External Governmental Controls
The decade of the Fleming Years witnessed an extraordinary growth in the number and scope of governmental actions, both state and federal, which intruded upon the operation of the University. They affected the governance of the institution, the research activity, employment practices, and internal resource allocation for required conduct on a large scale. In turn, there was an enormous increase in litigation between the university, agencies of the government, and individuals who felt aggrieved.
In matters of governance, the Open Meetings Act changed some of the practices in relations between administration and Regents. Privacy legislation required extensive modification of personnel records and the procedures which governed their use. State agencies sought to develop "formula" funding procedures which would determine state appropriations for all educational institutions, and some of the proposals would have proved disastrous to the University by reason of their failure to recognize the differing costs of the advanced courses in the sciences, the medical school, and elsewhere, and the added costs which the research activity engendered. Perennially there was talk of creating a "super board" to exercise centralized control over all university administrations — a move which advocates argued would avoid unnecessary duplication of programs and reduce the costs of higher education. Fleming spoke in restrained fashion on this proposal: "Such an approach seems to have no present support in Michigan, and it is, in my judgement, an unwise way to go at the problem (of high costs)."
Page 25From the federal government came the Executive Order requiring affirmative action programs. It is difficult to estimate the hours and dollars which were expended in responding to the legal requirements, in educating the University community as to the compelling purposes behind the program, and in monitoring the compliance within the University. There was almost constant tension between all major universities and the federal agencies, largely because the former felt that policies and procedures which might be appropriate for industrial employers were quite inappropriate to universities, and they found themselves unable to secure modification in the requirements from the federal agencies. The record, however, shows clearly the University's commitment to the purposes of the program. A first affirmative action program was developed and filed in 1969; a Commission for Women and a Commission for Minorities were created within the University in the early 1970's for the express purpose of developing procedures, policies and practices which would help assure attainment of goals; a major restructuring of the classification and salaries of all professional and administrative staff members was financed and accomplished in 1972 to redress perceived inequities in the earlier system; employment practices which required specific attention to getting minority applicants were inaugurated; expansion of the intercollegiate program for women's athletics began in 1973, and continued unabated; continued and expanding monetary support was found for the Center for the Continuing Education of Women; the Center for African and Afro-American Studies was created; budgetary allocation for support of graduate students reached a point where the Dean of the Graduate School could say at the end of Fleming's term: "The budget of this University for the support of minority graduate students continues to remain one of the largest of any university in the country, if not the largest;" and ongoing efforts to open the University and provide improved opportunities for women, for minority staff members and students, and for the handicapped, were built into the operational system.
Increasing concern by the public about research with human subjects produced elaborate regulations, which required the University to strengthen its review processes. While there was never objection, the required resource allocation was not always easy to achieve. Similarly, the health and safety regulations of OSHA were entirely compatible with University desires, but Fleming and his staff had to find the resources for compliance, often at a level which strained budgetary capability.