Rutgers University. Board of Governors Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure Records
Scope and Content Note
The Academic Freedom Cases records, spanning from 1952-1958, comprise a series of the papers of the Board of Governors, and consist of one half-manuscript box containing 2 volumes of documents from the files of John O. Bigelow, chairman of the Board of Governors' Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The Committee was to create new University statutes on academic freedom and tenure following the replacement of the Board of Trustees by the Board of Governors in September 1956 as the new governing body of the University.
The first volume, Academic Freedom and Tenure, includes documentation on the background of the Heimlich and Finley cases, censure of Rutgers by the AAUP, and the eventual lifting of that censure in April 1958. It also contains progress of the Board of Governors' Special Committee, including drafts of statute revisions and minutes of the Board of Governors, review of the drafts, and the adoption of the amended articles. Also included is the April 15, 1957, Report on Dismissals and Academic Freedom of the Special Faculty Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure appointed by the University Senate, which called for concrete, specific causes for dismissal, and argued that university professors should not be held to a higher standard in their private lives than average members of society, particularly when academic ability it not affected.
The second volume of the series is entitled Special Committee of the Board of Governors on Academic Freedom and Tenure Concerning the Resignation of Associate Professor of Law Abraham Glasser in 1953. Documentation includes background on the Glasser case; correspondence from the Academic Freedom Committee of the AALS indicating criticisms of the University's handling of the case with the understanding that these points must be revised to avoid censure; and the AALS censure of Rutgers. Also included are drafts and the final report of the Special Committee (consisting of Board members Bigelow, Federal Judge Philip Forman, and Mrs. Ruth W. Hickman), formed to respond to Glasser's new 1956 charges against the University. This report indicated that the committee considered Glasser not to have been a faculty member since his 1953 resignation, and he, therefore, would not be granted a new hearing. This volume also includes the law faculty's criticism of this decision, the lifting of censure by the AAUP, and the Statement of the Board of Governors regarding Glasser. This statement covers background of the case, Glasser's new demands in 1956 that his suspension from the faculty was of no legal effect, and the University's justifications for its actions.
Language of Materials
The records of the academic freedom cases at Rutgers University, spanning from 1952 to 1958, comprise a series of the documents of the Rutgers University Board of Governors. They consist of one half-manuscript box containing two volumes of documents from the files of John O. Bigelow, chairman of the Board of Governors' Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The Committee was to create new University statutes on academic freedom and tenure following the replacement of the Board of Trustees by the Board of Governors in September 1956 as the new governing body of the University.
The records of the collection are those compiled by John O. Bigelow, chairman of the Rutgers University Board of Governors' Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, and contain correspondence and documents relating to the case of Abraham Glasser, Associate Professor of Law at Rutgers, who resigned in 1953, and to the cases of Moses I. Finely, Assistant Professor of History and Simon W. Heimlich, Associate Professor of Physics and Mathematics, who were dismissed from their positions in 1952 by the then governing body of the University, the Board of Trustees. All three left the University as a result of invoking the fifth amendment before Congressional Subcommittees in refusal to answer questions as to their possible Communist affiliations. Bigelow was a member of the Board of Governors, the governing body which replaced the Board of Trustees in 1956.
On October 1, 1956, a month after the new body was put into effect, the Board of Governors declared University statutes, resolutions, and other provisions relating to academic freedom in effect prior to September 1, 1956, to be inoperative. The Board of Governors subsequently appointed a Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which was given the task of developing new policies and procedures. The Board of Governors also invited the faculty to share in this task. On May 17, 1956, the University Senate had unanimously passed a motion by Dean Lehan K. Tunks of the Law School that the Executive Committee of the Senate should set up a mechanism to formulate a new statement on academic freedom and tenure.
The rewriting of University statutes was in large part a result of the impending and eventual censure of Rutgers University by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). The AAUP took issue with the policy of the December 12, 1952, resolution of the Board of Trustees, which called for the automatic dismissal of any faculty member who invoked the fifth amendment to refusal to answer questions of a duly appointed investigatory body in relation to Communist Party membership or affiliation. The Trustees had cited this behavior as harmful to intellectual and academic freedom and to the image of the University. The AALS took issue with the policy as well, and also argued that Glasser had been denied a fair hearing by Rutgers, and that academic due process in his case had been violated. Although the Board of Governors eventually amended the University statutes on academic freedom and tenure, in effect discarding the automatic dismissal policy, and recognized that the hearing of Glasser at Rutgers did not satisfy the standards of the AALS 1954 Statement on Academic Freedom and Tenure, the body denied Glasser a rehearing, as it felt that it should avoid passing judgment on its predecessor, the Board of Trustees. At the request of Rutgers University President Lewis Webster Jones, Board of Governor member Tracy S. Voorhees prepared a statement of the Board of Governors on the Glasser case outlining its progression, Glasser's new demands, and justifying the actions of the University.
Documents of the Board of Governors' Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure are contained in two volumes. No adjustments were made to the arrangement and all materials were retained. For the researcher's convenience, the container list below was derived from the tables of contents that preface both volumes, with some elaboration and clarification.
- Inventory to the Records of the Rutgers University Board of Governors Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, 1952-1958 RG 02/C1
- Edited Full Draft
- Arda Agulian
- December 1994
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written in English.
- 1999-09-23: File created
- March 23, 2004: bigelow converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
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