Light on the Hill, Volume II

Miller, Russell

1986

AN EVEN MORE COMPREHENSIVE and long-range study than that of Johnson's was almost immediately authorized, and included the

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services of many consultants. Among the outside consultants was Harold Taylor, a former president of Sarah Lawrence College who had raised considerable controversy over his so-called "advanced" ideas about education. The results of his investigation, embodied in the Taylor Report, caused no end of discussion in both the Crane and St. Lawrence theological schools. Both the Taylor and the Johnson Report provided for three religious educational centers, one on the East Coast. The St. Lawrence and Crane schools were to be combined on the Tufts campus as part of an enlarged religious center, and would include collaboration with the interdenominational divinity school at Harvard. This plan met with Hersey's complete approval, for it meant that the Universalist heritage and identity would not be lost. If consolidation of the St. Lawrence school with the one at Tufts were not possible for any reason, they should both be closed.

Taylor had waxed eloquent over the possibilities of his plan. If and when the Crane and St. Lawrence schools were consolidated, it would mean not only a strengthened theological school offering the BD for Unitarian Universalist ministers-to-be, but would comprise "a major center of Unitarian Universalism for the East Coast." He envisioned a full-time faculty of about six, with a maximum student body of about seventy-five. Many faculty could hold joint appointments at Tufts, with great possibilities for using the facilities of the entire university, including especially those in drama and the arts to enrich "the present sterility of the Unitarian Universalist curriculum."

An alternative, involving the Harvard Divinity School and favored by Dana M. Greeley, president of the UUA, was the possibility of a religious center adjacent to the divinity school which would also house the merged Crane and St. Lawrence schools as well as a center for scholarly research. Not everyone was enthusiastic about the possibility that Harvard might become the eastern center for Unitarian Universalist ministerial education. One minister was alarmed at the proposal. He informed Wessell that, as between the two schools, only Crane could provide adequate training for the work-a-day parish ministry. Harvard was too devoted to scholarship per se to pay much attention to the most urgent denominational need - preparation of ministers for community service.

The case for locating the center at Tufts was contained in "A Brief Summary of Tufts University as a Possible Location for Merged Theological Schools or as a Unitarian-Universalist Educational Center," prepared early in 1964 as a basis for discussion. Wessell was

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quick to point out that if either alternative came to pass, the ultimate control would rest with the Tufts trustees. The sober fact was also noted that the full cost of the center would be at least $750,000 annually. What would be the source(s) of funds?

When the contents of the Taylor Report had been made public in 1962 neither the Crane faculty nor the dean was especially happy over his findings. Taylor had determined after a brief personal visitation that tests and examinations at Crane were "continual, and sometimes punitive." Old-fashioned pedagogical techniques such as the lecture method were employed excessively and contradicted the traditional Unitarian Universalist emphasis on individualism, open discussion, and freedom of expression. Students were treated too paternalistically and not as adults. Taylor could not, on the other hand, have accused the students and alumni of excessive theological conservatism. In 1962 fourteen signed a "Liberal Manifesto," written by Ira Blalock, Jr., and Robert W. Gardiner, stating their values and beliefs. Only nine of the signatories were full-time students and hence the manifesto was far from representing the consensus of the entire student body.

Taylor had other criticisms to offer. He failed to find sufficient interaction between the theological students at Crane and the rest of the academic community, and no meaningful connection between the Crane curricula and the rest of the university.

There was so much dissatisfaction with Taylor's negative comments regarding the denominational theological schools that a meeting was arranged between the deans or their representatives and Taylor in 1963. Hersey, who served as secretary, was much upset and charged, in a letter to Wessell, that Taylor was unduly biased; that his report was not only grossly inaccurate but presented almost a caricature of Crane.

The majority of the Crane students supported the recommendations of the Johnson and Taylor Reports which were also endorsed by a special committee of the Crane Alumni Association. The criticisms of the school were of much less import to them than the question of its future. As to the directorship of the proposed eastern center, Max Kapp, Dean of the St. Lawrence theological school, ruled both Hersey and himself out of consideration. Neither had "the stature which is expected" and Hersey did not contradict or challenge his judgment.

As the result of a meeting on the Tufts campus in the spring of 1964, a UUA Implementation Committee was created to recommend plans to the next annual meeting. Provost Mead served as the Tufts representative on the committee. It investigated comparative costs

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for one, two, or three schools. The only consensus at first seemed to be that the denomination could in no way support four. The proposals that were adopted made no one satisfied, particularly at Crane. The school was to "consider seriously" the transfer of its assets and location to another theological school and, if approved by the appropriate officials, the transfer was to be under way by September 1964.

 
 
Footnotes:

[] The two reports were published in two parts but under one cover, entitled A Plan of Education for the Unitarian Universalist Ministry.

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  • 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
 Dedication
 Foreword
 Preface
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
 Epilogue