New York Times
COLUMBIA REFUSES PENSION TO CATTELL
Trustees Also Decline to Reopen Hearing for Dismissed Professor.
SUIT IS NOW EXPECTED
University Has Held His Anti-Draft Agitation Hurt the Institution.
The Trustees of Columbia University have refused a request by Dr. J. McKeen Cattell, who was dismissed from the Columbia Faculty last October on a charge of encouraging disloyalty, for a rehearing of his case and for his retirement on a pension, in view of the fact that he had been in the service of the university for a year more than the twenty-five-year period at the time that he was dismissed.
Dr. Cattell, who was a professor in the Department of Psychology, was found guilty by the Trustees of sending letters to Congressmen urging them to vote against sending drafted men to Europe and of other acts of agitation, held by the Trustees to have done "grave injury to the university." Professor Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Dana was dismissed at the same time for agitating against the war.
Dr. Cattell’s action was taken as the forerunner of legal proceedings to attempt to force a public hearing of the charges against him and his retirement on a pension. The correspondence which has been printed in the Bulleting of the American Association of University Professors, is as follows:
March 26, 1918.
To the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York.
Sirs: I beg to submit to you the following requests:
(1) That the proceedings which resulted in the passage of the resolution removing me from the Chair of Psychology on Oct. 1, 1917, be reopened, and that at a hearing before an impartial body and on properly specified charges I be given opportunity to defend myself against the accusation of "treason," "sedition," and "opposition to the enforcement of the laws of the United States."
(2) That my salary be paid for the present academic year.
(3) That, in accordance with the terms of the statutes of the university, I be retired from active service on July 1, with the pension due me.
Presentation of the first request has been postponed until the American Association of University Professors had made its report. The association has now investigated the charges, and on a full review of the facts has stated its conclusions in the following words:
"It is a grave abuse of the power of dismissal when it is used to deny to members of university Faculties the enjoyment of their fundamental constitutional rights as citizens; and an institution in which dismissal is possible upon such a ground as was officially put forward in its case is one in which adequate guarantees of academic freedom and manifestly lacking. it is in some respects a still graver abuse of power when administrative officers or governing boards attempt by their official declarations publicly to attach the stigma of treasonable or seditious conduct to an individual teacher because of acts of his which are in fact neither treasonable nor seditious.
"When charges are brought against a member of a college or university Faculty upon any grounds, the proceedings should, as a matter of course, be strictly judicial in character, and should be in accord with the principles of Faculty responsibility. In other words, the person accused should be entitled to have the charges against him stated in writing in specific terms, and to have a fair trial on those charges before either the judicial committee of the Faculty or a joint committee composed of an equal number of professors and Trustees, which should render definite findings, stating in case of a decision adverse to the accused, the precise acts on which the decision is based. The importance of maintaining these procedural safeguards against hasty or unjust action is, if possible, even greater at a time of popular excitement and heightened passions than under normal conditions."
These findings of the American Association of University Professors are in consonance with Anglo-Saxon conceptions of elementary justice. The charges on which I was dismissed after twenty-six years of continuous service as a full professor of Columbia University are exceedingly grave in character, and are by law made crimes punishable by the most severe penalties. A proceeding by which a body of men undertake to adjudge a university professor guilty of such heinous crimes without a trail and to publish its findings broadcast is revolting to the sense of fairness and of justice. It cannot be allowed to stand.
My second request is based on the fact that my tenure of office was at least from year to year —i.e., from July 1 to June 30.
As to my request for retirement on pension on July 1 nest, I beg to remind you that I completed the full period of twenty-five years of service as professor of Columbia University prior to Oct. 1, 1917, and that on the completion of this period my right to the pension provided by the statutes of the university became an accrued and vested right of which I can not be deprived by any subsequent acts on my part or by any resolution of the Trustees.
In this connection I desire to call to your attention a letter written to me by the President of the University on May 9, 1913, stating that I became entitled to the pension under Section 67 of the statutes of July 1, 1913,
(signed) J. McKeen Cattell.
The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York.
John B. Pine, Clerk,
63 Wall Street, New York,
April 3, 1918
J. McKeen Cattell, Esq., Garrison-on-Hudson, N.Y.
Dear Sir: I am instructed by the Trustees of Columbia University to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of March 26, and to inform you that they decline to comply with each and every request therein contained. Yours truly,
(signed) John B. Pine, Clerk
At the time Professors Cattell and Dana were dismissed, Frank D. Fackenthal, Secretary of the university made this explanation:
"If Professor Cattell had been retired it would have meant that he would still receive a pension and so be in a manner connected with the university. That is not the case, however. The two men were expelled."