New York Times
ALUMNI ROUSED BY NEARING
Demand in Letter that Pennsylvania Trustees Explain Professor’s Dismissal
MINISTERS MAKE PROTEST
Association of University Professors and Other Bodies to Take Up Free Speech
Special to The New York Times.
PHILADELPHIA, June 21. — Radical measures were devised today by the
Philadelphia alumni of the University of Pennsylvania to get from the Trustees
of the institution an explanation of their reasons for dropping from the faculty
of the Wharton School of Business and Finance Dr. Scott Nearing, vigorous free
speech advocate. A movement to join Faculty friends of the dismissed professor
and Pennsylvania graduates into a central working force took definite shape in
the organization of a committee of twenty.
Letters were drafted by the committee and mailed tonight to each member of the Board of Trusteess, demanding the facts in the Nearing case. At the same time steps were taken to make the Nearing question a national issues by bringing it to the attention of the American Association of University Professors, which was formed a few months ago for the purpose of maintaining academic freedom of speech.
In a telegram received here tonight, Professor John Dewey of Columbia University, President of the association said the matter had not been officially brought to the notice of the association. Local supporters of Dr. Nearing said tonight this would be done with a few days with a format petition for consideration of Dr. Nearing’s case before a board of American professors.
The letter sent to the Trustees follows:
We are, as alumni of the University of Pennsylvania, very directly interested in the discussion occasioned by the abrupt termination of the connection of Dr. Scott Nearing with the university. It has been generally assumed that this action on your part has been due to the views on social and economic questions expressed by Dr. Nearing. For two years in the press throughout the United States it has been repeatedly stated that Dr. Nearing would be dismissed because his views differed from those of the Trustees.
This dismissal has now become a fact, and the press persists in placing it upon these grounds. If unexplained, we believe the public generally will accept these grounds as the true ones. In view of the circumstances and the relation of the university to the public, we deem it of the utmost importance that the Trustees state clearly the reasons for their decision, so that the alumni may be able to take such action as seems to them appropriate on undisputed facts.
The public has come to consider our institutions of learning as centres where current problems can be discussed, and the slightest suggestion of an effort on the part of any group of individuals to use their power over the means of livelihood of professors to influence the expression of their thoughts affects the confidence of the whole community in their sincerity of opinion voiced by all professors and instructors.
In order that you may not feel that this is the opinion of only a few alumni, and in order that you may have for your consideration the attitude of a larger number than can now be called together, we are sending a copy of this letter to certain groups of alumni with the request that they write to you expressing their own opinions thereon.
The Baptist Ministers at their weekly meeting today discussed the Nearing case and passed a resolution protesting against his dismissal without being informed of the grounds upon which it was don. The resolution, among other things, branded the silence on the part of the Trustees as an admission that their action was meant as a blow against free speech.
Also it developed today that a Joint committee representing the American Sociological Association (sic), The American Economic Association, and the Political Science Association, would take up Dr. Nearing’s case.
There is a feeling among university backers that the alumni will withhold their financial support of the institution unless the Nearing affair is satisfactorily straightened out. Reports tonight had it that the executors of the Wharton estate had been considering a $1,000,000 bequest for a new Wharton School building, which would probably be withheld as a result of the Nearing dismissal. When asked if that were true Harrison S. Morris, chief executor of the estate and one of the first to voice his protest against the trustees’ action, said:
“Such a gift had been considered, but it would hardly be given under the present management.”
Special to the New York Times
BALTIMORE, June 21. — Professor A. O. Lovejoy of Johns Hopkins University, and Secretary of the American Association of University Professors stated tonight that the associations Committee on Academic Freedom had taken up the question of the dismissal of Professor Scott Nearing by Pennsylvania University and had the matter under consideration. He did not know how far the investigation had progressed, and declared it was impossible for him at the present stage to venture any opinion as to the outcome.