You are on page 1of 14

Academic Freedom and Tenure

The University of South Florida
I. Introduction
D. F. Fleming, Professor Emeritus of International
Relations at Vanderbilt University, was offered a
one-year appointment on a half-time basis at the
University of South Florida to begin in September,
1962. The offer was made in a letter dated January
25, 1962, from Russell M. Cooper, Dean of the
College of Liberal Arts of the University of South
Florida. In this letter Dean Cooper mentioned that
he had learned from a member of the University
of South Florida History Department of the possi-
bility that Professor Fleming might be interested in
coming to the University of South Florida. He then
wrote, "I am therefore writing to invite you to join
our faculty next September on a half-time basis,
which in our University means teaching two three-
credit courses each term. . . . "
On February 5, 1962, Professor Fleming wrote to
Dean Cooper accepting the appointment, informing
him that he would visit the campus about the
middle of March, and proposing that the two of
them make final arrangements then concerning the
courses he would teach. Dean Cooper on February
14, 1962, replied, "We are delighted to have your
letter indicating that you can be with us at the
University of South Florida next year." In neither
of Dean Cooper's letters was there any suggestion
that the offer was tentative or that further steps
were necessary to make the appointment official.
Professor Fleming visited the University of South
Florida on March 14 and 15, 1962. He conferred with
Dean Cooper and members of the Departments of
History and Political Science and reached agreement
The text of this report was written in the first instance by
the members of the investigating committee. In accordance
with Association practice, the text was sent to the Associa-
tion's Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, to the
teacher at whose request the investigation was conducted, to
the administration of the University of South Florida, and to
other persons directly concerned in the report. In the light
of the suggestions received, and with the editorial assistance
of the Association's Washington Office staff, the report has
been revised for publication.
as to his courses and class hours. During this visit
to Tampa, Professor Fleming also made arrange-
ments for a place to live the next year by purchasing
a house.
On April 19, 1962, the Tampa Tribune carried
a story based on a news release sent from the Uni-
versity of South Florida News Bureau stating that
"President John S. Allen yesterday announced the
appointment of Dr. D. F. Fleming as a visiting
lecturer at the University of South Florida for next
year." President Allen told the ad hoc investigating
committee that he saw the story before it went out
and approved its release. Between April and June,
Professor Fleming received letters from various Uni-
versity of South Florida offices welcoming him to
the faculty and informing him of services that were
On June 21, 1962, President Allen sent to the
Florida State Board of Control, the governing body
for all the State's institutions of higher education,
a dossier on Professor Fleming, including a vita and
other material, in anticipation of a formal request
for Board approval of the appointment of Professor
Fleming at the Board's July 19 meeting. Board
action was considered necessary under a Florida law
requiring Board and Budget Commission approval
of appointments at the rate of $10,000 or more per
year. Professor Fleming's proposed salary of $6000
for half-time teaching for a year was classified by
the administration at the rate of $12,000.
Some time after June 26, 1962, apparently July 5
or 6, President Allen told Dean Cooper that he
would not send Professor Fleming's nomination to
the Board of Control. The circumstances, considera-
tions, and procedures behind this decision and its
precise date are not entirely clear. At any rate,
without an intervening formal session, when the
Board met on July 19 there was no nomination
before it and it took no action on the appointment.
By July 6, Dean Cooper had informed Professor
Fleming by telephone of President Allen's decision,
but Professor Fleming received no written notice
of President Allen's reversal until July 21, 1962.
At that time President Allen explained that no one
has a valid appointment to the University of South
Florida until he is notified by official letter signed
by the President. He went on to say,
Dean Cooper negotiated with you in good faith in
the light of information we had at that time. Under
date of June 21st I sent information concerning you
to the Board of Control in anticipation of a formal
nomination to the Board. On June 26th new infor-
mation came to me which indicated that you were
retired from the Vanderbilt faculty a year ago despite
your request to continue in active service. For this
reason your formal nomination has not been sent to
the Board of Control and the Board will not be mak-
ing the appointment that we had anticipated earlier.
Professor Fleming conferred with members of the
Washington Office of the American Association of
University Professors on September 5 and 7, 1962,
and requested that the Association investigate the
failure of the President of the University of South
Florida to submit his appointment to the State
Board of Control. The Washington Office corre-
sponded with President Allen in a vain attempt to
resolve the conflict. As a result of the failure of
these negotiations, the Association's General Secre-
tary authorized an investigation into Professor
Fleming's case.
The undersigned served as an ad hoc investigating
committee and visited the campus of the University
of South Florida on March 21 and 22, 1963. The
committee interviewed the Chairman of the State
Board of Control, the President of the University
of South Florida, and several members of the uni-
versity administration and faculty. Arrangements
were made by members of the local chapter of the
Association and by President Allen, who kindly
made available a conference room in the Adminis-
tration Building, where most of the interviews were
held. Mr. Baya Harrison, the Chairman of the
Board of Control, was interviewed in his offices
in St. Petersburg. The Chairman of the ad hoc
committee also interviewed Professor Fleming in
Nashville on March 23. These interviews and docu-
mentary materials provided the basis for the com-
mittee's report and conclusions.
II. Background
The University of South Florida, located nine
miles north of the center of Tampa, is a new four-
year state institution which enrolled its first class
in September, 1960. For the academic year 1962-63
it had a faculty of 180 members—162 full-time and
18 part-time—and a student body of approximately
3700. Most of the students are from the Tampa area.
Dr. D. F. Fleming, whose appointment is the
subject of this report, is a well-known scholar who
has been a vice president of the American Political
Science Association, president of the Southern Po-
litical Science Association, and a member of the
Council of the American Association of University
Professors. He was also a member of the Institute
for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and
served for a time in the Department of State. Pro-
fessor Fleming taught at Vanderbilt University for
over 30 years, and was, at the time of his retirement
in June, 1961, Research Professor of International
An understanding of the reasons for President
Allen's decision not to carry the nomination of
Professor Fleming to the Board of Control involves
an examination of two separate developments: at-
tacks on the University of South Florida by certain
private groups in the State of Florida and by a
committee of the state legislature, and statements
with respect to Professor Fleming by Chancellor
Harvie Branscomb of Vanderbilt University. These
matters will now be examined.
1. Attacks on the University of South Florida
A public attack on the University of South Flor-
ida from certain private citizens seems to have
begun in March, 1962, when a nearby weekly news-
paper, the Zephyrhills News, severely criticized offi-
cials of the University for inviting Dr. Jerome Davis,
author, lecturer, and former professor at the Yale
Divinity School, to speak to students in a course
on "The American Idea." Dr. Davis, who was de-
nounced in the newspaper as being too sympathetic
to the Soviet Union, was to be one of a series of
outside speakers invited to represent various points
of view before the class. President Allen also re-
ceived several telephone calls from members of the
state legislature protesting Dr. Davis's appearance.
Some time later he ordered the cancellation of the
talk. He says, however, that he reached the decision
independently of the legislator's objections. Speak-
ers representing more conservative viewpoints were
permitted to address the class.
Late in March the Zephyrhills News attacked the
appointment of Professor Fleming. On March 30,
1962, the News published extensive excerpts from
a very adverse review by William Henry Chamberlin
of Professor Fleming's latest book, The Cold War
and Its Origins. In that review, published in the
magazine Perspectives, January 22, 1962, Chamber-
lin charged that "Fleming's book is the most elab-
orate apology for appeasement and defeatism that
has come to my attention." Later issues of the paper
continued the attack in similar vein. Professor Flem-
ing's book has received adverse criticism from other
SPRI NG 1964 45
sources, but it has also received many favorable
reviews, including one by William Halpern in the
Chicago Tribune, and one by Norman Graebner
in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It has been
published by five publishers of established reputa-
tion: Doubleday in New York, Allen and Unwin in
London, Feltrinelli in Milan, Themelio in Athens,
and Iwanami in Tokyo.
On May 12, 1962, the Florida Coalition of Patri-
otic Societies at its annual convention took cogni-
zance of the appointment of Professor Fleming and
adopted a resolution criticizing him for alleged
"opposition to . . . the American way of life" and
urging the University of South Florida to "take
steps to provide a pro-American Educator to teach
'American Ideas. ' "
A much louder furor broke when it was revealed
in the daily papers of the state about May 18th
that an investigation of the University of South
Florida by a committee of the state legislature had
been underway since April 10th. This Legislative
Investigating Committee, usually called the Johns
Committee after its chairman, State Senator Charley
E. Johns, was originally created in 1955 to investi-
gate reputedly subversive influences in the desegre-
gation crisis. Later, the scope of the committee was
broadened to investigate alleged subversion, homo-
sexuality, and irreligion in Florida, concentrating
for the most part on the state universities. The
committee set itself up in a motel several miles
from the University of South Florida campus about
April 10, 1962, and began inviting students to tes-
tify before it. According to President Allen, it was
not until a month or so later that he learned of
this activity. He then invited the committee to
move onto the campus, asserting that "we have
nothing to hide."
The committee accepted this
invitation and brought the investigation to a close
approximately two weeks later, after it had heard
testimony from President Allen and about twenty
members of the faculty and administration.
There were, in the summer of 1962, two reports
of the Johns Committee, a confidential one and a
summary version of it. A special committee of the
Board of Control reported at the September 14
Board meeting that, between the June and July
meetings of the Board, which are critical in the
Of the three investigations of state universities undertaken
to that time by the Johns Committee, this was the first oc-
casion on which the president of the institution took the initia-
tive to invite the Johns Committee to conduct its investigation
in the open on the campus. The university administration
advised the faculty and students that they need not appear
before the Johns Committee without an attorney or a witness,
and it made tape recordings of all Committee hearings held
on the campus which were made available upon request of any
individual concerned.
Fleming case, "the Board had received a single set
of testimony consisting of twelve volumes and ap-
proximately 2500 pages of testimony." This was
confidential, but a greatly shortened public report
was derived from it. The Board committee con-
tinues: "The summary report of the Legislative In-
vestigating Committee was given to a Tampa news-
paper, the Board of Control, and the Board of
Education the same day, Friday, August 24, 1962."
Much of the material in the published report,
whether paraphrased or quoted, is taken from testi-
mony of specified individuals which appears in the
confidential report.
Most of the part of the published version of the
Johns Committee report which dealt with Professor
Fleming consisted of excerpts from adverse book
reviews of The Cold War and Its Origin, expres-
sions of disagreement with some of Professor Flem-
ing's conclusions by a University of South Florida
faculty member, and denunciations of Professor
Fleming by a Tampa engineer, who, according to
the published version, ". . . attended two courses
of Doctor Fleming at Vanderbilt." (The registrars
of the College of Liberal Arts and the School of En-
gineering of Vanderbilt University have both stated
that no record exists that the engineer was ever
registered in any of Professor Fleming's courses.)
Several students who in fact had been registered in
Dr. Fleming's courses—one from as far away as
California—reported to him that committee counsel
attempted to elicit similar statements from them.
It is the confidential, unpublished report which
was in the Board's hands when the nomination of
Professor Fleming was withdrawn. This contained
at least one charge against Professor Fleming which
was not included in the published report and which
was later acknowledged by the counsel of the Johns
Committee to be in error. In a letter dated July
27, 1962, to Chairman Baya M. Harrison, Jr., of
the Board, Mr. Mark Hawes, Counsel of the Johns
Committee, stated that
On June 6, 1962, while taking the testimony of Dr.
John S. Allen, of the University of South Florida, I
gave him, on behalf of the Committee, certain infor-
mation we had, allegedly showing a record of Commu-
nist-front affiliation of the above named Individual,
along with certain book reviews of Dr. Fleming's book,
The Cold War and Its Origins, and other information
in our possession in regard to his attitude toward the
Soviet Union and his method of teaching. The in-
formation concerning the alleged Communist-front
affiliation of Dr. Fleming, appears in Dr. Allen's tes-
timony beginning on Page 171. I gave this information
to Dr. Allen after he had informed me that the House
Unamerican [sic] Activities Committee had given him a
clean bill of health on Dr. Fleming in this regard. The
information I gave him included the original source
which supposedly supported the alleged affiliations.
On double checking, I confirmed this morning, that
the Committee's source of information was in error in
attributing these affiliations to Dr. Fleming of Van-
derbilt University . . . the Committee has no infor-
mation that Dr. Fleming of Vanderbilt University,
the author of the Cold War and Its Origins, has any
public record of Communist-front affiliations. . . .
This letter was addressed after President Allen had
recalled the nomination of Professor Fleming and
after the Board meeting when the nomination was
to have been considered. Whatever President Allen's
reasons might have been and whenever his decision
was reached, Mr. Hawes' letter of July 27 to Chair-
man Harrison and a subcommittee report to the
Board on September 14 clearly imply that these
alleged Communist-front affiliations were at issue.
Did the Board act with due care in this matter?
President Allen told the investigating committee
that the Board was happy to be freed of the neces-
sity of reaching a decision by his withdrawal of the
papers. Further, on September 14, 1962, the Board
adopted its own committee's report giving credit to
itself and others that the Fleming appointment had
been stopped: "It is conceivable that [Professor
Fleming] could have been employed had it not been
for the alertness of private citizens, members of the
Legislative [Johns] Committee, members of the
Board of Control and its staff."
The Board and the President offer differing ex-
planations of the failure to confirm Professor Flem-
ing's appointment. President Allen throughout had
evidence which strongly supported the need for
caution in accepting the Johns Committee's judg-
ment, and he was convinced of Professor Fleming's
patriotism and academic responsibility. His testi-
mony before the Johns Committee in Tampa was
based on an inquiry of April 23, 1962, to the late
Chairman Francis Walter of the Committee on Un-
American Activities of the United States House of
Representatives asking if that committee had any
information derogatory to Dr. Fleming. President
Allen said that Mr. Walter replied that the com-
mittee had no record that Professor Fleming had
ever been a member of any Communist or Com-
munist-front organization. President Allen told the
ad hoc committee that he addressed similar letters
to Attorney General Robert Kennedy (who did not
answer) and Senator James Eastland, who stated
that he had no derogatory information about Dr.
Fortified by this knowledge and strongly encour-
aged by Dean Cooper and members of the History
and Political Science Departments, President Allen
decided to ask the Board of Control to approve the
Fleming appointment. "We can't back down on
this," News Bureau Director Egerton had said when
announcement of the appointment was being ar-
ranged with President Allen. Apparently the request
for Board approval had not been sent earlier be-
cause Dean Cooper had waited until after Professor
Fleming's March visit to the campus to initiate this
process. When the papers reached President Allen's
desk in April, he held them up because he realized
the appointment, having a salary rate exceeding
$10,000 a year, would need Board approval. Since
the Johns Committee had by then appeared on cam-
pus he thought it would be an inauspicious time to
ask for approval of a "controversial" appointment.
However, on June 21, after the Johns Committee had
completed its Tampa hearings, President Allen sent
Professor Fleming's credentials to the Board of Con-
trol preparatory to requesting formal approval of
the appointment at the July 19 meeting.
At this point a new development occurred: the
receipt by President Allen of the "Branscomb let-
ter." President Allen contends that it was decisive
and rendered other considerations irrelevant.
2. Chancellor Branscomb's Statements Concerning
Professor Fleming
On June 26, 1962, there came into President
Allen's hands, anonymously through the mail, a
copy of a letter written by Dr. Harvie Branscomb,
at that time Chancellor of Vanderbilt University,
to an Orlando, Florida, member of the Florida
Coalition of Patriotic Societies. Dr. Branscomb
states that this letter was written in reply to a
charge that Professor Fleming was a Communist
and that he had no knowledge of the recipient's
affiliation with the Florida Coalition of Patriotic
Societies. The letter, dated June 11, 1962, in its
entirety read as follows:
I read with interest the copy of News & Views which
you sent me, and was very much interested in it. I do
not think Dr. Fleming is, or has been, a Communist,
but I think he is an individual who has gone sour
over the years, and has lost his perspective and his
balance of judgment. Vanderbilt University, of course,
does not subscribe to the views of all of its 750 pro-
fessors; neither do we defend them against criticisms
which they bring on themselves. Professor Fleming was
retired a year ago in spite of his request for continu-
ation. You will be interested to know that he is trans-
ferring this next fall to Tampa, Florida, where he
will teach in some institution there.
President Allen immediately telephoned Chancel-
lor Branscomb, who, according to President Allen,
reiterated orally the opinions expressed in the letter.
SPRI NG 1964 47
Since there was a budget meeting of the Board of
Control at about this time, President Allen dis-
cussed informally with the Board the matter of the
Fleming appointment. He later told the ad hoc
committee that the Board members were aware of
the allegations regarding Professor Fleming previ-
ously made by the Zephyrhills paper and the Flor-
ida Coalition of Patriotic Societies. In any event,
President Allen reported, Board members told him
that if he did not send the nomination to them
they would not need to act. He then requested
Dean Cooper to inform Professor Fleming that his
nomination would not be submitted to the Board
of Control. At that time, and later in conversation
with the ad hoc committee, Dr. Allen insisted that
Chancellor Branscomb's testimony meant that Pro-
fessor Fleming was incompetent, that he would not
search behind the testimony of a fellow top execu-
tive, and that it had to be accepted as conclusive.
III. The Issues
The treatment of Professor Fleming at the hands
of the University of South Florida raises certain
questions which will be examined in the rest of
this report.
1. Was Professor Fleming Appointed to the Uni-
versity of South Florida Faculty?
President Allen contends that since the Board of*
Control never completed action on Professor Flem-
ing's appointment, there never was, in fact, an ap-
pointment and the University has no obligation to
him. In reaching a conclusion on this matter, the
committee did not consider itself restricted to legal
or quasi-legal considerations, any more than the
Association is so bound in considering matters of
academic freedom and tenure.
In contending that Professor Fleming was never
appointed to a position at the University of South
Florida, President Allen relies on the fact that his
appointment was never confirmed by the Board of
Control as required by Florida law and that Pro-
fessor Fleming received no formal letter of appoint-
ment from the President. With regard to the letter
from the President, Dean Cooper later recalled that
he had merely told Professor Fleming that President
Allen would write confirming the appointment.
Professor Fleming recalls nothing ever being said
to him by anyone at the University of South Florida
about a letter of appointment from President Allen.
In any event, Dean Cooper told the ad hoc com-
mittee that he agrees with Professor Fleming that
the two of them believed an appointment had been
made. Even the report of the Johns Committee
stated that, "According to Dean Russell M. Cooper,
he [Professor Fleming] has been offered a contract
of employment and actually hired to teach at the
University of South Florida. . . . (Cooper's testimony
of May 23, 1962, pages 85 and 86) ."
In reaching its conclusion on this important mat-
ter, the ad hoc committee also took into account
these additional considerations. (1) In the exchange
of letters between Dean Cooper and Professor Flem-
ing and during Professor Fleming's visit to the
University of South Florida campus a definite offer
was made and accepted; specific arrangements re-
garding courses, hours, and salary were made; and
no reservations of any kind were specified. (2) The
exchange of letters between Dean Cooper and Pro-
fessor Fleming is in accordance with established
procedures by which academic appointments are
tendered and accepted. (3) The President saw and,
in advance of publication, authorized the Univer-
sity News Bureau's press release announcing the
appointment to the public. (4) Professor Fleming
received information from various offices of the
University which indicates that they had been in-
formed of his appointment. The committee notes
also that, after the original exchange of letters in
which the offer was extended and accepted, nearly
five months elapsed during which time no one in
the University administration gave any indication
that the appointment as agreed upon was not final.
And it was nearly another month before Professor
Fleming received written notice that the appoint-
ment—the "formal nomination," in President Al-
len's terms—was being withdrawn.
In the light of these facts the committee is com-
pelled to conclude that Professor Fleming did re-
ceive an appointment to the faculty of the Uni-
versity of South Florida within the meaning of
generally accepted academic practice and that the
administration of the University was therefore
bound to observe the terms of the agreement ac-
cepted in the exchange of letters between Professor
Fleming and Dean Cooper.
With regard to the action by the Board of Con-
trol, it can be and has been argued, at least semi-
officially, that the Florida law governing appoint-
ments is cumbersome and essentially unworkable.
A recent study of this process reports that,
Practically every action taken by any faculty mem-
ber or academic official in a State university in Florida
is seriously affected and his work impaired by the
chain-reaction impact of the present system of control.
A department chairman and his colleagues can spend
months or years looking for just the right faculty mem-
ber for a particular post, the college dean can study
the matter and endorse the recommendation to the
dean for academic affairs, thence to the president,
thence to the Executive Director of the Board of
Control, thence unofficially to the State Budget di-
rector in order that the Executive Director may get
some idea as to what the action on "top-side" might
be with respect to the recommended salary, thence
back to the Board of Control, thence with a special
resolution and detailed credentials from the Board of
Control to the State Budget Director, thence to a pub-
lic meeting of a group of State Officials elected by
popular vote for entirely different duties than those
of governing a complex university, where the highly
technical and professional question (deciding upon a
qualified professor or researcher) is settled by a politi-
cal decision, in an atmosphere of public performance,
to the embarrassment of every scientist, historian, or
professional leader in the State's system of higher edu-
cation—the question of whether a salary maximum of
110,000, set by vote of the Legislature, should be
broken through to pay a man who by that time has
often accepted a better position elsewhere.
(A Feasible Course of Action for Florida's State System
of Higher Education in the Space Age, presented to the
Florida Board of Control by Ralph W. McDonald, Di-
rector, Ernest V. Hollis, General Consultant, H. Guy-
ford Stever, General Consultant, [1963], pp. 22-23.)
It might well be argued that, given the opposition
to Professor Fleming which had been voiced by
right-wing groups, his appointment would not have
been approved by the politically sensitive process
described above. Certainly this was the view of the
faculty members interviewed by the ad hoc com-
mittee. President Allen explained to the ad hoc
committee that the purpose of circulating a vita and
other data a month before formal nomination was
to permit the Board to act in agreement when a
public vote was taken—that is, to reach a consensus
privately. President Allen stated to the ad hoc com-
mittee that he informally discussed the Fleming
appointment with members of the Board and found
that they considered him persona non grata. The
written record at key junctures is sparse, since Pres-
ident Allen's action in withdrawing the request for
approval removed any occasion for the Board of
Control to take actions which would be open to
public scrutiny.
We therefore cannot know the circumstances
under which critical information was discovered,
acknowledged, and distributed nor what motives
were involved. We are unable to say precisely what
pressures were brought to bear upon or by the
Board and President Allen. In any event, the aca-
demic community cannot condone so loose an ap-
pointment procedure, which enables a university
or college administration unconditionally to offer
a professor a position during the normal appoint-
ment "season" and then, after he has accepted the
position and passed up other opportunities for em-
ployment, to cut him adrift without warning or
hearings. Professor Fleming, it happens, turned
aside another inquiry as to his availability for
1962-63 after he had accepted the offer from Dean
Cooper, and he did not succeed in obtaining an
academic appointment for that year.
This committee sees no way in which the aca-
demic market place could operate in a rational
and just way if the practices followed by President
Allen and the Board of Control were accepted as
normal procedure. We conclude that by normal
academic procedures Professor Fleming was in effect
appointed to a position at the University of South
Florida, that President Allen had a moral and pro-
fessional obligation to support his appointment by
the Board of Control in formal action, and that
his failure to do so constitutes for all practical
purposes a dismissal of Professor Fleming.
2. Were Proper Procedures Used in Reaching a
Decision Not To Confirm the Appointment of
Professor Fleming?
Since this was in effect a dismissal, the applicable
principles are those defined in the 1940 Statement
of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure of
the Association of American Colleges and the Ameri-
can Association of University Professors and the
subsequent 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards
in Faculty Dismissal Proceedings adopted by the
same associations. These Statements provide that if
dismissal proceedings are undertaken there shall be
a formal hearing before a properly constituted fac-
ulty body at which: (1) charges are preferred, these
charges having been specified to the accused in
writing beforehand to enable him to prepare his
defense; (2) evidence to substantiate the charges is
introduced and made a matter of record; and (3)
the accused is given a chance to cross-examine his
No such hearing of this or any other type was
held in this case, though there appears to have
been adequate time before President Allen's deci-
sion. As late as July 6 Professor Fleming wrote to
President Allen that he had just learned of the
decision from Dean Cooper, asked him for an ex-
planation, and offered evidence of his continued
effectiveness. Dean Cooper told the ad hoc com-
mittee that he had held thorough discussions with
President Allen and that his, Dean Cooper's, views
and those of the history and political science staffs
were fully aired. They were overruled. "I deal with
presidents," President Allen said several times to
the ad hoc committee in explaining why he rejected
the views of those who contradicted Chancellor
Branscomb's evaluation of Professor Fleming. As for
Professor Fleming, he was not notified even orally
of any charges against him until after President
SPRI NG 1964
Allen had made his decision. He was given no
further opportunity to defend himself against any
of the questions raised about him. The conclusion
is inescapable that the failure to honor the appoint-
ment of Professor Fleming was not in keeping with
the standards of this Association and that Professor
Fleming was denied academic due process.
3. Were Adequate Reasons Advanced for the Can-
cellation of Professor Fleming's Appointment?
The objections to Professor Fleming throughout
April, May, and up to June 26 were based on his
assessment of cold war policy and alleged political
affiliations as erroneously described by the Florida
Coalition of Patriotic Societies and the Johns Com-
mittee. The Johns Committee, as late as July 27,
still held that Professor Fleming was a Communist
sympathizer, and President Allen says that the
Board was glad to be relieved of the necessity of
voting on his appointment. Yet according to Presi-
dent Allen, Professor Fleming was dismissed, or, as
he would say, not nominated, because the perchance
fortuitous testimony of Chancellor Branscomb alone
was adequate evidence of incompetence. Let us ex-
amine, then, only this reason given by President
Allen for his withdrawal of the nomination to the
Board. Since the Branscomb letter has been given
wide publicity
and since Professor Fleming was not
given an opportunity to reply publicly to his critic,
the ad hoc committee has examined the charges
in detail.
The first concerns President Allen's reference to
Chancellor Branscomb's statement that Professor
Fleming was retired from Vanderbilt University
"despite your request to continue in active service."
It is true that, after he had been continued in
service from age 65 to 68 by specific waiving of
retirement provisions, Professor Fleming had re-
quested that he be permitted to teach to age 70
under a second extension and that this request had
been turned down by University officials. However,
that this decision reflects upon Professor Fleming's
competence is not borne out by the testimony
either of administrative officers of Vanderbilt Uni-
versity or of Professor Fleming's colleagues on the
faculty. When Professor Fleming first informed
Chancellor Branscomb of his desire to continue
beyond age 68, Chancellor Branscomb, in acknowl-
edging his letter, wrote as follows on December 15,
1960: "You have certainly contributed to a surpris-
The Florida Coalition of Patriotic Societies published it
in its Bulletin; the Johns Committee, having come into posses-
sion of it after the hearings in Tampa were closed and ap-
parently after the "nomination" was withdrawn, repeated the
Branscomb statement in its report; and it was widely printed
in the public press.
ing degree to the literature of your field since your
designation as a Research Professor. Vanderbilt
University can be proud of your productivity as a
scholar and your standing in your field. I am sure
your stay in India contributed also to the Univer-
sity's growing international reputation."
Furthermore, when Vice-Chancellor R. R. Purdy
informed Professor Fleming of the decision not to
continue him in service beyond age 68, he carefully
explained that this was in accordance with Univer-
sity practice to establish 68 as the customary age of
retirement. In a letter dated January 6, 1961, he
The general administrative policy under the rule is
that retirement shall take place at age 68 unless extra-
ordinary or emergency circumstances exist which, in
the concurrent judgment and recommendation of the
department and the appropriate officers of the uni-
versity administration, make extension necessary for
one or at the most two years. It is in no sense a re-
flection upon or detraction from your long career of
distinctive teaching, scholarship and public service
at Vanderbilt that in your case such extraordinary or
emergency conditions have not been found to exist. . . .
It is our hope, and expectation, that you will be able
to offer your distinguished services in scholarship and
in teaching at other institutions of higher learning. To
this end, please feel free to call upon us if we can be
of help.
The words of the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor
would seem to establish that (1) retirement at Van-
derbilt was normal at 68 and failure to continue a
professor beyond that age was not to be taken as
evidence of incompetence; (2) Professor Fleming had
brought distinction to the University, even very
recently, as a result of his scholarly activities; and
(3) he was regarded as being capable of continuing
his teaching career after retirement from Vander-
The correspondence between Professor Fleming
and the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor was
not known to President Allen of the University of
South Florida. We return therefore to the question
of whether or not President Allen was justified in
taking Chancellor Branscomb's letter and his tele-
phone conversation as evidence of Professor Flem-
ing's incompetence. Within a few days after receiv-
ing a copy of Chancellor Branscomb's letter and well
before the ensuing Board meeting, President Allen
was aware that members of the faculty at Vanderbilt
disagreed with the Chancellor's evaluation of Pro-
fessor Fleming. News of the Branscomb letter
reached the Vanderbilt campus by the end of June,
and, within ten days after President Allen received
a copy, letters challenging its allegations were reach-
ing Dean Cooper. Most of these letters went into
some detail to report on Professor Fleming's schol-
arly ability, fairness, and stimulating teaching. We
cannot quote from them at length in this report,
but a few excerpts illustrate the strength of convic-
tion with which they were written. From Robert
Harris, the Chairman of the Department of Political
. . . I have known him for thirty-four years. . . . I feel,
therefore, that I can attest directly to Dr. Fleming's
merits as a scholar, his great worth, as a classroom in-
structor, and his loyalty as an American citizen. . . . I
have always respected his diligence in seeking out the
facts and his very great talent for getting students to
think about important problems. . . . I can bear wit-
ness too to the fact that in his last years of teaching
Dr. Fleming continued to be as stimulating as I found
him in 1928, 1929, and 1930.
From Professor Avery Leiserson, who succeeded
Professor Fleming as Chairman of the Department
of Political Science:
Dr. Fleming's retirement in 1961 was made in ac-
cordance with [University] policy, and no issue or
determination as to his teaching or scholarly compe-
tence was made at that time whatsoever. . . . If it is con-
tended that Dr. Fleming, at age 69, is now no longer
competent to teach, I can only say that I know of no
events in the year since his retirement to impair his
ability or to undermine his record and reputation as a
stimulating and provocative teacher.
From Herbert Weaver, Chairman of the Depart-
ment of History:
Professor Fleming has always been a vigorous teach-
er. In the last few years I have known about his class-
work through student advisees who have taken his
classes. Almost without exception these students attest
to the fact that Professor Fleming has maintained his
vigorous teaching. I have no hesitation in recommend-
ing him to you as a fine teacher.
These and other letters of similar vein were ad-
dressed to Dean Cooper who took them to Presi-
dent Allen. The latter took the position, however,
both at the time and later in conversation with the
ad hoc committee, that Chancellor Branscomb's eval-
uation was ultimately determinative. He asserts that
he refused, solely on the grounds that Chancellor
Branscomb's comments meant that Professor Flem-
ing was incompetent, to ask the Florida Board of
Control to approve his appointment in the face of
the contrary testimony of those at Vanderbilt who
had the best opportunity to observe his work at
close hand and against the judgment of the Dean
and faculty members at the University of South
Florida who had had an opportunity to interview
Professor Fleming and who would work closely with
him there.
Two observations seem pertinent. First, if the
opinion of Chancellor Branscomb was the most im-
portant one (actually, according to President Allen,
the only one) to be taken into consideration in
judging Professor Fleming's qualifications, why was
no effort made to seek it out? As far as President
Allen is concerned, it was only by the sheerest
accident that he ever discovered Chancellor Bran-
scomb's evaluation, since it was sent to him, un-
solicited, by a third party. Further, in discussing
appointment procedures with the deans and depart-
ment chairmen at the University of South Florida,
the ad hoc committee found that none of them had
ever been informed by President Allen that they
were to make a special effort—or any effort at all—
to obtain the opinion of the president of a college
or university from which a candidate was being
considered. It strikes the committee as a strange ap-
pointment procedure which regards the judgment
of a particular official as determinative but makes
no effort to obtain it.
Second is the matter of timing. If Chancellor
Branscomb's opinion was to be regarded as decisive,
the administration at the University of South Flor-
ida had an obligation to obtain it before making
him an offer of a position, not five months after the
offer was tendered. Surely, after a position has been
offered and accepted, only grave charges supported
by compelling' evidence would justify even a recon-
sideration of the agreement before the appointee
has had a chance to demonstrate his ability in the
classroom. Such reconsideration should not culmi-
nate in cancellation of the appointment without
adequate cause and without the professor's having
been given an appropriate opportunity to defend
In a letter of December 9, 1963, to the Washington Office,
Dr. Branscomb has stated: "Neither in the letter you quote,
nor in any of my files, nor in any conversation which I can
recall, have I charged Professor Fleming with incompetence."
Dr. Branscomb also protests that his comment about the cir-
cumstances of Professor Fleming's retirement was not meant
to "discredit Professor Fleming."
The Committee is willing to accept Dr. Branscomb's denial
that he used the word "incompetent" in describing Professor
Fleming. Certainly, however, President Allen was justified in
interpreting Dr. Branscomb's remarks as implying incompe-
tence. A competent professor is not one who has "gone sour
over the years, and has lost his perspective and his balance
of judgment." In this, as in the question of the circumstances
of Professor Fleming's retirement, it would seem strange if,
in President Allen's telephone call to Dr. Branscomb, he had
not learned exactly what Dr. Branscomb meant. Certainly
President Allen interpreted the information he received from
Dr. Branscomb regarding the retirement of Professor Fleming
as meaning that Professor Fleming was unacceptable as a
faculty member at Vanderbilt.
SPRI NG 1964 51
4. What Were and Are the Conditions of Academic
Freedom and Tenure at the University of South
In its investigation of the Fleming case the ad hoc
committee came upon other information relative
to conditions of academic freedom at the Univer-
sity of South Florida which it believes should be
placed on the record in this report.
The most blatant threat to academic freedom at
the University of South Florida has arisen from the
intrusion into academic affairs of the Johns Com-
mittee of the State Legislature. This committee's
foray onto the South Florida campus in the spring
of 1962 was not its first invasion of a Florida in-
stitution of higher education. The committee was
operating under an act of the state legislature
which authorized it, under vague definitions, to in-
vestigate "all organizations whose principles or ac-
tivities include a course of conduct on the part of
any person or group which would constitute vio-
lence, or a violation of the laws of the state, or
would be inimical to the well-being and orderly
pursuit of their peisonal and business activities by
the majority of the citizens of this state, as well
as the extent of infiltration into agencies supported
by state funds by practicing homosexuals. . . ." At
the University of South Florida, the committee
broadened its inquiry to include nonconformist po-
litical opinions of individuals, alleged obscenity in
literature used in courses, and the religious and
philosophical views of professors and content of
The Johns Committee began its operations at the
University of South Florida by establishing itself
in a motel several miles from the campus and in-
viting various students to appear before it to testify
on such matters. After about a month of this kind
of activity, the local press learned what was going
on and publicized it in the daily papers. At this
point, as explained earlier, President Allen invited
the committee to the campus, and it continued its
investigation by questioning some members of the
faculty and administration.
The Johns Committee sent its full report to the
Board of Control some time before the Board's July
meeting. The full report has never been made pub-
lic. In August, 1962, the committee sent a shortened
form of its report on the University of South Florida
investigation to the Board of Control and simul-
taneously released it to the press. This published
version dealt with university policies and attitudes
of professors and administrators regarding four sub-
jects of the committee's investigation: (1) appoint-
ment of professors or use of visiting speakers who
were allegedly Communists, members of Commu-
nist-front organizations, or critical of United States
foreign policy; (2) appointment of professors and
use of text materials that depart from popular local
religious views; (3) use of reading material contain-
ing vulgar or obscene language; (4) homosexuality
among employees of the University. While the com-
mittee refrained from publicly making recommen-
dations for action to the Board of Control, it criti-
cized, either explicitly or implicitly, University offi-
cials and faculty members for such things as the
following: (1) Inviting Dr. Jerome Davis to speak
on campus, since he allegedly had a "very extensive
record of affiliations with Communist-front organi-
zations." (2) Having a member of the Russian Em-
bassy in Washington address a University of South
Florida class. (3) Offering a position to Dr. D. F.
Fleming, who was accused of being an "apologist"
for the Soviet Union. (4) Teaching in such a way as
to cause students to question some of their religious
assumptions. In the words of the committee report:
"The record is pregnant with evidence that the
University of South Florida raises serious questions
of the validity of orthodox religious beliefs in the
minds of the students, both through text materials
and through some of the professors. The record
abundantly proves that most of the top adminis-
trators and many of the professors think this is
quite a legitimate and a desirable objective of a
state-supported institution of higher learning." (5)
Permitting or requiring students to read books
which "contain an amazing profusion of language
which the Committee would characterize as literary
garbage or trash." The evidence the committee cited
for this charge was a short story by J. D. Salinger.
(6) Demanding "irrefutable evidence" of guilt be-
fore discharging a person accused of homosexuality.
The committee complained that: "This attitude of
administrators wanting what they refer to as irre-
futable proof before they act to discharge an edu-
cator for homosexual conduct, is one the committee
has been confronted with over and over in its in-
vestigations. It is very probable that this attitude
is responsible to a large degree for the difficulties
in cleaning homosexuality out of our educational
Sharp reaction to the committee's report came
quickly from University officials. President Allen
criticized the Johns Committee for generating "an
endless flow of unfair and harmful publicity.
On April 18, 1963, Senator Johns and Mr. Hawes acting
for the Johns Committee presented a two-hour report to the
state legislature in which, according to the press, they leveled
sweeping charges against the University of South Florida. In
an unprecedented move the state senate voted to give Presi-
dent Allen an opportunity to rebut the charges made against
the University at a joint session of the legislature. President
Allen in his address before both houses of the legislature on
has probed beyond its legislative mandate into the
University's curriculum, its choice of assigned read-
ing material, the religious and political beliefs of
its faculty, the professional judgment of its ad-
ministrators and even into the private lives of its
staff, seeking to build the most one-sided and damag-
ing case it could against the institution." He also
charged the committee with a serious breach of
"good faith and understanding" in releasing a re-
port to the press after Senator Johns had assured
University officials that the committee sought to
avoid publicity.
Dean Russell M. Cooper's statement denounced
the committee for attacking individuals without giv-
ing them a chance to defend themselves. He ques-
tioned the motives of the committee and charged it
with "seeking to fasten upon the universities of
Florida . . . a particular brand of orthodoxy in
political, religious, and literary thinking which
would destroy the spirit of free inquiry. . . ." The
State Board of Control was critical of the legisla-
tive committee for undertaking the investigation,
asserting that the Board itself was the proper body
to "receive, investigate, and take action upon any
and all complaints" regarding the state's institutions
of higher education. The Board pointed out that
the committee's report was one-sided, failing to take
into account the "innumerable and laudable activi-
ties of the university. . . ." It is a sad detail of the
story that the Board by September 14 could bring
itself to express gratitude for the Johns Committee's
The invasion of a university campus by a legisla-
tive investigating committee acting in such a man-
ner inescapably creates a depressing effect upon the
academic climate. In such an air no professor will
feel free. Excoriation by private extremist groups
is bad enough. Denunciation by an agency of the
state legislature compounds the injury, as at least
two cases not directly concerned with the Fleming
appointment very painfully demonstrate. One of
these will be reviewed later in this report.
Board of Control Policy Statement of October 19,
Even though the Board of Control was critical
of the abbreviated Johns Committee investigation
and report, it thanked the committee, as we have
seen, for its part in blocking the Fleming appoint-
ment. It reacted to this report further by issuing a
policy statement for the state universities of Florida
that had serious implications for academic freedom.
April 24, 1963, at which the Governor was also present, de-
fended the University and, according to press reports, charac-
terized the Johns Committee report as "a skillful blend of
truths, half-truths, and omissions."
Certain relevant portions of this policy statement
are as follows:
I. Selection of Faculty and Students
A. Faculty
1. The President of each institution shall main-
tain a file of . . . information regarding candi-
dates for appointment. . . . The file will con-
tain the names of at least two responsible
persons who have vouched for the candidate
and have a personal knowledge of or concrete
information as to the qualifications of the
candidate; including academic background,
loyalty, attitudes toward communism, moral
conduct, and general teaching ability.
2. Any guest lecturer, speaker, or other indi-
vidual who is to be brought by the University
to the campus for conferences or appearances
before the student body shall be first approved
by the President.
8. Fingerprinting of all University personnel will
be completed. . . .
II. Obscenity in Books and Teaching Materials
A. The President of each institution shall develop
planned procedures to insure that any material
considered for teaching purposes shall be:
1. Pertinent to the subject being taught
2. The best material available and obtainable
3. Within the purview of good taste and com-
mon decency. . . .
At the time of adopting this statement of policy
the Board of Control also reaffirmed a "policy on
morals and influences" which had been first adopted
on December 9, 1961, and which stated that,
Each institution shall screen carefully those indi-
viduals who are employed by it not only with regard
to their professional and academic competency but
also with regard to their ideology and their moral con-
duct. Furthermore, the Board directs that the insti-
tutions under its control exercise due care in the
selection of students, taking into account not only their
academic ability to perform satisfactorily but also their
character and behavior. The Board of Control also
directs the administration in each of the institutions
to be constantly alert to detect any antisocial or im-
moral behavior, such as Communistic activities or sex
deviation, which may occur among the faculty, the
staff, or the students of any of the institutions.
No matter how sincerely devoted to the princi-
ples of academic freedom a university administra-
tion might be, the existence of such policies and
procedures as the Board of Control defined in these
statements would be repressive and impracticable.
At the very time that the Board's policy statement
of October 19, 1962, was being issued, a case arose
which demonstrated to the University of South Flor-
SPRI NG 1964
ida—and other state institutions of higher educa-
tion—how it would be applied.
The Case of the English Professor
On October 19, 1962, without prior hearing, an
assistant professor, of English at the University of
South Florida was suspended by President Allen
for having distributed to his advanced writing
class for assigned reading an essay entitled, "The
Know-Nothing Bohemians," by Norman Podhoretz.
President Allen stated that in assigning this essay
the professor had willfully violated the Board of
Control policy, first adopted on September 1, 1962,
and repeated in the longer statement of October 19,
that teaching materials be "the best available and
obtainable, pertinent to the subject being taught,
and within the purview of good taste and common
decency." President Allen informed the professor
that, in accordance with his request, he would be
granted a hearing before a University hearing com-
mittee appointed by the President, as provided in
University regulations.
The essay was written by a thoroughly reputable
literary critic who is editor of Commentary maga-
zine, was originally published in Partisan Review,
and was reprinted in an anthology (A Casebook on
the Beat, ed. Thomas Parkinson, Crowell, New
York, 1961) used in classes in over 100 colleges and
universities. It is a severe indictment of "Beat" writ-
ing, denouncing it for intellectual and emotional
poverty and quoting some passages from the work
of Jack Kerouac. Senator Johns stated to the press
that he thought this material had been turned over
to the Johns Committee by a student, who gave
it to the Board of Control; and when it was shown
to President Allen at a Board meeting he sum-
marily suspended the professor pending the out-
come of the hearing committee inquiry.
The nine-man faculty hearing committee made
an exhaustive investigation. Its 62-page report with
200 pages of appendices included recorded testimony
of students, faculty, and outside consultants and
letters from other institutions concerning the ma-
terial in question and the professor himself. The
committee concluded that the professor's
choice of the Podhoretz essay . . . conformed to the
Board of Control policy statement . . . regarding ma-
terials considered for teaching purposes. . . .
That Dr. did in no way, by either speech or
action, wilfully violate the intent and the spirit of the
Board of Control policy statement.
That the responsibility of judging and evaluating
instructional classroom material must rest primarily
with the instructor; and that the evidence shows con-
clusively that Dr. has exercised responsible judg-
ment throughout his teaching career, and at all times
since coming to the Universtiy of South Florida.
In conclusion the committee recommended "im-
mediate reinstatement" of the professor and asserted
that all the testimony "strongly indicated that [his]
suspension should in no way prejudice his academic
standing and his opportunity for professional ad-
President Allen accepted the committee's recom-
mendation in part. He reinstated the professor, but
he accompanied the reinstatement with an expres-
sion of his own opinion that the essay used was not
"consonant with our efforts to set a proper tone, a
wholesome environment and high standards at the
University of South Florida." Therefore, he rein-
stated him with a "censure for poor judgment in
this instance."
This incident raised several issues of academic
freedom. First of all, in keeping with the Board of
Control policy statement, the action was based on
the assumption that a professor in introducing sub-
jects to his students should comply with certain
ill-defined standards of orthodoxy. This strikes at
the central purpose of an institution of higher edu-
cation, which must be a place of intellectual in-
quiry, not a center for indoctrination. The state-
ment of protest prepared by the University of South
Florida Chapter of this Association summarized the
destructive effect of the suspension in well-chosen
[It] destroys the responsibility of the faculty to select
materials appropriate to the subject taught, and to the
context of the level and maturity of the course in
which it is used. It debases the freedom and responsi-
bility of higher education in every university in
Florida subject to the control of the Board of Control.
It will subject every class and every professor to the
biased or immature censorship of anyone who chooses
to complain to the Board, whether he understand or
not understand the intent of the material used, or its
relevance to the teaching problem of the class.
The suspension also raised an issue of due process.
The 1958 Statement on Procedural Standards in
Faculty Dismissal Proceedings states that "Suspen-
sion of the faculty member during the proceedings
involving him is justified only if immediate harm
to himself or others is threatened by his continu-
ance." No such claim could be made in this case.
Furthermore, the suspension was applied before the
officials of the university had made adequate inquiry
into the alleged violation. The suspension was
precipitate and unwarranted.
Finally, in view of the faculty hearing committee's
findings and recommendations, President Allen's
censure of the professor seems particularly unjusti-
fied. When an administrator chooses to ignore a
professor's colleagues after exhaustive investigation
and study, professional judgment does not receive
decent respect even within the university. If Presi-
dent Allen was compelled by the Board of Control
to censure the professor as a condition of his re-
instatement, his action becomes more understand-
able; but academic freedom is still endangered by
the imposition of nonprofessional standards of class-
room conduct.
The New Statement of Policy on Academic Freedom
and Responsibilities.
The Board policy and the action based upon it
were met by strong protests from AAUP chapters
and faculty members of Florida's public and private
colleges and universities. The incident was given
great publicity in the press all over the state, and
editorial reaction was generally critical of the Board
of Control action and of the Johns Committee inter-
vention in university affairs. Even before the fac-
ulty hearing committee completed its report on
the suspended professor the Board had taken action
which was to lead to a revocation of its October 19th
directive. Early in November the Chairman of the
Board of Control called a meeting of representa-
tives of the Board, the presidents of the state uni-
versities, and two faculty members from each uni-
versity to consider "definitions of academic freedom
and responsibility." At this meeting a subcommittee
of two members of the Board and one faculty mem-
ber from each of the four universities was directed
to prepare a statement of policy. The "Statement of
Policy on Academic Freedom and Responsibilities"
prepared by this group was then formally adopted
by the full Board of Control on December 7, 1962.
In this statement the Board expresses its belief
that "academic freedom and responsibility are es-
sential to the full development of a true university
and apply to teaching, research and creativity. In
the development of knowledge, research endeav-
ors, and creative activities, a university faculty and
student body must be free to cultivate a spirit of
inquiry and scholarly criticism and to examine ideas
in an atmosphere of freedom and confidence. . . ."
In the matter of selecting faculty and students the
Board omitted the references to "loyalty" and po-
litical attitudes while enjoining the administrations
of the state universities to "guard against activities
subversive to the American democratic processes and
against immoral behavior, such as sex deviation."
"Later, after the storm had subsided, the English professor
was. offered a promotion and salary increase for the following
year. Understandably, however, he chose to take a position at
another institution.
The statement affirms the propriety of discussing
and analyzing religion in the classroom as long as
the professor pursues such discussion "objectively
and impartially without advocacy or indoctrination
and with due respect for the religious beliefs of all
concerned." Furthermore, the statement recognizes
the right of the teacher to choose his own teaching
materials, with the understanding that the materials
chosen are "among the best available, germane and
in good taste within the context of the educational
or scientific purposes."
At the same time that the Board accepted the
new policy statement on academic freedom and
responsibility, it issued a new statement of policy
on tenure and termination of faculty employment.
This policy in general complies with the 1940 State-
ment of Principles except that it allows a proba-
tionary period of up to five years, regardless of
previous full-time experience, before tenure is
granted or refused.
University Policy on Invitations to Outside Speakers.
President Allen's exercise of his veto power over
the invitation of outside speakers to the campus has
shown a lack of consistency which could be viewed
as posing a threat to academic freedom. On the one
hand, Harlow Shapley, outspoken Harvard astrono-
mer, Norman Cousins, president of the Saturday
Review, and William Buckley, editor of the National
Review, have recently spoken on the campus. On
the other hand, President Allen has vetoed on at
least two occasions invitations apparentlv on the
basis of political views. During the 1962-63 school
year a campus student group proposed inviting Nor-
man Thomas to address a public meeting, but Presi-
dent Allen refused permission even though Mr.
Thomas spoke at other state universities in Florida.
This incident occurred before the adoption of the
new statement on academic freedom and responsi-
bility. However, after the issuance of the new state-
ment, when the science faculty suggested that Dr.
Kirtley Mather, an eminent geologist, be invited to
give an address on a scientific subject, President
Allen again exercised his veto power.
IV. Further Observations
One cannot review recent events at the University
of South Florida without a sense of outrage. A
faculty and deans, many of exceptional energy and
vision, hoping to put into effect a program not
hampered by inertia and vested interests, were
pounced upon by a private organization and a pub-
lic agency. The consequent distraction of energies
and thought and the disruption of normal duties
SPRI NG 1964
shamefully wasted talent and nervous energy. The
Board of Control was particularly culpable in its
failure to stand between this new institution and
its critics. The President likewise failed, at least
through the period specifically involved in this re-
port, to respond with proper vigor to the forces of
ignorance, prejudice, and repression. This commit-
tee is aware that the pressures were great. Responsi-
bilities were correspondingly so. At any time, but
especially in periods of tension, the protection of
academic integrity is a primary function of trustees
and administrative staffs. In this respect, both the
Board and the President were delinquent.
On the other hand, both the faculty and deans
exhibited a high quality of devotion. We believe
that special mention should be made of the work
of the University of South Florida Chapter of the
American Association of University Professors.
Throughout the extremely trying times the AAUP
chapter waged a vigorous fight, including the estab-
lishment of a substantial legal defense fund, to pre-
serve the highest standards of academic freedom
and at all times remained calm and judicious, not
allowing itself, despite extreme provocation, to be
drawn into hasty or intemperate action. This is all
the more remarkable in that this faculty is new and
its members relatively young. There were only a
dozen or so full professors on the whole faculty and
very few members with tenure at the time of these
incidents. The South Florida Chapter received im-
portant support from the chapters at other state
universities and from the State Conference of the
The attack on the University has brought to its
defense important segments of the Tampa commun-
ity and the state, and, following the ill-considered
adoption of its October 1962 regulations, the Board
of Control at last consulted with faculty members
in writing a greatly improved statement of policy on
academic freedom and responsibility.
Nevertheless, there remain matters of grave con-
cern. The Florida legislature, in the spring of
1963, not only extended the life of the Johns Com-
mittee, but increased its appropriation for the next
biennium. This is, in effect, a vote of confidence in
the committee by the legislature, and it is signifi-
cant that, in its report to the legislature, the com-
mittee concentrated almost exclusively on its investi-
gation of the University of South Florida.
The Board of Control and President Allen must
share the responsibility for the disruptive and in-
jurious decisions regarding Professor Fleming and
two professors who were suspended and investigated.
Neither the Board nor the President supported aca-
demic freedom or fair play for Professor Fleming
to the degree one has the right to expect of the
administration of an institution of higher education.
The ad hoc committee found it impossible to de-
termine their relative responsibility for some of the
decisions. In the case of the refusal to ask the Board
for approval of Professor Fleming's appointment,
President Allen says the decision was his alone, but
it is clear that by the time he made his decision
he had informal notice of how the Board would
receive the request. Once the decision was made,
the Board indicated its approval of it and allied
itself with the Johns Committee in taking at least
partial "credit" for it.
In the case of the suspension of the English pro-
fessor, President Allen has said that his action in
suspending the professor was all that prevented him
from being summarily dismissed by the Board. Like-
wise he defends his reprimand of the professor as a
condition for reinstatement. Though this may have
been imposed by the Board, the ad hoc committee
believes that the Board and the President were
jointly responsible for these decisions.
With regard to the banning of speakers, in at
least one case the responsibility is clearly President
Allen's. Norman Thomas spoke on other university
campuses under the jurisdiction of the State Board
of Control, and the committee has no evidence that
the Board objected.
In conclusion, we must emphasize that the Board
and President Allen must share the responsibility
for the grievous failure to acknowledge any respon-
sibility to Professor Fleming for the financial cost
to him of their actions. Professor Fleming lost money
on the down payment he had made on a house in
Tampa, he was subjected to the cost and incon-
venience of having to make other arrangements for
the people who had rented his home in Nashville,
and he lost the opportunity to consider another
appointment for that year. At the very least, in the
judgment of the ad hoc committee, the University
of South Florida has an obligation to him for the
salary he had been promised for his year's service.
V. Conclusions
We believe the evidence supports the conclusion
that Professor D. F. Fleming was denied a position
to which, according to the normal practices of the
academic community, he had been appointed; that
the denial was carried out without any considera-
tion of Professor Fleming's rights under accepted
practices of due process; and that the reasons ad-
vanced for the denial were inadequate. Further-
more, we conclude that the investigation has re-
vealed unsatisfactory conditions of academic free-
dom at the University of South Florida. Both of
these deplorable situations were created by the fail-
ure of President Allen and the State Board of Con-
trol of Florida to act responsibly in accordance with
traditional standards of academic good practices.
C. William Heywood (History), Cornell College,
Robert M. Wallace (English), Charlotte College
The Investigating Committee
Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure
has by vote authorized publication of this report in
the AAUP Bulletin:
David Fellman (Political Science), University of
Wisconsin, Chairman
Members: Richard P. Adams (English), Tulane
University; William 0. Aydelotte (History), Univer-
sity of Iowa; Frances C. Brown (Chemistry), Duke
University; Clark Byse (Law), Harvard University;
Bertram H. Davis (English), Washington Office; Wil-
liam P. Fidler (English), Washington Office, ex
officio; Ralph F. Fuchs (Law), Indiana University;
C. William Heywood (History), Cornell College;
Fritz Machlup (Economics), Princeton University,
ex officio; Walter P. Metzger (History), Columbia
University; Paul Oberst (Law), University of Ken-
tucky; John P. Roche (Political Science), Brandeis
University; Warren Taylor (English) , Oberlin Col-
SPRI NG 1964 57