Document 31: R. W. Fleming to The Honorable Elliot L. Richardson, 29 January 1971, 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.


   This letter demonstrates that in late January 1971, University of Michigan President Robben Fleming was able to get an audience for several university presidents with Elliot L. Richardson, HEW secretary. Although Fleming and the University of Michigan were willing to concede that they would abide by Richardson’s decision regarding HEW’s jurisdiction over graduate admissions, Fleming encouraged him to talk with more college presidents before he made his final decision.

   Fleming apparently also sent blind copies of the letter to Charles V. Kidd, then executive director of the Council on Federal Relations of the Association of American Universities, and Logan Wilson, then president of the American Council on Education. Kidd had participated in another meeting, held on January 19, with a number of University representatives and top officials of HEW’s Office of Civil Rights. Women at Michigan and universities around the country were becoming increasingly alarmed that top university administrators, most of them male, were working together to lobby top HEW officials to stop their regional subordinates from aggressively pursuing complaints about sex discrimination.[119]

HEW/Discrimination - Women
Sec. Elliot Richardson

January 29, 1971

The Honorable Elliot L. Richardson
Secretary of Health, Education, and
Washington, D. C. 20201

Dear Mr. Secretary:

    We talked breifly about the general relationships between universities and HEW with respect to discrimination against women when I was in your office with the other presidents last week. I neglected to mention one item.

    In our own case, i.e., The University of Michigan, we have agreed with Mr. Pottinger[A] that we will abide by your ruling with respect to whether admissions to graduate study are within the jurisdiction of the Executive Order.

    This is a question which is not unique to our University, and we feel that before you make a ruling some opportunity should be provided to the universities to present their side of the issue to you. The American Council on Education has a group working on general problems on this area and could, I am sure, see that adequate representations were made on the matter.

    In any event, we would be grateful for an opportunity to be heard before a final decision is made.

    All of us were deeply grateful for the time you gave us last week.


R. W. Fleming


bc: Mr. Logan Wilson
Mr. Charles V. Kidd


A. J. Stanley Pottinger, director of the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
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