Black Studies and BLAC vs Academic Affairs, 1972
Scope and Contents
Despite the highly organized start to the Black Studies department, problems between the department and administration soon arose. Communication and good will quickly eroded between Milton White, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Dean of Academic Affairs. Upon receiving a complaint from Black Studies, the Board of Regents decided to investigate the allegations against Gaines, as well as White’s leadership of Black Studies. Instead of mandating a committee, which faculty of Black Studies and the community had been promised, the Regents hired Dr. George Johnson as a one-man investigation committee. Dr. Johnson, a Black scholar, academic, and lawyer was a retired professor emeritus from Michigan State University where he taught in the field of education, concentrating on the legal aspects of education. During his career, he had been in private practice, Federal Government attorney, a member of the United States Civil Rights Commission, and as a result was on Mississippi Senator Eastland’s wanted list for his civil rights activism. Despite these credentials Johnson was not popular with the Black Studies department or the community group the People’s Regent. White refused to speak with Johnson as he, like everyone else interviewed by Johnson, was not allowed a lawyer. It was Johnson’s decision to bar lawyers from the interviews because it was a fact-finding investigation and he was not making any recommendations to the Board of Regents. Dr. Johnson worked for 10 days and interviewed 42 people. His final report made no recommendations, as was the mandate of his work, but presented a timeline and the facts as he had gathered them. The Board of Regents found no substance in White’s claims of Gaines’ racism, paternalism, or intimidation of the department. As a result, White left UNO when his contracted ended in June 1972.
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