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October 07, 1954 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1954-10-07

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tcher 1Vlakes Report to

'Senate onDismissls

(Continued from Page 4)
were these or related questions or
to talk candidly about yourself
and your alleged activities in
the Communist Party before me,
and the Special Senate Commit-
tee to advise the President, on
your own personal decision that
the answers are none of our
Unexcusable Conduct
This conduct is unexcusable in
a member of our profession who
seeks at the same time the pro-
tection of and continued mem-
bership in the University whose
policies he disdains and whose
responsibilities he ignores.
Your conduct to date is clear-
ly inimical to the mission and
trust reposed in this University,
and indicates your unfitness to
continue in the position you
In view of the evidence avail-
able to me, and of the unani-
mous recommendation of the
Special Committee to advise the
President, I regret to state that
it will be my duty to recommend
to the Regents your immediate
dismissal from the staff of the
Before I present my recom-
mendation to the Regents of the
University for final action By-
law 5.10 (5), I call your atten-
tion to your privilege under the
Regents' Bylaws to have your
case reviewed by the Senate Ad-
visory Committee, and the op-
portunity which this right af-
fords you to present any miti-
gating considerations w h i c h
may, so far, have been withheld.
Under the provisions of this By-
law you have five days from this
date within which to file your
request for a hearing. The
Chairman of this Senate Sub-
committee is Professor Angus
Davis Asks Review
Mr. Davis then asked the Sub-
;ommittee on Intellectual Freedom
~ and Integrity for a review of his
ease. His performance before this
oumittee was the same as that
Sfbore the others. He maintained
1an an inquiry into communist
activity was an inquiry into his
political beliefs and he would not
discuss them with this committee
This Committee unanimously
recommended his dismissal The
Chairman of the Senate Advisory
Committee on University Affairs
has already informed you of the
reason why you have not received
a copy of this' report because of
the objection of Dr. Davis to its
circulation. I regret that ft is not
available to you. I have no wish to
withhold it. I am sure that a care-
ful study of this Davis report as
made by the Subcommittee on In-
tellectual Freedom and Integrity
might be of some help to you in
understanding and evaluating the
report on Dr. Nickerson, which
you do have, even though you do
not have the voluminous evidence
upon which the two reports were
Regents Take Action
The President concurred in this
recomendation, and, after their
own full study of the documents,
theRegents took action to dismiss
Drk Davis. In this one case, there
was no dissent from complete
unanimity of decision by all res-
ponsible bodies.
The case of Dr. Nickerson took
on quite different contours. In
many respects it was a most dif-
ficult case, and one upon which

we have spent many hours of
study, council and prayer. Dr.I
Nickerson had not revealed to the
University prior to or after his
joining our Faculty of Medicine
any of his many considerable ac-
tivities in the Communist Party
extending over a period of years.{
The questions asked by the Con-
gressional Committee indicated
something of the alleged scope and"
period of an intimate involvement
in the Communist Party. Most of
these questions he refused to ans-
wer on the grounds of the Fifth
Amendment with the advice of
counsel, leading to the presump-
tion that he was using the amend-
ment legally and that there were
in truth facts in his case which, if
disclosed, would tend to connect
him with a crime..
Meeting with Nickerson
On May 24, 1954, and again on
June 3, 1954, the Executive Com-
mittee of the Medical School met
for extensive discussions with Dr.
Nickerson about his associations
with the Communist Party and his
relationship to the Medical School.
The Executive Committee of the
Medical School, after weighing
the case from their own close
k n o w l e d g e and responsibility,
unanimously recommended his dis-
missal, and this recommendation
was communicated to me by let-
ter signed by the Dean of the Me-
dical School for the Executive
Committee under date of June 11.
On June 14 the Special Advis-
ory Committee to the President
held two lengthy hearings with Dr.
Nickerson. Following the hearings
they studied the testimony and
discussed the problems which it
raised. The Committee was par-
ticularly concerned as to what
consideration to give to the unan-
imous recommendation of the Exe-
cutive Committee of the Medical
School. Since the recommendation
of the corresponding committee of
the College of Literature, Science,
and the Arts in regard to Dr. Mar-
kert was to be noticed, at least, it
was hard to disregard completely
the action of the Medical School.
I believethat the prevailing view
was, however, to disregard it as
far as possible, and this Special
Committee incorporated in its re-
port to the President the specific
statement that "The Executive
Committee of the Medical School
did not make any recommendation
to the Special Advisory Committee
as to whether Dr. Nickerson
should be retained or dismissed."
Committee Divided

ture of the problem. The case rests
heavily upon the truth, candori
and completeness of Dr. Nicker-s
son's testimony, and upon whe-
ther he did in truth and in goodi
faith withdraw from the Com-!
munist Party, or whether he has3
continued in the new order ands
pattern of activity which the Com-
munist Party adopted and has
carried on since 1948.
1 Opinions Differo
Whether or not he did satisfac-
torily demonstrate his withdrawal
from the Communist Party and its
activities is a matter upon which
fair-minded persons may, and
clearly do, differ. The Chairman
of his Department and the Dean
and Executive Committee of his
School, persons who may be pre-
sumed to know him better than
any of the others who have dealt
officially with his case, believe
him to be unfit for continued
membership on the Medical School
faculty. The President's Advisory
;ommittee divided on the question,
three recommending severe cen-
sure and two dismissal.
Under the Bylaws, which we
have tried to follow with scrupu-
lous attention to the letter and the
spirit, the President is bound to
assume his heavy and distasteful
responsibility at this point, and
reach a decision.
I believe that I can give you
some indication of the considera-
tions which led to a judgment
without violating any of the con-
fidences or judicial procedures in-
Claims of Withdrawal
Dr. Nickerson's claims of with-
drawal from the Communist Par-
ty are not supported by corrobor-
ative evidence of any sort, and
might, under other circumstances,
be flatly contradicted.
The date which he gave for his
final "drifting away"-1948-co-
incides with the approximate date
when the Communist Party went
"underground" and it became the
party line for members to conceal
their affiliations.
He has not by words or action
indicated any disapproval of the
Communist Party or of its actions,
nor has any action of his been re-
ported which would be inconsist-
ent with continued party member-
His testimony before the com-
mittees reflects approval and ad-
miration for the actions and pro-
gram of the Communist Party.
This approval apparently extends
to the character of individual
members of the party since he says

The "frank and candid" disclos-
ures of his past activities which
appeared to impress the committee
members are all concerning mat-
ters which he knows to be matters
of record in government files. He
has not disclosed any phase of his
activity which was not already a
matter of record.
Vague on Withdrawal
His vagueness concerning the
circumstances of his withdrawal
from the party is an example of
his unwillingness to disclose mat-
ters which he surmises may be un-
known to his questioners.
His disclaimers of knowledge of
the Communist Party today and
of its relation to Russia and his
statements that he has made no
attempt to determine the facts
about the party do not ring true
in the light of his long association
with the party, his continuing sup-
port of its doctrines and the stu-
dies he must have made in con-
nection with his appearance be-Y
fore the Congressional Committee.
Nor does his vagueness on these
matters seem consistent with his
apparent certainty and knowledge
of such other matters as the cur-
rent situation and Communist po-
sition in France, Czechoslovakia
and other countries.
In short, his testimony may pro-
perly be interpreted as that of a
man who has decided in advance
exactly what he is going to be in-
formed on and what he is not.
Agrees with Party
Dr. Nickerson's present affirma-
tion of agreement with the Com-
munist Party and its aims is a
proper subject of consideration, in
the light of his long and active
work as a party member and be-
cause of its bearing upon the ques-
tion of whether he has in fact
severed his allegiance to the party
or merely "gone underground."
Standing alone, the question of
political and economic ideologies
would not be matters of grave con-
cern to the University. But as evi-
dence bearing upon the determin-
ation of the fact of severance or
non-severance of Communist af-
filiation they may be made the
proper subject of inquiry without
invading the sacred precincts of
freedom of thought. It is not
thoughts but the definite fact of
adherence or non-adherence to
the present Communist organiza-
tion which is the subject of in-
The burden of refuting the in-
escapable inferences flowing from
his admitted former membership
and present refuge in the Fifth
Amendment must necessarily rest
upon Dr. Nickerson.
Relationship Continues
There is a reasonable presump-
tion that a relationship such as he
had with the Communist Party
and its activities continues in the
absence of a clear showing of its
Pursuant to these, and other
considerations, I wrote to Dr. Nick-
erson under date of July 27 as fol-
"Dear Dr. Nickerson:
"Since the hearings at Lansing
before the House Committee on
Un-American Activities on May
10, 1954, you have appeared be-
fore the Dean and the Execu-
tive Committee of the Medicala
School, and before the Special
Advisory Committee to the Pre--n
sident. Your answers to their
questions leave grave doubts asr
to your fitness to hold your pre-o
sent position of responsibilityv
and trust, and have raised in mya

mind and in the minds of the I
University committees seriousr
concern about your integrity asI
a member of the teaching pro-r
fession. While the Special Ad-I
visory Committee is closely di-c
vided and a majority recom-r
mends a strong censure rather
than dismissal, the Dean andI
Medical School Executive Com-
mittee unanimously recommendt
dismissal. f
"You have refused to answerI
pertinent questions put to youc
by a duly constituted legal body
concerning your activities and
affiliations with the Commun-
ist Party on the grounds that
the answers might tend to in-,
criminate you. Although you de-
ny that you would overthrow
the government of this country
by force, you have vigorously
asserted before the committees
of your colleagues that you want
it clearly understood that you
hold the same views and beliefs
now which you held while you
were an active member and an
officer in the Communist Party;
and that, although you are not
now an active Communist, you
drifted away from your activi-
ties only because you did not
have enough time to devote to
them, and not because you were
in disagreement with the alms,
policies, and methods of the
Communists. Under these cir-
cumstances it becomes difficult
to accept your disavowal of the
illegal and destructive aims of
the Communist Party.
Serious Disqualifications
"These serious disqualifica-
tions which bring your case be-
fore me under the provision of
Bylaw 5.101 becomeeven more
weighty when joined with the
formal recommendationhmade
to me by the Dean and the Exe-
cutive Committee of the Medi-
cal School (copy attached) that
you be dismissed because your
continued membership in the
Medical faculty would be harm-
ful to the School and may in-
jure the reputation of the Uni-
versity as a whole. This recom-
mendation places your case also
under the general provisions of
Bylaw 5.10.
"In view of all of the evidence
available to me I regret to state
that it is my present intention
and my duty to recommend to
the Board of Regents your im-
mediate dismissal from the staff
of the University. Before I pre-
sent my recommendation to the
Regents for final action [5.10
(5) ] I call your attention to your
privilege under the Bylaw to
have your case reviewed by the
Senate Advisory Committee, and
the opportunity this right af-
fords you to present any miti-
gating considerations w h i c h
may, so far, have been withheld.
Five Days To File
"Under the provision of this
Bylaw, you have five daysfrom
this date within which to file
your request for such a further
hearing. The Chairman of the
Senate subcommittee is Profes-
sor Angus Campbell."
Dr. Nickerson asked the Sub-
.ommittee on Intellectual Freedom
and Integrity to review his case as
provided by the Bylaw. This Com-
mittee worked promptly and dili-
gently. It had available to it the
recorded testimony, the transcript
of the hearings of the Special Ad-
visory Committee to the President,
and it held its own hearings with

Dr. Nickerson. The Committee did facts, about his *past affiliation

not at any time confer with the
President. Following this proced-
ure, the Committee made its re-t
port, a copy of which has been cir-t
culated to the Senate, in which it
makes its recommendation that,c
although it found Dr. Nickerson to
posstss "more than one man's
share of human faults and frail-1
ties," to be "an arrogant man"
and "perhaps arso a foolish man,"
he should be censured but not dis-
Disagreeable Duty
Again it was my disagreeable'
duty to review the totality of this
case and to transmit all data con-
cerning it to the Regents. I read
hopefully through the testimony
taken by the Subcommittee on In-
tellectual Freedom and Integrity,
seeking to find some new evidence
that might controvert that already
presented. Not only- was it not
there to be found, but instead there
appeared repeated reinforcements
of previous evidence upon which
the original recommendation had
been framed.
Upon the basis of the evidence
before me and of the conflicting
and apparently irreconcilable po-
siitons taken by the Medical
School and by the two advisory
committees, the President felt com-
pelled to concur in the recommen-
dation of the Medical School that
Dr. Nickerson should be discon-
tinued as a member of that fa-
In transmitting to the Regents
the complete data, as required by
the Bylaws, I wrote: "After study-
ing the record of further hearing
by the Subcommittee on Intellect-
ual Freedom and Integrity, I fail
to find anything in the testimony
to alter the conclusions stated in
my letter of July 27, 1954, to Dr.
Nickerson and my memorandum to
the Subcommittee. I submit the
complete record for your study and
consideration in preparation for
the Regents' decision in this case."
Regents Study Case
The Regents studied this case
earnestly prior to their meeting in
August. They discussed it fully at
their meeting. They felt the same
regret that the President felt in
not finding grounds for accepting
the advice of the Subcommittee.
They did not differ on the question
of the general principles of intel-
lectual freedom as stated by the
Subcommittee, but on the reading
and the interpretation of the evi-
dence and the testimony.
Their action was to sever Dr.
Nickeirson's connection with the
University, with one Regent dis-
The case of Dr. Markert was in
some fundamental respects differ-
ent from the two preceding cases.
After going over-the story and the
evidence again and again, I still
find myself wondering just why
the Congressional Committee call-
ed him into public session, and ev-
en more, why he refused to res-
pond to their questions in the spir-
it of a free and honorable man, as
he seems to have responded be-
fore our University groups.
Verifiable Facts
The questions asked him by the
Congressional Committee were
clearly based upon the verifiable

with the Communist Party, hisC
youthful adventure in the Spanishc
Civil War, and his work with thec
Communist Party, chiefly in Cal-F
ifornia. Although he was not un-c
der oath while testifying beforee
the Special Advisory Committee to
the President, he swore to the
truth of his statements, and all1
Who heard him were impressed bys
his apparent candor.t
It seems clear that he was scar-X
red by adverse experiences -in hisc
youth duing the deep depression,r
that he dramatized himself in hisi
role as liberat<r in Spain, that he
knew very little about the Com-c
munist Party when he adopted thel
label to identify a group withx
which he worked in Colorado, andf
that he was then and now remainsI
an undisciplined mind outside of
his own field who scorns all au-
thority. His involvement in thef
Communist conspiracy was actual-I
ly tenuous, ana even the investiga-]
tor who was responsible for issu-I
ing the subpoena said that to the
best of his knowledge and belief1
Dr. aMrkert did withdraw from the]
.ommunist Party and had notI
been in any way nikntified wi*i it
incc- he broke away from it in the1
late 1940's.7
Markert Drifts
"On the impor~ant 'question as
to why Dr. Markert drifted away;
from the party,' I quote from the:
Special Advisory Committee to the
President, "he mentioned the lack
of democracy in the Party, the
grove ning dogmatism and lack cf
t:ee thinking in the higher le id+;r-
*nip, the growing emotional- ti to
P.usgia, the tendency to dicave
ideas, and the unwillingness to rc-
mit any heresy.
"The most smous ,chag
against Dr. Markert," the report
continues, "arises out of his fail-
ure to testify before the Clardy
Committee, thus bringing embar-
rassment to the University - of a
quite needless sort in view of the
nature of the testimony he could
have given."
He was found to be an arrogant
and opinionated man, naive out-
side of his field of speciality, who
holds ideas repugnant to the over-
whelming majority of his col-
Right to Unpopular Views
All of us support firmly the con-
viction that a man has a right to
hold unorthodox or unpopular
views. This fundamental right has
never been at issue in these cases
at any point, including the consid-
erations by the Regents of the
On recomendation of the Exe-
cutive Committee of his College,
on recomendation of a four-to-one

majority of the Special Advisory
Committee to the President, on my
own judgement, and with the con-
currence of the Regents, with one
Regent dissenting, I wrote a letter
of censure to Dr. Markert and lift-
ed the suspension.
My friends and colleagues, this
is, in brief, the story of this un-
happy and most burdensome epi-
sode which has been unavoidably
thrust upon us in the midst of
pressing constructive work which
demands the attention of all of us.
These cases are problems in areas
where division of opinion is sharp
and often heated and where any
decision would displease many peo-
ple for whom we have the highest
respect. I myself have been ably
abused from all sides, well in ad-
vance of any judgment I might
find it necessary to render.
Like the several faculty commit-
tees, I have earnestly tried to do
my duty and to discharge my grave
responsibilities honestly, fairly and
resolutely. The Regents have most
scrupulously followed to the letter
their commitments under their By-
laws. Under much provocation they
have refrained from comment and
from judgment until the facts ob-
tained from the full play of the
procedures were in and before
them. They have recognized that
the various groups have given their
advice to the best of their know-
ledge and belief. They have neces-
sarily accepted final responsibility
for their decisions which they
reached only after judicial consid-
eration of all the evidence and-is-
sues involved, and in accordance
with what they believe to ,be fair
and just, and in the best interest
of the University.
Procedure Reveals Weakness
Our procedures, in my opinion,'
revealed in practice some weak-
ness which I hope will receive the
further study of the Senate. And I
hope also that this searing experi-
ence through which we have now
passed may add at least another
step to our understanding of the
full dimensions and difficulty of
the problem which confronts us
from the campus at Agin Arbor to
the global struggle with which we
are wrestling. And I hope also that
our understanding may be enlarg-
ed to the point where our national
policy is so clear and firm that all
the facts in these cases can be gen-
erally known and dealt with wise-
Of one thing T am sure. No-
boiy s freedom has been invaded
or abridged at the University of
Michigan, and the proper way to
keep it sturdy and productive is to
exercise it responsibly in keeping
with our high and honorable tra-



This Special Committee was di- that a prerequisite for a proposed
vided in its view. Three members member of the party was "that
felt that "Dr. Nickerson's refusalis integrity was beyond question."
to testify before the House Com- If "integrity" is a necessary quali-
mittee on Un-American Activities fication for membership in the
is subject to censure and that Communist Party the term must
there exists grounds which war- have a meaning in Communist cir-
rant a severe reprimand but which cles unknown to those outside.
stop short of warranting his dis- Nickerson Noncommittal
missal." Two members of this com- Dr. Nickerson did say that he
mittee concluded that Dr. Nick- would not rejoin the party if it is
erson "had failed in his moral as bad "as the newspapers say it
responsibilities to the University, is," but he made the reservation
that he has not shown proper that he had no reason to believe
loyalty to the University, that he that it is in fact a subversive or
continues to be a Communist in disloyal organization.
spirit, and that he has acted so as By taking advantage of the Fifth
to bring discredit on the Univer- Amendment in the Congressional
sity. We conclude that he lacks Committee hearings he necessarily
the integrity and the fitness to took the legal ground that truth-
continue as a member of the fa- Iul answers to the committee's
culty of the University of Michi- 4Luestivns would expose him to the
gan and recommend his immediate hazard of a successful criminal
dismissal from the University." prosecation. This stand is incen-
You will see here, without my sistent with his subsequent asser-
pressing into the manifold details tions that he has never done any-
of the evidence, the difficult na- thing illegal.




Lewis G. Chrisimran and

Jos. E.


Republican legislators, voted twice against
the Fair Employment Practices Code bill.
Are the beneficiaries of such a law second"
class citizensL?



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