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August 27, 1968 - Image 42

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The Michigan Daily, 1968-08-27

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Page Twc.

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Tuesday, August 27, 1968

Page Twc -I . T HEIM C HIGI D A.L

A

President,

a

mediator
A student outburst could arouse are their sons and daughters," the
the divisive emotional response president explains.
that might upset the delicate bal- But Fleming feels students
ance Fleming is struggling to aren't the same as they have al-
maintain. He fears protest that ways been. "What is different
squashes administrators between about dissent today is that it is

By HENRY GRIX j
and STEVE NISSEN5
A graduate student asked the
new University President Robben
Wright Fleming last winter if the
President over contemplated sit-
ting on the Diag and getting to
know students. .
Fleming said that he had never
thought of doing that, and he
never has.
However, the University Presi-
dent is interested in acquainting
himself with students, and it is
not difficult to get an appoint-
ment with him. Fleming has been
a visible President in his first six
months, the antitheseis of his
predecessor.
His office on the second floor
of the old administration build-
ing is attractive and airy, al-
though not air-conditioned. His
desk, behind three doors and two
secretaries, is usually cluttered
with reports from other universi-

ties, state legislators, faculty and
administrators.
The whole layout could be easily
mistaken for the executive offices
of a large manufacturing firm.
But the 52-year-old Fleming is
not the type of bureaucrat you
would expect to find at Ford Mo-
tor. His thoughful manner, soft-
spoken speech and homespun
humor belong to the head of a
think factory.
He seems equally at home with
embittered radicals and middle
age businessmen, a quality which
has given him a growing reputa-
tion for having no real ideology of
his own.
He will tell students he thinks
dissent is an integral part of the
University, but will also say he
would block the admission of radT,
ical students out to "destroy the
University."
The President's easygoing style
has helped him slip easily into the

Presidential role he has played
since last January. Administra-
tors and faculty have given the
University's ninth President an al-
most unqualified endorsement.
At the same time Fleming views
his position as rather precarious.
"A university president must live
with many constituencies, not just
one. My influence is maximized if
I can use it with many different
groups," he says.'
Fleming has been trained to
wield his influence. Groomed as
an attorney at the University of
Wisconsin, the gray haired presi-
dent served as chancellor of the
Madison campus of that univer-
sity before coming here. While
not handling student affairs, Fle-
ming served as an arbitrator in
labor disputes.
His immediate success has
been the result of a calculated ef-
fort to balance and weigh stu-
dent, faculty and administrati ,e
interests.
With cool restraint, he handled
an early morning lock-in by black
students in the University's ad-
ministration building, following
the assassination of Martin Luther
King, Jr., last April.
While he excused the students'
action as a hasty emotional re-
sponse to the slaying of the civil
rights leader, he disapproved of
the building seizure and hustled
the students out by afternoon,
whle promising to investigate their
demands. ,
The disruptive protest was or-
derly and was terminated smooth-
ly without police intervention. The
speedy action pleased faculty and
administrators, and black students
are still airing their gripes in
private discussions with Fleming.
Already well known as a labor
mediator, Fleming is becoming lo-
cally famous for his handling of
student protest. At the same time,
the President's "major concern
for Michigan is not to have that
kind of incident"-that incident
being a disruptive protest that
brought notoriety and infamy to
Columbia.
Sometimes Fleming's cool, toler-
ant, attitude show signs of crack-
ing.
Once, after a group of protesters
disturbed a tea the Flemings hold
for students, the President later
seemed rather peeved.
Another time he confided that
if students ever tore up his office
the way they did at Columbia, he
would- resign unless the students
were expelled.

billyclubbing police, incensed stii-
dents and faculty and irate citizen
and taxpayers.
The President is convinced
"you can make people understand
if you can avoid major incidents."-
Local activists consider that
the University is a school for
"rich, white students" and is not
ripe ground for a massive dem-
onstration anyway.
Fleming discounts stock an-
swers. Although he thinks it is
"less likely" an outbreak would
occur here"than at other univer-
sities, "it is foolish to assume it,
can't happen anyplace."
Fleming tries to "make people
understand," but he himself finds
certain new left tactics inscrut-
able. "I can't understand why
anybody who believes in the dem-
ocratic process, believes in it by
compulsion," he comments.
He justifies disruption "only if
nobody listens to you," and
keeps his ear to the ground for
the rumblings of student rebel-
lion that began in earnest in the
final two years of the Hatcher ad-
ministration.
"In my generation," Fleming
says, "the liberal, which is what
I consider myself to be, is the
most suspect of all, because he's
the guy who is willing to com-
promise."
If compromise appears like
"tokenism" and "appeasement" to,

political in nature. Before it was
panty raid that got out of hand,
or a fight between the lawyers and
the engineers.
"Because the protest is political,
it upsets people-it evokes patriot-
ism, which is always very trouble-
some," Fleming continues.
Fleming fears the University,
and higher education in general, is
in store for financial strife as a
result of taxpayer's backlash
against student protest.
Until taxpayers, and even iac-
ulty, are educated about the moti-
vations of protesters, Fleming
says, higher education may suffer
a 'irop in support, although the
resulting decline in quality will
probably hit all universities equal-
ly.
The immediate problem for
Fleming is what to do if students
do demonstrate here. "I'm not
willing to be there like a sitting
duck and let somebody shoot me
off the wall. The University can-
not be left defenseless," he says.
But because of his background
as a labor mediator, Fleming is a
strong advocate of discussion and
debate as means of settling dif-
ferences of opinion.
It was Fleming's influence that
reportedly persuaded the Regents
to allow public forums to be held
so students could debate 1ampus
recruiters from controversialr com-
panies and government agencies.

Hatcher introduces Regrents to a new chairman
- Th e Htc her ' residenc

"But the 52-year-old Fleming is not the type
of bureaucrat you would expec to find at Ford
Motor. His thoughtful manner, soft-spoken
speech and homespun humor belong to the
head of a think factory."
*:*t4:^:"*** ***^'.* * *h1}},?*ti{*:{^'r** :"*: :" * i"a:r:2:;:: r.:::::::::w

students, it strikes alumni and
taxpayers as permissiveness. The
other side of Flerming's constitu-
ency; with whom Fleming spends
much time ,seems disgusted about
studerit protest and constantly,
demands that Fleming crack down.
"When they ask me who is
causing all the trouble at the
University, I tell them the type of
students at the University now

When Fleming came to Ann Arbor he went to
the dorms to meet students.

Fleming will even say he sees
nothing wrong with having a non-
voting student sit in on Regents
meetings. But his ability to change
existing practices and traditions
is severely limited.
When a controversy arose over
the fact that Faculty Senate meet-
ings are closed to students, 11e-
ming said he would like to see the
meetings opened but that he can
do no more than advise suchn/a
move.
The President thinks the com-
munity might benefit if the facul-
ty took a more active, and more
liberal, stand in student issues.
"Faculty are inclined not to
think about the problems," Flem-
ing feels.
The new President hopes studen
interests could be channeled into
academic reform.
"In a University as good as this
one, with admissions standards
this high, I'm not sure it is not
educationally rsound to use a dif-
ferent grading system than the
one we have," he says.
"Here we are turning out Uni-
versity graduates all these years
and where are all these graduates
in the, great social issues of our
times?" he asks.

"I've enjoyed being presi-
dent--but I'm looking forward
to returning to my literary
work on the Great Lakes," said
former University President
Harlan Hatcher, on stepping
down January 1 of this year
from the post he assumed in
1951.
Looking back over his a-.,
chievements at the University,
Hatcher took most pride in
the development of the library
complex, North \Campus, stu-
dent housing and "the re-
search arm of the University."
"When I first came to the
University there were no under-
graduate library facilities. After
the UGLI was built, the nexta
step was redoing the General
Library to serve graduate
needs. Now the new graduate
section will complete the li-
brary needs.
"When I came to the Uni-
versity North Campus was an
open area," says Hatcher.
"With the ground-breaking for
Cooley Laboratory in May 1952,
the updating of the scientific
and engineering phase' of the
University and the. expansion
for research" was under way.
"In the mid 50's "there was
a great surge of undergrad-
uate pressure to enter the Uni-
versity. The situation was es-
peqially desperate for women,
We were turning away quali-
fied people because there was
no place for them to live,"
Hatcher noted.
Markley was one of the re
sults of this pressing need.
Hatcher is especially proud of
the growth of student housing
because of the _part students
played in advising the admin-
istration on the kind of hous-
ing they would like to have.
According to Hatcher his two
biggest regrets are delays in the
progress of the Residential Col-
lege and the new theatre.
He also sighted the "serious
shortage" of a theatre at the
University which has "deprived

students of the chance to see
and produce. We have not yet
found a way to raise the money.
We have the gift from Regent
Power but prices keep going
up."
Commenting on the changing
role of the students durirng his
161/ years as President, Hat-
cher said, "There has been a
steady evolution' in the life of
students and their participation
in the University."
Perhaps, in retrospect, the
growth ofsstudent participation
during the Hatcher administra-
tion, nationally ' very difficult
years for college administrators,
constituted his greatest achieve-
ment.
The University has managed
to make more progress in this
area with less disruption than
any major schdol in the coun-
try. While other institutions
across the country continue to
crack up over the twin issues
of student power and the war
in Vietnam, this campus has
been relatively peaceful.
In schning the enti e Hat-
cher record, perhaps his best
single, move was a speech be-
fore he Council on Financial
Aid to Education at Chicago in
November, 1965. -
What he said there is worthy f-
of a plaque on the administra-
tion building.
"Some few are fearful that
student activism is so unpop-
ular with the public that sup-
port for higher education may
level off or even decline . .

I have no precise measure fcar
the popularity . . . But I sub
mit that popularity is not the
issue here.
"The question, rather, con-
cerns the "rights of citizens. To
prohibit expression of student
opinion with which we disagree,
or because we dislike the man-
ner in which students choose to
express their opinion, would be
a violation of the constitutional
freedoms so precious to all of
us.
"I do not believe that univer-
sities will suffer in the long run,
because they guard the freedom
of their faculties and students.
Free speech, right rof assembly,
right of petition were not cre-
ated by universities in this
country, but were established in
America by those who wrote the
Constitution and, the Bill of
Rights. The universities have
the obligation . . .to protect
these basic liberties. In good
conscience, we cannot do other-
wise."
Distasteful events clouded the
concluding years of Hatcher's
term in office. In the fall of
19660,names of students in sup-
posedly "subversive" organiza-
tions were submitted to the
House Un-American Activities
Committee. Students involved
in the ensuing student power
crisis\ felt Hatcher sold out.
Nevertheless, it cannot be
doubted that the philosophy ex-
pressed in Hatcher's Chicago
speech constituted the guide for
his conduct of the University
from 1951 to 1968.

vs

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