In addition to writing his fellow University presidents (See Document 16), University of Michigan President Robben W. Fleming sent part of the U.S. Health, Education and Welfare Department's findings on sex discrimination at Michigan to the organizations that represented colleges and universities in Washington. This letter went to Ralph K. Huitt, executive director of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges. Again, Fleming referenced "alleged facts," and adds, "We are much disturbed about some of the proposed actions, and believe other schools should be too."
Fleming mentioned that he had been in touch with Charles McCurdy, executive secretary of the Association of American Universities, and two weeks later Huitt replied that he had spoken with Chuck Kidd, who was then executive director of AAU's Council on Federal Relations. The correspondence demonstrates that university presidents were moving quickly--before the University of Michigan had formally responded to HEW--to create a united front in opposition to the HEW complaint.
In his response (Document 17B), Ralph Huitt characterized HEW's enforcement of a presidential executive order as "the absurd application of The Fair Employment Act to the University of Michigan by the Regional Office of HEW." He made clear that the university presidents should take steps to make their case to HEW Secretary Elliot L. Richardson, and, if necessary, to their congressional representatives. "They provide a peculiarly receptive audience to complaints about bureaucratic excess."
In late November, PROBE, the campus women's organization that monitored the disposition of the complaint, expressed concern about published reports that Fleming had traveled to Washington to organize opposition to HEW. If the charge were true, PROBE wrote in one of its regular memos, "then our hopes for women on this campus are somewhat dimmed. If such institutions as the American Council on Education, the American Association of Universities [sic], and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, all housed in Washington with strong lobbying specialists, were to back university administrators in their attempts to resist the law, then we have big problems. University administrations have so many more resources that we do--private planes, low-cost secretarial services, money for lawyers, seven-figure budgets, etc."
Citing a Detroit Free Press article that reported that Fleming had met with the executive committee of Huitt's organization, PROBE said it was "appalled that Mr. Fleming has chosen to apprise this organization with these facts when he has repeatedly refused to share the contents of the HEW demands with the thousands of people affected by it on his own campus."
October 14, 1970
Mr. Ralph K. Huitt
One Dupont Circle, Suite 710
Washington, D. C. 20036
Enclosed is a copy of the affirmative action portion of a letter which we have just received from HEW. The balance of the letter simply sets forth alleged facts about our current operations. We are much disturbed about some of the proposed actions, and believe other schools should be too.
I am asking Charles McCurdy to put the matter on the agenda of the AAU when we meet shortly in Bloomington, and perhaps it should be an item on the President's agenda for your meetings.
We will have a preliminary answer ready in about three weeks.