Office of the President (Lewis Webster Jones). Group II, Academic Freedom Cases Records
Scope and Content Note
The records of the Academic Freedom series of the Lewis Webster Jones Papers consists of 4 manuscript boxes which span from 1942-1958. The earliest records document the professional histories of Heimlich, Finley, and Glasser, and the latest documents concern the Board of Governors dealing with censure by the AAUP and AALS. The bulk of the material is from 1952- 1953, documenting the procedures of the University in evaluation of the cases and dismissal or resignation of the professors. The papers of the series are arranged into two subseries.
Records documenting University procedures and findings in the cases are included in the University Documents subseries (1952-1957). At the time the University had no existing mechanism to deal with the question of possible Communist affiliation of its staff or administration and the validity of invoking the fifth amendment in refusal to answer questions of this nature; Consequently, a number of Committees were appointed by President Jones to serve in an advisory capacity to himself and the Board of Trustees, after which the Trustees made the final decision of whether to dismiss. The University was under severe pressure from both the government and private citizens to take action, and in doing so it became something of a model for other colleges and universities facing the same dilemma. Documentation on the investigations of the University Committees and decisions of President Jones and the Board of Trustees include Jones' statements of September 26, 1952 and October 14, 1952 announcing creation of the university committees, and his January 1953 Statement on Academic Freedom and Civic Responsibility, reports of the Trustees-Alumni-Faculty Committee of Review, the Special Faculty Committee of Review, and the Faculty Committee of Review of the Law School, and the December 12, 1952 resolution of the Board of Trustees announcing automatic dismissal for using the fifth amendment in refusal to answer questions on Communist affiliation. Documentation on the University's censure by AAUP and AALS includes a report of a Special Committee of the AAUP regarding the effects of Congressional investigations upon academic freedom and tenure, a letter from Henry. R. Brandis, Jr., Chairman of the 1956 Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the AALS, enclosed with it the Committee's Annual report regarding its review of the Glasser case, a resolution of the AALS requesting a rehearing of the case as Rutgers, and correspondence from the AAUP and AALS regarding censure.
The Subject Files subseries (1942, 1946-1958) documents public and private sentiment towards the cases and includes materials on Heimlich, Finley, and Glasser's professional histories and the roots of Communist allegations against them. Documentation includes communications both pro and anti dismissal from private citizens, Rutgers alumni, past and present students of the professors, and then Governor of New Jersey Alfred E. Driscoll; photostatic materials of Heimlich and Finley including their resumes and transcripts of testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security; in the case of Finley, confidential correspondence to Dean Herbert P. Woodward of the College of Arts and Sciences in Newark refuting accusations of Communist activity; the dismissal of alleged Communist Myron L. Hoch, part-time professor of Economics at Rutgers; and a letter to the Harvard Crimson by Professors Sutherland and Chaffee. Also included are newspaper clippings of the cases, consisting largely of editorials condemning the Professors; included with the clippings is a release of the University Office of Public Relations analyzing newspaper editorials on the Heimlich-Finley cases.
1.6 Cubic Feet (4 manuscript boxes)
Language of Materials
The records of the Academic Freedom series created in the Office of Rutgers president Lewis Webster Jones consists of four manuscript boxes of documents that span from 1942-1958. The earliest records document the professional histories of Professors Heimlich, Finley, and Glasser, and the latest documents concern the Board of Governors dealing with censure by the AAUP and AALS. The bulk of the material is from 1952-1953, documenting the procedures of the University in evaluation of the cases and dismissal or resignation of the professors. The records are arranged into two series.
Historical Background to the Academic Freedom Cases at Rutgers University
Academic Freedom Cases series of the records of Rutgers University President Lewis Webster Jones (1952-1956) documents the cases at Rutgers emanating from the search of Congressional The Committees for subversives in academia, meaning those who were members of or sympathetic to the Communist Party, during the McCarthy Era of the early 1950s. Three professors at Rutgers were dismissed or forced to resign after invoking the fifth amendment in refusing to answer questions concerning their possible Communist Party membership or affiliation. The faculty members were Simon W. Heimlich, Associate Professor of Physics and Mathematics, College of Pharmacy in Newark, and Moses I. Finley, Assistant Professor of History, Newark College of Arts and Sciences, both of whom were called to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Internal Security (also known as the McCarran Committee), and Abraham Glasser, Associate Professor of Law, Rutgers School of Law in Newark, who was called to testify before the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities (also known as the Velde Committee and HUAC ). The records of the series span from 1942-1958, with the pre-1950s materials relating to the professors' professional histories and the roots of the Congressional Subcommittees allegations against them. Reasons for Heimlich, Finley, and Glasser's refusals to testify included fear of perjury conviction, an unwillingness to incriminate others, and opposition to what they believed was a grave invasion of privacy.
At the time, Rutgers lacked a clear mechanism, as did colleges and universities nationwide, for handling a case of this nature, and President Jones and the University as a whole were under a great deal of pressure, particularly in the conservative climate of the times, to prevent any Communist infiltration of academia, whether real or supposed. The procedure was carried out through a number of Committees of Review, and ultimately through decisions of the Board of Trustees, the governing body of the University at the time. On September 26, 1952, following Heimlich and Finley's appearances before the Senate Subcommittee, Jones announced that he would appoint a Trustee-Faculty-Alumni Committee to review these two cases and advise him on further action. Tracy S. Voorhees, one of the Trustees, was appointed chairman. At this time Jones stated his belief that we cannot "allow academic freedom to be used as a cloak for incompetence; nor can we tolerate conspirators who claim its protection in order to destroy freedom." After reviewing the cases, the Committee presented a report to President Jones stating that the refusal of Heimlich and Finley to answer certain questions before the Senate Subcommittee raises "a real question as to their fitness to continue as teachers on the University faculty", and recommended review of the cases by a Special Faculty Committee. The University's Committee on Committees then met and recommended membership of a Faculty Committee, which would act as an advisory body to the Trustees. Dr. Bennett M. Rich, Associate Professor of Political Science, was named as chairman.
On December 3, 1952, the Special Faculty Committee issued a report stating there should be no charges against Heimlich or Finley and that the University should take no further action in the matter. However, the Trustees, who had final say in the matter, issued a resolution on December 12, 1952, stating "it shall be cause for immediate dismissal of any member of faculty or staff" who invokes the fifth amendment before an investigatory body in refusing to answer questions relating to Communist affiliation, and that Professors Heimlich and Finley would be dismissed as of December of 31, 1952 unless they conformed to this new policy. Neither chose to do so. There was protest to this decision by members of the faculty, who formed an Emergency Committee on the matter.
On March 19, 1953, Glasser was suspended by Jones following his appearance before HUAC, and the following month the case was referred to the Faculty Committee of Review of the Law School of Rutgers for "hearing, consideration, and recommendation to the Board of Trustees", as stated by President Jones, April 29, 1953. This Committee later issued a report , in response to questions which had been specifically asked by Jones, finding that Glasser had violated the policy of Board of Trustees in regard to use of the fifth amendment, and that no unusual circumstances mitigated this violation. Several weeks later Glasser submitted his resignation, which the Trustees accepted.
All three Professors believed, and the Special Faculty Committee of Review argued in its report, that they had been exercising a constitutional right, that their fitness as teachers had not been impaired in any way, and that they were currently being denied legal due process by the University. These beliefs were in marked contrast to Jones' view on the matter (which also embodied the view of the Trustees) in his January 1953 statement on "Academic Freedom and Civic Responsibility," which was issued in pamphlet form and was widely requested by administrators of colleges and universities from around the nation, who were struggling to create statements of their own on academic freedom. Jones argued that it was not the legal right to invoke the fifth which was in dispute, but the moral implications of using it, which reflects badly on the professors' obligations as teachers and as representatives of the University. He continued that the nature of the Communist Party is antithetical to academic freedom.
In accordance with the climate of the times, many agreed with Jones' view, often surpassing it in extremity, and exerted strong pressure for dismissal. These included the governor of New Jersey at the time, Alfred E. Driscoll, the media, which printed countless editorials condemning the professors in question, and the public, particularly alumni of the University.
As a consequence of the its policies, Rutgers University was censured by both the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in 1956, and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in 1958. The censures were prompted by the University's policy of automatic dismissal, and failure to observe standards of academic due process. University policies on academic freedom and tenure were revised under the Board of Governors, a new governing body of Rutgers which went into effect September 1, 1956, following a statutory reorganization of the university, after which the AAUP censure was lifted. The AALS requested a rehearing for Glasser, which the Board of Governors denied, stating that although they did not necessarily agree with the decisions of the Board of Trustees, neither did they wish to judge them.
Biographical / Historical
Chronology of Events
- June-October 1941
- Abraham Glasser investigated by his employer, the Department of Justice, on charges of Communism and espionage.
- October 24, 1941
- Justice Department absolves Glasser of specific charges of Communism and espionage, but determined that he had been negligent in the manner in which he treated contents of official files of the Department. His resignation is required. He is permitted to accept a position with the O.P.A.
- Office of Price Administration is denied its request to the Department of Justice to have Glasser designated as Special Assistant to the Attorney General for purposes of O.P.A. litigation
- Glasser is denied reemployment with the Department of Justice.
- March 28, 1952
- Moses I. Finley, assistant professor of history at the College of Arts and Sciences in Newark, called before Senate Subcommittee. He declared that he was not presently a member of the Communist Party, but declined to say whether he ever had been a member.
- September 24, 1952
- Simon W. Heimlich, associate professor of physics and mathematics at the College of Pharmacy, declined to answer whether he had ever been a member of the Communist Party.
- September 26, 1952
- Statement by Dr. Lewis Webster Jones, President of the University, announcing his intention to appoint Trustee-Faculty committee to review the case of Heimlich. Statement included Professor Heimlich's statement to Dr. Jones.
- September 27, 1952
- Jones announced the inquiry will include a review of the case of Finley.
- September 30, 1952
- Appointment of Trustee-Faculty-Alumni Committee to review the Heimlich-Finley cases. Tracy S. Voorhees was named chairman.
- October 14, 1952
- Trustee-Faculty-Alumni Committee in a report to President Jones stated that refusal of Heimlich and Finley to answer questions of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee raises "a real question as to their fitness to continue as teachers on the University faculty." Committee recommended review according to University statutes by a Faculty Committee.
- October 15, 1952
- University's Committee on Committees met and recommended membership of Faculty Committee.
- October 16, 1952
- Jones announced membership of Faculty Committee to review Heimlich-Finley cases. Dr. Bennett M. Rich, associate professor of political science, named chairman.
- December 3, 1952
- Special Advisory Faculty Committee reported to President its findings that "no charges should be preferred against Heimlich or Finley. It therefore recommends to the President that no further action be taken." Referred to Trustee Committee for study.
- December 12, 1952
- Board of Trustees resolution declared the policy that "it shall be cause for immediate dismissal of any member of faculty or staff" to refuse to answer any questions relating to Communist affiliation by a duly constituted investigatory body on the grounds of the Fifth Amendment. Directed dismissal of Heimlich and Finley as of December 31, 1952, unless prior to that time they evidence unwillingness to conform to the policy.
- January 7, 1952
- Letter to the editor of the Harvard Crimson from Harvard Law School professors Zechariah Chafee, Jr. and Arthur E. Sutherland stating that it is not only a legal requirement, but also a principle of good citizenship, for an individual called before a court or legislative committee to answer questions frankly and honestly. The constitutional privilege to keep silent is a rare exception to this obligation.
- January 19, 1953
- Statement from Emergency Committee of Rutgers Faculty to the Board of Trustees on their resolution of December 12, 1952 requesting reconsideration of the cases and that Heimlich and Finley be provisionally reinstated.
- March 18, 1953
- Abraham Glasser, Associate Professor of Law, Rutgers University School of Law in Newark, invoked the fifth amendment during his hearing before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in refusal to answer whether he was a member of the Communist Party during the period when his status was being adjudicated by the Department of Justice.
- March 19, 1953
- President Lewis WebsterJones suspended Glasser with full pay.
- April 29, 1953
- Jones referred the case to the Faculty Committee of Review of the Law School of Rutgers for "hearing, consideration, and recommendation to the Board of Trustees.
- August 26, 1953
- Report of the Faculty Committee of Review finds that Glasser violated the fixed policy of the Board of Trustees concerning use of the fifth amendment and that there are no unusual circumstances which mitigated this finding.
- September 12, 1953
- Glasser resigned and resignation accepted by the Board of Governors.
- November 18, 1955
- Association of American Law Schools Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure issues report on Glasser, disapproving of Trustees' resolution of December 12, 1952 and recommending that Rutgers give Glasser a rehearing.
- January 27, 1956
- Jones takes November 18, 1955 request before the Board of Governors. They refuse a rehearing.
- April 7, 1956
- At the annual meeting of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Rutgers University censured by the Association.
- March 28, 1957
- Board of Governors again refuses to reopen Glasser case after conducting an investigation by its Special Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure.
- May 28, 1957
- Censure of Rutgers University by AALS.
- April 25, 1958
- AAUP censure is rescinded following Board of Governors' revision of University statutes regarding academic freedom.
Documents of the Academic Freedom Cases series are divided into two series:
- I. University Documents
- II. Subject Files
In the first subseries, for the researcher's convenience, in addition to official procedural documentation of the cases, materials closely related to a specific incident, such as correspondence in reaction to it, are included .
Records in the series arrived in folders, nearly all of which were labelled. All of the documents were refoldered and all original suitable labels were retained. Though original folder groupings of materials were retained, a number of folders were rearranged to present the chronology of the cases.
There were numerous duplicate copies of many university documents, for each of which one duplicate was retained and the rest discarded. All other materials were retained.
- Inventory to the Records of the Rutgers University Office of the President (Lewis Webster Jones) Group II: Academic Freedom Cases, 1942-1958 RG 04/A15/02
- Edited Full Draft
- Arda Aguilan
- December, 1994
- Language of description note
- Finding aid is written in English
- 7-29-98: File created.
- June 3, 2004: Jones2 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
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