June 11, 1970


1. At your suggestion I undertook to review Bill Trombley's stories on the Angela Davis situation. In the process I read the 9 recent newspaper articles on Angela Davis which the records office had in its files, plus today's Gazette. Only one of these articles is by Trombley, so I might be missing other articles by him.

2. I was impressed by the number of references to persons or groups who are on record in support of rehiring Angela Davis for the coming academic year. Likewise, I was struck by the paucity of negative or ambiguous references. These articles appear to comprise the public record to date on the Angela Davis issue. It is the public record, of course, to which the students and faculty at Berkeley will react. No doubt this public record will be expanded by whatever evidence the Regents will produce to justify terminating Miss Davis. Although prejudicial evidence may surface at that time, the fact remains that the public record to date suggests by a strong preponderence of the evidence that Miss Davis should be permitted to complete the customary second year of her association with UCLA.

3. References to persons and groups supporting Miss David. (Letters in parenthesis tefer to the list of articles appended to this memorandum.)

  1. Department of Philosophy, UCLA.

    Although divided on the original job offer, the department unanimously recommended reappointment. (E, C, I) The acting chairman of the department (David Kaplan) and the chairman-designate (Montgomery Furth) both denounced the Regents' action as a "basid usurpation of academic authority" and said that "her non-reappointment would be a calamity." (E)


    In addition, professors, presumably from her department, "who attended her classes to evaluate them have unanimously described her as an excellent teacher, with no evidence of indoctrination." (H)

  2. Students in her class.

    "Miss Davis has been highly rated by her students. Anonymous evaluations by them last quarter showed that 54 rated her teaching as excellent, 5 as good, 1 as fair, while only 1 called it poor." (H)

  3. Dean, Humanities Division, UCLA—agreed to the recommendation of Philosophy Department. (C)

  4. Dean Franklin P. Rolfe, College of Letters & Science, UCLA—agreed to recommendation of Philosophy Department and said, "Miss Davis' academic qualifications for reappointment `are unquestionable.'" (C) (This clashes with paragraph 4(6) below.)

  5. "UCLA Faculties' budget committee" (referred to as "the final faculty review panel in personnel cases")—recommended reappointment. (C)

  6. Special ad hoc faculty committee.

    This seven-member "blue ribbon" committee, appointed by the Chancellor, was asked to investigate charges that Miss Davis was "propagandizing" her students. The committee reported that "she was not indoctrinating her students, but was giving a balanced viewpoint on any subject she covered" and found that she had missed only two scheduled classes and later made them up. The committee recommended her retention. (A, C, G, I)

  7. AFT at UCLA—is quoted as saying that the Regents are "bent on stripping the faculty and the administration of traditional prerogatives over academic hiring and promotion, and in the process divesting us all of the dignity of professional educators." (E)

  8. 3
  9. Academic Senate, UCLA.

    Passed a resolution (186 to 4) to assure her a teaching position even if she is fired.

    Passed a resolution (209 to 5) denoucing the Regents' action and called that action "a lawless and irresponsible usurpation of the rights of faculty and administrators."

    Declared that the Senate would take appropriate steps to assure that students would receive full academic credit for her courses.

    Declared that the Senate would guarantee, through faculty donations or other means, that she will receive her full salary and benefits for the next academic year. (E,F)

  10. Chancellor Young.

    He has made a number of statements including: "If the Regents look at the record and exclude improper political considerations, they can come up with no other conclusion than to rehire her." (E, C)

  11. President Hitch—is said to have opposed the Regents' decision to remove the authority of the President and the Chancellor to rehire Miss Davis. (B)

4. Negative and ambiguous references.

  1. The ad hoc faculty committee found that Miss Davis' "choice of languages" did not exhibit "appropriate restraint in the exercise of academic freedom." But, apparently that wa sthe only stated criticism resulting from its evaluation of her. (C)

  2. Chancellor Young is quoted as saying that Miss Davis would not be reappointed beyond a second year, citing departmental doubts about her research capabilities and the budget squeeze. (C)

  3. Chancellor Young at one point may have indicated to the Regents that Miss Davis would not be rehired beyond her first year. Such a remark has been attributed to Regent Simon, but Young has flatly denied making such a promise to the Regents and maintains that Simon himself has since

    indicated that the remarks attributed to Simon were not correct. (E)

  4. Moskowitz reports that "most of the reports from UCLA where she works are uniformly glowing..." "Most" implies that there are some reports that are not supportive of Miss Davis, but no such report is referred to and, taken in context, the reference is at best ambiguous. (I)

  5. The College of Letters & Science made a recommendation to Young concerning the rehiring of Miss Davis. Today's Gazette reports that L&S Dean Rolfe in a letter dated April 22, recommended to Vice Chancellor David Saxton that Miss Davis not be rehired on the grounds that other appointments within the Division should have priority in the current budget squeeze. He maintained in that letter that the "original appointment was strictly temporary, for one year only." (J)

    However, since writing that letter Rolfe has clarified his position to make clear that he strongly supports her reappointment, has no budgetary reservation if her salary is paid through the faculty development (Minority) program, and, in any event, does not believe that the issue should be resolved on budgetary grounds.

5. Chancellor Young may be faulted for procedural miscues in the handling of the Davis case. These tactical errors do not appear to go to the merits of the substantive issue. To repeat, the record made public so far spells out a very strong case for rehiring Miss Davis. The best summary may be that of Trombley's: "...all of the available evidence indicated that Professor Davis was a good teacher and a promising faculty member who deserved reappointment for the customary year of her acting assistant professorship." (C)

Jack Schuster

JHS: pj


May 17  S.F. Chronicle (Muscowitz) 
May 17  S.F. Examiner-Chron 
May 17  L.A. Times (Trombley) 
May 18  Oakland Tribune 
May 19  L.A. Times (Greenwood) 
May 20  S.F. Chronicle 
May 27  Examiner-Chronicle—This World 
June 8  S.F. Examiner (Irving) 
June 9  S.F. Chronicle (Muscowitz) 
June 11  Berkeley Gazette 

About this text
Courtesy of University Archives, The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000;
Title: RE Angela Davis, June 12, 1970
Date: June 12, 1970
Contributing Institution: University Archives, The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000;
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