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August 27, 1968 - Image 42

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1968-08-27

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Page Twc.



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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

ties, state legislators, faculty and
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 thinksl

His office on the second floor dissent is an integral part of the
of the old administration build- University, but will also say he
ing is attractive and" airy, al- would block the admission of rad-
though not air-conditioned. His ical students out to "destroy the
desk, behind three doors and two University."I
secretaries, is usually cluttered The President's easygoing style
with reports from other universi- 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 .ust
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
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. hn
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
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
Sometimes Fleming's cool, toler-
ant, attitude show signs of crack-
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
wouldaresign unless the students
were expelled.

A student outburst could arouse are their sons and daughters," the
the divisive emotional response president explains.
that might upset the delicate ba]- But Fleming feels students
ance Fleming is struggling to aren't the same as they have al-
maintain. He fears pretest that ways been. "What is different
squashes administrators between about dissent today is that it is
billyclubbing police, incensed *tu- political in nature. Before it was
dents and faculty and irate citizen panty raid that got out of hand,
and taxpayers. or a fight between the lawyers and
The President is convinced. the engineers.
"you can make people understand "Because the protest is political,
if you can avoid major incidents." it upsets people-it evokes patriot-
Local activists consider that ism, which is always very trouble-
the University is a school for some," Fleming continueg.
"rich, white students" and is not Fleming fears the University,
ripe ground for a massive dem- and higher education in general, is
onstration anyway. in store for financial strife as a
Fleming discounts stock an- result of taxpayer's backlash
swers. Although he thinks it is against student protest.
"less likely" an outbreak would Until taxpayers, and even fac-
occur here:than at other univer- ulty, are educated about the moti-
sities, "it is foolish to assume it vations of protesters, Fleming
can't happen anyplace." says, higher education may suffer
Fleming tries to "make people a drop in support, although the
understand," but he himself finds resulting decline in quality will
certain new left tactics inscrut- probably hit all universities equal-
able. "I can't understand why ly.
anybody who believes in the dem- The immediate problem for
ocratic process, believes in it by Fleming is what to doiif students:
compulsion," he cbmments. do demonstrate here. "I'm not
He justifies disruption "only if willing to be there like a sitting
nobody listens to you," and duck and let somebody shoot me
keeps his ear to the ground for off the wall. The University can-
the rumblings of student rebel- not be left defenseless," he says.
lion that began in earnest in the But because of his background
final two years of the Hatcher ad- as a labor mediator, Fleming is a.
ministration. strong advocate of discussion and
"In my generation," Fleming debate as means of settling dif-
says, "the liberal, which is what ferences of opinion.
I consider myself to be, is the It was Fleming's influence that
most suspect of all, because he's reportedly persuaded the Regents
the guy who is willing to com- to allow public forums to be held
promise." so students could debate ;campus
If compromise appears like recruiters from controversial com-
"tokenism" and "appeasement" to panies and government agenciea


Hatcher introduces Regents to a new chairman

The Hatcher presidency

.:"trrS 'tJ."."h1"S. .'r.{
"But the 52-year-old Fleming is not the type
of bureaucrat you would expec to find atsFordh
Motor. His. thoughtful manner, soft-spoken
speech and homespun humor belong to the
head of a think factory."
-. * MS ....v...w.......v:.:1.. . . . . . .::'


students. it strikes alumni and
taxpayers as permissiveness. The
other side of Fleming's constitu-
ency, with whom Fleming spends
much time ,seems disgusted about
student 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 chunge
existing practices and traditions
is severely limited.
When a controversy arose over
the fact that Faculty Senate meet-
ings are closed to students, Ile-
ming said he would like to see the
meetings opened but that he can
do no' more than advise sucn a
The President thinks the com-
munily might benefit if the facul-
ty took a more active, and more
liberal, stand in student issuies.
"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 sound to use a dif-
ferent grading system than the
one we hive," 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
t'o 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
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 nounder-
graduate library facilities. After'
the UGLIa was built, the next
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 phases of the
University and the expansion
for research" wasunder way.
"Inethe mid 50's there was
a great, surge of undergrad-
uate pressure to enter the Uni-
versity. The situation was es-
pecially 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 they "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
Commenting on the changing
role of the students during 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 of student participation
during the Hatcher administra-
tion, nationally very difficult
years for college administrators,
constituted his greatest achieve-
The University has managed
to make more progress in this,
area with less disruption than
any major school. 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 scanning the entire Hat-
cher record, perhaps his best
singil.-move was a speech be-
fore the Council on Financial
Aid to Education at Chicago in
November, 1965.
What he said there is worthy
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 fnr
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 Pecious to, all of
"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 of 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-
Distasteful everts clouded the
concluding years of Hatcher's
term in office. In the fall of
1966 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.


Howard Cooper
Volkswagen, Inc.



Former President Harlan H. Hatcher
w r_



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