fact, the fact that Sproul forgot... the fact that the faculty of the University, as he once put it, is a group of people who think otherwise. Sproul once characterized the faculty in that way. He forgot that. He forgot that the faculty is such a group. And the pressure to conformity dominated that thinking. But that was what motivated me, and I think to some degree, each of the people who did not sign the Oath were motivated by similar though separate convictions. I don't think there was any single one. There was only one other person at UCLA, John Coy. I never knew John Coy before the Oath. He and I got to know each other in the course of the controversy, but I essentially never saw him again when it was over. I didn't know the Berkeley people. There was no leader for me, there was no one giving me advice at all. It was a personal view. I felt it was a great threat to the intellectual independence of the University, it was inconsistent with my concept of the University, and it was something that I simply was not prepared to go along with.
It was because I felt so strongly that there had been this dereliction of duty, if I could put it that way--I'm not going to mince words about these things, I think there was a dereliction of duty--that I did not take part in the suit that the Berkeley group led against the Regents. I felt that to compel the Regents to rescind what they had done was no particular satisfaction to me. I felt that only seeing the light would be a satisfaction. Now, of course, in the event, the Supreme Court ruled, what? That the Regents had presumed on the authority of the State. It wasn't a ruling about the basic issue--the State had acted on this and it preempted the situation and the Regents had acted.
My stand, which I think was principled and which I was alone, was not so principled, that when the Oath was overturned that I did come back to the University. I didn't have a lot of trouble doing that, and I did it. Partly, I came back because the atmosphere at UCLA--and I can't talk about Berkeley, I don't know about Berkeley, I don't know what happened here; I know what happened at UCLA--the atmosphere there was the opposite of what was described by Chancellor Berdahl in David Gardner's book. I have not reread that book, I read it when it first came out, I haven't reread it now. For reasons I can't explain I haven't done very much in the way of reading. But at UCLA the atmosphere was not in any way antagonistic. There was no tendency on the part of people of any resentment. In fact, it was enormous sympathy, and I was welcomed back to my department with open arms by all of my colleagues. A very simple message. Something happened, it threatened the integrity of the University. I found that offensive, unacceptable, and I therefore didn't sign the oath. Period.
Now, along the way--and I come to the present because we were asked to assess the impact on the University, but I wanted to comment about some events along the way. A third, or half the way along between then and now, some other cataclysmic events occurred: the Civil Rights, Martin Luther King, Vietnam, student activism. And something else happened. In 1975, the University appointed a 'non-signer' as the 14th President of the University. Now, that's also a small potato on the scale of these other events. But it's also important, it's an important statement about the University. It wasn't an apology, it wasn't anything of the sort. It simply was a recognition that someone could be a 'non-signer,' someone could be difficult, and yet the person could be a loyal, conscientious, and effective member of the University, sufficiently so as to, in fact, lead it.
Coming to the present, if I try to look at the impact of the Loyalty Oath on the University, I find that rather difficult. I think there were certain immediate short-term impacts which could be identified. Obviously, some people were fired or left. And there are some I want to mention because I think it bears some looking into. At the Radiation Laboratory, which was the world's outstanding center of physics--that's my field and that's why I know about that--a couple of outstanding people left because the atmosphere at the Radiation Laboratory was not welcoming, it did not make people who dissented feel as if they were welcome there. And so Jean Cardouic [note: spelling uncertain], an Italian physicist, theoretical physicist left, he was fired some people said, but in any case he was gone. Wolfgang Panofsky, who had signed the Oath, found the atmosphere unpleasant and responded to the offers from Stanford, which he might have, I suppose, in any case, but did, and went there. I think there were other short-term consequences. Obviously, some people chose not to come; it's not clear to me how many there were or if there was any real evidence that there were people who chose not to come. But, after all, the Loyalty Oath was enforced only for two-and-a-half years. That's not a big part of 50 years. And so maybe some people didn't come, I don't know who they were.
If I look at the longer-term consequences, one that seems clear to me, again, at the Radiation Laboratory, I believe that its decline... And it has declined, it once was, the Berkeley Physics Department because of the Radiation Laboratory, was once the preeminent pinnacle for physics in the world; it is no longer that. Its decline was probably inevitable, but I think its decline was accelerated and amplified because of the Loyalty Oath. That's something that scholars might want to look at.
If I look at the Regents, I find it very difficult to discern any impact on the Regents. It's true that their action was overturned, but by the Courts and on the grounds I mentioned. I don't think that the Regents felt that their efforts, their attitudes were in some error. The most obvious example is the recent Affirmative Action resolution by the Regents. But it goes back to earlier times, it goes back to Angela Davis, when the Regents intervened in the case in which the faculties' committee recommended otherwise.
I think the role of the Academic Senate in the earlier days was larger than most people recognized, but I'll let others talk about that because it's not something that I had any particular firsthand experience with. But its role was not exactly wise, let me put it that way. And perhaps it had some impact on the way the Senate functions, I'm not sure.
If I compare the impact of the Loyalty Oath on the governance of the University, on the Regents, on the Senate, it was the impact of student unrest. It just pales in insignificance. Student unrest provoked profound changes in the way the Regents operate--there are Student Regents, the terms were changed, all kinds of changes were made as a consequence of that. Participation by students and faculty in governance changed. I can't find any comparable consequences of the Loyalty Oath. Except maybe in one respect. It has to do with the President, another thing I know something about, the way the Presidency works. I think Sproul learned something from it. I know he was trying to protect the University, I know his motives were the best. But his decisions were deeply flawed, and I think he understood that eventually and regretted it. And I suspect that Presidents since then are aware of that part of history.
To me this commemoration of an event, which is really quite an important event in its efforts to look for consequences is a little bit like looking for traces of the Big Bang. Everybody knows that the Big Bang was the most important event in the history of the universe, but in order to see traces of it takes the most sophisticated, subtle measurements. Why? Because the universe expanded so enormously in all those years since. Well, so has the University of California. In 1949, there was Berkeley and there was UCLA. Read Mr. Gardner's book and you will see what I'm talking about. Think about the history of the oath as you hear about it--there was UCLA and there was Berkeley. In the years since then, there are now nine campuses, six of them are members of the American Association of Universities. The University has multiplied in scale, size, and structure enormously. Therefore, it becomes difficult to discern the traces of this event. The University's quality is so high, it's hard to argue that it might have been higher still, and I'm not going to make that argument.
Still there is a lesson, or at least a reminder--not a lesson, a reminder, I think, for University Presidents, the other thing which I am competent to talk about. I think University Presidents should be reminded what the founders of the Republic said: 'Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty...' and so is it the price of intellectual independence in the University. And it's not simply the faculty that has to defend that. It does but the Presidents have a special and important role to play in that vision. And not only the Presidents, also the Chancellors and other high administrative officers. It is they who must stick their necks out, who must explain again and again, continuously, continually to the Republic that indeed the faculty of the great University is composed of men and women who think otherwise. Thank you.
CLARK KERR: First of all, on Dave Saxon, let me just say that I've always had tremendous admiration for him and the stand that he took at UCLA. I knew most, or even perhaps all of the 'non-signers' at Berkeley, but there are quite a many of them with broad across-the-campus support. Dave really stood alone, or almost alone, at UCLA. As a consequence, I've always wondered how any single faculty member would have the courage to stand up as he did, as a lone voice, taking the position that he did. Now, Dave was in the very beginning of the Oath controversy as a 'non-signer.' David Gardner came in later on as an observer, writing a book as a scholar. And it's an extremely good book, and I recommend it to all of you if you haven't read it. He's a person who not only studied the Oath, but knew the University extremely well, and the various participants. I came in the middle of the Oath controversy, and totally as an accident.
The Oath began in the spring of 1949, with the proposal of Robert Gordon Sproul that there should be an oath taken by faculty members. At that time, the oath he was proposing was the usual Constitutional Oath that 'I support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California.' It said nothing about communists at that particular point. That was brought in later, and really on the initiative of a faculty committee and not on the initiative... If it had remained as the original Sproul Oath, there might not have been the controversy that later on developed, and I think it's necessary to say that, as to what he really intended.
As the controversy went on, it became more and more antagonistic on both sides, and there was set up by the Berkeley faculty what was called a Committee of Seven, to lead the faculty opposition to the Board of Regents. This committee was a fairly conservative committee, and over a period of time increasingly lost the confidence of the Berkeley faculty. And there was then appointed a Committee of Five, and this is where I came in as an accident. For some reason, I never really understood, as a very young faculty member in the Social Sciences, which were not at the peak of respectability on the Berkeley campus, and from a small institute in a very controversial field then of industrial relations and considering the nature of industrial relations around the United States, the Committee chose to add one younger unknown person to the Committee, otherwise made up of established leaders of the Berkeley faculty. And so I ended up being, without having taken really any interest in the Oath controversy up to that point, as a member of this Committee of Five which was supposed to give leadership to the Berkeley faculty in opposing the Board of Regents.
Now, I had taken very little interest in the controversy up until that point. The proposal was made by the President, it was endorsed and in some way changed to bring in reference to the Communist Party, by a committee of faculty members, the Advisory Committee North and the Advisory Committee South, headed in the North by Joel Hildebrand, former Dean of Chemistry, former Dean of Letters and Sciences, former Dean of Students, and led, although he was not the Chairman, in Los Angeles, by a person I knew well and greatly respected, Gordon Watkins, who was a long-time Dean of Letters and Sciences. So the proposal had support from the leadership within the Administration and within the faculty as well. And I just took it as another piece of paper. And I had been in a number of war agencies during World War II, and I had signed, you know, similar oaths and paid no attention to them. And I didn't realize all the implications that other people found in signing this particular oath. Although, I might say I'm a member of the Society of Friends, that had something of an objection to the idea of oaths, which many of them will not sign. But I didn't see all that much difference between saying you affirmed something and saying you swore to it. And so I passed over that difference between affirmation and taking an oath.
So all of a sudden I found myself in the midst of this situation. Now, let me say that our Committee of Five, which was to replace a more conservative committee, which in some ways had made things more difficult. The Committee of Seven was trying very hard to work out a solution, but it was very inept in the way it had worked it out. In meeting with the similar committee of the Regents headed by Regent John Francis Neylan, the Committee of Seven had offered something that Neylan very much wanted, and that was a ballot expression of opinion by the Berkeley faculty and the faculty of the University of California, and it's whether or not the faculty believed that communists should be allowed to speak at the University of California. Now, Neylan claimed that the faculty, if given a chance to vote in a secret ballot, would vote against having communists. It turned out that he was absolutely right. That had also been the position of Joel Hildebrand and Gordon Watkins' committees. And they made this concession then that there would be this faculty secret ballot. And the secret ballot had a ratio of something like 7 to 1 showed the faculty members who voted across the university, North and South, to favor exclusion of communists from employment in the University of California. This meant that on that basic policy of the exclusion of communists, the Board of Regents and the faculty were taking the same position, the identical position.
Now, what the Committee of Seven had expected was that in return for this vote of endorsement of no communists in the faculty, the Board of Regents, in turn, would withdraw the requirement of an Oath, which was very offensive to many people, singling them out as an especially suspect group. But the Board of Regents had never signed such a statement they would do so. While there were some people who gave the indication that they would do this if the faculty so voted, there was never any oral agreement that anybody could prove. And so the Committee of Seven then had given away on behalf of the faculty of the University of California the really central question of employment of communists and had not got anything back in return. And at least here in the Berkeley faculty, a lot of people considered this to be a great double-cross, as they called it, and, in fact, it was a great double-cross in my judgment.
Anyway, the faculty decided they were going to have a more liberal committee to fight on behalf of the faculty, and set up this Committee of Five. And we came in too late to have much impact. The major impact we had was to endorse a proposal made by the Alumni Committee, chaired then by Steven Bechtel of Bechtel Corporation, which said that those members who were 'non-signers' and refused to sign, could as an alternative appear before the Committee on Privilege and Tenure. And this was then accepted as a possible way out to solve the problem. The problem turned out that the Committee on Privilege and Tenure as it then existed, had several members who were 'non-signers,' and it would be very difficult for a committee made up in part of 'non-signers' to vote on what should happen to the other 'non-signers.' So it was decided there would have to be a new Committee on Privilege and Tenure, and once again, as an accident, as a junior unknown faculty member, I was put on this new Committee on Privilege and Tenure, which then went about its business of hearing all of these 'non-signers' who had come before us. Five at Berkeley did not come before us and we could make no comments upon them because they were not taking advantage of this alternative.
We never asked any member who came before us the direct question: 'Are you or have you been a member of the Communist Party?' We asked them rather what were their reasons for not signing the Oath, because we were taking the position that going before the Privilege and Tenure Committee, that you would be given a chance to establish on what grounds (of) principle (or) conscience you would refuse to sign the Oath. And so we were then asking people, 'Why didn't you sign?' 'Why were you a 'non-signer?'' And most of them had, or all of them had, who appeared before us, what we thought were good reasons as to why they did not sign, good reasons, which were not based upon Communist Party membership, and so we cleared them all. Then what happened was with President Sproul's endorsement, our recommendation was that all those who appeared before us should be contingency members of the faculty. And then the Board of Regents, under the leadership of John Francis Neylan, having created this alternative, turned down our recommendation in its totality.
Now, up until this period, I was not myself emotionally involved in the Oath controversy. I did look upon this as something that the Board of Regents had done in bad faith, and I was very irate about it. I came out of the field of Industrial Relations, it was kind of a jungle, in general, but there are some rules of behavior there. And one is that if you make an agreement, by God, you keep it. And people who don't keep their agreements in the Industrial Relations field lose all respectability whatsoever. As a matter of fact, when the hearing took place on our report before the Board of Regents, I was so irate that I made a very brash statement. We had made our report and Regent Neylan made a motion to refuse it in totality. And as a junior member of the Committee, rather unwisely, I got up to speak against his motion because nobody else on the Committee seemed to be willing to say anything. So I stood up and began making a statement, which I had some trouble doing because seated behind me was another member of the Committee, the then Dean of the School of Law here at Berkeley. I don't think he was objecting to what I was going to say or was saying, but rather here I think he was very, very upset that the junior and most liberal member of the committee would take upon himself a response on behalf of the Committee in its totality. I was sitting right in front of him, he grabbed my coattails and tried to pull me down. Now, I was saved by the fact that in front of me was a heavy man on a chair, and I grabbed that chair and hung onto the chair as hard as I could while Prosser was trying to pull me down from behind. Anyway, what I said rather brashly was, I said, 'Regent Neylan, I do not think that anyone in good faith can possibly vote for your proposal for the following reasons.'
Now, considering the attitude of the Board of Regents and the standing of Regent Neylan, this was looked upon as a rather dangerous thing to do. And then I gave my reasons. One was that here was an alternative that opened up to the Board of Regents, and after we had gone through this whole procedure in good faith, it was being turned down in its totality. And I thought it was something that in was a bad faith negotiation. Second, I had gone through the process with the other members of the Committee of Privilege and Tenure of hearing the 'non-signers.' And they were, as we saw them and as we knew them, as fellow members of the faculty, they were not the most radical members of the faculty, they were in some ways the most conservative, the most independent-minded people. They were as a group -- the one group that I would choose that were so independent-minded they would never follow the dictates either of the Board of Regents or of the Communist Party.
And so we were convinced that why should out of this process which was trying to find and get rid of communists, should we be getting rid of the most independent spirits of the Berkeley faculty? And I felt fairly emotional about it because my own father was of the same inclinations. He was a combination farmer and school teacher in the county seat of the county that we were living in. The local schools all try to get 100% contribution by faculty members to the Community Chest as good public relations. And my father every year would refuse to make a contribution, not because he didn't favor the Community Chest. As a matter of fact, on our farm, in those days a lot of tramps came through all the time. Any tramp that came through was offered a chance to sleep in our barn; asked one question, my father would ask, 'May I have your matches?' Because he didn't want anybody to cook anything in the barn. And then my father would offer them a warm meal. But when somebody said to him, 'This is to be 100%.' He never thought anything should be 100%, as a matter of principle he would enact that fashion. Well, he not only had trouble in his school, but later was dismissed a couple years before retirement thus losing his retirement pay. And so I've seen people with the same independent spirit: 'You can't push me around.' 'I won't do it because you tell me to do it, I'm going to do it only because I want to do it.'
And to see these people that we talked with and had really heard from their hearts, to see the Board of Regents eliminating the most independent spirits when they claimed they were trying to eliminate communists, seemed to me to be a terrible thing to be doing. And so I stood up in front of Regent Neylan directly as I think, at least to my knowledge, no other single faculty member did during the course of the controversy. I might say, when I got through, Governor Warren, who was a member of the Board of Regents, was also its President, he was also Chairman of the Board, made a statement that he agreed with what I had said and endorsed it in full. But anyway, so sort of by accident I got involved in this dispute, and then emotionally involved in it as well, and saw it from that point of view.
Now, I also, later on, I had a chance to see some of the repercussions of the Oath controversy as I came later on to be Chancellor of Berkeley, in response to a faculty recommendation of my appointment, and later President of the University. And I went through and I got a somewhat different impression than Dave Saxon has given of impacts on the Board of Regents. I think the Board of Regents while never saying so, did regret the Oath controversy. And let me tell you some of the things they were willing to do afterward, which they had never done before and would not have done except they had this experience. In my first meeting as President of the University before the Board of Regents some years later, I recommended that the Board of Regents put in a policy of continuous tenure, which the University had never had. The reason we had an Oath controversy was there was a one-year tenure, you signed a contract each year. And what the Regents had said, 'Sign this Oath, or we will not accept your contract for the next year.' And so it was a one-year contract that made it possible for the Regents to fire everybody because they hadn't met the terms for the next contract. And I might say six months later, the Board of Regents still with a number who had voted for dismissal of the 'non-signers,' voted to put in continuous tenure.
I didn't realize at that time, that later on when I got in trouble with Governor Reagan and some of the Regents, that I would be the first recipient of the continuous tenure because the then President of the University recommended me for return to the faculty. Ronald Reagan, I was told, said it seemed crazy to him for somebody who had just been 'dismissed as head coach to be invited back as an assistant coach,' and he was against it. But that Board of Regents, after having dismissed me did acknowledge my continuous tenure, as the first person to ever benefit from that policy. But they did go for continuous tenure, and I took that to be an expression of how they had been wrong in what they had done.
Also, I proposed immediately that the 'non-signers' be given back pay. Now, the Board of Regents initially refused to do that, some because they didn't believe in it, others who thought it's going to be better public relations if we're forced to do it by the courts than if we do it on our own, we would be subject to less criticism. And so they postponed the thing until the courts got around about to rule for back pay, and then they decided to undertake back pay. But I had throughout the years in-between recommended back pay, and they did eventually do it on their own and were not forced to do it.
Also, I recommended to the Board that Edward Tolman receive an honorary degree at the first Charter Day at Berkeley after I became President of the University. This was a very, very tough one because some of the Regents, particularly Regent Pauley, looked upon Ed Tolman as having committed treason in suing the Board of Regents. The basic case before the courts was Tolman v. Underhill, Underhill being Secretary of the Board of Regents and acting on behalf of the Board of Regents. And I had to get the rules changed under which honorary degrees were given, and not to have an open vote among the Regents with all the controversy that would lead to and the browbeating that Pauley would conduct among them. I got them to change the rules for giving honorary degrees, that they would be voted for in secret ballot. And the Board of Regents did that, and voted to give Edward Tolman an honorary degree. I took that as another indication of their regret and desire without saying so directly to make up for what they had done.
Then, and related to it, as you'll notice if you read David Gardner's book, there was this issue not only of faculty members, but who could speak on campuses. And another aspect of it was a ruling that they had made that communists could not speak on campuses of the University. And in a moment or two, I'll come around to how that became tied in with the old controversy. But the policy was that no communists on the faculty and no communists speakers. And after a lot of debate within the Board of Regents, I was successful in getting them to vote that communists should be allowed to speak on campuses of the University of California, which was then picked up on the Burns' Committee and Un-American Activities Committee as an indication that I had opened up the University to communists. And I got beaten up for that.
I also did something else which was in a way intended to keep the Board of Regents from once again, at least during this period of time what it had done in the Oath controversy. Ed Pauley was the senior Regent. He had been a very strong supporter of the Oath, a great opponent of Edward Tolman. And he was the first Chairman of the Board, a senior Regent, when I became President. And he expected to be Chairman of the Board for life. And the four previous Presidents of the Board had always served for life, which meant since they were rather old men, eight or ten years. And he claimed that this was the right of the senior Regent, to be Chairman of the Board. And I was against that because I knew Pauley's attitude on these issues which had gone by on the Oath controversy. And some of the things I wanted to do, I never could do with him as Chairman. Also, he viewed the Chairman of Board as CEO and as administratively superior to the President. I recognized that the Board of Regents was in control; he thought that the CEO was not the Board of Regents in entirety, but himself as the Chairman of the Board. And I got the Board of Regents to vote that we would alternative chairs every two years, moving back and forth, north and south, which was the reason I gave for making the change, and a person could only serve twice in their lifetime as Chairman of the Board. And again, the Board of Regents went along with it, and were really saying that they did not want to have as permanent Chairman someone who had been as active as he had been in the Oath controversy.
So I mention these things as saying that my experience in trying to clean up from the Oath controversy in these several ways was that the Board of Regents in its own minds had decided the Oath controversy was a great mistake and was doing whatever it could do without apologizing, and saying so publicly to amend the situation. And so I think that there was a change in the Board of Regents as I saw the situation.
Now, I'm going to pinch upon a bit of time that Dave Saxon didn't take and talk a little bit longer than I expected to. This is a very big and complex issue, and it's very, very hard to simplify it, but I'll try to give an outline of what I would say if I had more time.
My main theme is this: that you had an anti-communist Loyalty Oath policy, but other controversies at the same time. You could not see this one controversy over the anti-communist oath all by itself, it has to be put in context. Had there not been these other controversies, the matter never would have heated up, and, in fact, this would never have gone on as long as it did. These several controversies all got strung together and intertwined, they intensified each other, they unified the conservative branch of the Board of Regents and then also the more liberal, moderate side. These several controversies, since all of them involved Robert Gordon Sproul, coalesced the opposition to him around three issues, or four issues, rather than just the one of the anti-communist oath. And so I look upon the Oath controversy as having been an issue in its own right, but that it was also, to use a phrase I'll take from you, David, that the Oath controversy, the Oath was a weapon used in connection with other controversies to get other issues settled favorably to the more conservative elements of the Board of Regents.
Now, what were these other issues, just very briefly. One was that by the time the Oath controversy came along, John Francis Neylan had become a personal enemy of Robert Gordon Sproul. I never knew why, but I did see it at every meeting of the Board of Regents, when Neylan would be the man who would be challenging Sproul across the board, and also by the way he always sat in a seat that was reserved for him. Whether it was a round table or an oblong table or a square table, there was a certain seat opposite Robert Gordon Sproul which would sort of be for the designated adversary, that being John Francis Neylan. And if John Francis Neylan came late, the seat was just saved for him; if he didn't come at all, it was still saved for him, it was John Francis Neylan's. But there was this antagonism. And this explains why. Some people would say, 'How could it possibly be?' When the Oath controversy began, John Francis Neylan was opposed to the Oath, along with Ed Heller, the only two regents that were really questioning and going against the Oath. And he said, as David Gardner's book points out, that he did not favor an oath, that he thought it was a worthless piece of paper, a silly way to go about catching communists, that if he were a faculty member, he would refuse to sign it, he stated, and they kept on asking the question of Sproul, 'Have you checked it with the faculty?' He was on the faculty side, the faculty must be consulted. Later on, he became the great supporter of the Oath and a person to dismiss the Regents. Now, I saw this battle, I never knew when it started. My guess is it started probably sometime during World War II or the immediate post-War period. But by the time the Oath controversy came along, the two men absolutely hated each other.
The first time I really came up against it was a meeting of the Finance Committee Chaired by Neylan at the Women's Faculty Club here at Berkeley. And Sproul made some proposal and it got into trouble with the faculty. And then as Sproul often did at meetings of committees of the Board, if something got into... he started looking around the room, 'Whom can I throw this hot potato to?' And usually, it was... Jim Corley was then the Vice President of Finance, and all of us around the room, you know, would kind of turn our heads away and bow down, hoping he wouldn't see us and wouldn't throw it at us. But, anyway, I was the new Chancellor, I had never heard about the problem whatsoever, and he looks around the room and the only person he really saw and thought he could throw it to was to me. He said, 'Well, the Chancellor will answer those questions.' Well, I stumbled around for awhile and I said, 'Well, all I know about it is what the President has already told you,' which meant I knew nothing. And John Francis Neylan then took on and he said, 'Let me say just once again, President Sproul, you can't get away with this tactic, and when you make a recommendation you better be able to stand up for it and argue for it, and not try to find somebody else to take the blame for it.' And did this in a very vicious and antagonistic way, and showed then already how there had already been this long battle between the two.
And so one of the other issues involved in the whole thing was not just the question of an anti-communist oath, but this bitter battle between Sproul and John Francis Neylan. Neylan was a very powerful guy, one of the leading attorneys in San Francisco and the State of California, represented the Hearst family and the Hearst Publishing empire, and seemed to have, as I saw their contacts back and forth, an ability to back Sproul down almost anytime he wanted to do so in these battles. But that's a second aspect to the Oath controversy that can't be neglected. If John Francis Neylan hadn't stopped the effort at solutions in the fall of 1949 and again in the spring of 1950, they would have gone through. And Sproul's efforts to work things out in a more peaceful way would have been successful, except each time John Francis Neylan, on personal grounds and out of vindictiveness, stopped these solutions. So that needs to be understood then too.
Then, second, and Dave Saxon referred to this very briefly, there was at that time a very bitter antagonism between the Southern Regents, particularly, those who were alumni of UCLA against what they called Berkeley. Now, when they said Berkeley, they meant the office of the President and also the Berkeley campus. They put the two together as being one in the same thing, in that the President's Office was supporting Berkeley and keeping them down. They were so terribly resentful of having been called and treated as the 'southern branch.' And so this came very much into it. It was the Southern Regents who tended to support the Oath and look upon it at Sproul's Oath, in a way to get back at him. And without this antagonism of Southern Regents and UCLA alumni towards Sproul and towards Berkeley, I don't think the thing would have built up the way it was.
And then as one other factor, there was a big issue developing over decentralization of the University. Robert Gordon Sproul, in a very effective way and with enormous capacity, ran the University of California on an absolutely daily basis, making every decision which was made, with a staff of over a thousand people processing paper for him. And the Regents thought as this University was growing, becoming more complex, all these research money coming in, it ought to be decentralized. This was felt particularly strongly at UCLA, that they ought to have their own administration; but also at Berkeley too. And the leader at Berkeley, I must say, this was none other than Joel Hildebrand, who was the leader of the Berkeley faculty, and wrote an open letter to President Sproul demanding decentralization also for Berkeley. And so behind this antagonism to Sproul, partly over the Oath, but partly also over lack of decentralization on the Berkeley campus and at UCLA, the whole dispute became more intense and more difficult than it could be.
There was also a factor there, if I could take a minute or two more. Sproul, as I came to learn, looked upon chancellors not as associates of his in the administration of the University, but as competitors for his power. He had used the communist issue, incidentally, to very--and in this case, I think he was on the right side of it--to very much in various... Ernest Carroll Moore, who was the long-term Provost at UCLA, Moore was a very strong anti-communist that had dismissed some students for what he thought were communist activities, which they weren't at all. And Sproul did the popular thing with the students and faculty at the time, and very much embarrassed Ernest Carroll Moore by reversing what he had done and reinstating the students. But also, in the opposite direction, the same thing with Clarence Dykstra, who had been President of University of Wisconsin, was brought in as Provost at UCLA, was given no authority to work with, and then in what could only have been, I think, an intentional blow at Dykstra and his popularity in the South and his competition with Sproul, he reversed, or forced... Dykstra reversed himself on two sensitive issues. A man by the name of Philips, who was mentioned earlier this afternoon, who was one of the faculty members fired at the University of Washington for being a communist, was invited by some group at UCLA to speak in a debate with a member of the Faculty Committee at the University of Washington who had voted for his being fired. And Dykstra thought this was fair enough, that here was an open debate between two different points of view, and not just a presentation of a point of view of a communist, so he approved it. At the same time, the Department of Political Science and the Institute of Industrial Relations at UCLA had invited Harold Laski of Britain, to give a speech on the Los Angeles campus. Now, Harold Laski was an active member of the Labor Party, in no way was he a communist. When I was a student at the London School of Economics, I took his course, 'Theory of the State,' which was the most popular course at LSE. I didn't understand why it was so popular from the point of view of any content, I thought it was pretty much lacking in content, although he was a famous political scientist. And I'm not suggesting they're all lacking in content, but I thought on this subject, that Harold Laski was. But he was also a great orator, and he spoke English with great precision and exactness. And foreign students from all over the world, he was the only lecturer at the LSE that they could understand, so they swarmed into his 'Theory of the State.' Well, I looked upon him as a Labor Party person and quite all right, so I invited him to come to Berkeley and speak here also. But Sproul then embarrassed Dykstra before the Board of Regents and in Southern California by forcing him to withdraw the invitations. And so here was a case how the issue of decentralization was a factor in telling Sproul to reverse Dykstra as part of this opposition to communism.
And when Sproul made his proposal for the Oath, he made it not in relationship to the faculty but he made it more in relationship to Dykstra. The Oath had to do with faculty members and these are outside speakers, two separate issues. Why did it follow that as part of establishing them both... you would say, 'Well, look at this guy Dykstra, who has invited Laski and a communist from the University of Washington.' And he said, and I quote here, 'I should like to have the Board hold up the President's hand...' And what he meant was hold up the President's hand in reversing Dykstra, Clarence Dykstra on approving these two outside speakers. So, again, the issue of decentralization, the power of the Chancellor, and the position of the Chancellor in relationship to the President was a factor which made the Oath controversy much more intense.
Now, there are a lot of other such issues, which I won't mention. But there are battles, other controversies, faculty members versus faculty members, groups of faculty members against other groups of faculty members; Regents versus Regents; the faculty, in general, against the Regents, actually who had the power, the basic power over academic life on the University of California. But, anyway, I put together as these other issues, which have to be understood to understand how bitter the Oath controversy was, how long it lasted, and how vindictive people were, not just the anti-communist Loyalty Oath, but also the Neylan-Sproul split, the problem of decentralization, and then also the problem of UCLA versus Berkeley, all got tied together into a great big thing known as the Oath controversy, when it was the Oath controversy and other items as well.
Now, let me just add, and this is really only for a moment. I think one of the great mysteries of the University of California is this: how could it be that a university which had been so triumphant in academic fields, with the supremacy of Berkeley over Harvard, with the great advancement of UCLA to the top rankings of American universities, the great growth in status of San Diego, the advances made by Irvine and Santa Barbara at the present time--obviously, the University of California is the great academic triumph of the whole United States and maybe almost of the world--how could it be that same university could be so triumphant academically when it also has been convulsed by more academic turmoil than any other American leading university to my knowledge? Not just the Oath controversy, but the long years of battle with the Burns' Committee on Un-American Activities, the student problems, the FSM period, and then Ronald Reagan's attack on the University and some other Regents having their attacks on the University, Regents and Presidents, their attacks on the University. How could it be that this University should still be so enormously successful in the academic world and still had been ripped by so much turmoil, some started outside, some started inside? That's to me the great mystery of the University of California. And I might say the two volumes of my memoirs on which I'm working, the first one is called, 'Academic Triumph,' and there have been all of these triumphs; the second one is called 'Political Turmoil.' And I haven't in my own mind, quite come to a conclusion that's totally satisfactory to me, as how it's possible to go through all this political turmoil and still at the same time be the greatest university, academically, in the United States and perhaps in the world.
I'd like to say, first of all, I appreciate Professor Hollinger's efforts here in convening this symposium and colleagues who work with him, how much I admire both Dave Saxon and Clark Kerr, not only for their abilities, but for their integrity--one is a 'non-signer,' one is a 'signer'--they're both friends of mine and I respect them. And I'm also in their debt for many things they've taught me over the years. So it's an honor to appear with them today.
I wish the Chancellor were still here to have heard Clark's comments in reference to his own. So I may not have to comment to much on that, but I might a little later.
How can I be most helpful? Let me say, first of all, that I was not involved in the Loyalty Oath in any way whatsoever. I was a student at Berkeley High School; I hardly knew it was happening, interested as I was in most things that 16- and 17-year-old boys were. So how did I come to write about it? Well, I was taking my Ph.D. here at Berkeley, I was going through the card catalogue, in those days, checking a subject. Came across several references to the Loyalty Oath; that provoked some memory about it in me. I checked-out several of these, read them. They were all expressing a single view. And I thought, 'How could there be a controversy if there's only one view here?' So I thought I ought to take a look at it. My major advisors were T.R. McConnell, Frederick Lilga, and Albert Lepawsky, all senior members of the Berkeley faculty, no one of whom urged me to pursue this research, believing that I would be unable to obtain primary resources. And even if I were successful, I would run the risk of being damaged in my own academic career by what I would be writing. If I knew as much about this Oath as they did, I probably would never had started, so ignorance has its place and I proceeded in any event.
Now, I wrote this controversy to report, and I'm quoting now from a 1967 article I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle: 'I wrote the 'California Oath Controversy' to report objectively from the vantage ground that only time and evidence could gain about one of the most momentous events in the academic history of the United States, one about which there has been much excited but largely uninformed comment. I wrote also to remind us, as the University of California so painfully discovered, of the essential futility of seeking by oath to know another man's mind and by association his intentions, for we need reminding of this elementary fact today, when fettering of the intellect and restraintive ideas continue to be viewed as viable solutions to dissent.'
Professor Schrecker has already commented on the environment within which this arose, as have both Dave and Clark. I indicate the same thing here. 'The Oath controversy anticipated nearly all the issues that were to arise and afflict America's universities and colleges during that troubled time. Oaths of loyalty required of teachers on pain of dismissal, penalties to be levied upon teachers for refusing to cooperate with legislative committees investigating subversion, sanctions to be imposed on teachers for lack of candor when queried about possible communist ties, implications for academic freedom and constitutional liberties, carried by rolls disqualifying communists and other alleged subversives from University employ, and challenges by boards of trustees and faculties to traditional forms of University governance.' So this is the environment.
I think I can help most inasmuch as the sale of the book was rather modest, I can only assume that relatively few of you have read it. To make sure that at least the record as I understand it, and there may be certain flaws there, but as I understood it and still understand it, is clear. We know the environment, the larger political environment. We know the California environment--the southern part of the state more conservative than the north. We know of the University in 1949, a much smaller place than today, much less complicated, far more personal because people knew one another, and more intimate in many ways than it has now proven to be over the years. That's a factor. So when there's controversy, the level of intimacy and friendship that exists in a smaller-scale institution becomes all the more bitter, and I think we need to remember that.
There were a series of bills introduced in the California State Legislature in the spring of 1949 by Jack Tenney, a legislator from Los Angeles, former piano player, and a person of great influence in the California State Senate. I think there were 13 bills that were introduced. One was Senate Concurrent Resolution Number 13, I think it was, the purpose of which was to take from the Regents and give to the Legislature the Constitutional authority to determine the loyalty of University employees, including its faculty. This was a bill then pending. It would amend Section 9, Article 9 of the State Constitution as to the authority of the Regents over the University of California.
This set of bills and the pressure of the Un-American Activities Committee in California is generally thought to be the reason why President Sproul proposed the Oath to the Regents. In my research, this proves not to be true at all. It was a convenience later on for explaining this decision, but was not a motivating factor. What gave rise to it instead? It has been mentioned already, but I would like to pull the ties together. Herbert Philips was dismissed from the University of Washington, as Professor Schrecker has already indicated, for being a communist, an acknowledged communist, was dismissed. As Clark has mentioned, he and a member of the committee responsible for reviewing his case at the University of Washington, Professor Benson, had been lecturing in the form of a debate around the west, and perhaps elsewhere. They had just finished this debate about whether or not communists should be employed by universities, at Reed College. Clarence Dykstra, who was the Provost at University of California at Los Angeles, before chancellors, as Clark has mentioned, was asked to extend an invitation to Herbert Philips, Professor Philips and Professor Benson to carry this debate to the UCLA campus. He agreed to extend the invitation, it was extended, and they accepted.
About the same time, Harold Laski, liberal member of the British Labor Party was also invited to speak at UCLA. With respect to the Philips invitation, the Provost had determined that no undergraduate should be admitted to hear this debate. This was not a wise decision because the press immediately picked it up. And what might not have been noticed, in fact, then became the object of many column inches in the Los Angeles Times and other papers in the Los Angeles area. The Southern Regents, more conservative, on average, than the Northern Regents, read the newspapers. They read about this event. They read about the Laski affair. At the February Regents meeting, it was the object of some discussion. And Regent Hutchinson, who was the President of the Alumni Association at UCLA and a Regent by virtue of that position, was asked by the Board to study the question of the use of facilities by a communist, when in fact, the University refused to hire them. No communist could be employed by the University of California as a function of the policy enacted in 1940, as referred to earlier. 'So how was it,' the Regents asked, 'we're not allowed to have faculty members who are communists but we allow our facilities to be used by them?' And it may not seem like a necessarily logical question, but it was a question nevertheless, and it required an answer. So the Hutchinson Committee was appointed to advise the Regents on this matter. Provost Dykstra was asked to appear at the April meeting of the Board to explain his actions.
After the February Regents meeting, there was a meeting of the Advisory Committee to President Sproul. It consisted of President Sproul, the Provost at UCLA, key administrative officers, and the leaders of both the Northern and Southern Divisions of the Academic Senate. They were all there together. This issue arose. Sproul said, 'I don't know quite what to do, but it seems anomalous that we should allow our facilities to be used by a communist, who is invited to come on, when our own faculty can't be members.' And he was urged then to clarify the University's policy and to emphasize it to the faculty at large, believing that in general the faculty and the staff are less aware of this policy than they need to be under these circumstances.
At the March meeting of the Board, where the Oath was adopted, and this is 1949, the March meeting of the Board, the record shows that the issue of communism, the Dykstra matter, the Philips matter, and the Tenney bills never came up. In the official meetings, they never came up. But in the halls between meetings, that was the object of the general discussion, pressing the President for some kind of clarifying initiative. Now, they had come to that meeting where the Oath was adopted with no oath to propose. It was not on the agenda in either a closed session or a closed session of the Board. The Oath was decided upon in the morning during these corridor conversations. And over the lunch hour, the General Counsel and Jim Corley, who was the Vice President of the University, handling governmental relations, drafted it. And they used the language that had been employed by the Congress in the Taft-Hartley Act for Labor Leaders. This was not a communist disclaimer affidavit, this first Oath. It was an oath that said, 'I'm not a member of any organization that seeks to overthrow the government.' In addition to the affirmative Constitutional Oath, which had been in pace for many years, that you support the Constitution of the State, and you are loyal to the Constitution of the country. That oath had been applied for many years, and it had not been the object of controversy. But they added to that oath then a disclaimer of membership in any organization that sought to undermine or overthrow the United States government. This oath was drafted over the lunch hour.
When the Regents reconvened after lunch, they convened in open session. Vice President Corley in his report on what was happening in Sacramento, the Tenney Bills were never mentioned. When they finished their business, they went into closed session, Executive Session, as it was then called. Everyone left the room except the Regents, the President, and the Secretary. They were the only ones there. The President then indicated that he had a matter on which, as Clark remembers exactly right, he wanted his hand raised in support of the President, and proposed this oath, with very little explanation, almost none. And you can only conclude because there was no accompanied narrative on the part of the president when he proposed the oath, this matter had been worked out that morning in private. So he proposed the oath.
I emphasize that Regent Neylan, who is the heavy in this on the Regent's side, was not present at this meeting, he was in Arizona. Only eleven Regents were, in fact, present. There was very little discussion. And the question was, 'Well, how are you going to implement this?' 'Well, we're going to put it in the annual contract.' There was an annual contract that was signed. 'Well, what are we going to do if people don't sign it?' The President hedged on that, but Regent Dixon from L.A. said, 'Well, we just had that in the City government of Los Angeles, three people refused to sign our oath and we fired them.' No one challenged that. The conversation, I don't think, lasted more than five minutes. I have the verbatim transcript of this meeting.
They then went back into open session from closed session, but never told anybody. Oh, I'm sorry, excuse me. Sorry. They went through their open session meeting. They then went into closed session, and had a lot of business--personnel issues, real estate issues, litigation, and so forth. Then they closed the closed session, and said, 'We're now going into open session,' but never told anybody. And that's when the Oath was adopted. So the minutes of the Regents showed it was adopted in open session, but, in fact, only the Regents, the President, and the Secretary were still there from the carry-over on the Executive Session. I hope I got that straight for you. It started in open session, it went to closed session. They then went back to open session, but acted as though it was closed session. There was no public announcement of it, there was no press release, there was no communication to the faculty, nothing.
And it wasn't until the following May that the faculty heard about it in the University Bulletin, as an almost nominal item. This not unsurprisingly prompted some faculty members to suspect both the intention and the procedure.
Between March and June, much went on; I won't burden you with it. But at the June meeting, after the President had been consulting with the leadership of the faculty, especially in the North, Professor Hildebrand and others, there was a representation from the faculty leadership that the Oath was causing enough trouble that it should either be rescinded or deleted. That message was communicated to the President. In the June meeting of the Hutchinson Committee that had been asked to study this issue of use of facilities and the non-employment of communists, in that meeting of the Regents Committee, the Oath came up again, and there was to be a proposal for an amendment to the Oath. This time it includes a communist disclaimer affidavit, a harsher oath than the one enacted in March. And it did not enjoy opposition from the leadership of the faculty, it enjoyed their concurrence--perhaps not their preference, but at least their acceptance.
At this meeting, John Francis Neylan is present. He said, 'What is this oath? I'm sympathetic to this oath.' And as Clark said, 'It's not worth the paper it's printed on. If I were a faculty member I wouldn't sign it.' And he said, 'President Sproul, are you telling us the faculty wants this oath, is willing to support this oath?' 'Yes,' was the answer. So now you understand how Regent Neylan gets hooked in this. 'Well, okay. If they want to sign it, okay. Fine.' So they approved it. An amended oath, harsher than the one enacted in March.
Was there an extended discussion about what would happen if faculty members refused to sign, or staff, for that matter? The answer is no. Was there a discussion about what motivated this oath? Yes. Referring to Professor Philip's appearance at UCLA and the Laski matter. Only. Nothing about the Tenney Bill in Sacramento.
Well, the summer goes on. It becomes clear to the President that things aren't going quite the way he had expected, if I may understate it, and large numbers of the faculty were not only unsympathetic to the Oath, but indicating in very confident and oppressing ways that they had no intention of signing it, for a variety of reasons, not just one reason, a variety of reasons. Moreover, the way it which it was then intended to be implemented, namely through the contract for employment, for tenured members of the faculty who had, in fact, reached tenure. I mean, getting back to the point Dave Saxon made, really at the outset, there was a breakdown here, and there surely was. So the President then concluded the best thing to do is to rescind this oath, it's not worth the [unintelligible]. And he then worked with the Senate leaders, who by that time were convinced that this was a bad decision contrary to their earlier representations, went to the Regents in September and proposed to rescind the oath. Neylan said, 'Wait a minute, you talked us into this oath. Now, three months later you're going to talk us out of the oath? We're going to look ridiculous. We will appear to be caving in to this pressure at the very time we're confronting the political environment in which we're working. This is not so good. Let's see if we can buy some time and see if the Regents and the faculty can work it out.'
So they appointed a committee chaired by Regent Neylan, to negotiate directly with the faculty, and the President was cut out. The faculty, in turn, through the Senate, through their appropriate procedures, appointed a committee, chaired by Professor Malcolm Davidson, many of you will remember, a very distinguished member of this faculty. And these discussions then ensued.
I have all the transcripts of these meetings. This was not a fruitful set of discussions because everybody was suspecting that the other person was not being forthright. They were right. They were right. Finally, on January 4, there was a meeting of these two committees. Neylan had been hearing that the principal reason for the intense opposition to the Oath was less the Oath and mostly the policy it was intended to implement. Now, Professor Schrecker has already mentioned that the AAUP was on record as opposing any policy that would result in the dismissal of a faculty member because of his or her political affiliation--I'm not stating this precisely--but they oppose the dismissal of any member of the Communist Party for that reason alone, for that automatic dismissal. The University's policy required an automatic dismissal, even before the Oath. The Oath didn't initiate the policy, the policy was adopted in 1940, and the Oath undertook to further clarify and strengthen that policy as the President saw it. So this January 4th meeting, Neylan's determined to flush this issue out because the faculty representatives in that committee meeting were not denying that but they weren't advancing it with the measure of proportional interest between these two that it really warranted. Finally, Professor Grant from UCLA, J. A. C. Grant from UCLA, many of you remember, a very fine, wonderful scholar from that campus, prodded by Regent Neylan, then said, 'We are here representing the faculty, we are not speaking for them, we are their representatives. We have not gone back to sample these views with the Senate except informally. We have no resolutions of a kind that bind us nor necessarily help inform us. We're here doing the best we can to share with you what we believe is the view of our colleagues. They are opposed to the Oath overwhelmingly. And if you asked us to put to a vote whether or not they support the University's policy on the non-appointment of communists, the majority will favor rescinding the policy.' And that was put even more directly than that, but that's what was said. Regent Neylan said, 'Thank you very much. I'm finally getting a straight answer. It's very clear to me what the story is here. You're saying the faculty oppose not only the Oath but the policy. Now, the Regents are willing to talk about the Oath, find some other way of doing it, but we're not willing to talk about the policy because we're committed to it.' And on that, he was right. There was no dissent on the Regents with respect... at least formally expressed in their meetings, there may have been reservations among some. But generally-speaking, I think it's fair to say that the Regents were insistent about the policy, in general, although in varying degrees willing to negotiate the oath, some saying they would and others really not willing to do so. So Neylan said, 'Well, look, we ought to put this to an appropriate vote of the faculty. Do you want to mail a ballot to the faculty?' I'm simplifying this, but that's the... '...mail the vote to the faculty on both issues. And if the faculty will affirm its support for the policy, we can figure out some way of dealing with the Oath.' And that was the deal.
So John Hicks at Berkeley, and others who were working with him, then talked the Senate into putting a mail ballot out. Nearly as high a percentage of the faculty supported the Regent's policy on the non-employment of communists as opposed the Oath. So the Berkeley faculty--and I know the UCLA as well, they were less insistently involved throughout this controversy--thought they had a deal that the Regents would find a way of mitigating the language or the procedure or the threat to tenure that the Oath as then administered was envisioning, only to find out that this was not the case. Another impasse. The alumni stepped in, as Clark indicated, Steve Bechtel came in with the Committee, offered the procedure for 'non-signers' to be heard by the Privilege and Tenure Committee and the Regents would take serious account of their findings for those who chose not to sign.
As Clark indicated earlier, almost everybody was recommended favorably. Steve Bechtel was unhappy about this and the communications with... I don't know if it was with you or not, Clark, but with others, made it very clear that if the Committee clears virtually everybody, the Regents will think that it's meaningless and we run the risk of the whole thing collapsing. He was right, it collapsed. Now, whether that was an excuse or a reason, I don't know, but it did collapse. And as the spring of 1950 rolled forward, Regent Neylan and the persons on the Board who were most committed to this solidified their position, and were determined that a 'minority of the faculty,' which is the way he kept phrasing it, could not be in a position of dictating personnel policies to the Regents, and the Regents, therefore, for reasons of governance needed to assert their authority. And I'm putting that as charitably as I can and in as gracious a way as I possibly could because this is being recorded and I don't want to quote what really was said.
So the result was they moved into 1950. The June meeting of the Board was when this issue was to be discussed. It was put over for a variety of reasons until July. Well, in a way, that had a dramatic effect because the Korean War started June 20, 1950. This had an impact on both public attitude and the attitudes of Regents, and even some faculty members, about this matter. At the July meeting of the Board, the President proposed that the procedures that had been followed for the members of the faculty who held professorial rank was sufficient, recommended the advice that he had received from the Committee on Privilege and Tenure. But we shouldn't forget how many TA's, and RA's, and adjuncts, and temporary lecturers, and so forth were dismissed, with not much comment from the Academic Senate, I might add, nor much notice by the press.
But they did, the press and everyone else, focused on thirty-one faculty members, including Dave Saxon, who refused to sign the Oath, and against whom no charge of disloyalty or inappropriate affiliation, or any other implied issues of disloyalty either could be made or have been made. Well, the July meeting, the President's proposal to sustain these people in their position, in other words, not to dismiss them because they refused to sign, won--won, barely. Regent Neylan, who voted no, of course, because he wanted them dismissed, then changed his vote to 'Aye.' And voting on the prevailing side, under Robert's Rules of Order, had the authority then to say he's going to move for reconsideration of this at the August meeting. So everything was in abeyance until the August meeting.
The August meeting, there had been a change in both the public mood because of the Korean War, there had been changes in Regents since the June meeting--Regent Hutchinson had left office and John Cannady had come on. And that was a switch. The result was in August, the President lost, the 'non-signers' were dismissed. They, of course, litigated. They prevailed with respect to securing reappointment, but not on the grounds they had appealed or sought to sue. The Court simply said in a very brief filing that the State had preempted the field, and it was beyond the reach of the Regents then to enter into it, and ordered them reinstated. However, in order to be reinstated, they had to sign a new oath, which in the meantime had been enacted by the California State Legislature, called the Levering Act.
Now, Governor Warren, who was actively supportive of President Sproul, from January '50 on--they had been classmates together at Berkeley, and close friends, and a great supporter of the University--he came into it at Frank Kidner's urging--many of you know Frank Kidner--to help protect the President, and find some kind of way through this problem. He attended all the meetings, he presided at the Regents' meetings. I think he did save the President, but did not save the 'non-signers.' His continuous objection to the Oath was it singled out the faculty for reasons that were unwarranted, as distinguished from other employees of the State. So in August, he voted against dismissing the 'non-signers,' merely for their reasons of not signing, but the next month saw to the introduction of an oath that would apply to all State employees, which ultimately came to include the University of California, called the Levering Act. An Oath, in some respects, worse than the one the Regents had adopted, and certainly worse than the one that had been proposed by Sproul in the spring of 1949. Ironically, in 1967, Governor Warren, then as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, voted with the majority in striking down portions of the Keyishian Act of New York, which had drawn heavily on the California Oath, regarding it as unconstitutional. So people change.
That's, in effect, about all I can do by way of, I hope, not setting the record straight, but at least sharing with you my sense of it.
Now, Chancellor Berdahl took some issue with one of my conclusions, and that's fine. I mean, it's an honor to have the Chancellor reviewing my book. My own view is that everybody lost, and no one won. I mean, the Regents set out at the urging of the President, not on their own initiative. This would never had come from the Regents themselves, it came from the administration, with concurrence of the faculty leaders, whether representative or not, that's what happened. And with each additional conversation, each side escalated it. That's why we had a communist disclaimer affidavit in June but didn't have it in March of 1949. And when in the fall, everybody was anxious to kind of figure a way out of the Oath, then the policy implemented came into play. And that was the second big issue, that drove the controversy at that point. And, finally, in the spring of 1950 what drove it was who was running the University, if I may put it crassly. So these issues shifted all over, just as the reasons for non-signing were tremendously varied among and between the 'non-signers.'
So I don't know what good came out of this, I must say. I mean, you can respect people who stuck to their principles, like Dave Saxon. And in a way, you have to respect people who disagreed with Dave Saxon about signing, such as Clark Kerr, who signed. So there's more than one principle at issue here, there's several principles at issue here, and they were in contention. And regrettably they couldn't figure a way out of it. Miscommunication, lack of timeliness, personal animosities, egos, and so forth, all got in the way. That's why I drew the conclusion I did. How could it be that a great university set out in 1949 to clarify a policy about communism and its place in the University, and a year-and-a-half later wind up dismissing 31 members of the faculty of the University of California against whom no charges were made? That's why I thought it was futile. If I think it's not futile, then I have to look up the dictionary term again, that's my view of it.
Now, are there lessons learned from this? Well, of course, of course there are lessons. Would an oath be proposed again today? I don't think so. If they wanted to do something like that they would be a lot smarter and more sophisticated in dealing with it.
The way in which the Free Speech Movement played out is in part a function of the Loyalty Oath, at least at Berkeley, and Clark Kerr's personal involvement in that. And the relationships and interplay of personalities among and between the faculty during the Loyalty Oath spilled over to the Free Speech Movement. We should remember that it was the use of facilities at UCLA by a communist and the use of facilities at Berkeley near Sather Gate that prompted the two great controversies. They both arose, the Loyalty Oath on the one hand and the Free Speech Movement on the other, out of issues involving the use of University facilities.
So as President, that was an issue I always paid attention to. For example, you recall we were having a lot of speech codes, you know, in the mid-80's. And I was pressured by some chancellors to adopt a stringent speech code, hate codes, whatever they're called, others to do nothing, some who wanted to appear to do something but really didn't, and so forth, there was no consensus among the chancellors. And I was being pressed hard. And I went only a little way and restricted it to fighting words, not a broader interpretation of this matter, such as at the University of Michigan. And I had in the back of my mind the Loyalty Oath, and what I had learned doing my own research. And we have been able to sustain our policy, most of the others have been struck down at the time.
I also had in mind a lesson I learned under Charlie Hitch--I served as one of his Vice Presidents from '71 to '73. I went into his office one day; a phone call interrupts us. He said, 'Well, yeah, $10 million? Right, uh-huh.' Hangs up. He said, 'We just had $10 million taken out of our operating budget because we refused to admit to one of our medical schools the son of a major donor to a key legislator.' He said, 'Remember that as the price of maintaining the University's independence.' So if we get informed by these experiences, just as we did from the Loyalty Oath, that we forget them at great risk to our institutions.
I was President when Angela Davis was appointed at Santa Cruz. Never came up to the Board. The only conversation I ever heard about it was one of the Regents came up and said, 'Do I understand correctly that you have allowed the appointment of Angela Davis at the Santa Cruz campus?' I said, 'Yes.' And offering no further explanation, he left. That was the extent of concern.
And, finally, they got back at Clark Kerr, however, for his speech before the Regents. They appointed him Chancellor. I could go on, but I won't because I appreciate both your patience and seeming attention, in any event. And I hope that the rest of this symposium and tomorrow will help illuminate this issue. There are lessons to be learned, and they are not useful if they aren't. So thank you very much.
QUESTION: Henry May, Professor of History, Emeritus. I'd like to ask a question of President Gardner. I had colleagues in the 40's and 50's, who set out to write studies on the recent history of the University, who ran into a stone wall in the matter of obtaining documents. Now, I say with apologies, I haven't read your book, but in your illuminating talk it seems clear that in writing the dissertation you were able to get hold of such things as minutes of executive meetings, of confidential meetings--it sounds as if you found the sources very available. Now, I wonder has there been a definite policy change in the meantime, or did you just have a magic touch?
PRESIDENT GARDNER: Well, I can tell you what happened, and you can draw your own conclusion on this. I will give you an example. Thanks to my advisors on my dissertation committee, I approached this very gingerly, and I knew if I couldn't get primary sources I was going nowhere. But I also knew that I wouldn't know this until I was into the research for maybe two years. And I didn't want to go nowhere after two years, so... And by way of example, I put a matrix together, and I started with the papers that people whom I knew well, who I thought would help, in ascending order of both complexity and significance. So I worked down the list, and I found that if Professor X knew that I'd have Professor Y's papers, he would more likely cooperate. So I went through this matrix. I finally got to Sproul. Every time he had a telephone conversation on this issue, he dictated a memo to the file. And there are several books like this, confidential memos to the file. So I went to see Agnes Robb, you remember her, President Sproul's long-time secretary. And she said, 'I talked to the President about your request, he will get them for you.' And I happened to know President Sproul because I was the first Director of the Alumni Foundation at Berkeley, and was responsible for getting the Robert Gordon Sproul Associates started and had to work with him in connection with this. So I knew him. So he was very helpful. I came back in 10 days, as I had been instructed, and President Sproul then saw me and he said, 'You know, I've tried to get these papers but I can't. They're confidential and I can't get them. You come back in 10 days and I'll have them for you.' 'Okay.' So I came back in 10 days and there they were. He said, 'And I want you to read this letter.' You'll appreciate this, Clark, because you were President at the time. Get this letter. What does it say? 'President Sproul, we're transmitting your confidential memos to the file...' blah, blah, blah. '...For your eyes only.' I said, 'Well, I can't do this.' He said, 'You know, my eyes have been failing.' This is a true story. '...and I need to have you read these for me.' So I did.
Now, on the Executive Session minutes, I just happened to have a copy. And Secretary Woolman facilitated it. And it was very useful.
Thirdly, I had to have Sproul's papers before I could get Neylan's. Now, Neylan's papers were sealed until 1975, something like that. And George Hammond was Director of the Bancroft. So I went to see Professor Hammond, and I said, 'Now, there's... I forget how many boxes, but quite a few boxes are sealed in the Bancroft Library.' I told him what I was doing, and so forth. So I said, 'Did you seal them?' 'No, no, we wouldn't seal any box.' I said, 'On whose directions did you seal these papers?' 'Mrs. Neylan,' who was still living. I said, 'On her initiative, or with whose advice?' 'Well, Herman Phleger's advice,' who was the attorney for Mrs. Neylan. Well, I happen to know Herman Phleger because he was on the Alumni Foundation Board which I just created. So I knew him. So I went over to see Mr. Phleger, who was no slouch, I can tell you, and I went through and explained this. He wasn't asking any questions. He said, 'I have only one question for you.' He said, 'Do you have Sproul's papers?' I said, 'Yes.' 'Well, then you're going to have to have Neylan's.' So he talked Mrs. Neylan into opening them up.
So this is essentially how I proceeded with my research and was able to gain access in that fashion.
QUESTION: My name is Neil Smelser. I was on the faculty for a long time. And a question that I believe would be best directed toward David Gardner and Clark Kerr. But I will first give an anecdote for their amusement.
In the winter of 1951, I had applied for consideration for a Rhodes Scholarship, and got to the Regional Finals, and came to Pasadena to be interviewed, along with 11 others. The interview committee was about seven people, of whom Robert Gordon Sproul was one. You can imagine the interview setting, I mean, it's one with these huge powerful group of people interviewing you. And they were asking the usual questions that you ask Rhodes Scholar applicants, about your leadership, your athletics, and everything else. And they asked me what extracurricular activities I was involved in. And I said that I was the President, I guess, of a local club at Harvard called the Social Relations Society. It was tied to the Social Relations Department, we had guest visitors, faculty, and so on. It was an academic group. And I was just describing this for the benefit of the committee, and Robert Gordon Sproul said, 'Does this group engage in any political activities?' I said, 'No, with one exception. We sent $50 to the Tolman Committee...' which was then fighting the Regents about the Oath. Well, fortunately for me, the rest of the committee broke into gales of hilarious laughter, that Sproul had been put on the spot by his own question. Well, I was successful in the competition. I suppose that anecdote helped me out a bit with the committee.
My question is the following, it has to do with the impact of the Oath, and it has to do with the continuity of positions taken over time. You mentioned that, David, when you were talking. And actually, one time, Roger Heyns said that you could really tell the line up in the Free Speech Movement years by what the line up was in the Oath years. I further observed continuities having to do with the positioning on the Vietnam War, the People's Park, subsequent debates about the nuclear laboratories, that there was a great continuity of membership in the cleavages that fell out about all these controversies over time, and the only thing that really seemed to solve it was retirement and death. And the failure of younger faculty members to understand what it was all about because they didn't... 'Why were these people fighting each other? We don't understand that history.' Now, that to me is an enormous impact in terms of the subsequent history of conflict in the institution, and I'd like you to comment on it.
PRESIDENT SAXON: I think your observation is correct and it's probably what I meant when I said I didn't think the Regents' behavior had been modified very much by those events. It's also consistent with Clark's point about the fact that Regent's positions were taken for a variety of reasons. There were all kinds of events swirling about, and the Regents took their position on the basis of how they judged those various events. Obviously, it's not a two-state problem, there are all kinds of intermediate positions. But I've just checked with Clark, and Raymond Allen, whose name you heard earlier, he was the President of the University of Washington, who took a very vigorous position in dismissing professors at Washington--he was appointed Chancellor at UCLA by the Regents in 1952, after all of this fuss. And the reason he was appointed was precisely because of what he had done at Washington. So, you know, maybe the Regents learned something, but I'll tell you something, they were very slow learners and they had very little retentiveness in what they learned.
GARDNER: Well, Neil, I really do agree with you. I mean, I noticed that during the divestment fight, as you recall, you being Chairman of the Senate at that point. So this is a familiar terrain, and it's helpful, actually, with respect to exercising one's duties here as President or as Chancellor, to be aware of the terrain. And in some respects, the predictability of it was very helpful. It's the lack of predictability that is awkward.
QUESTION: Leon Wofsy, Molecular and Cell Biology, Emeritus. It's very useful to get the inside history of UC, but I'm troubled by a couple of things. One is that of course there was no Neylan or Sproul in dozens of other states around the country, and the phenomenon that you're discussing here took place everywhere. And I think it's worthwhile not to elevate the details of the conflicts in UC over what was happening generally, and over the essential fact that one way or another, the University administration and a majority of the faculty went along with a very damaging policy for whatever reasons may be in their minds that justified it, which resulted in a tremendous amount of damage everywhere until the Loyalty Oaths were thrown out by the Supreme Court and things began to shift to some extent. So I think that's very important.
The second thing that bothers me is that the implication is that if only they had stuck to the business of working out a search for communists, then you could have avoided all this trouble. But the fact is that in a variety of ways, they were searching for communists during that period all over the country, and the University was firing all sorts of people, some who had been communists, some who weren't communists, some who refused to sign Loyalty Oaths. So that it's important to me that the fight was not just about what the tactics were and whether some good solution could have been worked out at UC, I think it was a matter of the overall atmosphere in the country, pre-McCarthyism, but predictive of McCarthyism. I know that the reason this is important, the search for communists, then essentially its inevitable link to the search for dissenters continued at the University of California considerably after the Loyalty Oath was thrown out. There was the Eli Katz case, my own situation, where my appointment was held up until I would meet with Chancellor Strong. And although it was a matter of record that I had not been for some years a member of a communist organization, I refused to discuss my political ideas as a condition for employment. And most of that interview was spent with Chancellor Strong telling me, 'I really don't agree with all this stuff. I really don't agree that there should be this kind of witch hunt. I testified for Moore...' who was mentioned, '...at Reed College. But this is the way it is, and this has to be University policy.' I think it's very dangerous because I think the implication that it's okay to limit your search and go ahead with the principles of the witch hunt, I think the whole history of this period indicates that that wasn't a valid consideration. Maybe you could argue, if only a few bad communists were hurt it would have been worthwhile, but it was impossible to hurt a few bad people. In the search for communists, and former communists, and dissidents, and Loyalty Oath 'non-signers,' a lot of damage was done, and the fact is that the Academy found rationalization after rationalization for the basic element of that policy.
GARDNER: May I offer a comment, not in contention with your viewpoint at all, but just a further comment. Later in the Oath, there was almost a solution. The difference mid-way through this controversy--first it was the Oath, the last was the power and so forth--but the middle dealt with the policy the Oath implemented, that's what they were fighting over. The view of the Regents was that if you're a member of the Communist Party, you are by definition subject to the discipline of the Party. If you're subject to the discipline of the Party, then for you truth is given and cannot be freely sought, therefore, you're not fit to serve. That was their view. The representations from the faculty members who wanted to overturn the policy was, 'Well, that may be true, but it may not always be true. And the Oath overreaches. There's no way to get at this issue. Each case on its own merits.' And so they almost settled on language that would substitute for the Oath and the policy, language to the effect that the faculty and the Regents agree that for service on the faculty of the University of California, faculty members should be not fettered by any affiliation or association with a group that binds them, that their performance, both in their scholarly work and in the classroom, and so forth. They were trying to go back to language that did not pertain to one's political affiliations and so forth, and even religious affiliations in that sense, unless it translated into behavior in the classroom or in one's scholarly endeavors that would call that person's fitness in terms of scholarship into question. But it collapsed. I just wanted to say that they came close at one point to kind of dealing with this is a far more constructive fashion than what actually happened.
QUESTION: These are two for Clark Kerr; they may be linked. I was wondering if you could tell us where Paul Taylor stood on this issue? And do you think there may have been a connection between this controversy and the Waterfront, in general, strike in '34, in which Neylan, of course, was a chief player?
PRESIDENT KERR: Well, on the subject of Paul Taylor, whom you apparently know or know about his work, Paul was my major professor when I was working for a Ph.D. in Economics at Berkeley. Paul was looked upon by some people, including within the Board of Regents, I discovered when I later put him up for a honorary degree--which he got, incidentally--because he was very much opposed to what had happened to land distribution in California, distribution really of water, and the policy was to help the 160-acre farmer, or actually help, you know, the 1,600-acre farmer, little farmers are being squeezed out, and he came out of Iowa and Wisconsin and it was his background, he favored the family farm, and he was looked upon as a radical for favoring the family farm. Now, how radical really is that? It was the basis of Jeffersonian policy. And I basically agreed with Paul Taylor. I thought the time had gone, however, where he could be successful because things had gone too far in Congress, particularly, about it. Paul considered himself always to be under investigation because of his reputation. He was an old-fashioned Jeffersonian Democrat, and favoring the family farm, and based upon that there were these antagonists of the Farm Bureau Federation and groups of that sort. I found him to be as close, if there is such a thing, as a Jeffersonian Democrat in the modern world. He was a Jeffersonian Democrat, but with a reputation of being a radical as a consequence of that. So having seen him, I was willing to propose that he receive an honorary degree and persuade the Regents to go ahead with it despite that reputation. And I might say, also held against Paul for some allegations of the political views of his wife, Dorothea Lange. And, again, I knew her quite well, and felt completely different about her than what these allegations were. And so I rejected both the allegations against Dorothea and Paul, and won my battles in getting Paul the recognition he deserved.
PROFESSOR HOLLINGER: The second question was about the general strike of '34.
KERR: I know Paul Taylor wrote about the 1934 Waterfront strike, and I later knew a certain amount about the Waterfront because I later on became the Impartial Chairman on the Pacific Coast Waterfront, all the way from Mexico to Canada. One of the things that I had to reply to, I guess, a million times in all the investigations I went through was how I had been Harry Bridge's arbitrator. As a matter of fact, I was accepted as an arbitrator by the Longshoremen's Union and then also by the Waterfront Employers' Association, although not accused of being their arbitrator. But the two sides could never agree with each other on anything, and consequently, I had been appointed by the Secretary of Labor in Washington. So I saw a lot of that Waterfront, but I never saw any connection between John Francis Neylan and the elements I became involved in later on. Now, the Hearst papers were involved in the 1934 strike, but I never heard of Neylan, particularly.
Let me say about Neylan, as a younger person, he had been a supporter of the Progressives under Hiram Johnson. And just after World War I, during the Red Scare of 1919 and 1920, he had defended Anita Whitley from charges of... what was the phrase of that time? Whatever it was, anyway, being treasonable. So he had a rather strange record, but I never heard of his record in connection with the 1934 strike, no.
GARDNER: Just a quick comment on Regent Neylan. In his papers in the Bancroft Library, there is a letter from him, I think it was in 1950, sometime in 1950, to Bernard Barauch, wherein he laments the ready access members of the faculty had to various publications--magazines, journals, newspapers. He, of course, was General Counsel for the Hearst Press, all the while writing the editorials for the Hearst Press, and objecting to the faculty's access to the papers.
QUESTION: Hello, my name is Mike Chartok, and I work at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, formerly, of course, known as the Radiation Laboratory. And I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to make a comment about President Saxon's remarks about the decline, or the purported decline. I would concur with the President's overall analysis, in that indeed these were very trying times for the University and certainly the Laboratory, but I also think that the University has been very resilient and that the Laboratory has. I just wanted to point out that of the eight Nobel Prizes that have been awarded to the Laboratory's scientists, that five of those Nobel Prizes were for work largely that was done after 1951. The most recent Nobel Prize was by Y.T. Lee, that was completed in 1987; he was hired in 1974.
I also wanted
to mention that the Institute for Scientific Information has recognized
the Laboratory as third in the world in terms of the importance of
its publications in the physical sciences, and, indeed, that's more
than any other institution in the United States.
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