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Obviously, no one editorial nor one point of view is sufficient to interpret and judge fully, the Report by the special Faculty Committee on the terminating appointments given last year to Dr. Walsh and Dr. Sweezy. Looking, however, at certain aspects of this Report from the undergraduate point of view, we are convinced that both the Committee and President Conant, each to a different extent and in different fashion, erred in regard to the recommendation for reappointment of these two men by the Department of Economics.
Let, it be said at once that the Committee's report is entirely unbiased, particularly in its finding that the President's rejection of the recommendation was not due to any prejudice against the social and economics views of Drs. Walsh and Sweezy, and on the whole through. Nonetheless, in its disregard of the financial element involved--which seems to be the touchstone of the affair--and in its careless statement that the President's ruling concerning the promotion of instructors in Economics "subordinated educational values to financial exigencies," the Committee destroyed its own case. There is little doubt that Mr. Conant's fears in 1936 regarding the financial condition of the University were justified; at the present time the University is suffering from an extremely restricted budget and its amount of loose funds is almost negligible. In his message to the Board of Overseers Mr. Conant said plainly that the Corporation unanimously feel that the 1936 ruling limiting the number of instructors to be promoted in Economics was "sound at the time" and that later developments "confirmed the wisdom and necessity of that ruling...."
On the other hand, from the evidence presented by this report as to the teaching qualifications of Dr. Walsh and Dr. Sweezy, it is clear that President Conant's rejection of the Economics Department's recommendation that these instructors be reappointed for a second term of three years was inopportune and inexpedient. Although his practical and far-sighted financial policy should be applauded in theory, in this particular case it would have been wiser if the President had adopted as equally a long-term view of the effect of the instructors' dismissal on the University. The Report proves that these men were brilliant teachers, that on this account and on that of their special interests they should have been given another chance for promotion. The Economics Department expected, at least, that Drs. Walsh and Sweezy would be offered unconditional reappointments. Again, the publicity attending the release of two liberal instructors hurt Harvard in the public eye more than can be realized.
But the President's error in administrative judgment does not, as in the reversed movie, pour the spilt milk back into the glass. The final conclusion of the Committee that Drs. Walsh and Sweezy should be reinstated is unjustified at this late date. If President Conant can be forgiven for making a tactical blunder, it is not so easy to forgive the Committee for declaring that Drs. Walsh and Sweezy should now be reappointed.
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