Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vision 1944

In the new Texas Monthly, Paul Burka compares the current situation at Texas A&M to travails at tu in the 1940s
Rainey’s presidency occurred during a period when the dominant Democratic party was dividing into pro- and anti-Roosevelt factions. O’Daniel’s appointees were anti-Roosevelt. Stevenson’s were too, including one D. F. Strickland, the leading lobbyist of the day, and a timber baron named Lutcher Stark. In 1942 the regents voted to fire three economics professors who had supported the limiting of the workweek to forty hours. The American Association of University Professors sent an investigator to Texas, who concluded that a violation of academic freedom had taken place.

This was soon followed by Strickland’s attempt to have John Dos Passos’s trilogy, U.S.A., removed from an English Department reading list. He failed. Strickland later attempted to ban tenure at UT (he had been successful in influencing A&M regents to do so) and did get the tenure policy revised. Stark wanted Rainey to fire three employees of the University Interscholastic League for changing eligibility rules for high school football, which rendered two of his sons, who were seniors, unable to compete. Rainey refused. Each of these incidents caused him to lose support, though he never really had much to begin with. Rainey hung on until November 1944, when the regents terminated him
Things have improved since then: Rainey was at tu for five years; Perry's appointees got rid of Murano in less than two.

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