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December 13, 1968 - Image 64

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1968-12-13

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In a sport-shirt narrowly striped in or-
ange and black, in khaki pants slightly
smudged with peat-moss, Dean William
Haber stirs his black coffee briefly to cool
it, looks out over a green rink of lawn,
through the straight black trunks of oak
and maple, and beyond to the pale blue of
the river, lying off and down through the
trees like the dimensions of a thought. He
and his wife have been planting begonias,
weeding, and mossing, in the curve of gar-
den that meets you after a drive downhill
through woods, to a house tucked in and
spaciously poised above the Huron River.

He does not seem like a dean. His voice
sounds like gravel, dropping to little more
than a watery ripple as he explores a
thought along its edges. His hair is dark
and short, a little sparse above the two sun-
burnt inlets on either side of the stubby
central peninsula. He himself is stubby and
powerful, as if he could stand up toe to toe
with Jimmy Hoffa, or sit eye to eye across
a bargaining table—for Dean Haber has
made his mark in arbitrating the tough de-
mands of capital and labor. He is an econ-
omist, a teacher, a frequent public servant,
and retiring dean of the College of Litera-
ture, Science and the Arts of the Uni-
versity of Michigan. But, not really a re-
tiring type, the Dean continues, by special
appointment of the Regents, as adviser
to the executive officers of the university,
also teaching one class ("at last," he says).
the course in labor economics he initiated
at Michigan when he arrived 32 years ago.

"I grew up in Milwaukee, where my
widowed mother, absolutely penniless, came
to this country from Romania with her
five children, ranging in ages from 15
down to 7. But she was rich in courage,
and had an abiding faith in American hos-
pitality. And she was right, and she never
allowed us to forget our indebtedness to
this country. The two older sisters went
to work during the day and to school at
night; we three boys—I, the oldest, age 10
—sold newspapers. This sustained us, and
we even managed university degrees for the
"One of the great influences in my life

Ecossonsist, Guide sited -Adviser

was the Newsboys' Republic of Milwaukee,
the product of Perry 0. Powell, which had
delegated to it jurisdiction to enforce the
Street Trades Law of the city. The Repub-
lic elected congressmen and senators; it
had a Supreme Court and a President. I
served as Chief Justice. Appearance by
parents and boys who violated the law was
entirely voluntary, but jurisdiction reverted
to the Juvenile Court of the city if the
"culprit" failed to appear when summoned.
Later I ran and won the Presidency, and
was 'sworn in' by the Governor of Wiscon-
sin. I still cherish a clipping which reads
SCHOOLS. I've never run for elective office
since, but I'm sure this early experience
has often stood me in good stead." The
Dean pauses, and looks out through the
trees. "I continued my business enterprise
until I went to the university by finding a
local manager who shared the profits-75
per cent for himself, 25 per cent to my
mother and finally ended my capitalistic
career by selling my holdings for $250.
"At Wisconsin, I was tremendously in-
fluenced by John R. Commons, a wonderful
teacher, a labor economist, who emphasized
getting out into the marketplace, into the
hurly-burly, talking to people, finding out
how people felt and what was really going
on. In 1925, the Supreme Court declared the
Minimum Wage Law of the District of Co-
lumbia unconstitutional. Professor Com-

mons asked us in his seminar to write a
minimum-wage law that would be constitu-
tional, to find out where this one had failed,
to find some basis for the whole idea of
setting a minimum to wages. We read
Locke, Hume, Hobbes, probing and probing
for the value of human services. Eleven
years later at Michigan, in 1936, when I
was a professor myself and chairman of
an Unemployment Insurance Study Com-
mission for the State of Michigan—remem-
ber this is in the depths of the Depression,
Michigan had over 1,000,000 unemployed—
I set my undergraduate class to writing an
unemployment-insurance law. I divided the
28 students into committees — Benefits.
Contributions, Administration, La b o r-
market Organization, and so forth. They,
in effect, wrote Michigan's Unemployment
Insurance Law, reworked by the commis-
sion empowered to produce it, of course,
but still organized under the headings of
those students' committees, and containing
much of their thinking and language."

A little grey-bearded poodle, who looks
like a dean, barks for attention. As the
Dean gets up and lifts him gently to put
him out, I glance over the long list of Wil-
liam Haber's public honors and appoint-
ments: Member of the Federal Advisory
Council that rewrote the original Sociial
Security Act in 1939; State Emergency Re-
lief Administrator for Michigan during the
depth of the Depression; Director of the

The Fall 1968 Issue of Michigan Quarterly Review
devotes a section to Dr. William Haber. That issue
carried a revealing essay by Dr. Haber under the title
"The Birth of the Teach-In—Authority Without Free-
dom," from which we also quote here. Accompanying
this essay was this additional editorial note:
William Haber retired this year as Dean of the
University's largest college (Literature, Science, and
the Arts) only to accept appointment as Adviser to
the University's Executive Officers. He has served the
University for thirty-two years, and has served the
American government and the public so extensively
that the current Who's Who cannot list all agencies,
honors, and publications. A star at the end of his
unusually long entry refers you to ear_lier issues.
He is an economist, interested
primarily in the eco-
nomics of labor and social welfare."

Authority Without Freedom

Excerpts from Article 'The Birth of the Teach-In'
two or three days, little hap- was located. Could they help us
pened, but the issue was building avoid a confrontation between the
Michigan Quarterly Review
up. Questions were being raised. faculty and the administrators of
About three years ago, listening W ould professors meet their classes this University? Our talk was quite
to the radio at seven o'clock in on the scheduled date? What revealing. The most liberal mem-
the morning, I heard from Detroit would happen if a professor a p- bers of the Center's Executive
that "University of Michigan fac- geared in front of a class, but a Committee were vigorously op-
ulty votes to strike in protest to student stood there and blocked posed to the war in Viet Nam, but
the war in Viet Nam." This was his way, or had a sign as a picket? thought nevertheless that a faculty-
quite disturbing. I could not read- Would the students enter such strike was the most unwise way
ily see what the war in Viet Nam classes? Should these professors to protest. Others thought that
had to do with the University of be called in? Should warnings be such a strike would divert public
Michigan. Whatever his - views given? We concluded that the de- attention from the issue in Viet
about the war, a teachers re- cision to avoid a confrontation was Nam to the right to strike.
But the faculty group had taken
fusal to meet his classes because appropriate. We planned strategy.
of the war did not make sense to i One would have thought by the a position from which retreat was
me. Why should the students be number of hours we devoted to I difficult. _What_I needed, the Coin-
deprived of a course in which this matter involving probably no Anittee suggested, was some way
to permit a graceful retreat from
they had registered? Was this an more than fifty professors, we
the strike and yet provide an
appropriate way for a professor were planning something like an
avenue for protest. Someone ob-
to protest against U.S. foreign poi- invasion of Normandy. How do
served that something ought to be
icy? The real question for me, as you handle professors with ten- created "in the academic tradition"
a dean, was how to proceed, how ure?
Do you threaten
We concluded
that perhaps
the and in
, describing it, used, for the
to use "my authority."
first time in my hearing, the
My immediate concern was to problem should best be handled P
avoid a confrontation, to keep by the peers, tthe immediate col- know, that is where the " teach- in
my relationship with the protest- leagues of the protesting faculty was born. I readily assented to the
ing faculty fluid, to creeate a dia- members. It occurred to us that idea and in fact observed that we
Logue between that portion of the departmental chairmen and de- do not teach enough anyway. We
faculty which wanted a faculty partmental colleagues would have are involved in research, adminis-
strike and that which did not more influence than the dean. The tration, committee meetings, serv-
and between the protesters and dean may have authority, but here I ice—at times—to the detriment of
the established "organs of author- influence seemed more important teaching. Consequently, the very
ity." There was not too much time than power. In any event, we idea of a "teach-in" was rather en-
to reflect. The newspapers, state urged the chairmen to indicate ticing. On behalf of the college, I
and national, wished a statement that classes would be met. If the agreed to provide the necessary
from the Dean. The student paper, teacher did not meet them be- assembly halls, classrooms, ampli-
the Michigan Daily, would have cause of his protest, someone else fying equipment, if the strike could
loved a controversy between the would. We -proceeded in this fash- be converted into a "teach-in." It
Dean and the faculty. I could al- ion for a few days, but the time was pleasant news the following
ready see the headline—"Dean was fast approaching when a de- morning to hear the radio announce
Threatens." Clearly, the wisest cision had to be made. How does "Strike called off; teach-in plan-
procedure would be to make no one avoid a direct confrontation? ned." The idea of a teach-in as we
statement at all—to await devel- How does one avoid the use of know, became a national "institu-
opments. My only statement was power and authority, which may tion." It did not satisfy many
that, although the university pro- win allies for the protesters, not people; for the moment at least it
fessor had every right as a citizen for their view of Viet Nam but avoided a confrontation and, even
to express views on U.S. foreign against the dean's authority?
more, a strike, which in my view
We assembled the Executive is hardly in the academic tradition.
policy, "not meeting his classes
We govern by consent, and I, for
at the University would not seem Committee of the Center for Con-
to me an appropriate way to ex- flict Resolution and said to them one, would not consent to govern
this kind of consensus,
that while they are involved in re-
press these views."
Beyond that, nothing else was search on resolving conflicts in which backs our decisions with the
to be said. I urged that, since the Africa and Asia, or between the best thinking -we can bring to
general administration favored de- United States and the Soviet Union, them, from all concerned. This
centralization of decisions, this was we had a conflict right at home, on is authority, limited but strength-
a good time to practice it. For the very campus where the Center ened by freedom.

National Youth Administration for Michi-
gan; Special Assistant to the Director of the
Budget; Adviser to the Director of War
Mobilization and Reconversion; Chairman
of the National Hillel Commission; Presi-
dent of ORT, both the American and world-
wide Organizations for Rehabilitation
Through Training for disadvantaged youth
in over 20 countries.
His bibliography is long, and up to the
minute. His "Unemployment Insurance in
the American Economy" (1966, with Merrill
G. Murray) is the first comprehensive re-
view of the field Haber himself has done
much to pioneer and cultivate, drafting its
laws and advising the secretaries of labor of
five administrations. The book is the latest
in an impressive row on a shelf in his
study (including one each by his two sons,
Ralph, chairman of the psychology de-
partment at Rochester, and Alan, an econ-
omist in Washington, D.C.). A panel above
contains the photographs, many inscribed,
of the Presidents, secretaries of labor,
and other prominent men with whom he
has worked out his public service, includ-
ing a picture of J. R. Commons, in celu-
loid collar and wavy locks. And here and
there on the shelf beneath this panel of
pictures are awards and mementos —
plaques, trophies, a chip of aggregated
stone from the Berlin Wall, enclosed in
thick clear plastic with a printed card from
two parents thanking William Haber for
his role in the efforts that freed their son
from East Germany in a bargain over
political prisoners with Russia.
Under a small glass dome mounted on
a round wooden base with a silver plaque,
is a tiny ancient Maccabean clay lamp. It
is inscribed to William Haber for his work
as special adviser on Jewish affairs to
General Lucius Clay in Germany in 1948,
responsible for the problems of the thou-
sands of displaced persons in the camps
to which they had escaped from the grim-
mer camps of Hitler. The tiny brownish
lamp bad given light among people simi-
larly oppressed in the third century before

Excerpts from Michigan Quarterly Review
(VII, October 1968). Reprinted by permission of
the author and the Michigan Quarterly Review.
Copyrighted 1968 by the University of Michigan.

Haber's Rx for Jewish Youth

Dr. William Haber, president of
American ORT Federation and of
the Central Board of World ORT
Union, in an address a year ago
at the annual meeting of the Joint
Distribution Committee, dealt with
the problems of our youth. It is
true, he said, that some of them
are straying from the Jewish
mainstream, but in that respect
they were no different from the
students throughout the world in
their striving to find themselves
in the new social, educational, cul-
tural and moral mold that is
emerging all over the world as
this century, perhaps the most
fateful in the history of man, is
nearing its last thirty years.

He was mindful, he said, in
essence of the disturbing discon-
tent on the campuses of the coun-
try and of the urgency of change
among the young intellectuals, but
he was convinced there was alto-
gether too much emphasis on the
restlessness and too little attention
to the powerful flow of serious pre-
occupation in the halls of our col-
leges and universities.

Now, a year later, in the fact
of burgeoning student upheavals
and rioting both here and in other
countries of -the world, Dr. Haber
still has faith in the general, stu-
dent body and in the Jewish stu-
dents on the campuses. In his
opinion, the so-called alienation
trend among Jewish students does
not as much reflect purposeful
straying from roots as an under-
standable reaction to the new in-
tellectual milieu they encounter
in the schools of learning. In most
instances, the Jewish college stu-
dent comes from a home where
there has been insufficient ce-
menting to Jewishness, roots and
values and when he encounters
fresh intellectual and cultural ex-
citement in the halls of the col-
leges it is but natural for him to
waver like a reed in the wind.

And like a reed, he will resume
his stance once the forces that
are upon him are balanced ',out.
This of course would require a
reexamination of _ the traditional
approach to molding _our young
and, perhaps, even an entire.over-
hauling of our community struc-
ture. A young man who has not
been given the opportunity to par-
ticipate in Jewish communal life
and contribute to its shaping _can-
not be expected to endure •Jew-
ishly under the mounting pres-
sures under which the young, live

The need, according to Dr. Ha-
ber, is therefore to train our
young in what he calls "new di-
mensions." In his opinion, the es-
timated 400,000 Jewish students on
the college campuses of Ahterica
now have a new pride in being
Jewish. However, since they "know
little about Jewish history and
tradition," it is natural for them
in this most exciting period in
Jewish history to ask searching
questions with respect to the
meaning and relevance of Juda-
ism in this age. -

The function of Jewish education,
as Dr. Haber, sees it, is to find
ways of informing .'the Jewish
youth'where we were not long ago,
how we arrived at where we are _
today, and interpret to them the
design of these days. "I urge
this," he said, "because I believe
that the wealth of experience of
our recent past, no less than the
Jewish ethos of tthe millenia, can
infuse Jewish education with that
immediacy that opens the mind
to self-identification with those
enormous events. And nothing is
so agonizing to our youth as the
hunger to define their identity."

64—Friday, December 13, 1968

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