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FRIDAY, JANUARY 21, 1972
NIGHT EDITOR: ROBERT SCHREINER
Knauss and OSS in review
DURING THE PAST 18 months, Vice
President for Student Services Robert
Knauss, who leaves the University Feb. 1
to become Dean of the Vanderbilt Uni-
versity Law School, has been a satisfac-
tory, though not outstanding, vice presi-
dent. His major achievements have in-
cluded implementation of the policy
board mechanism and the reorganization
of the Office for Student Services (OSS),
formerly the Office of Student Affairs.
Just two years ago, mentioning OSS
evoked bitter comments from student
leaders, cautious predictions from facul-
ty members and unenthusiastic recogni-
tion from administrators.
Now, however, OSS, though still im-
perfect, stands as a model to the Univer-
sity of a bureaucracy which is accessible
to its constituents, of administrators pos-
sessed of names and faces, of an office
which has to a large extent untangled
the cumbersome morass that can envel-
op any large body.
KNAUSS' APPOINTMENT to the helm
of OSS followed a period frustrating
to all University members, during which
a search committee's candidates all with-
drew from consideration, during which an
interim vice president was appointed by
President Robben Fleming for an interim
which stretched to two long years, dur-
ing which the details of a student-con-
trolled OSS Policy Board were formulated
but never firmly set.
Indeed, when Fleming circumvented
the search committee process to appoint
Knauss, there were strong doubts about
the new vice president's ability to relate
to student needs and interests.
And there was reason, too, to be sus-
picious of the efficacy of a policy board
operating without set guidelines. Knauss
had announced in Fall, 1970 that were he
to disagree with the wishes of his stu-
dent-dominated policy board on a serious
matter he would resign from the vice
Yet in fact, as the rules stood then -
and stand to this day - it is by under-
stood agreement only and not by any
formal authority that the policy board
sets policy and Knauss then administers
the board's wishes.
After 18 months of working with the
policy board, however, Knauss has dem-
onstrated willingness to comply with
board decisions, and even more signifi-
cantly, he has proved that a vice presi-
dent's efficiency need not be impaired
by the policy board concept - OSS has
certainly administered its programs and
services effectively under the policy
NOW THAT IT IS clear that an execu-
tive officer can function with a policy
board running his or her office and that
OSS has run well in coordination with
the board, prospects for extending the
policy board mechanism - with appro-
priate modifications to suit the various
needs of various offices-appear brighter.
Certain policy board actions did indeed
cause tremors within the University last
year; most notable of these was the OSS
recruiting policy, later turned down by
the Regents, which banned from OSS
placement services recruiters from cor-
porations having bases in de jure racist
countries like South Africa.
In addition to solving the initial prob-
lems of working with the policy board,
Knauss engineered the complete reorgan-
ization of OSS, including establishment
of unit policy boards in OSS's component
divisions - housing, counseling, Health
Service, special services.
OTHER INNOVATIONS during Knauss's
term of office include increasing OSS
accessibility to students. Many new staff
members have joined OSS during the last
18 months, and each of them has in some
way related directly to individual stu-
dents rather than simply OSS programs.
An exceptionally popular OSS program,
for example, is the 76-GUIDE telephone
information and counseling service,
where students can obtain immediate an-
swers to a host of questions which might
otherwise molder within bureaucratic
sepulchres for days, weeks or months.
This year, too, OSS has published a cal-
endar containing among other things,
extensive directories of student services.
These attempts to relate directly to
students - though perhaps not of cru-
cial importance - have served a valuable
function, by working toward humaniz-
ing the University's relationship to its
Beyond working with the policy board
and relating board decisions to the other
administrators, Knauss has had to rep-
resent student interests within the Un'i-
Some student leaders, however, have
charged Knauss with being a less force-
ful student advocate before his adminis-
trative colleagues than they expect his
successor to be.
Thus, it is apparent that Knauss has
served well as OSS Vice President. His
term has been a pleasant surprise, prov-
ing the possibility of increasing student
power through the policy board mech-
anism, as well as demonstrating that an
administrator can serve student interests.
THE OFFICE has been reorganized; the
path has been cleared. Now, hopefully,
Knauss will be succeeded by someone who
will continue to forge ahead.
-ROSE SUE BERSTEIN
Q. What would you view as the major
accomplishments of the office during the
two years you have been in?
KNAUSS: I would guess the major
thing that we've accomplished has been
getting the office reorganized and chang-
ing the general thrust of the office, mak-
ing it more responsive to providing stu-
dent needs as they are actually perceived
by students. In doing this we have shown
that a policy board can operate.
I think that in the reorganization we did
last year, we did accomplish getting the
staff people to be more aware of what
else is going on in the office, getting
much better cross-contact between staff
people, and making the general thrust
of what everybody in the office is doing
being really concerned about getting serv-
Q: How has the reorganization specifi-
cally affected services? Which services
were discontinued, which new ones were
KNAUSS: A much greater emphasis on
providing services for student organiza-
tions, for individual students and student
counseling, for groups of students. We
have dramatically expanded, for exam-
ple, the 76-GUIDE program and the in-
dividual counseling services available.
We have, in the new Office of Special
Services and Programs, expanded the na-
ture of services that are available to
student organizations, whether it is groups
that want to put on concerts or get space
for lectures and things of this nature.
We now have in the office about 35 stu-
dent program assistants that are on the
payroll that work with various student
Vice President for Student Services Robert Knauss, who
is leaving the University to be dean of Vanderbilt University
Law School, assumed his post 18 months ago after a stormy
period of revision of the Regental bylaws governing the Of-
fice of Student Services.
He has been the first of the University's executive officers
to work with a student-dominated policy board, and although
the bylaws give the board no specific control over OSS,
Knauss promised when he took office to resign if he found
himself unable to work with the board.
Daily staff members Dave Chudwin, Judy Ruskin and
Geri Sprung questioned Knauss on the changes in OSS over
the. past two years. The following are exerpts from that inter-
then came the reorganization. But now
that there is a bureaucracy set up to
handle the things the office is bogged
down into day to day things and is not
doing that much more new.
KNAUSS: I would guess that we have
done this purposely this fall. We talked
to the staff, we talked to the policy board.
We felt it was important to have a period
of consolidation. We started many new
things last spring and over the summer.
I thought it was important that the staff
be able to consolidate and spend time out
doing some of the services that we have
talked about doing. And so you may say
it got bogged down. I would put it in a
different approach and say in fact that
they are doing things.
you know are going to be sensitive areas.
But in the last year there have been re-
latively few of them that have really
been focused at this office.
Q: What are some of them?
KNAUSS: I suppose our program on
sexuality has been a sensitive area, both
initially and the problem pregnancy coun-
selling and abortion referral and more re-
cently with the aspect of working with
the homosexual students and groups. Last
year our discrimination policy, that was
passed as far as the placement office, was
concerned was a sensitive area.
Another area where there are strong
differences of opinion is to the extent that
our office and the students -within the of-
fice should be involved in community ac-
tivities outside the University and to
what extent our people should support
community activities. We have done a
fair amount in this area. There are some
who view this as an improper use of
staff time and University resources.
I think there are some people who
look at the office and would like us to
stick to what they call housekeeping
functions - running the dormitory system,
providing adequate health service, and
counseling service and not get into what
we would call academic innovation or
creating a general environment for edu-
cation that goes beyond just the house-
Q: You mentioned before that there
were several areas in which you failed to
get student input. Could you elaborate
KNAUSS: One thing that happened in
the past year that you are very aware
of is that the general climate has chang-
ed as far as the activities of students and
student groups on campus. And I think
mrany of our staff have been used to a
period of time over the last three or four
years where they were primarily reacting
to a crisis.
Well, that has changed. A staff cannot
sit behind its desks and wait for some-
thing to come up. They have to be out
initiating things because the climate is
such now that students are not going
to be clamoring to be in. It took us quite
a while to realize this, that there had
been that change.
Q: What would you view as the major
problems or the things that your suc-
cessor should take under consideration
in taking on the office?
KNAUSS: I guess some of the major
things is that the successor must be
aware of what I have just mentioned. The
kind of person you want in this job now
is not somebody who is going to react
or be someone who is going to conciliate
warring factions. He has got to be some-
one with imagination,hhe has to be some-
one who is willing to initiate, he has got
to be an innovator. He has got to be
someone who is going to be active in a
wide variety of areas. I have some ideas
on directions we should be going now.
were student organizations. But I do
think that we need to take a more active
role in this office to make sure that there
are adequate facilities for men's and
women's recreation programs.
A third area would be to do more with
the various relationships of this offic
with the schools and colleges. We made
some inroads with this in the last year
and a half. This would be one area where
I don't think we've done enough. In many
ways our office should have as much con-
tact with the deans, the assistant deans,
the associate deans as the other v i e e
presidents have. I have had some contact
but we need to do much more.
Q: In terms of what the policy board
does, it's been said that the policy board
might come to a decision and at times
if it's a controversial one that you might
go to the executive officers or the Re-
gents, and emphasize that it's your policy
board's position rather than taking a per-
sonal position yourself. Has this happened?
KNAUSS: I can conceive of it happen-
ing but in fact it has not happened. I
have told the policy board and I have
told- the executive officers and the Re-
gents that I would feel free to speak out
on policy issues if my position were dif-
ferent from that of the policy board. On
things that have gone to the Regents,
there has not been that difference. There
have been some areas wihin the policy
board where I have made a recommenda-
tion and the policy board has disagreed
But I have with maybe only one or
two exceptions strongly supported all of
the things that have actually gone to the
executive officers and the Regents.
Q: Do you think the Regents h a v e
either the knowledge or the concern to
come in once a month and discuss these
policies that you have spent a long time
on and then say "we're not going to agree
KNAUSS: I think that at that level it's
also a job of education. The Regents have
to be informed of what's going on. If you
look over the past year-and-a-half, theil
have been relatively few items from our
office that demand any regental action.
The principal things that have gone to
the Regents over the last year and a half
have been the discrimination policy, which
the Regents felt should be a University
wide policy and not on just within this
office, and the new program1 on legal aid.
Housing issues have to go if it takes
bonding issues for new housing because
the Regents are the only ones who can
authorize that major kind of contract rela-
Q: Have there been any programs or
projects that you have wanted to initiate
that have been approved by the policy
board that have not gone into effect ei-
ther because of the actions of the execu-
tive officers or the Regents?
KNAUSS: No. The things that we have
not been able to do that we would have
liked to do have been primarily budget
problems rather than policy disagree-
ments with the exception of the anti-dis-
crimination recruiting policy.
Q: How have your relationships been
with President Fleming. Do you view your
position among the executive officers as
being that of a student advocate?
KNAUSS: I view my position in the
executive officers as two-fold. One, to
alert the other executive officers and
President Fleming on any issues that's
being discussed of student concerns with-
in that issue.
I also saw my role as just a general
advisor to the president. In many in-
stances I would express what I saw as
faculty concerns with an issue or per-
sonal concerns in the issues.
The discussion at the executive officers
Vice President Knauss at a Regents meeting
Waiting out the VP transition
BETWEEN the time Vice President for
Student Services Robert Knauss leaves
to become dean of Vanderbilt University
Law School and the time his replacement
is neatly installed at OSS, there will in-
variably be a period of some confusion.
However, given the smoothness of OSS's
present operation, it seems possible to
minimize this confusion, and the probable
arrangement of Knauss staying on as vice
president until someone new is appointed
is the best way to do this.
Knauss' term was preceded by literally
years of uncertainty as an 'interim' vice
president appointed by President Robben
Fleming served a full two years while a
search committee found candidates to
fill the post and the Regents' bylaws con-
cerning OSS were painfully revised.
The chances of that long an interim
period occurring again are small. The
present search committee is now narrow-
ing its list of possibilities; and members
have expressed hopes that several can-
didates' names can be submitted to Flem-
ing by the end of February.
It is to be assumed that once the
search committee has submitted the list,
Fleming will make an almost immediate
choice, avoiding the problems that were
engendered last time; when one of the
search committee's candidates was elim-
inated and the other four, after waiting
in vain for Fleming's decision, withdrew
one by one.
NOW THAT the interim period has prob-
ably been reduced to a little over a
month, it seems useless to appoint an in-
terim vice president. At best, such a job
would only be a 'caretaker' position --
certainly it would be hard for someone
to initiate new programs with the pos-
sibility of being replaced at any minute.
At worst, the installment of an interim
vice president could hamper the search
committee. The temporary head of OSS
would probably be a candidate for the
position, and, as Fleming's choice for
interim vice president, that person would
tend to be judged of a, special level by
the ,search committee.
It has also been suggested that with
an interim vice president, the search
committee would not feel the great need
to complete its work fast.
On the other hand, with Knauss re-
taining the vice presidency working from
Vanderbilt with frequent trips north, the
work he began can continue until his
successor is found.
Knauss leaves behind several able as-
sistants who are quite capable of handl-
ing the administrative tasks in his ab-
sence - more important, he leaves be-
organizations, students groups, m o r e
directly providing services. We have
started the Trotter House and improved
the kinds of services coming out of this
office for black students and other minor-
I think the kinds of program assistance
to women in the last year and one-half
have improved substantially. There is a
whole new atmosphere in the International
Center with the students there on the
Foreign Student Board and the various
nationality clubs taking a very active role
in the operation of that office, and t h e
office in turn providing much better serv-
ices to the student organizations.
I think that other things have happen-
ed. I think that we have had changes
in the relationship with some of the other
branches of counseling. When I came
in we were doing some under-the-table
problem pregnancy counseling. This is
now a more regular part of the office, part
of the Health Service, part of the regular
Last year we received a government
grant to become part of a drug coalition
working with the dormitories, people in
counseling, Health Service and commun-
ity groups. In the new program on sexual-
ity, we have two of the student program
assistants working with homosexual
groups. These are some of the things we
Q: Did the impetus to reorganize the
office come from you or from the policy
KNAUSS: I ;uess it came from both. I
had talked about it very early as some-
thing I thought was needed in the office.
The reorganization as it developed took
two forms. One was kind of reorganizing
what people were in which offices, b u t
another part of it was trying to decide
function, which is something really sep-
arate from reorganization.
Q: Is there anything that was done that
you think should have been done differ-
ently or better?
KNAUSS: I think yes. In hindsight
there were a variety of areas in which
we took a lot of time. I think last spring
that many of the people in the office
were spending too much time internally
worrying about our organizations, worry-
ing about our personnel relationships,
things of this nature, and not enough
We've got some very tough decisions
to make in the next couple of months as
to priorities. And we have established
within the office a system to evaluate
current programs. We're in the same
budget crunch that everyone else is in.
And so now when we talk about doing new
things we have to cut out something
we're already doing.
Q: You are the first administrator that
has really worked with a policy board
composed of students. Do -you think it has
been effective and would you recommend
it for other offices?
KNAUSS: I wouldn't recommend it
across the board. I think the offices vary
a great deal. I think in this office where
you are concerned with student services
that the primary and principal respon-
sibility for determining what services
are needed should be in the hands of the
students that are being served. The fa-
culty have an interest in this also be-
cause much of what goes on in this of-
fice is involved in academic matters.
But when you move over, for example,
to the plant department or in academic
affairs, then I'm not sure that a policy
board as such would be anaeffective way.
For example, in academic affairs so much
of the decision-making there is really
made in the schools and colleges.
There are some negative things about
policy boards. I mentioned one of them
-they are time-consuming. A second one
is that we are now going through a phase
where we are getting new students and
faculty members coming in on the pol-
icy board. I can see that over a period
of time it's somewhat frustrating to go
through the whole educational process
-Initially, there was some concern with
what the policy board should be involved
with - how much they should be involved
in day-to-day administration of the of-
fice. This is something where people will
differ. I believe currently the policy board
views its role as being involved in over-
all policy decisions, over-all priority de-
cisions, over-all budget decisions, but not
in the day-to-day administration. Per-
sonally, I think this is a better way of
Q: As part of the administration do
you feel there has been any open or
behind the scenes pressure put on von
One, we have to make better use of our
housing system. We have to expand the
meetings are very free flowing. President
Fleming appreciates questions, appre-