The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

The Holding Period

Aux (Barbara Newell) assumed the responsibility of Vice President in July of 1968. Dr. Newell, Assistant to President Robben Fleming at Michigan, and earlier when Fleming served as Chancellor of the Madison Campus of the University of Wisconsin, was appointed Acting Vice President of Student Services. The name change for the division reflected the evolutionary change in the institutional attitude toward students.

All of the various offices in Student Affairs became part of student Services and were inherited by Newell as part of her responsibilities. The appointment of Acting Vice President Newell, did not diminish or affect either the nature or tone of prevailing student activism on campus. During her tenure in office, which lasted until June, 1970, the campus was consumed with controversy regarding the creation of a student bookstore, rents in family housing, day care facilities, new forms of coeducational housing, and the role of students in the decision making process.

The importance of student participation in the decision making process was identified in The Special Study Committee for the Office of Student Affairs in 1962, in the report of the President's Commission on Off-Campus Housing of November, 1965, and subsequently in the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs report on Student Participation in University Affairs in 1966. This latter committee, chaired by Law School Professor Robert Knauss, provided the most detailed and wide sweeping recommendations related to active student involvement in the decision making process at the University.

The recommendations in the report related to student participation bore a striking resemblance to the prevailing faculty model of governance. Student Page  8Affairs/Student Service Offices, based on these recommendations, were to develop a committee of student and faculty members which would advise the appropriate department head similar to the collegial relationship that existed between the executive committee found in academic departments and the chairman of the department. This faculty model, which had evolved over decades, had the advantage of the long term stability among the faculty, unlike the students whose tenure on campus was limited to the duration of their academic program. The governance concept being advocated reflected a Scandinavian influence of student-institution relations in non-academic matters which in the abstract was attractive as a means of dispelling the conflict and hostility racking not only this campus, but most other universities. The model failed to account for historical, philosophical, economic and legal aspects of higher education in this country. The students, however, desired to move beyond an advisory relationship to actually making administrative and policy decisions without review by any higher authority.

This confusion forced many decisions to be resolved by the President and Regents. Issues related to the appropriateness of a division head disagreeing with a unit committee were adjudicated by the President. Similar involvement by the President and Regents occurred in reference to the development of a University Bookstore, day care facilities and coed corridors in the Residence Halls. University funding was denied to the bookstore and day care projects, which could only become a reality if students were willing to submit to a fee increase for these services. The bookstore became a fact with the day care proposal failing to receive wide based student support. Coed corridors became possible based on faculty support of the concept.

The one mechanism where students accepted an advisory role was in the development of a housing rate committee. The first student rate committee for the Residence Halls met in the Fall of 1967. The Family Housing rate study Page  9committee followed a year later. Students serving on the rate study committees were made clearly aware of their role in the process, and with minor alterations, the structure remained operational over the years, continuing until the present. Newell resigned from the position as Acting Vice President of Student Services in 1970, electing to leave the campus for another position. Following a search that involved students and faculty, Law School Professor Robert Knauss was named Vice President for Student Services.

Acting Vice President Newell's tenure can best be characterized as maintenance of the status quo. Limited by the tentative nature of her appointment, little else would reasonably be expected. No major modifications of philosophy or organizational structure were postulated with the exception of initial interest in the creation of an Ombudsperson position to reconcile student grievances. This was one Scandinavian governmental concept that was compatible within the University.