Charles V. Willie, professor of Education and a member of a court-appointed panel that will hear proposals for desegregating Boston schools, said yesterday he is accepting the job as his "responsibility as a citizen."
Willie, a former sociology professor at Syracuse University and an expert on race relations, said he is "simply responding to the call to help achieve a quality environment for people in Boston."
Federal Judge W. Arthur Garrity appointed Willie and three others to serve as "masters" who will read proposals in the Boston school busing case and make recommendations to Garrity for a final plan to desegregate the city's schools.
Late yesterday afternoon, Willie had not yet heard Garrity's instructions to the panel and was reluctant to talk about his role in the hearings due to begin Monday. Hearings on desegregation proposals are expected to last about two weeks and will be public.
"There is not very much I can say right now," Willie said.
"I am reluctant to be more specific because the judge [Garrity] met today with the three other masters to hear their suggestions," he explained. "I was not at that meeting, so I don't know what their conclusions were."
Willie will be working with Francis Keppel '38, former dean of the Ed School and former U.S. Education Commissioner, South Boston--born Edward J. McCormack Jr., nephew of former Speaker of the House John W. McCormack and one-time state politician; and Jacob J. Spiegel, a former judge on the State Supreme Judicial Court.
The masters will also consult with two "experts." Boston University School of Education deans Robert Dentler and Marvin Scott, appointed by Judge Garrity Friday to assist in the process.
Willie, the only black appointed as a master by Garrity, joined the Ed School faculty in August and has not been involved in the Boston case until this week, although he has studied a number of racial problems in public schools. He said yesterday he has followed the Boston case in the news.
In a telephone interview Willie explained that he accepts the job willingly, but added that, "It is not something to look forward to with glee or to shun with horror."