Archives > Online Collection Guides

ARCHIVAL COLLECTIONS

Office of the President
Records, 1970 - 1981

(Martin Meyerson Administration, 1970 - 1981)
UPA 4

128 Cubic ft.
Prepared by Kaiyi Chen
1997, 2005

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.

ACCESS RESTRICTIONS: According to "The Protocols for the University of Pennsylvania Archives and Records Center," all administrative records of the University for twenty-five years from the date of their creation are closed; individual employment records of living current or former faculty and staff members are "absolutely closed."

 

PROVENANCE

The records for the Martin Meyerson Administration were transferred to the Archives in two accessions. The records for 1970-1975 were accessioned in November of 1987, and those for 1975-1980 were accessioned in April of 1988. Boxes 356 and 357 were found in the University Archives in 2005. There is no record when they were transferred from the Office of the President to the Archives.

 

ARRANGEMENT

The records documenting the administration of Martin Meyerson represent one series in the total record group for the Office of the President. This series is arranged alphabetically, except for the two boxes processed in 2005 and added at the end of the inventory.

 

AGENCY HISTORY

Traditionally, while the Provost had been the nominal head of the University, the administrative responsibility had always belonged to the Board of Trustees and its various boards and committees. In 1923, the Trustees created the position of President, with the Provost serving concurrently as President. Three years later, however, the title was abolished, and it was not until 1930 that, in response to increasing administrative demands, the Trustees authorized the position.

The statutes of the University were revised completely in January of 1932, and defined the University President as "the educational and administrative head of the University with all powers comparable to those of a corporation, to whom all officers, instructors, and employees of the University were responsible." The President, in turn, was responsible to and reported to the Trustees, and served simultaneously as the presiding officer of the Board of Trustees. The first person elected to the newly-defined head position was Thomas S. Gates.

Martin Meyerson served as President of the University of Pennsylvania from 1970 to 1981. During his term, the President's staff was generally composed of the following major officials: Executive Assistant to the President (sometimes entitled Vice President and Director of the Office of the President), two or three Assistants to the President, one to three Special Assistants to the President for Planning Studies, Visiting and Advisory Boards, or undefined Specific Projects, President's Executive Secretary, Writer for the President, and the Office Manager (sometimes known as the Business Administrator). In 1977, there was an effort to reduce the size of the staff. The experiment did not last long, for the staff was soon restored to the former composition.

In the later years of the Meyerson administration, there emerged on campus a "crisis of confidence." In January 1978, a Faculty Senate committee on administrative structure urged better organization of the faculty and better communication between the faculty and the administration. It also recommended a direct channel of communication between the faculty and University Trustees, reorganization of the offices of the president and the provost, and the establishment of formal procedures for the appointment of all senior administrators. In the spring, President Meyerson appointed a seventeen-member 1978 (or "Second") Task Force on University Governance, chaired by Professor Walter D. Wales. Simultaneously, the Faculty Senate formed its own "Faculty Panel on Administrative Functioning of the University," chaired by Professor Dan M. McGill. The two top-level survey bodies brought about changes that made the entire University's administrative structure more decentralized and more democratic. Their effect has continued to exist up to the present.

Return to the top

SCOPE AND CONTENT

The records in this series document the presidential administration of Martin Meyerson, who served as President from 1970 to 1981, and reflect all major activities taking place on campus during this period. There are records concerning University governance and decision making processes, which include files for the Trustees, University Council, University Policy, Council of Deans, Progress reports, and Task Force for University Governance.

Files concerning the Provost, the Faculty Senate, each college and department as well as various academic support offices underscore the academic mission of the University. A subseries entitled "Health Affairs" encompasses all schools and units related to health care. This includes the Medical School, the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine, the School of Allied Medical Professions (now defunct), and the School of Nursing. Information on the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, or HUP, as well as Graduate Hospital, a Pennsylvania affiliated hospital, may also be found here.

The University enjoyed a period of great growth during the decade of the seventies, particularly in the physical landscape of the campus. Many new buildings were dedicated during the presidency of Martin Meyerson. They included the Academic Wing of the University Museum, the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, the Caster Building for the School of Social Work, the Chemistry building, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Clewell Laboratory of the Moore School, the Colonial Penn Center, Harnwell House, Harrison House, Hoffman Research Center for Animal Reproduction, the Levy Tennis Pavilion, the Lott Tennis Courts, the Scheie Eye Institute, the Silverstein Pavilion, the Stouffer Triangle, Van Pelt Manor House, and Vance Hall. The corporate infrastructure which corresponds directly with this growth is also well documented. Business management, finance, facilities management, human resources, labor relations, operational services, security and safety, instructional technology all fall in the categories of "Management and Finance" and "Personnel-Human Resources."

The University also grew in size and stature through outside cooperative efforts as it engaged in international inter-institutional cooperative efforts with France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Iran, Japan, Korea, Latin America, Poland, Russia, China, Yugoslavia, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Nationally, the University worked with the other Ivy League schools, and locally, Lincoln University, Morgan State University, and Temple were among the institutions with which the University worked in fulfilling its mission. In addition to these efforts at cooperation with local, national and international educational institutions, the University also participated in leading educational associations and societies. These included, but were not limited to, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association of University Professors, the American Association of University Women, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the Commission for Independent Colleges and Universities, the Middle States Association, and the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities. Additionally, the University worked with governmental agencies on the local, state, and federal levels.

Return to the top

The University as a community, that is the campus life in the early seventies, was well rooted in the traditions of the various fraternities and sororities, Hey Day, student activities, and athletics. Nevertheless, the changing times are also noticeable. The Meyerson presidential series reflects, for instance, a growing minority presence with increased enrollments of and programs for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, women, and lesbians and gays at Penn. The more volatile political activism, typical of many American campuses at this time, is also of interest. There are files on the College Hall seizure, demonstrations against the Vietnam War, and protests against the Reserved Officer's Training Course (ROTC) on campus. Corresponding to political activism, information on the open expression policies and issues surrounding student surveillance may also be found in these papers.

Beyond the boundaries of an expanding campus, local cooperation and concern for the community of West Philadelphia represent increasingly important interests of the University. The Graffiti Workshop, the New School in University City, the Quadripartite Commission, St. Mary's Church, the Urban Coalition Higher Education Task Force, the Walnut Street Theatre, the Greater Philadelphia Movement, the Penn Community Park, the West Philadelphia Community Free School, the West Philadelphia Corporation, and the University City Science Center offer examples of the University's commitment to its immediate surrounding community.

National events such as the Bicentennial and the energy crisis also figure into the mix of records that document the Meyerson presidency. Individuals represented in the records include Raymond Pace Alexander, Sadie T.M. Alexander, Bukminster Fuller, Loren Eisley, Gaylord P. Harnwell, Donald Stewart, David Goddard, Vartan Gregorian, John R. Silber, William L. Day, Robert Dunlap, Alice Emerson, Claude Mayberry, Paul Miller, Scott Nearing, Donald Regan, Curtis Reitz, Thomas Schute, Elliot Stellar, Sarkes Tarzian, and Edwin B. Williams.

The two boxes acquired in 2005 consist basically of the following files: Meyerson's biographical material, files of his public engagements, his speeches and published articles, files created by his major assistants, and records of his election to presidency in 1970 and his resignation in 1981.

The papers of the Martin Meyerson administrations fully document the University of Pennsylvania from 1970 through 1981, a period of great change and growth at the University.

Return to the top