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November 19, 1975 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1975-11-19

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ROBBEN FLEMING:

ei d Dyga aily
Eighty-Six Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Wednesday, November 19, 1975

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan
: " VALL HAC OT7 WI; T' -ut AS FR
W, G0S t *P 6CR 1NG VICE PFe ,Dc1/ v

The
By BILL TURQUE
jN HIGH SCHOOL, Robben
Fleming ran the 100-yard dash
in ten seconds flat. It turned
out to be propitious training for
a man who has managed to out-
distance some very impassioned
opposition in his eight years as
University president.
Fleming has flatly asserted
that he will leave the presidency
within the next two years, and
there are more than a few who
will enthusiastically welcome his
departure. Reviled at time by
both the left and the right, he
has weathered the rage of the
anti-war movement, and the
Black Action Movement (BAM)
and GEO strikes with a recep-
tive but stiff-backed cool, yield-
ing to some demands but stand-
ing fast on others.
Cloistered in his second floor
office in the Administration
Building, Fleming remains a
mystery to most students. He
will emerge for an occasional
speech, a coffee hour, or his
monthly Regents meetings.
Much of his remaining time is
spent out of town, shaking im-
portant hands and attempting
to raise funds.
BORN 58 YEARS AGO in
Paw Paw, Illinois, Fleming's
father died when he was a
sophomore in high school, leav-
ing his school-teacher mother
to raise him through an austere
mid-Depression adolescence. He
was an all-around athlete, and
a good enough first baseman to
be offered a minor league con-
tract by the Chicago White Sox,
which he forsook to attend Be-
loit College, and eventually Uni-
versity of Wisconsin Law School.
After stints in Washington be-
fore and after World War II,
including posts as mediator for
the National War Labor Board
and executive director of the
National Wage Stabilization
Board, he returned to the aca-
demic world where he became
Chancellor of the University of
Wisconsin at Madison in 1964.
He succeeded Harlan Hatcher
as University president in Janu-
ary, 1968.
Describing himself as "a clas-
sical liberal," Fleming appears
to find it ironically amusing
that as the years go by many
see him as decidedly right of
center politically. Heseems to
beaman of moderation, cor-
mitted to laws and institutions,
and to the caution with which
they should be changed.
IT WAS 4:00, and the end of
an uneventful day for Fleming.
His morning was spent in con-
ference with Chief Financial Of-
ficer Wilbur Pierpont discussing
the University's deteriorating
fiscal status. After trying to
make financial aid arrange-
ments with a student with un-
usual money problems, he had
lunch with some faculty of the
Residential College. The bulk of
his afternoon was spent on the
since resolved House Officers
and Interns dispute at Univer-
sity Hospital, and talking with
an official from a government
agency about a job applicant
who had used his name as a
reference. By that time, there

orce
to people those kinds of de-
cisions. That's not because I
don't have some ideological
conviction about it, but because
as a practical matter it just
won't work.
Daily: People in GEO have
said the University will fight in
court to kill the union on the
grounds that it is only a stu-
dent group.
Fleming: If there's any truth
in that I don't know it. There
is a legitimate legal question
there. Federal labor boards
have ruled that people in this
category are students rather
than employes, and state
boards have said they are both,
and they have taken jurisdic-
tion over state institutions. So
there is a legal conflict there,
of whether federal law preempts
state law when there is a con-
flict. Though I have no infor-
mation which leads me to be-
lieve that we are preparing any-
thing in that connection, I'd be
foolish to say that there will
never by any consideration of
it.
Daily: You seem to have
caught hell from both ends of
the political spectrum during
your career here, and yet you've
been able to survive some of the
stormiest years in our history.
How have you been able to pre-
vail where other university pres-
idents have folded?
Fleming: I don't get very ex-
cited because people criticize,
or because there are tumultuous
issues going on, because given
my past history, I've seen that
all my life. I long ago learned
that people feel compelled to
say things they don't really
mean, and that you shouldn't
take it personally.
Daily: What about when Spiro
Agnew called the university's ac-
ceptance of the BAM demands
'a callow retreat from reality?'
Fleming: That didn't bother
me in the slightest. In fact, I
got a call right after that from
a man I can't name who knew
the Vice-President very well,
and who knew me. He said it
was too bad it happened, and
asked me if I would be willing
to meet with the Vice-President
in order to straighten it out. I
said I would be glad to meet
with him, but that I wouldn't
hold my breath,because, in my
view, it was a purely political
statement on his part. At the
time he was catering to the con-
servative interests. He didn't
care, all he wanted to do was
capitalize on it for his own pur-
poses, and I never heard a word
from him.
Daily: While we're talking
about BAM, why hasn't the com-
mitment to a ten per cent black
enrollment been met?
Fleming: While we were will-
ing to administer admissions in
a somewhat different way for
minorities, there had to be what
we called a threshold qualifica-
tion. It doesn't make any sense
to be administering a high ad-
mission standard to all students,

school. But you don't get it in
LSA. I think it could happen,
but how soon is another ques-
tion. I'm sure as you build more
and more minorities into the col-
lege graduate structure their
children will come on more
strongly...
Daily: You're talking about
generations...
Fleming: We've talked about
additional steps, and a lot of
our people think that for us to
do that, we need to recruit heav-
ily out of state. But that's hard
for us to do, because the cost
is significantly more.
Daily: You told a House sub-
committee last winter you
thought that the procedures and
paperwork for compliance with
the federal affirmative action
guidelines has gotten out of
hand. Has anything changed
over the last year?

I might have as much as a year
before I went into the army.
Law firms weren't really inter-
ested in taking people who were
going to be drafted. And so in-
stead one of my professors
helped me get into one of the
government agencies. I ended
up working for the War Labor
Board.
Daily: Do you have any de-
sire to return to Washington?
I've heard it said that you
could become Secretary of La-.
bor with a phone call.
Fleming: It's not something I
certainly hanker for. I've been
approached by other adminis-
trations which shall remain
nameless. But you know the
way these things work. The ad-
ministration will not procede
without checking with both
management and labor people.

behind the calm

people with a total lack of re-
spect. I suppose that I have a
streak of stubbornness in me
which would say to me at those
times "I will not let this beat
me." I might get thrown out,
but that's alright. I never cared
whether I remained as a univer-
sity president or not.
Daily: You never really
cared?
Fleming: I was a very happy
professor of law, and I still look
upon those years as the hap-
piest of my life. Don't misun-
derstand me, I'm not saying
that I'm unhappy, but I believe
I could be perfectly happy in
any one of several roles. If you
get asked to be an administra-
tor, I guess you say to your-
self, "Well, somebody has to do
this. If my colleagues think
that I have abilities in that

d

Ruling signals awareness

THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT has
gained a substantial victory
with the Supreme Court's ruling that
states may not refuse unemployment
benefits to women during their last
three month of pregnancy and the
six weeks following delivery simply
because the states presume that all
such women are unable to work.
The Court wisely noted what many
women have known for years. "It
cannot be doubted that a substantial
number of women are fully capable
of working well into their last trimes-
ter of pregnancy and of resuming
employment shortly after childbirth,"
It stated.
It is impossible to hand down an
iron-clad rule on how long pregnant
women can work. The court asked
that individual means be found to
determine whether or not a woman
is able to work and thus eligible for
unemployment benefits should she be
out of a job.
THE COURT'S DECISION came in
the case of Utah woman Mary
Ann Turner, who contested the Utah
employment law in state courts, only
TODAY'S-STAFF:
News: Gordon Atcheson, Lois Josimo-
vich, Anne Marie Lipinski, Jim
Nicoll, Cheryl Pilate, Tim Schick,
Stephen Selbst.
Editorial Page: Michael Beckman, Paul
Haskins, Jon Pansius.
Arts Page: Jeff Sorensen.
Photo Technician: Scott Ecckler.

to be told by the Utah Supreme
Court that what she should do is
work for the repeal of the biological
law of nature. That would seem a
trite and insensitive order. Even
more facetiously, the court added
that if Turner "prevail upon the
Great Creator to so order things, she
would be guilty of violating the equal
protection of the law unless she saw
to it that men could also share in the
thrill and glory of motherhood."
The Court has no right to classify
motherhood as a "thrill and glory"
for all women, so overwhelming as to
eliminate the need for outside stim-
ulation and financial support. Wom-
en are now asking to share in the
"thrill and glory" of both mother-
hood and the career world.
More and more women are rais-
ing children by themselves without a
man to share the burden. It is essen-
tial that ,these single women be rul-
ed eligible for unemployment benefits
should they need them. The old as-
sumption that motherhood is an all-
encompassing experience requiring
long periods of time away from work
is fading fast as more and more wo-
men enjoy the last months of their
pregnancy as active, working mem-
bers of society.
JN FACT, TURNER'S lawyer, Kath-
leen Peatis, of the American Civil
Liberties Union, pronounced her own
delight with the ruling. She had a
special reason to be pleased and said,
"I'm pregnant myself."

Daily Photo by KEN FINK

Fleming: Yes, a good deal
has changed. One of the things
HEW did that most of us thought
was wrong was that they be-
came entranced with numbers.
So they came up with something
called the Berkley plan, which
was an extraordinary set of
numbersanalyses. It was criti-
cized sharply by women and
minority groups on the grounds
that it didn't produce anything.
Daily: So how has it changed?
Fleming: They have backed
away from the whole Berkley
thing and have agreed on a
much simpler kind of analysis
far less costly. They've had
hearings this fall, as you know,
and out of those hearings they've
not yet come up with what is
presumably their next step.
Daily: Some people involved
in the affirmative action pro-
gram here feel that the Labor
Department hearings may be
the beginning of a move by the
federal government to hedge on
enforcement of the guidelines.
Fleming: The hearings repre-
sent an interest in changing the
policy. I don't think you can
call it hedging since the policy
they were trying to administer
never worked anyway. It's much
too earlyrto tell what the
changes are going to be.
Daily: Do you think the af-
firmative action program here
has been a success?
Fleming: It's hard to know
how you define success. If you
just look at numbers, it is very
easy to conclude that it is not
working very well. If you look
at both the supply and the num-
bers, it looks a little better, be-
cause you then realize the lim-
ited pool that there is in a
good many kinds of cases.
Daily: What about all the
grumbling over Title IX? What
effect do you think it will have
on intercollegiate athletics?
Fleming: I don't believe that
Title IX is a disaster. There
are some difficult problems in
administering it. I'm a strong
supported of college sports,
though sometimes I think it gets
overdone.
Daily: Do you think the foot-
ball program here is overdone?
Fleming: I think-it's not over-
done if you compare it with the
league in which it is expected
to compete, the NCAA. But I
would support significant cut-
backs in athletic expenditures
if the rules would be applied
to everybody. I think too much
is spent.

So it isn't long before they
check with somebody I know.
No, I decided very early in my
career in Washington that I
didn't want to work for a gov-
ernment agency because I
thought they were just giant bu-
reaucracies in so many ways.
Daily: As the highest-paid
public official in the state of
Michigan, do you think you are
overpaid?
Fleming: I think you can only
judge that on what presidents
of similar universities are paid.
I'm paid far less than the presi-
dents of the prestigious private
schools. I agreed to come here
and was offered x amount of
dollars. I assume they knew
what they were doing at the
time in terms of competition
from other schools. I was si-
multaneously being offered the
presidency of theUniversityrof
Minnesota, so that was prob-
ably a factor.
Daily: Why did you choose
Michigan?
Fleming: I thought that Mich-
igan was much more the type of
university I understood. It is
primarily a residential school,
while Minnesota was basically
a commuter school. I never
liked big cities very well, and I
knew that Michigan was the
more prestigious school.
Daily: Do you find yourself
becoming more conservative as
you get older ?
Fleming: I'm not so sure
that's really as true as is the
fact that I view myself as a
classical liberal, and I don't
mind it when people say that
about me. The liberal image
among some people is a bad
image. They say "Well, liberals
don't really believe in any-
thing, that they always find
some accommodation with the
system, and you never really
progress that way." That might
be true in that you don't make*
enormous breakthroughs. Well,
show me where some of our
highly activist friends who see
themselves as revolutionaries
have made any progress?
Daily: Looking back over the
anti-war movement, do you
think it helped to end the war
any sooner?
Fleming: Yes I do. I think it
had an enormous impact on the
country at large, and the
thought at the time. I still think
that the violence and destruc-
tion turned off more people than
it turned on. But I think the
widespread attitude of the futil-
ity and the plain wrongness of

area, maybe I have some obli-
gation."

Daily: You've
president should
than ten years.

said that no
serve longer

Fleming: Yes, that's true.
Daily: Would you consider
any other university presiden-
cy?
Fleming: No, my wife and I
thought that one out thoroughly
when California came along last
year. There were some person-
al reasons why California was
so attractive. But the more we
looked the more we realized
that those were the wrong rea-
sons. They were personal, and
had nothing to do with educa-
tion or the institution. But now
I think we've firmly made the
decision that we're not going
elsewhere as 'president.
Daily: Would you want to go
back to teaching?
Fleming: Yes, that's a possi-
bility. I am a professor of law
here. I wonder whether it's
good for one's successor to have
the ex-president around. That
cquld be something I'd have to
think about.
Daily: What is the university
president of the rest of the sev-
enties and the eighties going
to be like?
Fleming: I think it's going to
require a president with some
real experience or knowledge of
how to cope with very difficult
budget problems. If you look
at the economic and demo-
graphic factors, universities are
in for a hard time until the end
of the century. But I hope that
the budget will never complete-
ly dominate what you do at the
university. I do want to see
somebody who is basically an
educator, and who will always
believe that some new and dif-
ferent things should be done
even in hard times.
Daily: In your inaugural
speech in 1968, you expressed
the hope that Michigan gradu-
ates would become compassion-
ate people. Looking back over
the last 20 years, do you think
our generation has shown any
more compassion than others?
Fleming: I think it has in
some ways. The trouble with
us all is that we behave so in-
consistently about things. We
can be terribly compassionate
within selected areas and ter-
ribly unconcerned in other
areas and not see any inconsis-
t2nv. The question is almost

Letters t0 the Daily

To The Daily:
ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT, GEO will be-
gin a 10-day referendum vote on whether
to continue to investigate affiliation with
AFSCME, to continue to investgate affilia-
tion with AFT, or to discontinue the affila-
tion investigation. Discussions have cen-
tered on such questions as whether afflia-
tion warrants the extra dues involved, the
fate of our local autonomy, and what bene-
fits GEO will receive in return. We feel
that after weighing the pros and cons of
these issues that it is in the long and the
short range interest of GEO to affiliate
with the American Federation of Teach-
ers.
We successfully negotiated our first con-
tract after a long, cold, 4-week strike.
However, we are facing further negotia-
tions every year. Affiliation with a na-
tional union will provide us with a strong-
er position at the bargaining table as we
will be backed by resources which include
expertise in bargaining techniques and
law, money, and people. The AFT could
provide us with valuable expertise on is-
sues pertaining to working conditions as

tive bargaining. This past summer the
AFT lobbied against teacher strike legis-
lation which would have affected all K-12
teachers as well as everyone in our bar-
gaining unit.
We also feel that there are a number
of specific benefits to be derived from
affiliation with AFT. These include:
9 Compatability of interest. The AFT
already represents 2 other GSA unions,
Wisconsin and Pittsburgh. It represents
45,000 members in higher education, 1,240
in Michigan.
0 Local Autonomy - local autonomy is
guaranteed to all AFT locals. There are
absolutely no provisions for trusteeship.
Further, disaffiliation is totally the deci-
sion of the local. They have offered to
further guarantee these issues by putting
them in a contract with us.
* COST BENEFITS. The AFT dues are
lower than AFSCME's - $4.20 per month
compared to $5.40 to $6.40 for AFSCME.
They will pay all our legal and court
costs, which in the past have been con-
siderable.
After a careful examination we feel that

was a stack of phone messages
to be returned.
Daily: Over the last eight
years, what kinds of issues have
you felt you could never com-
promise on?
Fleming: In the field of col-
lective bargaining, I think there
is something called a manage-
ment function that adheres in
any organization. Somebody has
to make the decisions. In a
place like the university where
you have all these conflicting
interests, there isn't anything

Daily Photo by PAULINE LUBENS
and to admit a group with such
lower standards and force them
to compete with all others. So
that brings upthe next question
of whether we're discriminating
the other way. We decided to
state perfectly frankly that we
were.
Daily: But more than two
years after the commitment was
to be met, black enrollment is
still only around seven per cent.
Fleming: We have always
been able to get enough appli-
cants to meet that goal, but

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