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| the history of wake forest
I also took a train from Boston south to New Haven, Connecticut,
to be present for a most prestigious event on June 10: the awarding
to the Wake Forest Board of Trustees, by the American Association
of University Professors, of the Alexander Meiklejohn Award for
Academic Freedom. The University had been nominated for the
award by Professor of English Doyle Fosso, chairman of the Uni-
versity Senate, for its courage in handling the sensitive problems
created by the CAUSE grant and by the appearance of Larry Flynt
on campus.3
Professor Bertram J. Davis, chairman of the national commit-
tee which selected Wake Forest for this rare honor, said, “the life of
a board of trustees that is determined to champion its institution
and to preserve the freedom of its faculty and students is often very
difficult… The board found itself at odds on two occasions with
leaders of the organization to which it had its closest ties and from
which it had no desire to become alienated. With respect to the
National Science Foundation grant, it took the action it considered
within its authority and in the best interests of the University; but
at the same time it gave graphic expression to its desire to remove
misunderstanding and to work together with the Convention in
considering ‘more serious and permanent matters.’”
James W. Mason, chairman of the Wake Forest Board of Trustees,
responded as follows:
We were confronted with two problems. The answers would
affect the basic personality of the University. There was the usu-
al anguish as we sought compromises that would placate a host
of antagonisms suddenly crowded into our academic amphithe-
ater. After that understandable detour, we stopped fooling our-
selves and said that the open platform shall remain open and
that the Board of Trustees shall remain the final arbiter in deci-
sions affecting the life of the Univeristy.
I surmise that few members of the Wake Forest community
respect Mr. Flynt. His contempt for people is too great. Certainly
the Trustees would have preferred a more distinguished person to
do battle over. We were helped considerably by President Scales,
who reminded us that Wake Forest and the State of North Caro-
lina have been hospitable for years to speakers of all sorts and
that every so often a group of students will push to the limit the
University’s devotion to the First Amendment. Mr. Flynt’s ap-
pearance was an embarrassment, but it would have been a greater
and longer-lasting embarrassment to restrict such appearances.
3
Among those sup-
porting Professor
Fosso’s nomination
were: Germaine
Brée; Merrimon
Cuninggim, Presi-
dent of Salem Col-
lege; Wilton Dillon,
Smithsonian Institu-
tion; Rev. William
W. Finlator; Wil-
liam Burnett Har-
vey; Harold T. P.
Hayes; Gerald W.
Johnson; J.A. Mar-
tin, Jr.; Martin May-
er; Francis Paschal,
Professor of Law,
Duke University;
and Congressman
Frank Thompson.
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