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December 8, 1973

The board of trustees voted unanimously to continue the office of assistant to the president for black affairs, thus concluding a controversy that had raged on campus for several days. Earlier in the week the incumbent assistant for black affairs, Assistant Professor of Sociology Ora Fant, learned from President Simpson that he saw no further need for the special office, which came into being as part of the settlement of the black students’ takeover of Main Building in 1969.

When news of this decision reached the black faculty, the only two professors with doctorates, historian Norman Hodges and psychologist William Hall, tendered their resignations, effective June 30, to Dean of the Faculty Barbara Wells. Some 150 students, hearing of the move, protested outside the Students’ Building, where the trustees, college officials and principal donors were gathering for a dinner celebrating the college’s successful completion of its $50 million capital campaign, and the Student Government Association passed a resolution critical of the abolition of the office and asking President Simpson to appear before it to explain his decision.

Along with their decision, the trustees passed a resolution applauding “the wise decision of the president” to continue the post, and they urged him to persuade Dr. Hodges and Dr. Hall to withdraw their resignations. Asked by The New York Times about the board’s decision, President Simpson said “I don’t consider the board’s decision a reversal, but I don’t wish to comment any further.”

The New York Times

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