Light on the hill: A history of Tufts College, 1852-1952

Miller, Russell



THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT COUSENS on July 2, 1937, came as a shock to all who knew him. As had happened twice before in the history of the College, the demise of its chief executive brought sorrow to many but could not mean a cessation of normal activities. On the very day of Cousens' funeral, both the Executive Committee and the main body of Trustees met in special sessions and requested Professor George S. Miller "to serve, with reference to administration of the College, in the manner and to the same extent as he formerly has served in the absence of the President."[1]  Tufts had always enjoyed the good fortune of having among its ranks at critical periods in the presidential succession a person who could step into vacated shoes and carry on the work of the institution. Professor J. P. Marshall had served in such a capacity following the death of Tufts' first president, Hosea Ballou 2d. Professor W. L. Hooper had served the College most ably after the resignation of President Hamilton in 1912. The selection of Professor Miller in 1937 could scarcely have been wiser, for he had assets not shared by the two individuals just mentioned: His teaching experience was extensive, for he had been on the staff of the pre-medical school and in the Department of History and Government in the school of liberal arts since 1917. He had also acted as assistant to both Presidents Bumpus and Cousens and, since 1920, had been secretary both of the Associated Faculties on the Hill and of the intown schools. As a graduate of Tufts (Class of 1906) he had been exceptionally active in the Alumni Association and had held numerous assignments of responsibility. There was, without question, no one connected with


the institution then who had a more intimate knowledge than he of the details, intricacies, and problems of its administration, or of the personnel associated with it. He had a finger on every movement of the College pulse.

The Trustee nominating committee, chaired by Ira Rich Kent, submitted its recommendations for a permanent successor to the late President Cousens on February 17, 1938. Dr. Leonard Carmichael, a graduate of the Class of 1921, was unanimously elected, to take office on September 1, 1938. If Cousens had been present, he would have not only enthusiastically voted for the new president but expressed great satisfaction that the successor he had himself selected was also the choice of the Trustees. In 1937, at the last Commencement over which he presided, Cousens had told Denys P. Myers, research librarian at the Fletcher School, that he took a special interest in the honorary degrees he had just awarded. Among the recipients had been Dr. Carmichael, a member of the first class over whose graduation Cousens had presided as president. Cousens' enthusiasm for the recipient of the honorary Doctor of


Science degree was so obvious that Myers commented that Cousens seemed to be describing presidential timber. "I believe that is so," was the Tufts president's reply. In a conversation with Trustee Kent in March 1937 relative to the candidates for honorary degrees at Commencement, Cousens had remarked, when Carmichael's name was mentioned, "This is a man I have in mind as my possible successor in the presidency of Tufts College."

The new president of Tufts, who was elected to his post at the age of thirty-nine, had already compiled an impressive record as an undergraduate, as a graduate student, and in the academic profession. He also had a family connection with Tufts that reached back well into the nineteenth century. His maternal grandfather, Rev. Charles H. Leonard, had helped to establish in 1869 what was then known as the divinity school. From 1892 until 1912 Leonard had served as dean of the school, and his residence on the Hill until his death in 1918 made possible a close personal tie with his grandson during the latter's first year at Tufts. Although Carmichael's official field of concentration while an undergraduate had been English, he took considerable work in history and biology and served as an assistant to Professor Herbert V. Neal in the latter department for three of his four undergraduate years. He became interested in psychology and found his professional career in that field. A brilliant student, he was graduate summa cum laude but found the time and energy to be a proctor in Dean Hall, president of Pen, Paint, and Pretzels (the undergraduate dramatic organization), editor of the Tufts Weekly, a member of Tower Cross (the senior honorary society), and Theta Delta Chi, a social fraternity. His academic excellence was recognized by election to Phi Beta Kappa and his selection as representative of the school of liberal arts on the Commencement platform in 1921.

After receiving the Ph.D. in psychology at Harvard in 1924 and a Sheldon Travelling Fellowship from that institution, he returned from Europe to teach briefly at Princeton. Between 1928 and 1936 he served on the faculty of Brown University, where he developed a research laboratory in psychology and sensory physiology. He developed similar facilities at the University of Rochester, where he was chairman of the Department of Psychology, beginning in 1936. He was serving as the dean of the Faculty of Arts and


Sciences at Rochester when he was called to Tufts. He had also published widely in the field of psychology, had worked in several editorial capacities, and held the rank of Professor of Psychology at Tufts after 1939. His training and experience as both scholar and administrator were natural assets for a college presidency. During his busy professional career before 1938 he kept in close touch with Tufts affairs, engaged in an extensive correspondence with President Cousens, and served as class agent as well as historian of the Class of 1921.

The reaction of alumni to the announcement of Carmichael's election was typified by the resolutions of the Tufts Club of New York, presented to the Trustees in the spring of 1938. The Corporation was commended for selecting a man who was "ideally fitted by training, by experience, and by native ability to fulfill the duties of this office with honor and distinction." As he and his wife, Mrs.


Pearl Kidston Carmichael, prepared to move from New York State to Massachusetts, the new Tufts president explained his decision to his colleagues at Rochester. He was especially interested, he wrote, in the "remarkable development in strength" shown by Tufts under Cousens' leadership. "I only hope that I can help to maintain the momentum of this sound growth. In many ways Tufts seems to me to have one of the most attractive futures of any educational institution in this country." Here was both challenge and opportunity.

The wise and prudent interim administration of George S. Miller in 1937-38 made transition to new leadership almost effortless. The services of Miller were not, however, lost to the College, for he continued as assistant to the president and, in 1939, became the first vice-president of the institution. In his first annual report to the Trustees, President Carmichael had recognized Professor Miller's contributions by the simple statement that "no words of appreciation" could exaggerate the importance of Miller's effective service to the College. The Trustees also made their gratitude for Miller's services a matter of record.

Until well after the First World War the College managed to operate with a minimum of administrative personnel. President Cousens, who insisted on handling great quantities of detail himself in his eighteen-year tenure, had been ably assisted by the deans of the various schools and by Professor Miller. For some time Cousens had entertained the idea of establishing the post of dean of men, but decided in the early 1930's to delay its official creation. Informal arrangements seemed to be working out most satisfactorily. Professor Arthur W. Leighton served for many years as adviser to freshmen classes in the engineering school, and Professor Miller functioned admirably as an ad hoc dean of men in the School of Liberal Arts. Cousens had felt that the affairs of the College were not yet sufficiently complex to require such an office. President Carmichael took a somewhat different view and received considerable support from those members of the administration who were in office when he became president in 1938.

It seemed to be evident by the late 1930's that the burden of handling admissions was becoming too large a task for the deans and that there was a noticeable lack of uniformity in selection


policies.[2]  Cousens had admitted, near the end of his administration, that before many years passed a director of admissions, working with a joint faculty-administrative committee, would have to be established. Dean Wren, of the school of liberal arts, had suggested in 1935 the appointment of an assistant dean or vice-dean who would have charge of pre-medical and pre-dental admissions and curricula. Dean Bush of Jackson College added her voice the following year in favor of an admissions officer for that division of the institution.

The decision of Dean Wren in the fall of 1938 to resign became the first occasion for a series of administrative reorganizations that continued through the end of Carmichael's administration in 1952. The first involved a review of the functions of the office of the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. No one could deny that it was too demanding an office to be carried any longer by one man. The day had long since passed - some thirty years before when Wren could serve simultaneously as dean of the School of Liberal Arts, teach a twelve-hour program (with over fifty students), and still find time for a round or so on the College golf course on a sunny afternoon. In 1939 Professor Miller's administrative title was changed from Assistant to the President to Vice-President of the College and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Nils Y. Wessell, who in less than fifteen years would be president of the institution, came from the University of Michigan in 1939 to become Assistant Professor of Psychology, the first dean of men in the school of liberal arts, and the first director of admissions for that school. He had been one of President Carmichael's students at both Brown and the University of Rochester.

The Committee of Visitors to Jackson College, ever mindful of the welfare of the students in that division, immediately requested the Trustees to create the equivalent office of dean of women to be in charge of student personnel matters. This request went unfulfilled, although additional personnel were added from time to time to meet the growing demands of the women's college. The vigilant Committee of Visitors to Jackson College, under the leadership of


Mrs. Cora Polk Dewick, made an effort in another direction in the late 1930's to assure that the non-academic needs of the women were not neglected. She urged training in correct social usage, social graces, and social amenities. She was not prepared to recommend the establishment of a Domestic Science Department in Jackson, but she did suggest that "there be offered some form of instruction and training in Household Arts and allied subjects" which would not count for degree credit but would give valuable instruction for prospective homemakers. This proposal was never carried out in the literal sense suggested by Mrs. Dewick. On a somewhat different level, she also expressed distress from time to time that the identity of Jackson College, in terms of public relations, tended to be submerged under the name of Tufts and did not stand out sufficiently as a coordinate women's college comparable to Radcliffe, Pembroke, or Barnard.

A review of the virtually identical curricula of the school of liberal arts and of Jackson College shared, with administrative rearrangements, a place on Dr. Carmichael's agenda early in his presidency. The Curriculum Committee was given a mandate in 1939 to assess the course of study, and the faculty busied itself for many months with degree requirements, electives, and required courses. After much discussion, the Liberal Arts and Jackson Curriculum Committee made its recommendations to the parent faculty early in 1940 and in so doing provoked even greater discussion and considerable difference of opinion.

If the recommendations of the Curriculum Committee had been adopted by the faculty, the foreign language requirement as such would have disappeared as a prerequisite for either the A.B. or the B.S. degree and maximum permissiveness would have been built into the entire course of study. A first-year student would have taken either English composition or English literature, his decision to be based on "his needs and interest," advice from the Department of English, and the results of placement tests. The student would have been required to take, instead of a foreign language, a one-year sequence in foreign literature, selected from the Departments of Classics, French, or German; one of three social studies (history, government, or economics); and a science selected from any one of six departments, including mathematics and psychology. The fifth course to round out a normal load would be an


elective. One rather interesting aspect of the review of the curriculum in 1939 and 1940 was the statement of educational principles that accompanied it. There had been in actuality no important review of the basic philosophy behind the system of foundation, major, and elective requirements that had been adopted in 1892. Even the 1940 statement represented no change of philosophy except that greater emphasis was put on voluntarism.

Each student is regarded as an individual whose training andexperience in preparation for college, and whose aptitudes andplans may differentiate him from his fellows. Accordingly, thecourses in which credits may be earned are not prescribed in anyrestrictive sense but are selected by each student to suit his ownneeds within a general framework designed to insure breadth anddepth in his intellectual development.... Various professions havevarious special needs: in some, one or more modern or classicallanguages may be necessary or valuable; in others, mathematics,or special scientific training. A good general education, in thehumanities as well as in science and the social studies, is a distinguishing characteristic of members of all the established professions. Tufts College does not consider it wise or necessary torequire all students to conform to a uniform pattern. Its officers dofeel it is their duty to point out as clearly as possible, however, thatmembers of even the most specialized professions have a personaland social need for a common basis of understanding of moderncivilization and culture and a well-developed capacity for clearthinking, as well as a mastery of the knowledge and techniques oftheir own vocational fields.

By the time the faculty had completed its review of the proposals, the degree requirements had settled very much into their old niches. The concentration requirement was left intact, except that it was increased from thirty to thirty-six semester hours. Students selected their courses and major fields from a broad three-way division of knowledge into humanities, social sciences, and biological and physical sciences, including mathematics. After struggling with the foreign language requirement for many months, the faculty retained it, emphasizing the desirability of choosing French or German because of their importance for admission to graduate or professional schools. The large amount of choice allowed in completing basic degree requirements was continued, although a


literature requirement which had been removed by the Curriculum Committee was restored. It was expected that the typical student would complete his five general foundation courses by the end of the sophomore year. No serious attempt to review the entire curriculum was again made until after 1955. The system of foundation and distribution requirements and a broad spectrum of electives continued to reflect President Carmichael's conviction that attention to individual needs was more important than a rigid, prescribed course of study in the arts and sciences.

The period of the late 1930's and early 1940's was also one in which competition for unusually able students was exceptionally keen among institutions in the Boston area as well as elsewhere. Carmichael hoped that a flexible curriculum would attract students of outstanding ability. In his annual report to the Trustees in the fall of 1941 he laid great stress on the College's recognition of the individual qua individual. He emphasized this point time and time again. The central idea was that "college students are not alike. ... we do our best to help the individuals who come to us to educate themselves." A premium was therefore placed on testing programs, and on the greatly expanded guidance and counseling functions of the faculty. He defended the principles of both election and some degree of specialization, even at the underclass level, as clearly preferable to the fully prescribed curriculum. He was aware that a "cafeteria-style" educational menu seemed to disturb such notable educators as Robert M. Hutchins (University of Chicago) and Stringfellow Barr (St. John's College) but vigorously defended Tufts' emphasis on recognizing individual differences as against Chancellor Hutchins' plan for common-core distribution subjects. The tremendous growth of knowledge made concentration in some areas necessary and neglect of others inevitable. Tufts, like many another college, had come a long way from its set nineteenth-century classical curriculum.

Another lively question in educational circles during the 1930's and early 1940's that attracted some attention at Tufts concerned the failure of most institutions of higher learning to emphasize the inculcation of moral and ethical values that had more or less automatically accompanied teaching in older days. The problem was particularly relevant at Tufts, for the faculty's engagement in a review of curricula between 1939 and 1941 was fresh in mind,


and the emphasis on meeting individual needs threatened to leave the students without a common core of values, concepts, and ideals. In order to assess this problem (if not to solve it), President Carmichael, who as a psychologist was particularly interested in value theory, appointed a faculty committee in 1941 "to codify the values and objectives of the College." The task of the so-called Committee on Values was to see if agreed-upon "value scales" could be drawn up and made known to the students. There was some talk of planning a syllabus that might eventually become the basis for an elective or even a required senior course. Hosea Ballou 2d, the first president of the institution, would surely have greeted this proposal enthusiastically, for it was he who had had the responsibility of sending the seniors of the first five Tufts graduating classes out into the world equipped with the axioms of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy. Professor Bruce W. Brotherston, chairman of the one-man Department of Philosophy, headed the committee. But just as it was beginning to formulate its propositions, prepare an elaborate questionnaire on values, and solicit articles from the faculty on the subject to be printed in the Tuftonian, United States involvement in the Second World War thrust the enterprise into oblivion. More crucial and immediate problems were at hand.

As in the past, various devices were used during Carmichael's administration to recognize and reward undergraduate academic achievement. The Academic Awards ceremony was emphasized, and a special time was set aside each fall to salute students who were elected to honorary societies, both local and national, and to recognize those who received scholarships, fellowships, and prizes for a growing list of achievements. Following the practice already instituted by the engineering school, the school of liberal arts, Jackson College, and the Crane School created a Dean's List and a Freshman Honor Roll in 1939-40 to recognize superior scholarship.[3]  An attempt was made in 1941 to revive the historic but almost defunct Honors program for qualified undergraduates, but the greater freedom of opportunity provided for highly gifted


students failed to attract more than a small fraction of eligible students. Recognition of scholarship was also provided when, in 1943, the College was granted a chapter of Sigma Xi, the national honorary scientific society. It was President Carmichael who saw to it that the academic primacy of the College's functions was emphasized when he introduced the formal ceremony of Matriculation Convocation in the fall of 1947. Freshmen were thus formally received into the institution and were treated to an address by the president and their first glimpse of the faculty in formal academic attire.

As the Tufts undergraduates came and went in the course of time, many a student custom, tradition, and activity became only a memory. Classes graduated in the Carmichael era would have had no knowledge of the Junior Day "Horribles" of the decades of the First World War and the 1920's, when time out from regular class exercises was called so that students could watch the third-year class, dressed in all imaginable costumes, cavort about the campus and engage in contests. Neither would they have been familiar with such customs as the "Jumbo Rush," when from one to three dummies of the College mascot were thrown from the tower of Goddard Chapel. The men who returned them, albeit tattered and torn, to the chapel steps, received the first copies of the yearbook bearing Jumbo's name. Unfortunately, as a writer in the Tufts Weekly pointed out, the Rush for 1917 was overshadowed in the daily newspapers by "a revolution in Russia." Students on the campus between 1937 and 1959 would have recalled the "mayoralty" campaigns in which from two to half a dozen students competed each year for the purely honorary post of custodian of the "campus spirit" as mayor of the Hill. The springtime "mayoralties," imported by John Crockett (Class of 1937), a transfer from Bates College, became an outlet for energies pent up during a long winter and served, with parades, speeches, costumes, and variegated antics, as a welcome "break" before settling down to the serious business of completing laboratory assignments, term papers, and preparing for final examinations. On the more sedate side, there was the tradition, which lasted into the 1950's, of the seniors' "last chapel," when the graduating class assembled solemnly in caps and gowns in front of Ballou Hall to march in stately procession to


Goddard Chapel to hear the president deliver an inspirational message.

The story of the decline and fall of required chapel exercises at Tufts is more than a fragment of local academic history. It is the story of the growing heterogeneity of college student bodies and of the increasing secular pressures exerted by society at large. The eventual disappearance of that hallowed institution was, in turn, a reflection of a latent rebelliousness characteristic of students the world over, built into young men and women who react against anything labeled "required," and admittedly aided and abetted at times by sympathetic faculty. The bastion of daily compulsory chapel at Tufts was not breached for almost half a century; the first weakening of the structure came with the provision of voluntary Sunday chapel in 1907. In 1911-12, week-day chapel was cut to three days a week, and the disruptions caused by the First and Second World Wars made further inroads. The experience of "no chapel" was not as extraordinary during the 1940's as before, because by 1928 the requirement had been reduced to twice a week


for all students, and by the following year to once a week for those privileged to be upperclassmen. Secularism had seemingly triumphed in the 1940's, when the traditional mildly religious service was made voluntary for all, and periodic assemblies and convocations took its place. By 1942-43, captive audiences for required assemblies had been reduced to freshmen only. President Carmichael used these occasions to introduce the first-year students to the nature of the educational process and to the intricacies of the academic lives they would lead for the next few years.

It should be pointed out that this sketch of the disappearance of the time-honored tradition of compulsory chapel gives not even a glimpse of the struggles that went on both overtly and behind the scenes - from periodic barrages in campus publications to lengthy and sometimes heated discussions among a usually divided faculty. Neither does this brief account make allowance for the network of regulations, the flood of paper work, the monitoring and proctoring, the experimentation with every kind of inducement (or penalty) for attendance or non-attendance, from allowed cuts to letter-grading and credit deductions; or for the constant migration of chapel hours all over the school day in a fruitless attempt to accomplish the impossible - namely, to avoid conflict with something else. The voluntary Sunday chapel services of the 1950's and 1960's represented the residue of a custom that had flourished, as a matter of course, in more religiously minded eras in the past. Students, however, continued to be encouraged to attend religious services of their choice in the Tufts neighborhood, and both chaplains and lay faculty representing a variety of faiths and denominations assisted in maintaining clubs and groups on the campus to meet student religious needs.

Debates and discussions about compulsory chapel in the 1930's and early 1940's, and about student activities at any time, received their share of attention. A subject not as likely to attract headlines but just as basic to the college community was the status and welfare of the faculty. Little or nothing concrete had been accomplished during Cousens' administration in the way of providing a pension system, setting up an adequate and rational salary scale, establishing uniform procedures for promotion or sabbatical leave, or adopting a policy regarding academic freedom or tenure. In


many of these areas no formal action was considered necessary. The somewhat benevolent paternalism of a relatively simple administrative organization in a relatively small college seemed to make such legislation superfluous. It somehow would have given the impression that the faculty did not trust its superior officers. A faculty of fifty or seventy-five was likely to be well acquainted with the administrative personnel as well as with itself. The college community, fairly close-knit and easily identified, was often referred to as the "Tufts family," in which informal arrangements and understandings could take the place of more bureaucratic and less personal relationships characteristic of either a large business or a gigantic university. But times changed. Tufts by the late 1930's was steadily, if not spectacularly, expanding its size and responsibilities. Faculty pressures from rising costs of living, the problems of insecurity in old age, and growing professional awareness all played a part in bringing to the surface some of the matters of concern that had somehow been ignored or sidetracked in the past. It was during President Carmichael's administration that all of them had to be faced up to by faculty, administration, and Trustees.

Carmichael, when he came to Tufts, was not only cognizant of faculty needs both at the College and elsewhere but painfully aware of the limited financial capabilities of Tufts to meet those needs. Facing the manifold tasks of recruiting and retaining a first-class faculty amid the uncertainties and confusion of the depression-ridden 1930's and the war-ridden 1940's was an experience welcomed by few college presidents.

A personnel problem to which President Cousens had devoted much thought and investigation in the early 1930's was the provision of retirement allowances for members of the faculty who had completed active service. After the Carnegie Foundation had ceased to enroll additional names on its pension lists at the time of the First World War, no system had been introduced at Tufts in its place. Instead, the Trustees followed a policy of aiding individual cases as need arose, without any contractual commitment with the recipients. Cousens had contemplated the establishment of a funded pension system whereby a teacher retiring at the age of seventy after at least twenty-five years of continuous service would receive an allowance of one-half the salary received during the preceding ten


years.[4]  A similar arrangement might be made for those reaching sixty-five years, with a correspondingly smaller pension. However, Cousens did not yet think it wise to commit the College to such a system, and left cases to be considered on their individual merits. He did suggest that the Trustees might consider setting up a reserve fund to take care of such cases, but he consistently refused to countenance an across-the-board pension system. Cousens believed that there were too many fluctuations in the economy to provide stable retirement stipends; further, he had too much of the self-help philosophy built into his way of thinking to approve pensions for those who already had means and therefore did not deserve assistance. As the nation-wide depression continued well into the 1930's, Cousens reluctantly admitted that some kind of selective pension system was probably desirable. However, it was not until after his death in 1937 that a really strong plea was made. Acting President George S. Miller stressed the importance of providing some form of pension and called the Trustees' attention to the fact that most of the New England colleges had already done so. If Tufts did not do likewise, it would encounter mounting difficulties in securing able men for its faculty. Dean Wren echoed the same sentiments, adding that entirely too many of the faculty were being forced into extracurricular jobs in order to make ends meet.

The growing restiveness of the faculty at the failure of the College to take any real responsibility for their long-range financial needs and academic security was brought to President Carmichael's attention before he had been on the Tufts campus a year. About 1930 a faculty group led by Professor Charles Gott of the English Department had planned to make a formal statement on the retirement problem, but the onset of the depression and the reluctance of President Cousens to commit the College to any particular pension plan had resulted in postponement. A second proposal to adopt a pension plan was shelved because of the administrative readjustments necessitated by Cousens' death. The financial problems associated with retirement were discussed again by the faculty in


1939 and 1940, but again no formal action was requested of the Trustees because President Carmichael had intimated that the contributory pension plan of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association would be adopted for certain categories of the faculty and would eventually be extended to others.[5]  President Carmichael discussed the problems of faculty annuities and retirement with the Trustees in 1939 and notified them that the growing concern of the faculty about such matters, would also, in the near future, "require much more definite determination of tenure and appointment than has been true in the past."[6] 

The timing of faculty agitation for increased salaries just prior to the Second World War was most unpropitious. The newly elected president pursued such a cautious fiscal policy that in 1939, on his recommendation, the Trustees voted that all the contracts of all teaching staff for the academic year 1939-40 be modified to release the institution from all obligations beyond one year. The reason given was the same that had prompted identical action between 1933 and 1936: "general business and financial conditions throughout the country." Fortunately, this limitation on contracts lasted only one year.[7]  This decision of the Trustees served only to agitate the faculty still further. It seemed that not only were their requests for a retirement program and salary increases being ignored but their very job security was in jeopardy. The time appeared to have


come for the faculty to make a formal presentation of their case. Experience over the past fifteen or twenty years had demonstrated the fact that no occasion would ever be "opportune in every respect." The static situation with regard to faculty salaries and a sharp rise in the cost of living made the problem critical for many faculty members. Tufts in 1942 was the only New England college of high standing that did not have a general pension program for its instructional staff.

There were still other factors that precipitated the faculty request for a pension plan. Tuition in the School of Arts and Sciences was raised from $300 to $350 in 1941-42, and considerable publicity was given to the announcement that part of the augmented income would be applied to the improvement of faculty salaries. On the heels of this ostensibly welcome news, the faculty was notified that because of war conditions a summer school would be operated in 1942 in which the faculty would be expected to teach without compensation. The faculty was also disturbed to see a constantly increasing proportion of College income expended for purposes other than salaries.[8]  This trend, coupled with recurrent postponement of any systematic step to improve the financial lot of the faculty, led the teaching staff to fear that their situation would deteriorate still further, a development that would be prejudicial to the entire institution as well as to the faculty.

In a report prepared by members of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors and presented in extenso to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1942, a faculty spokesman reviewed the practices then being followed and requested a review of the whole problem of faculty status. The decline in the number of faculty eligible to receive Carnegie pensions and the inadequacy of the provision of retirement stipends by the College


required a systematic pension arrangement. The retirement problem was aggravated, in turn, by the salary situation, which made it impossible for the average faculty member to put aside an amount each year sufficient to care for later needs. The president recognized the request of the faculty and relayed their report to the Trustees. The Executive Committee expressed sympathy for the plight of the faculty and agreed to refer the whole question to the full Board. Carmichael also urged the Executive Committee to "seriously endeavor" to include annuity coverage of all full-time members of the arts and sciences faculty in the two top ranks when the budget was made up for the next year. The urging of the faculty produced results, for annuities were arranged, effective in January 1943, for those holding a professorial rank.[9] 

Provision for annuities in 1943 brought some comfort to the faculty, but the salary issue remained a sore point. Faculty petitions to the Trustees to receive compensation for summer school teaching in 1942 produced only additional expressions of sympathy from that body; the uncertainties of the war emergency by that date made such compensation "impossible."[10]  Faculty entering active duty in the armed forces were given leaves of absence (without salary) and were promised reemployment for a minimum of one year, provided there were positions available when they returned. Individuals on annual appointment in thirteen so-called "non-critical" departments were warned that their contracts might not be renewed after 1942-43.

The local AAUP chapter registered dissatisfaction with the salary scale in 1943, and a year later Carmichael recognized that the token increases provided in 1944-45 were far from sufficient. The chapter thereupon made an analysis of the salary situation from the rather scanty information available and prepared a report, which President Carmichael transmitted to the Trustees "at length." He


did not, however, encourage them to take any action on the request for salary increases, for he prefaced his remarks with a gloomy account of the disappointing prospects for enrollment in the 1945 summer session and the comment that the next financial year might well be "the most difficult one that the College has had to face so far." So the problem of "salary stabilization" was referred to the Executive Committee for study. The result was a slight upward readjustment of minimum compensation for each grade, effective in 1945-46; this placed the Tufts salary scale closer to the "middle group" of salaries of comparable New England colleges instead of almost at the bottom, where it had been previously.[11]  The only other tangible result that came out of the discussions about salaries in 1945 was the decision to pay extra compensation for summer school teaching.[12] 

A sizeable proportion of the faculty, operating through the local AAUP chapter, was far from content with what they still considered markedly inadequate salaries, particularly in view of the sharp rise in living costs after wartime controls were removed. They undertook a comprehensive study of their whole economic status and accumulated necessary salary data by means of questionnaires to department chairmen. Only a few failed to cooperate. A report was prepared and presented to the president in 1947.

The hopes of the AAUP chapter for Trustee action were at least partially realized, for a review of the salary situation was made by that body, and at least a scale for minimum salaries for each rank was established.[13]  The Trustees congratulated themselves that Tufts had experienced so few losses of faculty because of compensation differential with other institutions, "although the unfairness of expecting such sacrifice over a long period of time was emphasized." The president and Trustees were constantly reminded by


the AAUP chapter that the problem of adequate compensation for the academic staff was "very real" and that "certain upward adjustments" were necessary as well as desirable. In 1951-52 another salary study - the most elaborate up to that time - was placed in the hands of the Executive Committee. Their conversations in the latter part of 1952 led to the proposal to provide in the budget the sum of $20,000, to be used by President Carmichael's successor for salary adjustments.

Salary increments during Carmichael's administration may have come with agonizing slowness, but new or more generous fringe benefits were also provided after the Second World War. Medical and hospital insurance were made available at modest cost through a group plan in 1945. Tuition gratuities for faculty children were continued, although under certain limitations; and in 1947 the president was authorized to make arrangements with other colleges to exchange students of faculty and administration, with scholarship privileges.[14]  The College's contribution toward faculty retirement annuity for those eligible was increased from 5 per cent to 7 1/2 per cent (of the total of 15 per cent of base salary) in 1948, and in 1951 to 121/2 per cent, with corresponding reduction of the faculty contribution to 2 1/2 per cent.[15]  Collective-level insurance through the TIAA was added on a contributory basis in 1949, and in 1952 the faculty was authorized to participate, on a voluntary basis, in the College Retirement Equities Fund. Federal social security coverage for academic personnel became effective in 1951. The faculty in 1948 even received a "Faculty Club," used as a dining room and general gathering place.[16] 

Like many other institutions of comparable age and size, Tufts was slow to provide a formal statement of policy regarding academic


freedom and tenure. This was not because the College opposed either, but because there was thought to be no need for one. The first attempt to establish such a policy was made during the First World War, when the faculty created their half of a proposed joint committee with the Trustees in 1918. Their assignment was "to formulate rules governing tenure of office and dismissal and reappointment of teachers." The full committee never came into being because the Trustees failed to act. In the winter of 1922 President Cousens received a questionnaire from the Commission on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure which was gathering information for a statement to be issued by the Association of American Colleges. In his reply he emphasized the large degree of academic freedom that had always prevailed at Tufts and concluded with the comment that formal statements and machinery did not exist at the College. He assured the Commission that "such a healthy and cordial relation"' existed among the Trustees, president, and faculty that no such provisions were necessary.

Fear by the Tufts faculty that the national preparedness program and the involvement of the United States in the Second World War might threaten freedom of expression and faculty security resulted in the adoption by the Trustees of their first formal policy on academic freedom and tenure in 1940. As in the case of salary readjustments, the local chapter of the AAUP was very active. Extended discussions were held by the chapter, with President Carmichael present at some of the meetings. The upshot of the chapter effort, after delays of over a year, was the adoption by the Trustees of the preliminary Statement of Principles of Academic Freedom and Tenure drawn up by representatives of the Association of American Colleges and the American Association of University Professors in the fall of 1938.[17] 

The faculty, wanting still further assurance that they would have a channel by which to air any grievances they might have involving tenure, promotion, rank, or appointment, also created a


five-man Advisory Committee on Faculty Personnel in 1940. Although the committee had no legislative powers, it was given authority to confer directly with the Trustees if communications with the president broke down. Dean George S. Miller considered the creation of the committee a "liberal and democratic procedure" which should give "ample protection for faculty members." Upon the urging of Dean Miller, the Trustees also fixed, for the first time, the faculty retirement age. It was made optional after the age of sixty-five and mandatory at seventy. This provision became a part of the Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure adopted in 1940.

During most of its history, Tufts welcomed faculty who engaged in creative or productive scholarly work but until a decade after the First World War neglected to adopt anything approaching an official policy either encouraging or discouraging it. The College had, as indicated elsewhere in this book, been fortunate in the number of its faculty who had published work of stature in the fields of both science and the humanities. But, at base, this evidence of scholarly effort was incidental to what was considered the main task of that part of the institution located on the Hill, namely, to provide the best undergraduate instruction that its resources allowed. No serious or formal attempt was made to encourage faculty research at Tufts until 1928, at about the mid-point in Cousens' administration. In that year a special committee prepared a comprehensive statement which was adopted by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Several points were made. Research, the interpretation of research, and "direct creative writing" were considered "a reinforcement of teaching." Teachers should share research problems with advanced students; teaching loads, particularly of those who demonstrated "marked capacity for research," should be arranged as to number of courses, number of students, and classroom schedules to provide "the maximum amount of uninterrupted time for research." Other ways suggested of encouraging research and professional activity outside the classroom were the taking of sabbatical leaves, the provision of secretarial services and experimental apparatus, reimbursement for traveling expenses to meetings, and the printing of annual lists of publications by faculty members. Even the display of faculty publications in the library was suggested.



President Carmichael recognized the desirability of faculty research and publication and professional activity. In 1940 he reinstituted the earlier practice of printing annual bibliographies of faculty publications. The adoption of a formal Trustee statement in 1946 governing sabbatical leaves was another step in the direction of encouraging scholarly activity. The phenomenal expansion of contract research at Tufts during and after the Second World War was in large part the result of Carmichael's efforts. However, neither the faculty nor the administration enunciated any formal policy having to do with research and publication until almost thirty years after the faculty statement of 1928. Meanwhile, teaching loads in most departments remained sufficiently demanding to preclude extensive publication except by a small segment of the faculty.


[1] Trustees Ira Rich Kent, Vannevar Bush, Richard B. Coolidge, Sumner Robinson, Guy M. Winslow, and Harold E. Sweet (then president of the Corporation) were appointed as a committee to select a permanent successor.

[2] The direct responsibility for admission of undergraduates had been transferred from the faculty to the respective deans in 1916. Admission to the graduate and professional schools was by vote of the appropriate faculty, on the recommendation of the departments concerned.

[3] There were tangible rewards for those eligible for such recognition. Students in such categories were allowed to take excess programs without payment of additional fees. Until the system of signing off and on the campus before and after vacations was abolished in the mid-1950's, students on the Dean's List or Freshman Honor Roll were excused from performing this duty.

[4] The immediate survivor would receive one-half of the retirement allowance. Cousens' decision to air his views on the whole subject was precipitated by the death of Professor Fred D. Lambert of the Biology Department and the survival of his widow "practically without any means of support." The Trustees voted her a retirement allowance.

[5] Arrangements had been made by the College, beginning in 1936, for faculty retirement coverage under the TIAA, but in 1939-40 there were only ten faculty members on the contributory pension plan, by which the College and the faculty member each paid 5 per cent of the individual's salary.

[6] The general rule of thumb when Carmichael became president was that those with the rank of instructor received annual appointments; assistant professors, three-year appointments; and some (but not all) with the rank of professor were listed as "permanent." The rank of associate professor was seldom used until 1939. There were many exceptions at all levels, and in some instances over the years the faculty received what were known as "dry promotions," i.e., advances in rank without increases in salary.

[7] It was at this juncture that the term "permanent" was replaced by "without limit of time" for selected faculty who were reelected. But even then it was understood that the dozen or so senior members of the faculty who received contracts with this designation in 1939 were not excepted from the possible modification or termination of their contracts. The word "tenure" has never been used in a faculty contract at Tufts.

[8] On several occasions in the early 1940's an annual operating deficit was created by the transfer of several thousand dollars to a reserve fund for grounds and buildings. The deficits thereby created were made up by appropriations from the Alumni Fund. The reserve fund was used for such purposes as providing quarters for the Naval ROTC unit in a wing of Cousens Gymnasium in 1942 and for turning Davies House into a Jackson College dormitory. The College also lost almost $200,000 in investment funds, at least on paper, when in 1942 it divested itself of the common stock held in the Eppinger and Russell Company of the Fletcher Residuum Fund. At the same time, the $90,000 mortgage on Cousens Gymnasium was paid in full.

[9] Faculty members holding such ranks in the Fletcher School and the medical and dental schools were also included.

[10] After the College shifted to a war-induced full calendar year, the Trustees did provide supplementary compensation for those teaching the full year, effective in the fall of 1943. The increase comprised one-third of base salary but could not exceed $1,000 annually. For the last semester of the preceding year (1942-43) the Trustees tried the expedient of scaling the increase from one-sixth to one-third, depending on faculty seniority and the number of Naval students enrolled in various classes.

[11] The increases ranged from $200 to $500 (for department chairmen), with an average of about $300 for the professorial ranks.

[12] Beginning with the 1946 summer school, compensation for a full program (two courses) was set at one-sixth of annual base salary, with a minimum of $500.

[13] The minima recommended by the Executive Committee were: instructors, $2,500; assistant professors, $3,500; associate professors, $4,000; and professors, $5,000. The minimum had been achieved for full professors only by 1947-48. Before the end of his administration, Carmichael admitted that salaries for full professors should be a minimum of $8,000.

[14] In 1945, the Executive Committee provided that faculty children would receive free tuition in the division of the College of which the parent was a member; half-tuition was provided for enrollment in any other division.

[15] Those not participating in the TIAA plan received a 5 per cent increase in salary. Full-time research personnel were placed on the same annuity basis as the teaching faculty in 1949.

[16] It was located on Professors Row, in the home built and occupied in the nineteenth century by faculty member Benjamin Graves Brown and leased to the College by his descendants. Other locations considered for the Faculty Club had been in Curtis Hall and in the new wing of the library constructed in 1949-50.

[17] The statement, as adopted by the Trustees, was also "spread upon the records" of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, to which the policy first applied. Because of certain ambiguities and differences of interpretation, arising partly out of changes in wording between the preliminary statement and the so-called "1940 AAUP Statement of Principles," which the Trustees never officially adopted, a new statement of policy on academic freedom, tenure, and retirement was adopted in the fall of 1964.

  • Light on the Hill, the history of Tufts College, was published to coincide with the centennial of the institution in 1952. A second volume was published in 1986. This edition was created from the 1966 edition of Light on the Hill, Volume I.
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