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August 24, 1965 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1965-08-24

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PAGE SIX;

THE MICHIGAN DAii.V

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TUESDAYX,JAUGUSTE 24, 196t5

i.,

Flint Dispute Embroils

omney, State Board

By JOHN MEREDITH
The University's Flint College
has attained statewide notice in
the past several months as a cen-
tral issue in a heated political
controversy over methods of ex-
panding Michigan's facilities for
higher education.
While supported by several lead-
ing legislators, the University's
plans to expand its present two-
year senior program at Flint to a
full four-year branch college have
drawn sharp criticism from Gov.
George Romney and other high
state officials.
Since the University opened
Flint College in 1956, it has co-
operated closely with Flint Com-
munity College, a freshman-soph-
omore institution offering prepa-
ration for further work at liberal
arts schools as well as terminal
vocational and technical programs.
One of 16
Although Flint College is classi-
fied as one of the University's 16
colleges and is administered and

financed separately from the local
junior college, . the two schools
share many facilities.
Since its inception, Flint Col-
lege has increased enrollment
from 167 to more than 600. In
addition, over 200 students attend
summer sessions at the school.
While approximately 70 per cent
of the college's enrollment con-
sists of Flint Community College
alumni, students from all over
Michigan have attended.
However, in the last two years,
more and more people have reach-
ed the conclusion that Flint Col-
lege's program was becoming in-
creasingly inadequate-to meet the
area's educational needs. To the,
pressure of the post-war baby
boom that is forcing changes at
colleges throughout the state has
been added a feeling of a need for
improvement in s'everal features
peculiar to Flint College.
'Inbred' Atmosphere
For one, it has been pointed
out that the heavy concentration
of Flint Community College grad-

uates was creating a narrow, "in-
bred" atmosphere at the school
which discouraged applications
from students in other parts of
the state. Moreover, lack of dormi-
tory facilities made Flint a com-
muter institution, a factor which
some contended deprived students
of the opportunity to participate
fully in a college community.
Interest in these problems led
to formation of a group of Flint
and University officials to study
the possibility of adding a fresh-
man-sophomore program at Flint
College. Appointed in -October,
1963, the committee examined the
matter for several months and
finally issued a recommendation
favoring expansion.
In April, 1964, the University
was invited to develop a four-year
program at its Flint branch. The
Regents unanimously approved the
proposal, and officials began mak-
ing specific plans with the hope
of admitting a freshman class at
Flint in the fall of 1965.
Progress
Considerable progress was made
during the summer. In September,
the original study committee met
again to review working papers
outlining specific proposals for an
expanded Flint program. The
papers-not publicly released-re-
portedly envisioned these features
for the school:
-A gradual doubling, of Flint
College's full-time teaching staff
- then numbering only 20 - to
handle the 200-student freshman
classes expected to be admitted in
1965 and 1966;
-Concentrated expansion of the

Flint College-Young and Mired in Disputes from Its Birth

liberal arts curriculum, with some
attention also to be given business
administration, elementary educa-
tion and science and mathematics
programs;,
-Maintenance of the current
University-supervised Flint admis-
sions office, and
-Continued cooperation w i t h
Flint Community College.
Plans for the Flint venture con-
tinued to proceed smoothly in the
fall, and, by the end of 1964, about
100 prospective freshmen had been
admitted for the 1965-66 academic
year.
First Snag'
In December, however, the Uni-
versity's plans for Flint, were dealt

their first major blow. In June,
the Michigan Coordinating Coun-
cil for Public Higher Education, a
group of top state school officials
which aims at voluntary coordina-
tion of higher education in Mich-
igan, had authorized a study of
expansion t h r o u g h university
branches.
A committee of prominent out-
of-state educators, chaired by
Provost Emeritus Harvey Davis of
the University of Iowa, was ap-
pointed, and in December the
committee issued a report blasting
branches and specifically asking
the University to postpone its
planned expansion of Flint Col-
lege.
While branches have certain ad-
vantages for beginning a college,
the committee reasoned, they tend
to become a second-rate little
brother of their parent institution,
often catering more-to the inter-
ests of the parent and private fi-
nancial backers than to the edu-
cational needs of the state.
Urge No Moves
The group went on to urge that,
at the very least, no moves be
made in the direction of branch
expansion until a "master plan"
for higher education in Michigan
has been developed by an impar-
tial body, probably the newly
elected State Board of Education.

..
a - i '

ready accepted-which could not
easily be broken.
The issue remained relatively
quiet for a little over a month.
Then, on Feb. 4, Romney entered
the picture to hand the Flint Col-
lege proposal its second serious
setback: he pointedly omitted
appropriations needed to operate
an expanded Flint College in his
budget recommendations to the
legislature.
Budget Politics
However, the Democrat-domi-
nated legislature quickly killed the
governor's budget proposal. A
quirk in Michigan's constitution
necessitates action on budget bills
before consideration of other leg-
islation, and the Democrats wish-
ed to study the budget for longer
than this would have, permitted.
The matter of appropriations for
higher education was sent to the
Senate Appropriations Committee,
chaired by Sen. Garland Lane (D-
Flint), a staunch supporter of the
University's Flint branch.
Fuel was added to the fire on
Feb. 18, when University President
Harlan Hatcher declared that
Flint College definitely would have
a freshian class in fall, 1965, and
called on the legislature to "cor-
rect the injustice" of Romney's
budget proposal by restoring
Flint's appropriation to the Uni-
versity's operating budget.
Total Amount
While Hatcher said nothing
about what would happen if the
necessary appropriation was not
passed, the legislature' cannot ear-
mark specific funds for higher
education-that is, it only ap-
proves the total amount to be

appropriated for operating each;
state school.
Thus, if the Univerity's appro-
priation was short the amount
needed for Flint, the money desig-1
nated for lower priority expends-1
tures could be transferred to fi,-
nance Flint College.
The, importance of Hatcher's
statement was enhanced by Rom-
ney, who said that state institu-'
tions may "face highly central-
ized controls" if they refuse to co-
operate in the best interests of,
.the state. This threat was givenj
substance by a constitutional'
amendment, proposed (and since
withdrawn) by Sen. Edward Rob-
inson (D-Dearborn), which would
have increased the authority of
the State Board.
Still Deadlocked
On Feb. 22, Hatcher had a per-.
sonal conference with Romney,
but the two emerged from the
meeting still deadlocked on Flint.
The State Board entered the
picture two days later, when Board
President Thomas Brennan criti-
cized Hatcher for ignoring the
board in planning Flint expansion.
Hatcher replied that the board
had not been consulted because
most major decisions had been
made before the new group took
office in January.
At the request of Lane, the
board undertook an investigation
of the Flint issue, and University
officials agreed to cooperate fully.
The board conducted hearings
throughout March, and in 'the
middle of the month a new ele-
me'nt was added to the contro-
versy: this was the report of the
prestigious Citizens' Committee on
Higher Education.
Condemn Branches
An ad hoc group of civic lead-
ers appointed by Romney two
years earlier to study the needs
and administration of higher edu-
'cation in Michigan, the so-called
"blue ribbon" committee chose to
issue its recommendations at a
crucial point in the Flint contro-
versy.
,While not specifically assailing
the University's Flint proposal, the
"blue ribbon" report condemned
branch expansion in general and
suggested establishing a new, in-
dependent four-year state institu-
tion in the Flint area.
A second new element entered
the dispute several days later
when Lane revealed that-a group
of prominent Flint citizens were
considering a plan' to make land
available for a new campus for
Flint College. He explained that;
construction of a new expressway
would clear an area which the
University branch probably could
obtain inexpensively.
Expansion
This would enable the branch1
to expand and separate itself from
Flint Community College. Lane
implied, however, that the citizens
group might not be as interested
in helping to find a campus site
for an independent school.
With these new factors compli-
cating its investigation, the State
Board did not reach a decisionf
until early April. Then, after a
two-day private, meeting, thel

4

board recommended that the leg-
islature appropriate funds for a
freshman class at Flint College
this fall.
The board made it clear, how-
ever, that this ruling was merely
a concession to the fact that the
University's plans had already
gone too far to be held up at that
late date. It went on to recom-
mend that, while this fall's class
should be allowed to complete
four years at the University's
branch, no freshman classes
should be admitted to the school
after this year.
Independent School
Instead, the board advised de-
velopment of an independent
four-year state school such as
that recmmended by the "blue
ribbon" committee; this new in-
stitution would eventually replace
the University's branch.
x

Charles S. Mot

Neither the Davis committee nor
the MCCPHE, however, had any
way of enforcing their views on the
University, and the Regents vowed
to continue admitting freshmen at
Flint for the fall of 1965. It was
asserted that the University had a
commitment to the people of Flint
-especially to those students al-

"Wapsawasse

-r

-I

The board's statement by no
means settled the problem, since
it is backed more by presitge than
clearly defined authority. An in-
dication that the controversy is
not yet over emerged on April 15
when the Mott Foundation, a key
contributor to the University,
which had promised $2.4 million
for expansion of the Flint branch,
announced that its offer would not
apply to an independent school.
The board's ruling did, how-
ever, remove the urgency sur-
rounding the Flint question in
that the only action that had to'
be taken inmediately concerned
appropriations for the freshman
class next fall; with backing from
the board, the needed financial
support was included in the high-
er education budget passed by the
Senate.
But neither side has publicly
altered its position on the ultimate
future of the Flint College, and
the controversy promises to make
headlines for some time to come.

4

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