McCrea Hazlett

Interviewee: Hazlett, McCrea
Interviewer: End, Jack
Duration: 48 minutes
Date: 1971-05-24


Biographical note: McCrea Hazlett (1916–2007) graduated from Westminster College in Pennsylvania and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Chicago. His academic specialties included English literature of the 17th century and the art, literature, and culture of India. In 1957, he was hired by the University as dean of students and assistant professor of English. He became dean of the College of Arts and Science in 1958 and provost in 1961. In 1968, Hazlett became the vice president for special academic activities and later vice president for public affairs. In 1971, Hazlett was appointed cultural affairs officer to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi where Kenneth B. Keating (UR 1919) was ambassador. In the 1980s and 1990s, he returned to the English department and started the department’s speech program. The McCrea Hazlett Award is given to a student who demonstrates excellence in public speaking.

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Jack End: Mac, what were your impressions of the University when you first came here in 1957?

McCrae Hazlett: Jack, I’d been at the University of Chicago for fourteen years[1], a university with considerably greater size at that time than the University of Rochester and frankly considerably greater prestige. I came on an April day – I guess it was a March day to be interviewed and it turned out that it was the only nice day that spring. [laughs] So I feel that I was brought here under false pretenses. I think the thing that worried me most about coming here – and I liked a very great deal about it – was the appearance the University gave of being very, very heavily weighted in the direction of the sciences. Now I have no prejudice against the sciences, but as a humanist I didn’t want to find myself suddenly at a technological institute because I didn’t think I’d fit in. It turned out that that was merely an impression. I think it’s an impression we still give, as a matter of fact. but most of the students, particularly most of the undergraduate students, are in the humanities. I think the impression is given partly because of the highly developed technological nature of the city, our identification with companies like Bausch and Lomb, Eastman, and so on, and because we devote more space to the sciences simply because they require more space.

The other impression I had, I succeeded a very competent woman by the name of Margaret Habein[2], who had been Dean of the College for Women before while the Men’s and Women’s Colleges were separate[3]. And she had resigned. She had resigned with a certain amount of unhappiness and her associate dean of students – that wasn’t her exact title – but her associate dean had resigned with her[4]. They’d resigned a year in advance, giving ample time for looking for candidates. They spent an hour or two in the one day I was here being interviewed, talking with me about exactly the way they perceived the problem. They saw a university moving away from an institution devoted to liberal arts education to the undergraduate. Actually, I think their ideal was some kind of a combination of Amherst, Vassar, and Swarthmore toward what they considered to be the image of the Midwestern university. And certainly there’s no doubt about it, that Dr. de Kiewiet, the then-President, had greater admiration for the American state university than he did for the American private university; he felt it was – that this was one of America’s unique contributions to higher education, the large, complex state university.

So that they were – they had resigned on – as a matter of principle. They had resigned without jobs to go to; I gather they – neither of them having trouble finding one. and the issue that was posed to me was: did I want to come in to this kind of environment and could I support the view that, the University should develop graduate work; it should get larger; its tuition which was then nine hundred and forty dollars – now it’s what, twenty-six hundred and next year, the year after next, it’s going to be twenty-nine hundred – could I come in and support the kind of institution that Dr. de Kiewiet had in mind.

Well, I don’t think I would have wanted to come to, a large Midwestern university with twenty-five thousand students. But Chicago is midway between what Rochester had been and what the Midwestern university is. It’s complex, has many professional schools, has a superb reputation in graduate work, and yet has been able to give excellent undergraduate education, in a student body of between seven and nine thousand students including everything, graduate students, undergraduates, and so on. So I felt it was feasible to move into this kind of environment and try to help it grow in that direction. I never had any view that we would we would grow up to be twenty or twenty-five thousand students. There was a scare in the late fifties, early sixties, at the time Buffalo became part of the state university system, because the Regents, or the state university, announced that they were going to select one private institution in the western part of the state to join the system. And there was quite a lot of feeling in the City of Rochester that Rochester ought to be that university. Had that happened, I’m sure we would now be two or three times the size we are and have a much different, kind of image.

So those were what I think were my general impressions. I liked the people, liked the place, Dr. Noyes[5], who was Dean of the College of Arts and Science and a distinguished chemist, impressed me very much Vice-President Harry Mills[6] was somebody I felt I could work with. Dr. de Kiewiet was not here at the time but I heard many very good things about him.

JE: Of all the positions that you’ve held at the University, which one interested you the most?

MH: Oh, I think being Dean of Arts and Science frankly, um . . . my – as the biographical sketch will show, I spent one year here as Dean of Students and then three years as Dean of Arts and Science, succeeding Professor Noyes, who unfortunately developed bad ulcers and couldn’t continue in his administrative work. And the reason I think it interested me most was that I worked closely with faculty. We were in the process of developing the College; there was quite a lot of money available for new faculty appointments. And there was a sense of excitement and growth in the faculty which I think is gone now, not necessarily due to anybody’s fault but simply because the growth has gone. In that three-year period we changed, oh, a half-dozen or so department chairmen, made a number of key appointments, eliminated the Department of Sociology, started the Department of Anthropology, and something was happening all the time. It was great fun and I enjoyed it. I think that had it gone on for another five or six years, it would – the same thing would’ve happened that’s happened to any administrative job, that the honeymoon between me and the faculty would have been over. And, perhaps our relations would’ve would’ve been more strained. But I consider it one of the most three of the most creative and interesting years in my administrative experience. Other – I’ve always had interesting things to do here but that’s the top one.

JE: You’ve partially answered my next question, I think, but perhaps you’d care to elaborate a little bit. What do you think is the place of a college of arts and sciences in a complex university? Should it dominate the professional training schools or act as a service unit to those schools?

MH: Well, neither. I’ve worried about this quite a lot in the last four or five years, not so much in the last two or three years but while I was Provost I certainly worried about it. I guess I’ve – I think that in our University – and I guess I think, first of all, to answer your question, that there’s no one answer. It depends on the institution, its location, its nature, its makeup, and so on. But I’m bothered here that the College of Arts and Science does in fact represent such a very large chunk of the University’s educational activity. The, that it dominates the, professional schools on the campus. I’m worried about this not because I think you can’t have a large unit; after all, the Medical School is spends a lot more money, it has a larger faculty, it certainly has to deal with more facilities, and so on. But because there is always the danger in a college of arts and science of various disciplines, some dominating others. There’s nothing very logical about a college of arts and science unless you have a certain philosophy about the nature of the liberal arts. If you believe that the liberal arts are – is a form of education which does something which has some permanent effect on an individual, and that the individual should be exposed to all, or all segments of the liberal arts – the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities, for instance – then you can see some reason for having it together. Or if you believe that a college of arts and science should be the exclusive unit of an institution for giving undergraduate work, then it has some logic for being together.

But here at Rochester we don’t really believe either of those things. The College of Arts and Science is not – we have no philosophy of the liberal arts. In a sense the English Department is just as much a professional school as the, College of Engineering[7]. Their concern is a high degree of professional competency in their subject and this is true of physics, geology – you name it in Arts and Science. So the idea of the broadly educated man is – I’m sure we turn out broadly educated men but it’s not a key element of our philosophy. And on the other hand, the College of Arts and Science is not the undergraduate college of the University.

So I’ve, talked with a lot of people and nothing’s happened and I don’t anticipate anything will happen, but I feel that the College of Arts and Science probably should be broken up into several components. Um, here I’m influenced by my early experience at Chicago. The way I would do it would be to break it up into three components Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities. Have a dean, a faculty dean, for each of these and then I would have an undergraduate dean who would be a kind of combination of Dean of Students and Dean of Undergraduate Faculties. And it would be – the College would then become the undergraduate educational instrument of the University, leaving the Eastman School to one side. And the departments, or the divisions made up of departments, would be concerned with graduate work and with staffing the undergraduate work. So I think that is the . . . point of view that I would take toward Arts and Science.

JE: Let’s take the University as a whole and, what do you think the role of the University in relation to the public should be? Should the University serve the public in any way that it chooses or should the public dictate the way in which it wishes to be served?

MH: It’s got to be cut both ways. I think that the history of the University of Rochester is a kind of exemplary one and interesting to look at. Up until the early fifties – at least now I am talking about what now makes up the River Campus, Jack, I’m sure you recognize that I’m no expert on the Eastman School particularly in this sort of talk, or on the Medical Center. But, up until the early 1950s there was no doubt but that the College for Men and the College for Women were locally centered colleges; were very good ones, better than their reputations in the sense that they weren’t widely known throughout the nation but turned out extremely good graduates. In the early fifties at least fifty percent of the undergraduate students in the Colleges for Men and Women came from the Rochester area, and it was, well, that kind of school. Very good but locally-centered institution.

In effort to build a national university I think we turned away from the Rochester area. The result is that today fewer than ten percent of our undergraduates come from this part of the world. And I think we have lost a consider – a great deal in that. I think there is a tendency on the part of the University administration – which I certainly, shared, perhaps not as much now since I’ve been more working outside the University than inside and have seen this – to feel that Rochester is extremely important but we can’t – but the way the University is to contribute to Rochester is by being the very best university it can. This may be more an attitude than a reality because the minute you sit down and begin to see what the University contributes to the community, it’s a very great deal indeed, starting with a large payroll and going through all kinds of medical services, music, et cetera. But the fact remains that in terms of attitude, we turned away from the community and I think this has been a loss.

I think that therefore that we have pulled too far in the direction of going our own way, making our own mind and sort of “damn the community.” I think the alternative, the other extreme, is equally bad because I don’t see how you can build a great institution, by doing everything that some segment of the community asks – should be done. One of the very great things from our point of view – I think about the growth of the community college, for instance, and the expansion of RIT and other such things – is that we don’t have to feel quite the same obligation to the community that we had before. But I think that in such a thing as the Rochester Area College Consortium, which we’re very active – or I’ve been very active, which I hope we continue to be active – is an important balancing, thing in terms of our community service, in terms of our role in the community, and so on. My prediction is that, in the next fifty years we are going to have to depend on St. John Fisher, the community college, Brockport, Geneseo – uh, places that we wouldn’t deep down in our heart of hearts say that are of the same quality as we are – we’re going to have to depend on them for, aid, assistance, and cooperation, just as they are very much going to have to depend on us.

So I think it’s, it’s a question of balance and I think we’ve got out of balance. I think we, I think the next decade will see us much more concerned about Rochester. Um, much more interested in assisting Rochester. Just yesterday for instance, I went down under – as a result of a conference among the University administration and testified that the hearings on the business of cable TV and was instructed – or I guess I should say we had agreed that I would make a very strong positive statement to the effect that the University is anxious to cooperate in this field as it develops in the community. I think ten years ago we would not have made that. Ten years ago the University was objecting at the formation of a community college was quarrelling with other colleges, and so on.

I guess that’s – I’ve rambled around on that. [laughs]

JE: [laughs] Um, what role do you think a student should play in the operation of the University?

MH: Oh, that’s not a very good question to ask me but I’ll take a stab at it. The trouble with students is they’re so temporary. And I – the – and yet they act, quite understandably, as if they were going to be here forever. Um, the result is that a student can, or a group of students can, mess up something and, suppose they do it in their junior years anywhere from twelve to eighteen months later, walk away, leaving the University faculty and administration stuck with the problem. Uh, so that I have very little sympathy with the consequence of the ruckuses throughout the country of the last few years, which turns over vast powers, particularly with the academic program, to students.

On the other hand, a student’s relationship to his university while he’s a student is by no means the same as an employee’s relationship to his company. It’s a different kind of thing. We like to talk about a community of scholars, I’m afraid that in the hurly-burly of modern life that community is not very often realized. But the student has got to be treated as a part of the institution and has got to be given, some sense of belonging. I think the – there is a correlation between the desire of students to grab power, a negative, and the degree of coldness of an institution. Or the degree to which the institution gives them a sense of being something, like, serfs or peons. And somehow or another it seems to me that the broad problem of student-college relations is to take students into the confidence of the institution, consult them as widely and fully as possible, listen to them, and I think we have sometimes consulted but without listening. Um, but not give away, and I think we just simply could not give away, the powers of the administration and the faculty to them in running the University.

JE: Aside from the student problems, what were some of the major problems that you had during the time you were serving as acting President of the University?

MH: Oh, that was a pretty good year, actually, the only time the scrambled eggs hit the fan was was when the District Attorney – who has because of his wisdom and judiciousness moved on to be a judge – Mr. Conway[8] invited us to take off the shelves Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer a book which was under indictment as being accused of being – you can’t indict a book, it was the subject of an indictment against the booksellers, as a piece of pornography. I was in Washington – er, New York City with the Vice-President Smith[9]; we were going around trying to raise some money and got a phone call [laughs] um, the District Attorney’s office had called and asked if we would take the book off the shelves. I released a statement immediately thereafter, practically, saying, no we wouldn’t, that in our form of government we understand that an individual was not guilty until proved guilty, and that an indictment did not constitute proof of guilt[10]. Um, so we did not take the book off the shelves library; as a matter of fact, we put some more on the shelves. This happened to coincide with some interest on the part of the Gannett[11] papers in fighting this thing at the time, so we got a lot of headlines. And for about twenty-four hours I was a local hero, on campus at any rate.

But this issue involved a request that we take the book out of the library. It did not involve any request concerning whether we sell it in the bookstore. So I ruled that in order to keep things clean and clear, we would not sell the book in the bookstore, where copies had just happened to, unfortunately, had just come in and not been unpacked. So I asked that they not be unpacked. Well, by the time we did that, then I managed to make an enemy on both sides. The believers in, censorship disliked me because I wouldn’t take it out of the library and my friends on the faculty disliked me because I wouldn’t sell it in the bookstore. It was not really a substantive issue in terms of the growth of the University but it was very exciting. And it forced me for the first time to look into the question of academic freedom and what academic freedom is, which has been extremely useful since. As a matter of fact, I wrote and delivered a speech, a baccalaureate speech, on the subject that spring[12].

As far as the rest of the year was concerned, we had just been given the first of the large Wilson[13] grants[14], which was to be spent on people, not things we had opportunities for expansion of faculty and so on during that year, and the trustees, in asking me to be acting President, had agreed with my condition that I would do this if if they didn’t add ask me to mark time while we were looking for a permanent President. So we just had a lot of fun in that year. Um, and really, aside from this one problem I don’t think there were any except that we were trying to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps accidentally. No, not “accidentally”; bootstraps in a very definite and rapid way.

JE: [laughs] What to you were some of the important changes that took place in the University during your years here?

MH: Well, I’ve already sort of hinted at that. I think we . . . I suppose that the man who has had the greatest impact on the University of Rochester, the one man since World War II certainly, is Dr. de Kiewiet. He created a vision of the future of the University which is essentially that which we have been carrying out since. Um, nothing that’s happening right now, for instance, either in terms of the building program or in terms of the academic development, is anything but a, working out in detail of the vision that he had for the University.

I think the greatest changes – well, let’s let’s sort of start and run through it section by section. There has been, as you know, very little change at the Eastman School. Um, perhaps embarrassingly little change, although the Eastman School it seems to me is . . . one can argue about whether it is now fifth or tenth in ranking or first or fifth, but it’s still remains a first-rate institution. The Medical Center about the time I arrived the great physicians and teachers that Dean Whipple[15] had gathered around him were one by one retiring. And there’s been almost a complete change – well, there has been a really a complete change in department chairmen over there in my stay at the University. Uh, I watched this very closely while I was acting President and Provost because of the fact that that fellow sits on the Medical School Advisory Board, in fact chairs their meetings in the absence of the President.

The next greatest thing that’s happened to the Medical School – and I think they have replaced these people with extremely good people – uh, has been the magnificent plant expansion and the hospital, which has just now started, is the last phase of this. Um, but just all kinds of exciting things of that sort have happened. I think the Medical School has not, in spite of a very elaborate effort by something called a Committee of Six[16], has not made any radical revision in its curriculum, or in the process of training physicians. It has reluctantly, I think, reluctantly, at least up until the last year or two, acceded to pressures to increase its freshman class. And I  think what’s mostly happened to it is that when the Rochester Medical School was formed, there were very few first-rate ones. It rapidly became a first-rate one. But now while not all medical schools are equal, they are all at least accredited. Which means that they all meet certain minimal standards which in the thirties was just definitely not true. So that it doesn’t stand out the way it did twenty-five years ago or twenty years ago in terms of overall excellence merely because a lot of others have got a lot better. I don’t think this means it’s any less good.

The greatest changes, of course, have taken place on the colleges on the River Campus. Uh, the Graduate School of [Business] Administration, to start with, that one was absolutely nothing when I came here; it was the Business Administration wing of the Department of Economics and Business Administration in the College of Arts and Science. Uh, it had some excellent teachers such as Professor Dunkman[17] but made no pretensions to, any great degree of graduate work and certainly did not have any nationally known scholars in it. And – I don’t want to run on down through every unit but essentially that’s it. The, um . . . one by one – with the exception of a few departments that at that time were well-known, such as Physics, History, and Psychology – we have managed to, make significant changes. We’ve changed the orientation; the faculty is much more research-oriented than it was. I don’t always consider that an unqualified good but that’s the way it is.

Um, as far as the general atmosphere on campus is concerned, of course much of the change has been simply the change that’s taken place throughout the country in the way students live and what they think about and so on; the student revolt. But part of it has been – of the change here in quality has been in growth. After all, in 1957 when I arrived there were on the River Campus about eighteen hundred – fewer than eighteen hundred full-time students and about two hundred and fifty full undergraduate students – about two hundred and fifty full-time graduate students. And now we have a total of about forty-five hundred. So that we’ve more than doubled that. And doubling the numbers of students in any given eighty-four-acre area is certainly bound to change the quality of the campus.

I think one of the most significant things has been the decline of the fraternity as a vendible organization. Um, and I think the reason for that is that fraternities no longer offer anything that can’t be found elsewhere on campus. Dormitories, in the – up until the late fifties or early sixties, throughout the country were looked on as being more or less monastic retreats. And fraternities were places where wine, women, and song were somewhat more readily available than any other place on campus. Now with coeducational dormitories with a breakdown – mostly brought about by students rather than an immoral administration, as some people claim – um, with a breakdown in restrictions, um . . . of living and so on. The fraternity has has just had it. Fraternities were originally, years ago, intellectual organizations. [laughs] Uh, they ceased being that, and I think it’s interesting that the two fraternity houses whose fraternities have given them up in the last two years, have been turned back over into something approximating that: one the Medieval House, where people are at least living – who are living there are trying to get some different sense – perspective on the history and culture of the Middle Ages, and whatever happens in this new theater house, which is as yet unknown[18].

I think the faculty is much less, despite its protests, to the contrary, the faculty is much less interested in students, much less the pipe-smoking, tweed-wearing, kind of faculty who – which goes to all the football games and basketball games and remembers the names of all the members of the freshman class. It just is not that kind of place any longer but on the other hand, neither is Princeton nor Yale nor Harvard nor, many, many other places. I suppose the relatively small liberal arts colleges still are, but but we aren’t.

So, I consider those once again I’m rambling, but those the major kinds of changes.

JE: What is your opinion of the American system of operating colleges and universities as compared to European and non-Western systems?

MH: Well. . . Um, first of all, there are . . . non-Western systems of education are so terribly different and so ill-understood that I guess we can eliminate that one. The system of education – higher education in India really is the British system transplanted. There is an indigenous educational system there, which chiefly consists of a religious teacher with a flock of disciples. But we won’t talk about that.

The American system of higher education, first of all, touches many more people. A much higher percentage of our young people go to college than in any other, country in the world, as far as I know. I don’t . . . know that I think that is all that great. But certainly it is a quality of our educational system; I really wonder, to the extent that college is looked on – and we’re very materialistic about it – looked on as preparation for a better job, I think we’re going to be finding, and very soon, that we’ve been preparing too many people for better jobs and there aren’t that many better jobs. Um, but because it touches so many people, and because it has so many different kinds of points of origin – uh, after all, most colleges in the East were founded as under the auspices of specific churches once you get into the Midwest and the farther west you go, the greater and greater proportion of them were founded as state-supported institutions, so that you have this blend of two very different kinds of schools. Um, because there’s such variety – you have so many different kinds of professional schools technical schools, liberal arts colleges, universities – little ones like ours, big ones like Michigan – um, because you have this great variety you have a much richer fabric of higher education, I think.

We are beginning to fall into the same kinds of difficulties that have plagued, say, the University of Paris, with sixty, eighty, a hundred thousand students, all of them, to one degree or another, trying to pursue a degree without any attention from the university whatsoever until the day a man comes up to take his examination for the degree. I think we’re beginning to fall into, just by the sheer weight of numbers, the cold, unfeeling institution which we’re so often accused of being. But in general, well, I think also we have produced a larger scholar class, Ph.D. class, if you will, in the United States proportionate to the population than most other places. And this, as you know, is beginning to hurt as jobs are not available in these days for young Ph.D.’s.

 But I think, still, it’s a great system of education; it’s one which is always seems to be teetering on the brink of disaster [laughs] if the disaster is not caused by students burning down buildings, it’s caused as, right now for places like Rochester, private institutions, by the disaster of deficit budgeting, tightening the belt, and so on. And one would wish that these periods of boom and bust could be leveled out. I struggled with that for twenty years and I’ve concluded that you can’t really human beings aren’t wise enough to anticipate – to plan far enough in advance for such things. So we’ll have booms and busts, it seems to me, on throughout the rest of the history of higher education.

JE: Um, you spent considerable time in India and are now moving there as chief cultural affairs officer of the United States embassy in India. What caused your, initial particular interest in this country?

MH: Oh, well I can thank the University of Rochester for that. And I’m very grateful to it for that and many, many other things, actually.

Um, we had here in the form, during the fifties, one of the first non-Western civilization programs[19] in the United States. Now let me qualify that: non-Western civilization, of course, is anything which isn’t Western, which is and the West is defined as essentially European culture. So that Europe and North America and Australia, et cetera are the Western countries. Everything else is non-Western. Uh, Vera Dean, who was in charge of that was [laughs] something of an empire-builder, and she managed to include almost everything under the non-West. But for practical purposes, this was it.

I had been at Chicago at the time Chicago got interested in the study of countries like India, China, and so on. At the undergraduate level. Now, for many, many, many years, for much more than a century maybe, the American Oriental Society has been a group – a small group of scholars interested in Oriental studies. And large universities like Harvard, Columbia, Chicago have had instruction in Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and so on. So that when I say we had one of the first Non-Western studies programs in the country, I’m not trying to suggest that we were the first people to offer this kind of instruction. But to say that as a unified program for undergraduates with a considerable amount of fanfare, we had one of the first Non-Western studies programs in the country.

Um, the Carnegie Corporation gave the University a grant for the support of that, and included in it was money for travel on the part of faculty and staff. When I was dean, since I’d grown interested in this, it was suggested that my wife[20] and I might like to use some of that money to go to a – some non-Western part of the world. And this was all right with the Carnegie Corporation and the, University administration and so we set up a seven-week tour and then sat down and decided to decide where to go. And somehow or other, we picked India as being the point that we’d like to focus. Now I think that maybe the reason we picked India is because both of us had good, solid conventional Protestant upbringings and both of our churches the churches that we belonged to, had large missionary programs in India. But we didn’t realize this at the time; what we thought, what we said to each other were high-sounding things about, well, after all, Indian civilization is one of the oldest in the world and it’s a fascinating country and so on ad nauseum. At any rate, we went to India courtesy of the University of Rochester[21]. And then my interest began with seeing and spending time in the country.

Simultaneously, a consortium of about forty American colleges and universities organized something which is still going called the American Institute of Indian Studies. And these people had what in my mind was the infinite wisdom to want administrators to be involved as well as faculty experts of various fields in Indian studies. Um, so I went along with Professor Bernard Cohn[22], who is chairman of the Anthropology Department, to the organizing meetings and somehow or other found myself on the Executive Committee and two years later suddenly somehow or other found myself in India as the first resident director[23]. And my interest has grown since then. I am not a scholar of India; I consider myself a scholar of such a thing as American poetry, for instance. But I am certainly somebody who’s read widely on India and with the experience and so on, have some considerable familiarity with it. And both of us are just enchanted with Asia in general South Asia in particular.

JE: Do you feel that the overall – that overall American education is giving as much attention to non-Western civilizations as it should?

MH: I think it’s giving as much as it can afford to. Um, look at the figures in regard to India in the first study of, Indian studies in the United States, conducted after World War II, and I’m sure there was none before. Uh, showed in the mid-fifties, late fifties, that there were about two hundred and fifty people who claimed to have competence in Indian studies and were engaged in some way in that. Ten years later there were seven hundred and fifty. Now, you can see proportionate or perhaps greater growth in other areas: African studies, East Asian studies, and so on. It would be nice, and I think much more important, histories of civilization. Uh, the old thing that used to be called Western Civ, for instance, have in many, many places these such courses have been broadened to recognize that, that most of the world does in fact lie outside of the European and North American tradition.

It’s – I was interested last year my daughter, who was a freshman here at the University, had – was interested in medieval history. Took a year-long course in it. And something happened in that course that would never have happened in my time or yours, Jack, one of the many books that – first of all, you and I would’ve had a textbook and that’s it. And now, as you know, the students are required to buy anywhere from ten to twenty paperbacks on specialized topics and the course is taught from those. But at least one of these was on, Muhammad and Muhammadanism. Which makes an awful lot of sense in studying the Middle Ages in Europe because it’s probable that, Islam, Muhammadanism, had as great an impact on that as any other single force. But in our day they would’ve ignored it.

So in this sense I think we’ve got enough expertise. I think these things tend to find their own level: the decline in the number of fellowships has meant a decline in the number of people going – let me say, the leveling off of the number of fellowships has meant a leveling off of the number of people going into the field. I think we may have overproduced, in Indian studies for instance, political scientists who are specialists in India and I’m not sure that we can absorb all those. But in general, it’s, it’s been a great change – a change for the better, and I think one that’s is permanent. The fad part of it is gone. We have new fads to worry about now such as urban studies and black studies. But the permanent effect, the permanent results I think are there to stay.

JE: Finally, what do you think the future of the University of Rochester will be like?

MH: Oh, I think it’ll slow down its expansion, because of much more favorable, situation in regard to faculty hiring from the point of view of the University than over the past ten years. It’ll be much harder for faculty members to achieve tenure here. Uh, there will be considerable turnover among young faculty members; there will be less turnover among older ones simply because there will not be comparable jobs to – as many attractive jobs to go elsewhere. So that I think it’ll be a period in the next ten years of solidification, of strengthening already existing units, rather than rapid change such as we’ve seen in the last fifteen.

Of course, there is always the possibility that new academic units will be opened. I think this will happen only if funds become available from elsewhere – available for these new units exclusively. A law school, as people in the Rochester area are talking about most now – this is the largest urban area in the country without any kind of law school whatsoever. Um, the University, I think, would be perfectly happy to have a law school if it didn’t take money away from already existing units.

As far as its general quality is concerned, it seems to me that the University of Rochester has not been an innovative university at any time in its history. With the exception of the auspices of the founding of the Medical Center. I think in other words, it is a conservative university and a conservative community. And I think this is the way it’s going to continue to be. It’s not a place that by and large is permanently hospitable to genuine rebels. Um, and I’m not talking about, revolutionaries, political revolutionaries, I’m talking about educational revolutionaries. It’s not been a place where, very wild-eyed new educational experiments have been tried. And I don’t see anything in the future to indicate that that’s going to change.

But it certainly is solid, it has financial problems now but, more than any other private university in the state, I think it has a good chance of solving these. And, so I would expect ten years from now to see it about the same size, with a much more selected fac – highly selective faculty perhaps with a lot of, a lot of excess trimmed out of its administrative and faculty budgets, but sailing along relatively merrily.

Now I think there’s only one dark cloud, to spoil that rosy picture and that is the question of student recruitment. I think it’s clear that there’s – that something’s going on throughout the country in respect to private institutions and costs. I don’t think it’s anything but costs, and I think it comes down to this: our tuition the year after next will be twenty-nine hundred and fifty dollars. Room and board next year is fourteen hundred and fifty dollars and you begin to adding other expenses, you get up to about five thousand dollars per year very quickly. Um, such a school as – well, to take a local example, Brockport, has very low costs in comparison with this: virtually no tuition, lower room and board costs because it’s outside of the urban area where it’s not influenced by unions and so on. Now Brockport, I’m sure everybody would agree, is not an institution of the same stature or quality as the University of Rochester. But looking at it in general, it’s an adequate institution. And I think people are beginning to say, “All right, if this place costs five thousand dollars a year and this place costs twelve, fifteen hundred, does that mean that the first place is more than three times better for our purposes than this place?” And the result is that we’ve been getting more applications but have been having to admit more students in order to get the number we want, and have in fact not really been getting the number we want.

This is not unique to us. It’s going on with all private – Northeastern private schools. And to the extent that it continues, it means one: danger of having empty dormitory rooms, which will, lead toward financial insecurity. Two: uh, a decline in the quality of the student body, at least based on the criteria that we select by, because financial pressures are going to require us to take as many students as we can get. And if we can’t get first-rate ones any college, no matter how noble it may claim to be, is going to take second-rate ones or third-rate ones.

So that, I just not sure the way out of this. I’m having pushed tuition increases for a good many years, I now feel that we really ought to stop. I’m sorry we’re going up as high as we are in the fall of ’72. It just seems to me we can’t afford to do this any longer. And I think the idea of increasing tuition until it gets up to thirty-five hundred dollars, four thousand dollars and so on is just suicidal. Okay?

JE: Thank you, Mac.

MH: Okay, I enjoyed it.

[recording ends]

Transcript by Eileen L. Fay (February 2014)

[1] Hazlett earned his master’s in 1938 and Ph.D. in 1951 from the University of Chicago. From 1946 to 1957 he served (in chronological order) as an instructor in English, assistant professor in English, Assistant Dean of Students in the College, Assistant Director of Admissions, and Dean of Students in the College.

[2] Margaret L. Habein came to the University as Dean of Women in 1952. In 1954 she was appointed first Dean of Instruction and Student Services. She resigned in 1957.

[3] The Colleges for Men and Women were separated in 1930 when the men moved to the new River Campus and the women remained behind on the Prince Street Campus. They moved to the River Campus in 1955 and Prince Street was closed for good.

[4] According to Arthur J. May’s History of the University of Rochester, differences of opinion often arose between President Cornelis de Kiewiet (arrived 1951) and the college deans regarding matters such as decision-making latitude and the preparation of the annual budget. J. Edward Hoffmeister, Dean of the College of Arts and Science, resigned in 1956, followed by Margaret Habein and Morey J. Wantman, Associate Dean of Instruction and Student Services, in 1957.

[5] Dr. W. Albert Noyes was a chemistry professor who served from 1938 to 1963 as chair of the department. He was also Dean of the Graduate School from 1952-56 and succeeded Hoffmeister as Dean of the College in 1957. He did high-level government research during World War II and was elected President of the American Chemical Society.

[6] Dr. Henry C. Mills, Vice-President for Educational Administration.  He joined UR in 1935 as an assistant professor of education and also served as Dean of the School of Liberal and Applied Studies and acting Dean of the College of Business Administration. He left in 1964.

[7] Note: the College of Arts and Science and the College of Engineering were merged in 1995 to become the College, which was renamed the College of Arts, Science and Engineering (CEAS) in 2003. The College of Engineering itself was founded in 1958 when the College of Arts and Science’s chemical and mechanical engineering departments were brought together with the new Department of Electrical Engineering to establish engineering as an autonomous academic program. (source:
and “The Institute and the College of Engineering and Applied Science” by Carlos Stroud)

[8] On March 31, 1962 a Rochester newsstand was raided and seventy-four titles, including The Tropic of Cancer, were picked up as “hard-core pornography.” A subsequent Grand Jury indictment stated that the book was “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, indecent, and disgusting.” On April 26 District Attorney John J. Conway, Jr. requested that librarians and booksellers in Rochester remove The Tropic of Cancer from their shelves or else face prosecution. Rush Rhees Library’s copy was initially placed in a locked vault in the basement, but this was quickly overruled once Hazlett was notified of the incident. The issue caused considerable controversy within the community: the Rochester Public Library removed the book from circulation, the Rochester Institute of Technology received a copy as an anonymous gift, and Nathan J. Bunis, owner of Clinton Book Shop at 204 Court Street, filed suit for a judgment declaring that The Tropic of Cancer is appropriate for selling. Conway dropped his demand against academic libraries on April 30 and Bunis’s suit later dismissed.  (source: Academic Freedom PR file 2:1 and The Campus Times)

[9] Donald E. Smith came to the University in 1958 as Director of University Relations and was promoted to Vice-President of that department three years later. In 1962 he was appointed administrator of the new Office of University Development. He left in 1970 to set up his own consulting firm.

[10] Hazlett’s complete statement:

The university has received no official request to remove Miller’s ‘Tropic of Cancer’ from the library. The university was asked if, in view of the recent indictment against two people who were selling the book, whether the university would remove ‘Tropic of Cancer’ from its shelves.

There has been no determination which would require us to alter our present position: the University library exists for the use of students and faculty for research and study.

The university firmly embraces the principle of academic freedom, which means that students and faculty are free to read whatever their consciences dictate. As a result of these principles, the university would not remove Miller’s ‘Tropic of Cancer’ from its shelve unless it is finally determined by the courts that this book is inappropriate for anyone to read.

[11] The owner and publisher of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

[12] An editorial called “Mere Academic Freedom?” by McCrea Hazlett appeared in the June-July 1962 issue of the Rochester Review.

[13] Joseph C. Wilson was the founder of Xerox Corporation. He was a member of the Class of 1931 and served on the Board of Trustees from 1959 to 1967, eventually becoming President of the Board. His father,  Joseph R. Wilson, was Class of 1903.

[14] In 1961 the Wilson family made a gift of $1 million to the Program for a Great University “to develop and sponsor new opportunities . . . by making possible significant new faculty appointments and the materials needed to sustain such appointments.” The Wilson Professorship was subsequently established in the College of Arts and Science. Its first recipient was Dr. A. William Salamone, an award-winning historian. (source: Rochester Review, Sept.-Oct. 1962)

[15] Dr. George Whipple was appointed Founder and Dean of the University of Rochester Medical Center in 1921. He won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1934 for a discovery that led to successful treatment of pernicious anemia, which was previously fatal.

[16] The Committee of Six was established in October 1960 by the Medical Center Advisory Board to restructure the entire medical curriculum. It consisted of Drs. Robert Berg, Leonard Fenninger, John Romano, Charles Robb, Herbert Morgan, Lowell Orbison, and Elmer Stotz. It seems to have been active for five years. Information is available in the papers of Dr. John Romano in Miner Library. (sources:
and the Papers of John Romano finding aid) Also see the Oral History Interview of Dr. Donald G. Anderson.

[17] Dr. William E. Dunkman came to the University in 1933 and taught courses on money and banking.  His major interest was the Federal Reserve Board policy and he taught in Japan for a year as a Fulbright Professor. He resigned in 1952.

[18] The Kappa Nu house was completed in 1955 as the first new house on the Fraternity Quad since the River Campus opened in 1930. They merged with Phi Epsilon Pi in 1961. In 1970 the Phi Ep House became the Medieval House. When that closed (today it is a group called the Medieval Studies Council) the Kappa Nu/Phi Ep house was transferred to Delta Upsilon, whose original home had become the Drama House in 1971. In 2012 this building became the Douglass Leadership House. The Drama House remains as well. (source: Rochester Review, Nov.-Dec. 2013 – note that this source says Drama House opened in the early 1980s; the group’s actual webpage says it was founded in 1971 and this interview seems to back them up.)

[19] The Non-Western Civilizations Program Papers (1956-62) are available in the University Archives. The director was Vera Micheles Dean, who arrived at the University in 1954 as part of the Department of Government (the predecessor to Political Science). She left UR in 1962.

[20] His wife was Doris E. Hill from Alverton, PA. They married in August 1940 and had three children: William, Alex, and Janet.

[21] The Hazletts went to India in October 1961 for the purposes of studying the universities of Bombay, Delhi, and Madras. (source: Democrat and Chronicle, Sept. 24, 1961)

[22] Dr. Bernard S. Cohn was an anthropology professor and specialist in Indian studies who came to the University in September 1960. He was promoted to head of the newly combined Department of Sociology and Anthropology in December 1960. He also founded the Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures, which have been ongoing since 1963. He left for the University of Chicago in 1964.

[23] Hazlett was on leave for ten months in 1963-64 in Poona, India as director of the American Institute of Indian Studies. In 1965 a South Asia Language and Area Center (SALAC) was founded at the University of Rochester under Hazlett’s direction. It was one of four South Asian studies program established that year under a grant from the National Defense Education Act on the grounds that modern foreign languages were considered “critically needed” by the US Government. (source: UR press release, June 18, 1965) The South Asia Language and Area Center Papers (1964-66) are available in the University Archives.  The program ran until the 1972-73 academic year.