Light on the Hill, Volume II

Miller, Russell


ACTING PRESIDENT LEONARD MEAD reminded the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1966 that in two years a decade would have elapsed since the Tufts-Carnegie Self-Study had been completed. The suggestion had been made in 1964 that the self-study be updated, but the decision was made then that too short a time had elapsed and that money was unavailable to finance it. But by 1966 it was time, he said, to reexamine the aims and ambitions of the institution and the relationships of its constituent parts. An eleven-person steering committee was created in the spring of 1967 to organize a self-study that would coincide with the end of one presidential administration and the beginning of another. Ashley Campbell, Dean of the College of Engineering, was appointed chairman, and was directed to report in the spring of 1968. (It was originally called the "Committee on the Coherence of the University.")

Although many projects recommended in 1958 had remained unrealized in the intervening decade, much had happened in the interval. Some of it had not been foreseen, such as the closing of the Crane Theological School in the very year that the committee made its report. Expansion of Jackson student enrollment and the increase of graduate students recommended in 1958 and approved by the trustees had been significantly exceeded by the end of the decade. There had been 582 Jackson students enrolled during the 1957-58 academic year; ten years later there were 1,015, slightly more than the 1,000 that had by then been authorized. A year later it was almost 1,100. Enrollment in the graduate school had jumped sharply between 1958 and 1968. The enrollment had been 157 the former year, with only 39 students full-time. A decade later there were 804 registered, the great majority of whom were full-time. The modest figure of 300 recommended in 1958 had ballooned as authorizations for increased enrollments had been periodically voted by the trustees at the behest of the administration.


All of the new or expanded PhD programs that had been recommended in the late 1950s and early 1960s had come into existence. In 1958 sixty-eight advanced academic degrees (sixty-five Master's and three PhD's, exclusive of professional degrees) had been awarded. The number had skyrocketed to 235 Master's degrees and 27 PhD's a decade later. Total university enrollment had increased from 4,161 in 1958, when the Tufts-Carnegie Self-Study had been completed, to 5,188 in the fall of 1968.

The only casualty in graduate offerings during the decade had been the interdisciplinary Humanistic Studies program. It had been funded for a three-year period by the Ford Foundation, but when the money had run out the program suffered a slow and painful death, in spite of the efforts of a few faculty members to keep it alive. There was a comparable increase in the number of full-time faculty. Although the number of academic departments in the constituent colleges of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences increased by only one (from thirty-one to thirty-two, with the reinstitution of a General Engineering program in the College of Engineering), the number of full-time teaching personnel increased from 135 to 220. During the same ten-year interval the traditional contact-hour teaching load continued to drop slowly but steadily. It had hovered between twelve and fifteen hours per week when Wessell had become president in 1953, had been reduced by 1958 to an average of between ten and twelve hours (the equivalent of three or four courses and/or sections or laboratories a semester), and to an average of about two and one-half courses per semester in 1968. The reduction in teaching loads had not come about as the result of any formal legislation, but by individual negotiations with the various deans. Much of the time thus released was devoted to intensified research efforts on the part of much of the faculty or the supervision of graduate theses as more and more was being heard about "publish or perish - or languish." An attempt was made to equalize academic efforts as between teaching and research by requiring that those faculty not actively involved in research would carry heavier teaching loads than their more publication-minded colleagues. Tufts in 1968 was far from becoming a preponderantly research-oriented institution.

Between the time that the all-university planning committee had been created and had made a preliminary report to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in May 1968, Hallowell had become president. He was as deeply committed as Wessell had been to long-range planning, and had announced in the fall of 1967 that an immediate priority was to form a "Committee on the Future of the University," to consider


such needs as buildings, personnel, and finance in relation to educational purposes.

In May 1968, after an extended series of debates over the academic calendar and undergraduate education prompted by the report of the planning committee, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, prodded by the president, voted to establish an ad hoc Faculty Long-Range Planning Committee. Its purpose was "to make a searching investigation into the present educational arrangement of the College of Liberal Arts, Jackson College, and the College of Engineering." When school resumed that fall, the traditional annual black-tie dinner for the faculty tendered by the trustees was cancelled so that the latter could confer with the newly constituted committee. The annual dinners were never resumed, thus ending a custom that had existed for some twenty years.

The seventeen-person committee (ten faculty and seven administrators) and its six subcommittees labored mightily and produced an elaborate report in March 1969 bearing the rather cryptic title "Tufts in Medford." (The committee was never officially discharged after making its report.) It was distributed to the entire faculty and consisted of sixty-two pages of text and many more pages of supporting documents and minority proposals. One, a "Report from a Committee of One," prepared by Sylvan Barnet of the English Department, consisted of twenty-four pages, with its own appendixes and recommendations.

Like its predecessor a decade earlier, the report included a section of recommendations on improvements in the physical plant yet to be accomplished. Topping the list were "a community union," a new theater, a new building for the Department of Psychology to replace overcrowded North Hall, and a large lecture room that would seat at least 500.

The body of the report dealt with three interrelated subjects, divided into Curriculum and Calendar, Faculty and Administration, and the Tufts Community - its Facilities and Environment. Of the three, curriculum and calendar received the most faculty attention. No action at all was taken on the majority of the recommendations in the other areas. Several were never even brought to the faculty or referred to appropriate committees for consideration.

On balance, a large amount of effort had produced disappointingly meager results. According to Hallowell, "the only truly innovative recommendation therein was the proposal to switch to a quarter system." Of the eighteen recommendations made by the committee, over half dealt with curricular matters. One of the


difficulties in determining the actual number of significant actions taken was the ambiguous and over-cautious wording of most of the recommendations. The faculty was asked merely to "consider" or to "contemplate" many of them without any further expectation of action. Some that were considered were summarily rejected without very thorough investigation. Many potential actions were blocked, stalled, or otherwise defeated or delayed by a badly divided faculty. To make matters worse, the committee itself was far from unanimous in making many of its own recommendations.

Instead of calling for a rethinking or restructuring of the curriculum the committee called only for slight modifications in the direction of increased liberalization. The committee reaffirmed such traditional educational devices as the major, with related fields, and foundation and distribution requirements. The areas of coverage remained unchanged. However, the number of options and alternatives was increased to such an extent that both students and faculty were confused by a bewildering breadth of choice. The result led one irritated faculty member to refer to the curriculum as an "academic cafeteria." Some action was taken to "enliven" the freshman year (a major recommendation of the committee) with so-called "foundation seminars" scattered among sections in the Department of English, the Experimental College, and any individual departments which saw fit to establish their own. The recommendation that all faculty become involved in the academic advising of freshmen fell by the wayside.

One of the most important recommendations of the Faculty Long-Range Planning Committee was the creation of a unified faculty based on a three-way divisional arrangement (arts and humanities, social sciences, and pure and applied science). An important step in centralizing and unifying administration had already been taken in the spring of 1968 by President Hallowell with the creation of the position of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The intent was "to focus in the hands of one person, under the Provost, all faculty, student, and educational matters relating to the Arts and Sciences Faculty." The first incumbent in the new position was Julian K. Knipp, Professor of Physics.

It was thought that an even further restructuring would encourage improved communication among the constituent faculties of Arts and Sciences and would reduce duplicated, overlapping, and frequently uncoordinated procedures built into a system introduced in 1902 and becoming less and less appropriate for carrying out effectively the functions of a modern university. As the committee pointed out, it had "now become clear that the Tufts faculty as a


whole, not the constituent groups, should be responsible for evolving patterns of education for the entire university, ultimately, we hope, involving the Fletcher School and the Dental and Medical Schools." A strengthened faculty would be able not only to consider broad curricular reforms and innovations involving interdepartmental and interdisciplinary programs but would be better able to deal with "long-range planning, physical resources, and budgeting." The committee recommended that divisional committees representing all three of the undergraduate colleges be created, topped by a faculty executive committee (with divisional representation also) which would serve, in effect, as a faculty senate "to be responsible for a continuing academic master plan for both undergraduates and graduates, and . . . establish priorities for academic programs and their financing." The committee went so far as to prevail upon a faculty colleague to draw up a set of model bylaws for a unified faculty which was included in an appendix to the report. The closest response to this recommendation was the creation of a subcommittee on Budget and Priorities within the Educational Policies Committee. The original recommendation to create a unified faculty was never acted on in 1969 but came up again three years later. The committee recommendations that individual plans of study and "General Studies" programs be encouraged fared somewhat better in the next few years than did the proposals for faculty reorganization. The trustees concluded that no action on the report on their part was necessary and that it was for their information only. However, they did prepare a short list of recommendations which included encouragement to individual study and faculty initiative in considering the academic calendar and in providing greater educational flexibility.

President Hallowell appointed a parallel student Long-Range Planning Committee in 1968, shortly after he created the faculty committee. The twelve undergraduates comprising it insisted that they could express opinions only as individuals and were "in no way representative of the collective community." Like their faculty counterparts they experienced varying amounts of difficulty in agreeing on what to propose. They were given two general charges: to concern themselves with long-range planning for Tufts at large; and to look specifically at undergraduate education. The committee made an incomplete, interim report in August 1968. There is no evidence that a final report, to have been ready by February 1969, was ever formally prepared or distributed. It was to have dealt, among other things, with faculty, finances, and physical plant, none of which were discussed in the interim report. However, there were several meetings


with the corresponding faculty committee as well as numerous informal discussions. Many of the recommendations of the student committee were incorporated in some fashion in the faculty report.

The student committee produced, in compliance with their first mandate, a "model for ... what the University ideally should be, and not what it might be." They exhibited none of the cautious compromise that characterized much of the faculty report. The general assumption throughout the student report was that an entire restructuring of the university rather than piecemeal reform "within the old framework" was an absolute necessity. The specific assumptions were that Tufts, as constituted in 1968 at least, was "undemocratic"; was not truly reflective of or responsible to the needs of either most students or of society at large; and that the controlling philosophy should be "that an individual has the right to develop a system of personal priorities according to which he conducts his activities." Faculty, administration, and trustees should be the servants of the student body rather than the educational policy-makers.

The emphasis of the student report was therefore, unlike that of the faculty, primarily on university governance and how it could be made more responsive to student needs and demands. Policy decisions, according to their report, should be made by an assembly comprising all students and all faculty. It was the task of the administration (and, by implication, the trustees) merely to carry out those decisions and to serve on committees for the primary purpose of voting only to break ties. Operational authority would rest in a series of standing committees and whatever ad hoc committees anyone wanted to create, headed by a coordinating committee. The personnel of all committees would consist of an equal number of faculty and students, with a one-person/one-vote balance. Administrative and other personnel could be included by invitation on special occasions. The bulk of the section of the report on institutional governance revolved around machinery and procedures and included provision for impeachment of administrators as well as regular committee personnel.

When it came to academic structure for undergraduate education, all student recommendations centered around the concept of "a newfound sense of self." A "curriculum of opportunity" was to be provided, with no single course of study prescribed for any student. Each was responsible for planning one's own, and seeking help from faculty advisers was strictly optional. A "course" was redefined as "any topic of study undertaken by students," regardless of size, content, duration, or means of operation. No body was designated to review or approve curriculum. Most of the basic presuppositions of


the "open university" idea were recommended, including in particular peer-taught courses and optional examinations, papers, grades, and evaluation. Year-round operation of the institution was recommended, together with abolition of "official school hours," the substitution of student-expressed interest (or non-interest) for the conventional major, and emphasis throughout on independent study untrammeled by faculty "interference."

It was quite consistent with the philosophy behind the student plan that admissions at Tufts were to be turned over to a joint faculty-student committee, with normal turnover on the committee assuring the admission, over time, of an ever-changing type of student body. All criteria for admissions were to be determined by the admissions committee. Opportunity for reapplication was provided for those not admitted on initial application. It was proposed that it might be advisable for some students, after admission, to delay actual attendance to allow time to develop greater maturity and self-direction in decision-making and commitment. This might involve opportunities to experience for a year or more the "real world" before entering the Groves of Academe. A third set of recommendations from the student committee concerned such improvements in the student environment as more varied and flexible living arrangements, including coeducational and "unisex" residences and dining, all-night library hours, and greater involvement in "community and political interests." A student center was among the improvements listed as indispensable. Instead of required physical education, optional "recreational services" were to be provided.

Although the faculty, administration and trustees were unwilling to achieve the model university with its core philosophy of "participatory democracy" and student-directed education, several of the individual student recommendations did find their way into Tufts procedure and practice. Increasing use of the policy of early admissions, provision for student voting membership on several standing faculty committees, the extension of library hours (to 3:00 A.M.), the construction of a new coeducational dormitory, the expansion of the activities of the Experimental College after a faculty review in 1968 gave it a new lease on life, the provision for an inter-semester "January Thing" (Winter Study Period), and the authorization of the College Within in the spring of 1971, were all in harmony with at least the spirit of some of the recommendations.

Admittedly some innovations were not as thoroughgoing as the undergraduate committee might have wished, but a few steps had been taken. The faculty, however, balked at the recommendation of


a "do-it-yourself" college education. Certainly it could not be said that the faculty, administration, and the trustees were completely unfeeling or unresponsive to student needs, real or imagined. The Tufts trustees had always depended on the president to keep them informed of developments at the institution, and communication had been excellent during the Carmichael and Wessell administrations. Hallowell followed the same policy and kept them abreast of the growing unrest and dissatisfaction which seemed to be manifested by Tufts students as well as by those at most educational institutions in the 1960s. One trustee response attempting to maintain and improve channels of communication was a vote in the winter of 1969 to hold annual non-legislative open meetings on the campus. A planning group was organized for each meeting, consisting of two administrators, two faculty, two students, two alumni, and representatives of the board. One of their responsibilities was to prepare an agenda which would include provision of time for general discussion. The decision to throw the floor open to questions was a calculated risk on the part of the trustees, and many an hour was spent by the planning groups each year as they conscientiously solicited agenda items and tried to anticipate questions that might be asked. A trustee representing the planning group made a detailed report each year to the full board after the meetings were held so that the trustees could be as fully apprised as possible of the temper of the campus. Annual open meetings were held until 1973, when interest and attendance had begun to decline. Instead of abandoning the idea entirely, the trustees tried briefly the experiment of scheduling informal discussions each year in small groups scattered about the campus.

Another device employed by the trustees, beginning in 1970, to improve communication between themselves and the rest of the Tufts community was to invite faculty, alumni, and student representatives, both graduate and undergraduate, to attend the meetings of the (then) five standing committees (Executive, Buildings and Grounds, Educational Policy, Finance, and Resources) as non-voting participants. As first planned there were to be thirty representatives in all, with six for each committee. The number was later reduced by approximately one-half. Only a handful of trustees objected to the inclusion of non-members at their meetings on the ground that their presence inhibited free discussion; but when sensitive issues were on the agenda, the trusteee committees could (and did) meet in executive session.

The primary purpose of the arrangement was to provide input for the trustees. No machinery was ever set up to provide systematic


feedback of the participants to their various constituencies, but the doings of the trustees were made known informally. For the most part the participants exercised the discretion that they were requested to use about divulging sensitive information. The system was considered generally successful and was continued into the 1980s.

  • Light on the Hill, the second volume of the history of Tufts University, was published in 1986, covering the years from 1952 to 1986. This doucument was created from the 1986 edition of Light on the Hill, Volume II.
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 Title Page
1. Setting the Stage for the Second Century
2. Long-Range Planning
3. Bricks and Mortar 1952-1967
4. The End of Theological Education at Tufts
5. Ever-Widening Curricula for Liberal Arts and Engineering
6. Jackson College: A Search for Identity
7. Defining the Role of the College of Special Studies
8. The Arts and Sciences Faculty I
9. The Arts and Sciences Faculty II
10. The Central Library
11. The Changing Character of the Student Body
12. Fraternities and Sororities at Tufts: A Cyclical History
13. A Beehive of Activity: From Trustees to Students
14. From Wessell to Hallowell
15. The Hallowell Administration: Years of Trial and Tribulation
16. The Hallowell Administration: Continued Trial and Tribulation
17. Educational Ventures, Successful and Otherwise
18. The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
19. Medical and Dental Education I
20. Medical and Dental Education II
21. Taking Stock of the University in the 1960s and 1970s
22. The Mayer Administration: A Preliminary View
23. The Mayer Administration: Consolidation and Expansion