excerpt from
Philosopher, Professor, and Berkeley Chancellor, 1961-1965
Edward W. Strong

VII The Loyalty Oath Period (1949-1950)

Interviews Conducted by Harriet Nathan in 1988


Academic Freedom and Tenure

Interview 6: 14 July 1988

Tape 12, Side A

STRONG:

To the loyalty oath in 1949-50. The loyalty oath was remarkable in many ways, but what was at stake in the controversy with the Regents was the preservation of academic freedom as protected by tenure rights. The imposition by the Regents of a special oath-which was to be signed as a condition of employment by a member of the faculty or any employee of the University of California--was perceived by the faculty as being inimical to academic freedom. I quote, "Academic freedom does not exist where the right to tenure is not inviolate." This statement of the faculty's position was made by the Davisson-Grant Committee in the fall of 1949.

The establishment of a Senate Committee on Academic Freedom, which at that time did not exist, sprang directly from two perceptions which came to the fore in the controversy. First: the role of the Committee on Privilege and Tenure was essentially judicial; that is to say, it acted when a case arose of possible infringement of faculty right to tenure, but otherwise was not acting. Second--I suppose the old story, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom--there should be a faculty committee active not only if a tenure right is in prospect of being violated, but also as a guardian of all faculty rights.

I became involved in the controversy in the following way. My colleague in philosophy, Joe Tussman, met me on the campus and asked me if I knew what was in the oath that was going to be required of every member of the faculty. I said that I assumed that it was the constitutional oath which public officials signed when they took office.

NATHAN:

That would be the state oath?

STRONG:

No, the Levering Act hadn't been enacted yet. It would be the Oath of Office of the Speaker of the House, the Governor, the President of the United States, a member of the Congress--an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Joe asked me if I was sure about that, and I said no, I was not. He asked, "Could you find out?" And I said that I would find out. I went to see Agnes Robb and asked her if she had a copy of the new employment contract containing the oath; she said yes, and she gave me a copy of it.

NATHAN:

At this time you were Associate Dean of the College of Letters and Science?

STRONG:

That is right.

I looked at the text of the oath, and I discovered to my dismay that I was confronted with a repugnant special oath. This was on a Thursday or a Friday in the springtime--rather late in the spring. By Friday evening a group of us had got together at the Faculty Club to discuss what to do to get the Regents to rescind what we properly regarded as an improper requirement. I opened the meeting by conveying the sad, bad news of the nature of the oath, and we talked about steps that needed to be taken to get the Regents to withdraw the oath.

The faculty at this time--and, indeed, not until the following September--was not informed about the part played by Jim Corley and President Sproul in initiating the oath. I haven't checked the literature to know whether or not this has been covered. My information comes from Marge Woolman. I made some comment to her--this was considerably after the oath controversy--speaking critically about Regent John Francis Neylan. She said to me, in justice to Neylan, who was very much attached to the University, "You should know these facts," and she told me this story. So for this I am indebted to Marge Woolman for the information.

NATHAN:

She was Secretary of--

STRONG:

She was Secretary of the Regents.

 

The Tenney Proposal, and Sproul's Presentation to the Regents

STRONG:

In January 1949, Senator Jack Tenney of the State Legislature was seeking a constitutional amendment which would have been very prejudicial to the relationship of the Board of Regents to the State Legislature. Under the chartering of the University of California, Regents exercise an autonomous authority over the affairs of the University. Tenney proposed an amendment that would authorize the legislature to require a loyalty oath of the officers and employees of the University of California. Such a step, if it had been taken, would have constituted a most serious encroachment upon the authority of the Board of Regents. It would have got the legislature involved in the administration of the University, and that usually is bad news, as I knew from talking to the President of Montana State University and to some other university presidents as well. The legislature has no other than budgetary responsibility with regard to review of the University's budget. One should by all means have the University be independent of political intervention.

To avert this encroachment, Jim Corley, who was the President's man in Sacramento, urged President Sproul to forestall Tenney by having the Regents act first in adopting an Oath of Loyalty. President Sproul accepted Corley's advice about the advisability of the action. So far as I knew, he sought no advice from any agency of the Academic Senate.

Ordinarily, and by policy, President Sproul, who was not himself an academic man, would seek advice--not that he necessarily had to take it--from appropriate agencies of the senate with regard to matters of policy or business that affected the Academic Senate. In this instance, as far as I know, he did not seek advice from the senate--that is, ask senate leaders or senate committees what would be their position with regard to acceptance by the faculty of this special Oath of Loyalty.

He brought the drafted oath before the Regents, and in doing so he was asked by Regent Neylan about faculty response or reaction to this new requirement for employment of a faculty member of the University of California. President Sproul assured Neylan that there would be acceptance of the requirement.

NATHAN:

How could he do that?

STRONG:

How could he do that without having consulted the faculty? This is what is completely mysterious. In June, 1949, the faculty at Berkeley, as at every campus of the University of California, and all employees of the University of California, were presented with the loyalty oath. In the case of the faculty, it was attached to a new form of contract.

NATHAN:

Was this a contract that every faculty member signed every year?

STRONG:

Every year every member of the faculty with continued employment was presented with a statement. You signed to confirm that you were continued in employment at rank and salary so-and-so, and if there was an advancement of salary or of rank, that was noted. In other words, the contract implicitly recognized tenure. You were not hired from year to year.

Under the new form, you were employed for the year so-and-so, with no assurance that it was viewed as continued employment or that tenure was acknowledged--not by specific statement, but by the very implied nature of continued employment in the University of California. It would appear that the Regents now regarded employment as a year-to-year proposition, with no implied right of tenure to members of the faculty who had been advanced to a tenure position.

Now, President Sproul's silence, throughout the spring and the summer until September, about his responsibility for the loyalty oath had the consequence that the faculty blamed the Regents, and particularly Regent Neylan, for the imposition of the oath, whereas the initiation of it was due to President Sproul.

Malcolm Davisson, the co-chairman of the first committee [Davisson-Grant] that worked on trying to get the oath rescinded, recognized that in this situation there was a very serious danger. I think it was in September, in San Francisco, in a report to a group of bankers, that President Sproul revealed his responsibility. Professor Davisson feared that the faculty, who already was blaming the Regents and particularly Neylan, would also blame President Sproul. Had this occurred, the faculty would have been in an adversary relationship to President Sproul and the Regents, while Sproul was also in trouble with the Regents. The faculty could not afford the cost of not supporting the President. President Sproul was an admired leader of the University of California, and very well liked and respected throughout the State of California.

The President's position most certainly was delicate and difficult. He was in a position where he could hardly say anything critical of the Regents, having himself been responsible, at least by initiation, for the situation. Nor could he alienate the faculty. The faculty, on its part, if only for reason of prudence, needed to protect the President. Of course, there were many members of the faculty who, even though the President in this case had acted without advice and inadvisably, were not disposed to turn against a leader who had done a great deal for the University of California.

I had mentioned that Malcolm Davisson had talked to me about protecting the President, and we agreed that every effort should be made to protect the President, not to attack him--to treat him as though he were a bystander. This the faculty proceeded to do.

 

Senate Action and a Mail Ballot (1950)

STRONG:

The Northern Section of the Academic Senate met on March 22, 1950 (this is a year later), formally rejected the special oath, and voted to have a mail ballot polling the faculty in a "yes or no" vote with regard to the special oath of loyalty. I think the Southern Section joined in this rejection. The Regents rejected this overture on March 27th.

NATHAN:

They rejected the holding of the mail ballot?

STRONG:

They rejected the special ballot; they simply turned the faculty down cold.

NATHAN:

I gather that the faculty voted against the oath?

STRONG:

Oh, yes, no question about it. The point was that the Regents rejected the overture involved in the poll. The Regents didn't have to accept the faculty position. The faculty had already, in a vote by hand (or aye vote) rejected it, but the mail ballot was to confirm what was already clear. The faculty wanted to be on record not only as having voted by the number in attendance at a meeting, but by polling every member of the faculty by mail; that was the point of the action.

 

The Kantorowicz Statement

STRONG:

Professor Ernst H. Kantorowicz had written to me prior to the Regents meeting on March 27th, in which he set forth the position of the group of non-signers, headed by Professor Edward Tolman. By this time the non-signers had formed a definite group. Whether this declaration was only Professor Kantorowicz and a few others, or whether he was voicing it for the majority of non-signers, I do not know. My guess is this was Professor Kantorowicz and some others, and that a majority would not have endorsed this particular statement. Professor Kantorowicz was a professor of history, and was one of the scholars who fled Germany. One can well understand, his having experienced in Germany the way in which the faculty was terrorized and tyrannized, his feeling in encountering here in this country what he took to be an ominous sign.

Kantorowicz declared that, "Unless at the next meeting of the Regents, on March 27th, the special Oath of Loyalty is revoked, we the undersigned (with a group of signatures) shall immediately and automatically discontinue the discharge of our duties in offices and classrooms. Further, if any member of the teaching staff, including teaching assistants, are dismissed for the sole reason of not signing the oath, the resignation in corpore will follow immediately and automatically." This was, indeed, a fiery statement.

David P. Gardner, in his book, The California Oath Controversy, comments, "Although the proposal gained little support, the fact that it was made at all by a scholar of international repute was indicative of the gravity of the situation."

 

Committee of Seven (March 1950), and Committee of Five (April 1950)

STRONG:

The next faculty action consisted of the appointment of a sevenman committee. The appointment was made by a number of deans and departmental chairmen, not by the Academic Senate. It was known as the Committee of Seven because this was the number of individuals who served. The members consisted of the following, every one of whom I knew very well: John Hicks was Chairman of the Department of History; Morrough (Mike) O'Brien, the Dean of Engineering; Griffith Evans, the Chairman of the Department of Mathematics; Francis A. Jenkins of physics; Stephen Pepper of philosophy; Lesley B. Simpson of Spanish; and Raymond J. Sontag of history. It's interesting to note that of this group, Evans, Pepper and Simpson were all members of the Arts Club. The committee began to act following the Regents' meeting of March 27th; that is, it went into action on March 28th.

NATHAN:

In the meantime, the non-signers were still on the faculty?

STRONG:

Still on the faculty. Neylan was viewed as the spokesman for the Regents' position in their refusal to heed faculty protest. The action of the Regents on the 27th was angrily regarded as a double-cross. The reason that it regarded it as a double-cross, at least on the part of some of the Regents, was because some of the members of this seven-man committee had been in touch with individual Regents, like Don McLaughlin, for example, and had received what they thought was an assurance that they would get consideration of the faculty position, particularly in view of the senate action and the mail ballot.

On April 27th--now this is a month later--two resolutions were presented, not by the Committee of Seven, but by a new committee: the Committee on Public Relations, or the Committee of Five, which consisted of the following members: H. B. Gotaas of engineering, R. A. Gordon of economics, Clark Kerr of business administration and Institute of Industrial Relations, E. W. Strong, Chairman, and Harry Wellman of agriculture. This committee replaced the Committee of Seven in the following series of steps. There was here a transfer of effort with regard to getting a rescinding of the special oath. That was very difficult. The story is told by Stephen Pepper in his memoir.

NATHAN:

May I ask why there was a new committee?

STRONG:

This is just what I'm going to explain. The Committee of Seven had failed. It was conciliatory and conservative. It had had a month in which to get some sort of acknowledgment from the Regents, which it did not receive. But most importantly, the group of non-signers had no confidence, or if they had had confidence, they had lost all confidence in the Committee of Seven. Stephen Pepper, recognizing that this was the situation, got the Committee of Seven to agree that a new committee should be formed. They left to Professor Pepper the task of finding a chairman of this replacement committee, which would take over from the Committee of Seven.

Professor Pepper, in his oral history memoir, reports that he first approached Clark Kerr and Aaron Gordon to see if either one would accept the responsibility of forming a successor committee. In the case of Clark Kerr, he reports talking to Kay Kerr, who said that Clark was fed up with the Committee of Seven, but she didn't think he would accept the chairmanship. Pepper then approached Gordon, and Aaron said no. I was approached. Would I undertake this responsibility? I said yes, and I formed a committee. The committee included Gordon and Kerr, although I hadn't known that they had been approached; but they were obvious choices.

On April 19, 1950, I received the following letter from Pepper; so well before April 27th, the Committee of Seven had decided that they could do no more. This is from the letter I received. "The committee of which you are chairman was instituted by the following resolution of the Committee of Seven. Move that Professor (blank, because he didn't know who it would be) and such persons as he chooses to associate with him be requested by the Committee of Seven to explore possible actions which may be taken by the faculty as a result of the various actions of the Regents on April 21st."

Pepper then lists three types of possible action, which range from failure of the Regents to rescind the special oath, through some sort of a sheep and goats distribution of people to be continued in employment and those who might be brought before a special hearing or something of that kind, to some new form of contract which would replace the one that the faculty had found offensive.

The two committees met in the Durant Hotel in the evening. The Committee of Five had already gone to work, and we had drafted two resolutions to present to the Academic Senate. Professor Sontag saw the text of these resolutions--indeed, every member of the Committee of Seven saw them before the meeting--and he thought they were pretty radical. He balked at endorsing these resolutions.

The non-signers, who expressed confidence in the new Committee of Five, had also requested--even demanded--that these resolutions which they were informed about be endorsed by the Committee of Seven so that there would be presentation by the Committee of Five and endorsement by the Committee of Seven. The problem was: would the Committee of Seven endorse the resolutions drafted by the Committee of Five? This was a very difficult problem, particularly when at least two members of the Committee of Seven had very serious reservations or hesitations or uneasiness about the resolutions.

Tape 12, Side B

STRONG:

The duties of the Committee of Five as envisaged by the Committee of Seven in the transfer of responsibility were twofold: one was to carry out the main policies of the faculty; that is to say, that it was to bring before the faculty the proposed courses of action for faculty adoption, which meant action by the Academic Senate, the legislative body of the faculty. The second function was to seek for a better understanding of the faculty position by the general public. The view of the general public was that if you're not a Communist, why don't you sign the special oath? What's all the fuss about?

Professor Pepper's comment is illuminating. He said that unless the Committee of Seven did endorse the resolutions, unanimity which had been evinced by the faculty would break down completely. Non-signers, if they had confidence in the new committee--the members of the Committee of Seven were prominent members of the faculty--might see a split between the conservatives and the liberals or radicals, and so on. There was, indeed, faculty unanimity as concerned protection of the right to tenure.

I haven't finished the story yet. In the meeting at the Durant Hotel--

NATHAN:

Did you chair this meeting?

STRONG:

Probably Professor Hicks chaired it. It would have been proper if he had.

NATHAN:

The Committee of Seven was the Hicks committee?

STRONG:

That's right. The Hicks committee and the Strong committee met and, as far as I remember, every member was present from both committees.

What was necessary was to get the members of the Committee of Seven to endorse the two resolutions, and this required persuasion. Clark Kerr had the task of persuasion. He very quietly pointed out the consequences that could be expected if there waren't concurrence--agreement between the new committee and the preceding committee--and what was at stake in carrying forward an effective effort to get the Regents to act favorably. He succeeded in obtaining the unanimous consent of the Committee of Seven with respect to the proposed introduction of the resolutions to the Academic Senate.

I might say that of course there was a very considerable range with regard to attitude, stance, position with respect to what should be done by the faculty in this controversy with the Regents. Kantorowicz was undoubtedly the most militant of the non-signers. Sontag I regard as one of the most conservative of the individuals with regard to action. Professor Pepper, whom one would expect to be liberal, was essentially conservative in this sense: a faculty has to live with its governing board and should act always in prudence with respect to the long-term view. I think that Professor Kantorowicz, for example, really disturbed Professor Pepper considerably, and appalled Professor Sontag.

One complicating factor which I haven't seen mentioned anywhere--and I don't want to mention the name at this time--is that the faculty had in its midst a spy. I say a spy advisedly, because if the man had openly made known what he was doing, at least this would have been honorable. But this particular professor attended every meeting that was held, whether it was a senate meeting or other meeting, and immediately following the meeting got on the phone with Regent Neylan and reported what had been discussed. So not only were official communications going forward to the Regents, but also reports of what was said at the meetings. Since at the meetings people like Professor Kantorowicz were speaking highly critically of the Regents, this certainly was not helpful and probably did a considerable amount of damage.

The name of this faculty member became known, and he was referred to as "Regent Neylan's Boy Scout." I will not name him because I am really puzzled by the motivation. The man did not regard himself as acting dishonorably, of that I am confident. What he'd hoped to accomplish by it remains a mystery to me.

NATHAN:

May I go back just a moment? Would you like to characterize the two recommendations?

STRONG:

I'm just coming to it. Following the meeting, which took place on the 26th at the Durant Hotel, on the next day there was a meeting of the Academic Senate; so we were right up against the deadline. The two resolutions, now endorsed by the Committee of Seven and the Committee of Five, were presented to the meeting of the Academic Senate.

The first resolution asserted "the right of the individual faculty member to decide for himself on the basis of conscience to sign or not to sign," and in relation to that right, proposed that the senate consider that "the principles of tenure have been violated."

NATHAN:

The signing was in part a statement, "I am not a member of the Communist Party"?

STRONG:

Or any other organization--any other subversive organization. It was a disavowal of membership in the Communist Party or any other party whose policy was that of the overthrow of the government of the United States by force and violence, and of course there was that long list of the Attorney General's. It was not only an anti-Communist oath, it was an anti-organization oath where the organization was suspected of being or held to be subversive of the Constitution of the United States.

 

Academic Senate Approval (April 1950)

STRONG:

The final resolution asserted the right of the faculty member to decide for himself on the basis of conscience whether to sign. It asserted that the privilege of tenure was considered to have been violated if, on the basis of not signing, members of the faculty were dismissed. Those were the two points.

I presented this first resolution.

NATHAN:

Presented it to a meeting of the Academic Senate?

STRONG:

Yes. This first recommendation also carried an instruction to the Committee on Privilege and Tenure. If a faculty member met all requirements for University service, that faculty member would be continued in employment unless specific charges were brought against him or there was evidence to the contrary. Finally, the resolution urged that a special committee be appointed to review the cases of non-signers who were not academic employees. Such a committee was appointed on which Clark Kerr served. Recommendation One was approved by a vote of the Academic Senate.

Harry Wellman then presented the second recommendation. This asked for authorization to submit to the next regular meeting of the senate legislation to create a Senate Committee on Academic Freedom--a new standing committee. It also asked that an interim committee of six members be appointed to convey to the public, to the alumni, and to the students the role of the University in the life of the state and nation, and to set forth the conditions requisite to maintenance of a free university so that the general public, the alumni, and the students could be informed of what was at issue with respect to tenure and academic freedom. This was essentially a public relations committee, although the Committee of Five was regarded as being that. This recommendation was also adopted.

Finally, a resolution was adopted expressing confidence in President Sproul.

NATHAN:

How interesting.

 

Letters: Cherniss and Strong (September 1950)

STRONG:

What was the situation in the following fall, 1950? The foregoing was action taken in the spring. I have here a letter which sums up the situation adequately. This is a letter addressed on September 17, 1950, to Professor Harold Cherniss, the Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton, New Jersey. Professor Cherniss had been a graduate student in classics at Berkeley--Ph.D. at Berkeley--from 1925 to 1929, Ph.D. in 1929. He was an associate in Greek at Berkeley. He came back to Berkeley from 1946-1948. He was deeply attached to Berkeley, and very well known by quite a number of faculty members. He was an international authority on ancient Greece, particularly on Plato's writings.

I wrote to him, "Dear Harold: Your fine letter has been in the public domain from the time I first read it last Tuesday. I had just opened it when I received a telephone call from Jack Kent, Tolman's son-in-law, asking if I had any objection to reproduction of its contents for faculty distribution. Copies were distributed to some 200 members of the faculty who met Friday evening at the Faculty Club to discuss resolutions to be introduced at the next meeting of the Academic Senate on September 26th.

"I was also asked to read the letter, and then appointed a committee to further publicize it. I turned my original over to Edward Tolman, who will use the facilities of the Group for Academic Freedom in seeking newspaper or other publication. In short, your letter is being used as you wished--to aid the cause of academic freedom and tenure at this critical time in the University's life. I cannot thank you enough for having written it. I wish there were some way of bringing to your ears the ovation of the faculty which followed the reading of your letter."

His letter consisted of a magnificent statement on the nature of a university with respect to tenure rights and academic freedom. (I have no copy of it, but a copy must be on record somewhere.) My letter continued: "I am enclosing a copy of a statement written by George Adams. Will Dennes told me this morning that the Committee on Academic Freedom, of which he is a member, has incorporated this statement in a report which will be presented at the next senate meeting. A second report will be presented by the Committee on Privilege and Tenure. We have been given to understand that this report will demand honoring of tenure, and will mince no words in describing the Regents' breach of faith in the August meeting of the board.

"Besides the reports of these two committees, a plan of financial support for the non-signers will be presented for endorsement." That support was a contribution of a percentage of monthly salary. "The plan will be set up on a Universitywide basis, with faculty of all campuses contributing to a common fund administered by a faculty committee. Contributions will be welcome from other sources, but our first effort is to take care of our own so far as we can."

By this time we had members of the faculty dismissed, no income.

NATHAN:

Was this happening on other campuses as well?

STRONG:

Oh, yes. To continue with my letter:

The Appellate Court last Thursday gave the attorney for the Regents a period of thirty days to show cause for the action taken by the board in reversing its action approving contracts for non-signers at its meeting in July. In July the Regents approved the contract even though the non-signers hadn't signed. In August they rescinded it and dismissed all the non-signers. This is why suddenly they had no income and why then we took this action of establishing a fund to which several hundred members of the faculty contributed.

The attorney for the non-signers has an additional thirty days to reply. Thus the earliest date for a final decision by the court is sixty days, and beyond that time there is a ten-day period in which the restraining order remains in effect--that is, to sign the contract or to re-sign it as alternatives to being fired in the event of an adverse decision.

On Friday the President transmitted an order of the Finance Committee of the Regents, which in a meeting on Thursday afternoon ruled that non-signers were not to teach or to perform any duties in the University. The departments' chairmen had assumed that the affected members were to teach in accordance with budgetary provisions and with the announcement in the catalog and the schedule and directory.

The Department of Philosophy had taken enrollment of some two hundred students at advance signup in Loewenberg's section of Philosophy 6A. These students will now be distributed among the other sections. The departmental chairmen agreed in a meeting with Dean Davis, College of Letters and Science, that they were making no replacements and that the courses would be starred, awaiting the restoration of the teachers to their positions.

As you know, the appeal of the Writ of Mandate rests upon the argument that contracts for the year approved in the July meeting could not legally be rescinded as was done at the meeting in August. If the appeal is upheld, petitioners will receive appointment for the year 1950-51, but are still subject to dismissal at the end of the year, since the case will involve no ruling with respect to tenure. Unless the faculty can obtain a tenure provision written into future contracts and legally binding, we shall be at the mercy of the Regents.

There is a lot of fight left in the faculty. George Stewart's book on the oath controversy is just off the press and you will no doubt have read it before this letter arrives. I hope to God that factionalism in the faculty can be avoided in the senate meeting, but there will be a battle if any group tries to stultify a program of protest and resistance against the treatment which the faculty has received at the hands of the majority of the Regents.

With best regards.

NATHAN:

Wonderful. I'm so glad you had that.

STRONG:

Interestingly enough, that was dated September 17th. Two days earlier than that I have a copy of a letter that I wrote to Professor Baldwin M. Woods, Chairman of the Committee on Academic Freedom. Professor Woods had sent out an inquiry to the chairmen of all the departments asking if there had been resignations since July, 1949, as a consequence of the loyalty oath controversy. He asked, secondly, if difficulties were being encountered with regard to recruitment of new faculty because of the oath requirement.

I replied to the letter by saying that Professor S. M. Lipset, Assistant Professor of Sociology, who was on a visiting appointment at Columbia University, had written to me to indicate that he would not return to Berkeley if the oath requirement was still in effect. Secondly, I said that I had no definite evidence of difficulties encountered in finding men to fill two vacancies in the department, that indications so far were that each individual--one at Columbia and one at Johns Hopkins--were favorably inclined, but that I had nevertheless feared that if the oath requirement were in effect that I would get declinations from one and perhaps both men.

NATHAN:

I might ask you whether the students expressed views during this time.

STRONG:

Supportive. One would have to verify this with the Daily Cal. I haven't checked that out, but my recollection is that the students were, as one would expect, strongly supportive.

 

Court Ruling Invalidates the Oath (October 1952)

STRONG:

In the action Tolman vs. Underhill, the special oath was ruled invalid by the Supreme Court. Those members of the faculty who were dismissed, and who then returned, came back to their academic positions. The salary that would have been paid them was now paid. The result of this was that the individuals who returned got their back salary paid, then refunded or paid back to the Special Support Committee the amount of money that had been contributed towards their academic salaries.

At that point, a number of us proposed that this money be established as a fund to be available to faculty of the University of California or members of the faculty in any other institution where cases arose of infringement on privilege and tenure. The reason for this proposal was that we were severely limited in what we could do, where some money would have been of help with regard possibly to publication or to expense, or to being able to help members of the faculty who might be in financial difficulty with regard to precipitate action by the Board of Regents.

While there was considerable sentiment and a lot of support for this action, it was pointed out that this fund was established for a specific purpose, and that if we wanted to establish such a fund we could appeal for it after the money was returned to the faculty, but we couldn't transfer it over to a new fund in terms of the limited nature of the establishment of the fund. So the money was returned to members of the faculty, and I among others received the money back that we had contributed to paying the salary of Jack Loewenberg, Professor Tolman, and other members of the faculty.

A number of eminent faculty members did not return. They had obtained appointment elsewhere--Princeton, Institute for Advanced Studies. In the case of Margaret Hodgen, she had an independent income and she had embarked on a research career in connection with a famous library in Southern California--the Huntington Library. Every member of the faculty who chose to return did return, and Jack Loewenberg was again teaching in the Department of Philosophy. He taught at Columbia University during the oath controversy after his dismissal.

There's an interesting bit of history connected with Professor Tolman. When the new Psychology-Education building was completed about 1962, the question came up about the naming of the building. Professor Tolman at this time was Professor Emeritus. The faculty committee recommended that the building be named Tolman Hall. The Regents had to approve the recommendation, and some Regent raised the question, "Wasn't Professor Edward Tolman the leader of the group of non-signers of the special oath? Should we name a building after this man who opposed the Regents?"

Regent Pauley said, "What is Professor Tolman's academic standing?" He was informed that Professor Tolman was a world authority on animal psychology, had been president of the American Psychological Association, et cetera. Regent Pauley looked over the assembled Regents and said, "How can there be any doubt?"

 

University Tradition, and Faculty Strength

STRONG:

The Year of the Oath, written by George Stewart marked a considerably longer struggle, one that certainly tested the dedication and the stamina of a university faculty in a major controversy having to do with faculty rights. I think that quite a number of academics throughout the country, and certainly quite a number of administrators, wondered how it was possible for the faculty to have weathered the ordeal and to have hung together as well as it did, as staunchly as it did.

I was asked this question more than once, and my reply, which I think is correct, is that--

Tape 13, Side B

STRONG:

--I attribute this to the tradition of faculty self-government at Berkeley--that is, to the role of the Academic Senate and to its committees.

It is quite true that only one committee of the Academic Senate had legislative power, in the sense that action taken was authoritative; that was the Committee on Courses. If a given course was not approved for inclusion in a schedule of courses, the course was not offered. The Committee on Courses saw to it that there was not needless duplication of courses.

A famous controversy arose over Subject A, in which some Regents, offended by a question asked in a Subject A examination, intervened. The faculty rose in holy wrath at the tampering with this one committee that had this kind of authority delegated to it, of course, by the Board of Regents. All other senate committees were advisory only, but a Committee on Budget and Interdepartmental Relations, although its decisions could be at instances overruled, was very carefully heeded. The Committee on Privilege and Tenure could be overridden, but I know of only one instance and the Dean regretted it. The Committee on Educational Policy was well heeded.

Now, looking at that kind of record, the faculty expected to be heeded, had been heeded, and in this particular instance, not having been consulted in advance and having been overridden, closed ranks. The traditions of the Academic Senate were strong, proved to be powerful. What would have been the case if there hadn't been this kind of tradition and this kind of confidence built into the scheme of faculty self-government, I do not know. One can doubt whether in a state-supported university lacking such tradition the results could have in the end been as successful as they were.

At the University of Michigan this could have occurred, and at Illinois. They were two places in the country similar to the University of California in faculty organizations. The fact that we did hang together and did remain as unified as we did was the marvel that occasioned the interest of other universities.

 

University Tradition, and Faculty Strength

STRONG:

The Year of the Oath, written by George Stewart marked a considerably longer struggle, one that certainly tested the dedication and the stamina of a university faculty in a major controversy having to do with faculty rights. I think that quite a number of academics throughout the country, and certainly quite a number of administrators, wondered how it was possible for the faculty to have weathered the ordeal and to have hung together as well as it did, as staunchly as it did.

I was asked this question more than once, and my reply, which I think is correct, is that--

Tape 13, Side B

STRONG:

--I attribute this to the tradition of faculty self-government at Berkeley--that is, to the role of the Academic Senate and to its committees.

It is quite true that only one committee of the Academic Senate had legislative power, in the sense that action taken was authoritative; that was the Committee on Courses. If a given course was not approved for inclusion in a schedule of courses, the course was not offered. The Committee on Courses saw to it that there was not needless duplication of courses.

A famous controversy arose over Subject A, in which some Regents, offended by a question asked in a Subject A examination, intervened. The faculty rose in holy wrath at the tampering with this one committee that had this kind of authority delegated to it, of course, by the Board of Regents. All other senate committees were advisory only, but a Committee on Budget and Interdepartmental Relations, although its decisions could be at instances overruled, was very carefully heeded. The Committee on Privilege and Tenure could be overridden, but I know of only one instance and the Dean regretted it. The Committee on Educational Policy was well heeded.

Now, looking at that kind of record, the faculty expected to be heeded, had been heeded, and in this particular instance, not having been consulted in advance and having been overridden, closed ranks. The traditions of the Academic Senate were strong, proved to be powerful. What would have been the case if there hadn't been this kind of tradition and this kind of confidence built into the scheme of faculty self-government, I do not know. One can doubt whether in a state-supported university lacking such tradition the results could have in the end been as successful as they were.

At the University of Michigan this could have occurred, and at Illinois. They were two places in the country similar to the University of California in faculty organizations. The fact that we did hang together and did remain as unified as we did was the marvel that occasioned the interest of other universities.

 

Aftermath: The FBI List

STRONG:

But there was an aftermath that I didn't learn about until I was vice chancellor. When I served with the Radiation Laboratory as a laboratory manager in charge of facilities, I became well acquainted with Kenneth Simpson. He had been a graduate student in philosophy before getting into physics. He was employed in one of the units in the laboratory. Subsequently, he became a member of the faculty at Santa Barbara.

He applied for a grant from the federal government on a project for which he needed clearance, and he gave my name as one of the character references, which was logical. I wrote a staunch recommendation. I was asked many times for recommendations--by reason of my position as professor, chairman, associate dean, laboratory manager, or vice chancellor--by the FBI or other federal agency.

I got a letter from Simpson asking me if I knew that the fact that he'd given my name had been prejudicial to his receiving the grant he had applied for, that I was on the FBI list as a person whose past association made me subject to doubt with regard to reliability. I was really incensed by this, so I made inquiry. I discovered that, indeed, I was listed by the FBI as of doubtful reputation on two counts. One, I had testified for Hubert Phillips. Two, I had in the '30s been a subscriber for one year to the People's World, a Communist publication.

I wrote back to the FBI saying that apparently they needed to be informed about my subscription to the People's World, because I had indeed subscribed to it. As to my testimony, I pointed out that I had acted at the request of the Committee on Tenure, as an authority on Marx and because of my professional knowledge of Professor Phillips. I said that I had had the highest possible clearance at the Radiation Laboratory and was investigated time and again. If they couldn't make up their minds that I was reliable, I never wanted to hear from them again with regard to any request or recommendation, and I never heard from them again.

I might explain the People's World subscription, because that was really a pathetic story. In my junior year at Stanford I had a good friend by the name of Charlie Dickenson, who was a major in electrical engineering. Charlie discovered that I loved to go trout fishing. He had a Ford Model T, and he proposed that we go fishing down below Carmel during the spring break.

Charlie and I got in his Ford, drove down to Palo Colorado Canyon, and up until we had to turn the Ford and back up steep hills so that the carburetor would be fed from the tank on which we were seated. We reached a little stream and went fishing in the morning, with some success. We were there just for one day and an overnight camp-out.

In the afternoon, when I prepared to resume fishing, Charlie said, "No, I don't think I'll go," and I said, "All right." So I went fishing. When I came back in the evening I could see that Charlie was in a deep gloom of some kind. I said, "Charlie, what's the matter? Are you not feeling well?" He said, "No." He said, "Well, I'm feeling all right, but I'm troubled." I said, "What are you troubled about?" He said, "Do you know about evolution?" I said yes. He said, "I've been taking this course in biology, and according to this course we are descended from the apes, or we're related; we have an animal ancestry." I said yes. He said, "But that isn't what the Bible says."

I found that he was a fundamentalist Baptist, a creationist. Man was created. Adam was created, and Eve was created out of the rib of Adam, and so on. The Bible had to be true, but he couldn't escape the evidence of the course in biology. So he was in a conflict of two irreconcilable propositions. I said, "Charlie, the Bible isn't literally true; it tells stories which contain the truth by way of allegory." "Oh, no," he said, "the Bible's got to be true." I said, "Why does it have to be true?" He said, "What's going to happen to my morals? My whole morality is based upon the Bible. It's got to be true." I said, "That's your problem; I can't solve it for you."

What's this got to do with People's World? In the depths of the Depression in Berkeley my doorbell rang, and there was Charlie Dickenson obtaining subscriptions to the People's World. I had Charlie come in for lunch, and asked what happened. He said, "I graduated and set up an electrical engineering supply and service in a city in the valley. It went well, so I set up a second installation. I over-reached myself and business failed. I went into bankruptcy. It's not right. This is a capitalistic system. I did nothing wrong. It's all explained by Marx. Will you take a subscription to the People's World?" I said, "Charlie, is this how you're making your living?" He said yes.

So the FBI discovered that I subscribed to the People's World. That's quite a story.

NATHAN:

That is poignant.

I might ask you one more thing, if it interests you, about Hubert Phillips. There was a note that Clarence Dykstra, UCLA provost, had said that the graduate students could sponsor a debate between Hubert Phillips and Professor Merit Bensen. There had been a similar debate at Reed College, and Jack Tenney picked up on this. Is there anything important about that?

STRONG:

What's important about it is that the finger was pointed to the University by the witch-hunters. After all, the minds of the youth are here being shaped, and these radical professors are exposing these tender minds to dangerous doctrines. Therefore we've got to be sure that the faculty is a loyal faculty, and we've got to ferret out any individuals who have suspect associations or who are teaching dangerous doctrines or dangerous ideas. In any period of fear for security, the faculty are always going to come under scrutiny. Not that scrutiny isn't proper, and if there are grounds for questioning, then questioning should go on. But the faculty is going to be especially open to this kind of investigation.

The faculty, in turn, hopes to have the support of the general public that it is serving in more than one way. It is not only educating the children of parents who are part of the general public, but pursuing research of great value to the economy, to the society, and preserving the traditions of the society, opening the minds of its students to the values of human life. I suppose the faculty, by the very nature of the enterprise, has to remember that Socrates was made to drink hemlock, and sometimes hemlock comes to the lips of faculty today. I always regarded Socrates as faculty, although he didn't belong to any institute. That was what constituted the contribution of Aristotle, among others; he founded what was, in effect, a university.

I think that is all for the loyalty oath. It was one of the great historical events in the life of the University of California, and I got myself very considerably involved. I think that brings us up to the spring and summer of 1953.


Source: University History Series, Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library. Complete oral history available here.

 

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