Document 15: B. W. Newell to R. W. Fleming, memorandum, 13 October 1970, U-M President's Office (1967- ), Topical Files, 1970-1971, Box 24, Women (Discrimination/HEW) Folder, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 2 pp.


   This memorandum, written a week after the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) notified the University of its non-compliance with federal prohibitions on sex discrimination (Document 13A), appears to be Barbara Newell's recommendation to President Robben W. Fleming on how the University could respond to HEW.

   Newell was the first woman to serve as an executive officer at the University, when she became acting vice president for student affairs in 1968. She had worked with Fleming when he had served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and followed him to Ann Arbor when he became president of Michigan. When a man was appointed as the student affairs vice president, Newell resumed her previous post as assistant to the president, the job she held at the time she wrote this memo. She left Michigan in 1972 to become president of Wellesley College and later chancellor of the Florida State University system.[89] It would be 15 years before another woman was appointed to the University's top administrative ranks.[90]

   Ultimately, the University's formal response to HEW generally mirrored the approach that Newell outlined here. Newell also recommended "the formation of a committee to aid in the determination of University policy and to guide the central staff in the collection and compilation of data." A few months later, Fleming appointed the University's first Commission on Women, with Newell as its chair (see Document 29).

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October 13, 1970

MEMO TO: R. W. Fleming

PROM: B. W. Newell

RE: Response to HEW Letter[A]

Paragraph I (page 11)

Item 1) Promise to discontinue student wives advertisements.

2) Reconstitute Grievance Committee for non-academic employees.

Paragraph II (page 11, 12, 13)

Item 1) Ask each employing unit to review male/female employment records. Make public that there will be such a review by each supervisor. Guarantee no reprisals.

2) Between October and May 1971, take step one to measure availability for academic positions, by having departments, schools and divisions indicate by May of this academic appointment year the number of female applicants received. Have departments register procedures used for recruitment. May 1971 to September 1971 - formulate realistic goals for academic appointment and procedures to be used.

3) This point can be omitted on grounds that this agency has no power over admissions, but I think we had better get some good statistics on practices, student turn-over, etc. They will be back.

4) Point out that most committees are appointed by faculty groups, but promise to bring this request to the attention of SACUA.[B]

5) Write statement on nepotism.

6) Ask Chairmen to review effects of past nepotism discussions as a part of the procedures in Part I of Paragraph II.

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7) Ask employing officers to review status and qualifications of non-academic employees. Promise changes in entry procedures in non-academic employment. Provide watch dog committees to review procedures. Make public the fact that review is taking place. Guarantee no reprisals.

In addition to these specific responses to HEW, I suggest the formation of a committee to aid in the determination of University policy and to guide the central staff in the collection and compilation of data. The reports suggested in paragraph II, item 2, could be directed to this committee.



A. Document 13A, the letter from Don F. Scott of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare to President Robben W. Fleming.
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B. The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) was the executive committee of the faculty Senate.
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