Seventy-Seven Years of Editorial Freedom
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ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN, TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 1967
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. Fleming's Background in Labor Mediation is Seen as Vital in His Rise to
By DAVID BERSON
THE University's new president Robben W. Fleming, is one
of a new breed of men which has emerged to run a new
kind of university-the multiversity. With his background in
labor mediation and government service and his extensive
work with American corporations, Fleming comes to the Uni-
versity well prepared to handle an educational institution in-
creasingly dependent upon and heavily influenced by these
segments of American society.
Where higher education in America was once reserved
for an affluent few burried in small secluded towns, the in-
stitutions of American higher education are now geared to
perform what the former president of the University of Cali-
fornia, Clark Kerr, calls the "service center" function.
According to Kerr, "Knowledge is now central to society.
It is wanted, even demanded by more people and more insti-
tutions than ever before. The university as producer, whole-
saler and retailer of knowledge cannot escape service. Know-
ledge, today, is for everybody's sake "
The sheer size of the multiversity, its increasingly vast
facilities and expansive budgets, provide it with an ever-
growing capacity for the production of knowledge. But with
most of this aid coming from outside institutions, the uni-
versity's potential for intellectual innovation within the pur-
suit of pure scholarship has enormously decreased. What is
studied in various academic disciplines is shaped by the needs
of business and government. Academic endeavor increasingly
focuses on problems which are important to these institutions.
rHE corporations and their foundations and the federal
government provide the agenda for academic work. As the
sociologist Robert Nisbet points out," . . . the state which pos-
sesses the power to do things for people has also the power to
do things to them."
The change of the locus of power on higher education,
of course, is profoundly changing the quality of education in
the nation's universities, particularly for the undergraduate.
As Fleming points out, "The status of the faculty member
has completely changed since World War IL Faculty members
today have enormous opportunity open to them . .. the re-
sources are available so that a faculty member can go wher-
ever the incentives are greatest."
Here and at the other major multiversities, the undergra-
duate has only his gratitude to offer a professor as incentive,
while the outside centers provide wealth, facilities, and no-
toriety to the academician. One need only to look at a sche-
dule of classes offered at the University to discover that a
professor's rank on the academic hierarchy is inversely pro-
portional to the amount of time and effort he spends teach-
ing undergraduates. In the place of the noted scholar, who
in many cases attracts the student to a particular university,
the undergraduate's classes are taught mostly by graduate
teaching fellows and newly-arrived assistant professors, them-
selves worrying about gaining degrees arid promotion result-
ing from research, and therefore viewing teaching as a chore.
Shortly After His Selection, Fleming Attended The Honors Convocation
Where UN Secretary-General U Thant Delivered an Address