The Retirement of Dr. Tribble 355
purchasing agent and he was writing to apply for the job…. Well, I
took it seriously enough to ask several people what they thought of it,
and all of them agreed with me that we didn't need a purchasing agent
in the first case, and in the second we did not need Andy Hutchins. So
Andy was offended at me."
The Watkins-Hutchins group was so adroit politically that Watkins
was elected president of the Board of Trustees for 1955, and Tribble's
real trials began.
The first thing that I knew, Basil called me up from Durham one day,
Saturday morning. He said, "Harold, I've called you to tell you what's on my
mind." He had something that he wanted me to do, and he told me about it. I
said, "Basil, my judgment is against that. I don't believe I'll do that." He
said, "Harold, you don't understand me. I didn't call you to ask you for your
opinion. I called you to tell you what to do and I expect you to do it. I'm
speaking to you as president of the Board of Trustees."
I said, "Basil, in that case let me say something quite frankly to you. I'm
under a Board of Trustees of thirty-six people, but I'm under the board; I'm
not under thirty-six individuals. If thirty-six individuals have a right to
dictate to the president of the college what he should do, we'll have nothing
but chaos and pandemonium all the time. Now I'll tell you what I'll do. If
you feel strongly about this thing you want me to do, you recommend it to
the trustees. If the trustees adopt it, I'll do it or resign, one way or the other.
The way I feel right now is, I'll resign, but that's all right."
He said, "No, I'm telling you right now, I want you to do it. I expect you
to do it." I said, "Basil, I've got a committee meeting in a few minutes.
They're coming into the office now for the meeting. I'm going to hang up.
But before I hang up I want to say to you, this is not personal with me, but it
involves a principle. When I came to Wake Forest to be president of the
college, I decided I would be president. And I'm not going to divide my
responsibilities with the president of the Board of Trustees or anybody else.
Now you go ahead and do whatever you think is right, and when the trustees
act, then I'll give my decision." So that started things…. They said, "Well,
you can't tell Tribble what to do, so we'll have to get rid of Tribble."
The investigation recounted in Chapter VI followed.
His experience with Watkins convinced Tribble that in the future he
would take an active role in the politics of the Board of Trustees. "I
made up my mind … that I would never allow the trustees to elect a
[board] president who I knew to be against my policies. I