"Introduction"
October 7, 1999

David A. Hollinger


I'm David Hollinger from the History Department, and I am welcoming you here on behalf of the UC History Project. And on behalf of that project that's handled the facilities and logistics for this event, I want to call your attention to the handout that you were given when you came in, which includes capsule introductions of our speakers, and as a result of that, we won't be spending as much time introducing each other as we otherwise might. And also, that document contains a number of mini-documents, of quotations salient to our discussions today and tomorrow, copies of various oaths, and the document also has a website where those of you that want to access a more extensive documentary archive assembled by the Center for Studies in Higher Education, can there have access to that.

Before I introduce our opening speaker, Professor Ellen Schrecker from Yeshiva University, I just want to underscore an issue made very compellingly by the Chancellor. His remarks might be seen as testimony to our eagerness to believe that nothing in life is futile, that we want to get some lesson, some value out of something. We don't want to believe that this struggle that all of our colleagues went through didn't yield something, if not happy, something that's useful to us. And one of the things we'll be talking about today and tomorrow is whether even this event, whether we can drain something positive out of it. And I think that it's good that Gardner is here and that the Chancellor has quoted him at such length because this book which I have read with great appreciation, is a very austere, sobering document, a work which leaves us with the conclusion that petty vanities and a variety of highly particularistic disputes among individuals kept President Sproul, the leadership of our Faculty Senate, the Board of Regents from reaching some compromises that might have been in the best interest of the University and of academic freedom.

Now, does Gardner's perspective preclude us, if we think it's valid, from drawing some lessons from it? Are these failures and these frustrations consistent with lessons that we might draw for how we can better defend academic freedom? If his conclusions require correction, how so, and why? And even then, might we draw lessons from this experience? In any case, these are among the issues that the UC History Project had in mind when we set this up. And I want to say that the idea was that of Carroll Brentano of the UC History Project, and she was the guiding light behind this project.

I believe that an ideal person to start off our discussion is indeed Professor Ellen Schrecker. She is not only the author of the standard book on universities during the McCarthy era, No Ivory Tower, but she has also written extensively on American political and intellectual and cultural history during that era, more recently the author of Many are the Crimes, a book now being widely discussed and contended over in magazines and journals of the country. It's also important, I think, that Ellen Schrecker is now, as the editor of Academe, affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, an organization that has played a unique role in the defense of academic freedom in this society for nearly eighty-five years. Also, I want to point out that Ellen Schrecker is something of an outsider, in that everybody else on our program is a California person, and mostly Berkeley people, actually, David Saxon from UCLA. So we have an all-California cast, and I think it's a very good idea that we have somebody at the beginning and then at the end of our program to give us a perspective from outside of California. So it's my pleasure to introduce Professor Ellen Schrecker.


David A. Hollinger

 

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