Commission on University Governance records, 1969-1971

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Duke University. Commission on University Governance
The Commission on University Governance at Duke University was created in April 1969 by Chancellor pro tem Barnes Woodhall. The group was charged with studying changes in university organization nationwide to create a model for administration at Duke. The group also focused on increasing student participation in university governance. The records include minutes, memoranda, correspondence, and reports produced by the Commission on University Governance, as well as reports, clippings, and other printed matter gathered by the Commission for reference purposes. The Commission published its findings and recommendations in three "Interim Reports," concerning the Board of Trustees, the Central Administration, and Departmental Governance. English.
2.5 Linear Feet
2 boxes
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
06 -- Office of the Chancellor (inactive)
06 -- Office of the Chancellor (inactive) > 02 -- Unknown Subgroup


Scope and content:

The records of the Commission on University Governance span the years 1969 to 1971, with most of the material dating from 1969-1970 academic year. The collection is organized into two series: materials created by the Commission, and materials collected by the Commission.

The records generated by the Commission on University Governance consist primarily of minutes and transcripts of its official meetings, including supplementary materials distributed for discussion at these meetings. Typed transcript drafts exist for meetings 1 through 19, and this series contains minutes for all 34 meetings. Also included in this series are two copies of each of the Commission's three Interim Reports (Board of Trustees, Central Administration, and Departmental Governance), as well as drafts of these reports. Other official Commission records include information on the Commission's members and clippings from the Chronicle, Durham Morning Herald, and Durham Sun dated September 30, 1969 to April 16, 1970 concerning the work of the Commission. Correspondence not included with Commission minutes is divided into two folders: 1) letters dated April to September 1969, all regarding the establishment of the Commission, and 2) official correspondence dated after that time, including a January 1970 introduction to the Commission's activities for new Duke President Terry Sanford and a January 1971 response to the Commission's Interim Reports from the Provost.

The Commission on University Governance amassed a significant collection of reference materials for use in formulating its reports, which are roughly arranged into subseries. It appears that members of the Commission twice attempted to catalog and collate these materials, as two indexes entitled "Materials on Hand" and "Table of Contents" are a part of this series. However, neither index is accompanied by a complete set of the materials listed on it. To preserve original order, the sections of listed materials that are present have been identified and retained, even when they duplicate each other. Printed matter that was not a part of either of these subseries falls into two categories: reports and other matter from Duke committees, schools, and organizations, and printed matter that was created by other universities and organizations. This series also contains several bibliographies, arranged both by subject and by format, as well as periodical abstracts, alphabetized by author, donated to the Commission from the Special Committee on Student Residential Life. Also present in this series are the complete minutes of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee, known as the Committee of Twelve, which met nineteen times between October 1969 and March 1970, when it was disbanded.

University Archives also has catalogued copies of the Commission's three Interim Reports:
Board of Trustees - 378.756 D877CTR
Central Administration - 378.756 D877CGO
Departmental Governance - 378.756 D877CDG

Biographical / historical:

The late 1960s was a time of rapid change at American colleges and universities, as most experienced a surge of politicization by student activists; at Duke, this was most clearly exemplified in the Allen Building takeover of February 13, 1969. In response both to this local event and to national trends in higher education, the Faculty Committee on Student Concerns, the Executive Committee of the Academic Council, and the Student-Faculty-Administrative Council (SFAC) recommended the creation of a Commission on University Governance. In April 1969 Chancellor pro tem Barnes Woodhall appointed this committee, with the hopes that future demonstrations similar to the Allen Building takeover might be avoided if effective official opportunities for student participation in university governance could be established. The Commission on University Governance was therefore charged with the task of studying changes in university organization nationwide, focusing particularly on student participation in governance, and making recommendations for Duke accordingly.

Members of the Commission eventually agreed that this purpose was best accomplished by dividing university governance into three categories: departmental governance, the central university administration, and the Board of Trustees. The latter body was already the subject of a study by a Board of Trustees Special Committee headed by Brantley Watson, and the Commission coordinated its efforts with the Watson Committee. The Commission on University Governance also worked simultaneously and cooperatively with the Chancellor's Advisory Committee, "The Committee of Twelve," which replaced the SFAC as the forum for airing Duke community grievances and which was meant to advise the administration concerning potentially volatile campus issues. The Commission on University Governance met 34 times between October 27, 1969 and May 17, 1970, at which time it adjourned for the school year and was never reactivated.

Acquisition information:
Received 23 January 1974 from the Chancellor's Office as A74-68.
Processing information:

Processed by Cat Saleeby, completed March 2002.

Collection was 4.2 linear feet (7 Hollinger and 1 RS box) pre-processing. Primary actions taken include refoldering, weeding of duplicate materials, and establishing series arrangement. Forty 7" reel to reel audiotape recordings of the Commission's meetings were discarded, as typed transcriptions and/or detailed minutes were available for each of its 34 meetings. Also discarded was a 4-volume report to the British Parliament by the Prime Minister's Committee on Higher Education (Robbins Committee), as relevant portions were photocopied and retained with other reference files. Eleven volumes of The Study of Education at Stanford were discarded, while Volume X, "Government of the University," was retained. Student Perspective, 1964: The Student Philosophy and other Duke reports found in multiple University Archives collections were likewise discarded. A binder which included copies of Commission minutes and correspondence through the first 10 meetings, created to introduce new Duke President Terry Sanford to the Commission's purpose and actions, was discarded, as it duplicated exactly the material in folders for the first 10 meetings. However, the introduction to this volume, which provides a summary of the Commission's creation and Fall 1969 activities, is filed in Box 1 under Correspondence - Miscellaneous.

Encoded by Joshua McKim, February 2003

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Duke University Archives.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Commission on University Governance Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.