Within a day of University of Michigan President Robben W. Fleming's instructions to his team (See Document 24), he sent this response to the Chicago regional office of HEW's Office of Civil Rights. This time, the University agreed to amend its affirmative action program within 90 days to set specific numeric goals and timetables for hiring women.
From the outset, University officials had been concerned about how much time it would take to review its personnel records. Initially, Fleming had proposed telling HEW the amount of time it would take to complete a review, and then pledging to correct any inequities after that time. However, in the final version here, the University seemed to fudge that point, pledging that: "Immediate review of files will be undertaken and a complaint procedure announced to determine inequities. Such inequities will be corrected within thirty days."
The University continued to challenge whether HEW had any jurisdiction over admissions to graduate school programs. On that point, the letter includes no specific commitment, asserting that "There are no Ph.D. graduate programs at the University of Michigan to which admissions are connected with specific employment opportunities." At the time the letter was sent, University officials intended to take their case on this point to the highest levels of HEW.
Although many women had suffered pay discrimination for years, HEW could demand that they be provided relief only back to October 13, 1968, the date the prohibitions on sex discrimination by federal contractors took effect under Executive Order 11375. The University, however, still would not concede that point, agreeing only to make up back pay to the date it signed its first contract under the executive order. Officials told a reporter that they did not know what that date was, but that it was probably close, raising the question of why they decided to make an issue of it.
The letter also includes the University's first formal commitment to create a commission on women, reporting through Fedele Fauri, then vice president for state relations and planning.
When Fleming sent the letter to Scott, the University finally released portions of HEW's initial findings so it could demonstrate that it was, in fact, responding. The action resulted in some favorable publicity. Helen Fogel of the Detroit Free Press, who had covered the complaint since its earliest days, wrote positively that the University "appeared to have the lead on all other universities in attempts to eliminate effects of discrimination against women staff." In releasing its response to Scott, the University trimmed the paragraph that said it was going to ask Secretary Elliot L. Richardson to referee the dispute over graduate school admissions. (See Document 26)
December 8, 1970
Mr. Don F. Scott
Civil Rights Specialist
Office for Civil Rights
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare
226 West Jackson Boulevard, Room 114
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Dear Mr. Scott:
The University commits itself to maintain nondiscriminatory hiring and employment practices and to take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are placed, trained, upgraded, promoted, and otherwise treated during employment without regard to sex.
The University will, within 90 days, file a further amended affirmative action program to modify Exhibit B of our letter of November 3, 1970, which you have cited, including specific numeric goals and timetables. Meanwhile, to correct deficiencies cited the University commits itself as follows:
1. The University will achieve salary equity between male and female employees having the same qualifications, responsibilities and performance in the same job classification. Immediate review of files will be undertaken and a complaint procedure announced to determine inequities. Such inequities will be corrected within thirty days.
2. The University commits itself to the payment of back wages to any female who has lost wages due to discrimination by the University because of her sex. Back pay will date from the date of ascertained discrimination, but not earlier than the date on which the University of Michigan signed its first contract under Executive Order 11246, as amended.
3. The University of Michigan commits itself to the vigorous recruitment of females for academic positions to be certain that those who have comparable qualifications and potential are given equal opportunity to males who are being considered for the same positions.
4. There are no Ph.D. graduate programs at the University of
[p. 2]Michigan in which admissions are connected with specific employment opportunities. All employment opportunities for graduate students within the University are open to all qualified students without discrimination and will continue to be so administered.
5. The University will issue a policy on nepotism within thirty days which will ensure equal treatment of tandem teams throughout the University. Any identifiable inequities will be compensated with appropriate back pay.
6. Male and female applicants and employees will not be segregated for purposes of recruitment, placement, transfer, or promotion in any job classification.
7. All present female employees occupying clerical or other non-academic positions who seek promotion and who possess qualifications equivalent to those of higher level male employees will be given priority consideration for promotions to higher level positions for which they qualify.
8. Review of the above operations will be under the supervision of Vice President Fedele Fauri and a commission on women which will include representatives of female administrative, academic, and nonacademic employees.
We hope that the foregoing will clear up the major differences between your requirements and our commitments. We have today transmitted the enclosed telegram to Secretary Richardson[A] asking for a top level review of our problem.
R. W. Fleming