GOVERNOR LA FOLLETTE'S BLUNDER
It is a tribute to Governor La Follette's integrity that he made public the letter of President Conant of Harvard University about the Frank case. But that letter sums up with deadly logic the most potent and most effective criticism of the entire incident: that it is open to question whether or not the present board of regents of the University of Wisconsin "has the capacity, competence and independence to make a judgment free from prejudice of a political or personal nature."
Judging from the action of the board, and, in particular, from the statements of some of its members, responsible for ousting Dr. Frank, the answer to this question is clearly in the negative. As to Governor La Follette's own part in the affair, that is another matter. His statement to the press confined itself to dealing with the duties of the Governor in connection with the university's budget, and repeated specific charges of inefficiency against Dr. Frank. But nothing in his statement or in his speech before the mob of students cleared him of the implication of countenancing interference for purely personal reasons. Most of the members of the board of regents appointed by Governor La Follette voted against Dr. Frank. This was, of course, their right. But the fact that it has long been asserted that they were chosen because of their loyalty to the Governor rather than because of their fitness as regents makes the coincidence of their vote significant in the light of the Governor's well known dislike of President Frank.
Dr. Conant's letter reinforces the contention of those who insist that the time has come to provide for new ways of selecting the members of the board of regents. Incidentally, if Governor La Follette had seen his way clear to press first for a change in the board of regents and delay the action against Dr. Frank, he would have been proclaimed as the defender of academic freedom. Instead he has allowed himself, perhaps unjustly, to be branded as a politician glad to see one of his enemies "embarrassed," even if in the process his state university is subjected to the indignity of washing its dirty linen in public. New York Herald-Tribune