"Lee years end amidst controversy"

Last in a series
Retriever (Volume 16, Number 14)
December 1, 1981
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Early in the spring semester of 1976, a Retriever article reported that Chancellor Calvin B.T. Lee was one of six finalists under consideration for the presidency of Tufts University, a 125 year old liberal arts school in in Medford Massachusettes. Lee stated, however, that "the decision is a longshot." The position reportedly would become vacant July 1, 1976.

It was also reported that Vice Chancellor Morton S. Baratz might be looking for a new job. "Dr. Baratz would only go so far as saying that several schools have contacted him, but that it would be unfair to mention them at this time," the Retriever reported.

Obviously, the possibility of Lee leaving UMBC for another job drew the criticism of his opponents. But Lee again reaffirmed his earlier stance with an assurance that he had no plans to leave UMBC at all.

Lee also mentioned the 'unfortunate publicity' given Tufts University's search for a new president. He explained that during his four and one-half years at UMBC, he has received a dozen inquires and invitations regarding his interest in accepting other positions and he has turned them all down.

"I say this to assure you that I have been, and will continue to be committed to UMBC and its welfare. I am by no means searching for a new job," commented the chancellor.

However, sentiment for Lee to remain at UMBC in that capacity, or in any other capacity, was severely attacked by some UMBC faculty member. For example, Associate Professor of Sociology, William Rothstein asked that Lee resign his post as chancellor."

"Rothstein, speaking during the informal question and answer session which precedes the formal meeting, said that there exists a plethora of problems at UMBC which have not been rectified," the Retriever reported." Among those difficulties, Rothstein said, 'are enrollment problems, the sparse building program at UMBC, and a lack of interest in fighting for needed programs.' He then asked Lee if he thought UMBC might not be better off with new leadership."

This was not the end of the attacks waged by Lee's critics. On March 22, 1976, it was announced that the UMBC Senate had established a committee to study UMBC leadership.

More than a hundred faculty members and, associate staff members and students met at a UMBC Senate meeting to discuss issues surrounding the noconfidence vote which was taken among faculty members the week before. The poll was taken to establish if the faculty had confidence in Lee's leadership ability.

Several senators were irked by a statement distributed by the faculty affairs committee which in effect issued an ultimatum to chancellor Calvin Lee to resign within thirty days or face charges of incompetence.

Lee lashed out at the group after remaining silent throughout most of the two hour discussion.

"I was never given a bill of particulars," Lee told the Senate, adding he would be happy to respond to any charges against him. Lee said that the incident had been characterized by innuendo and intimidation. He also said he was profoundly disappointed with the way the issue had been handled.

Much debate in the Senate was focused on interpretation of the confidence vote. The statement issued by the committee made the point that "the chancellor is the wrong person to be UMBC's chancellor at the time and suggests that he look elsewhere for work or to take up the tenured professorship which he holds."

The faculty overwhelmingly voted noconfidence in Lee's leadership.

In a formal poll taken during the first week of March 1976, an overwhelming 78% of those responding had no confidence in Lee's leadership ability.

The survey was contradicted by the faculty affairs committee and asked all full-time assistant, associate, and full Professors whether they felt he was in a position to provide adequate leadership for UMBC.

Lee commented that college president cannot run his job to win a "popularity contest." And he also commented that the higher education climate wasn't good for any school.

Although Lee receieved a vote of "no confidence," most of his critics did realize that he came to UMBC in a difficult period. Among the obstacles he had to contend with have been Maryland's contracting budget climate, a newly reorganized Maryland Council on Higher Education anxious to flex its muscle, and problems with declining enrollment.

Dr. Calvin B. T. Lee made a public decision to resign on July 20, 1976, after the turmoil and controversy of that spring semester in 1976. William Rothstein said a major reason for Lee's resignation was, "a lack of support among the deans." Other sources said, however, that the chancellor was crushed by the vote of no confidence in March of that year.

Lee announced that he would "assume a newly created vice-presidency at the corporate headquarters of Prudential Life Insurance Company.

The appointment for the interim chancellorship was given to Dr. Louis Kaplan, former chairman of the University Board of Regents, and served on the Board for twenty years.

In mid May 1977, it was announced that Dr. John W. Dorsey would assume the chancellorship taken up by interim chancellor Louis L. Kaplan and vacated by Calvin B.T. Lee.

Dr. Dorsey served as Administrative Vice-chancellor for College Park. Dorsey would assume the chancellorship on July I, 1977.

After the beginning of the 1977 semester started, it was announced that Morton Baratz, vice chancellor for academic affairs would be leaving UMBC to become General Secretary of the American Association of University Professors.

When Baratz became vice-chancellor in 1971, he expected to stay only five years. However, he decided to remain one more year when Calvin B.T. Lee, then Chancellor, left abruptly in 1976. "I never intended to stay beyond that year," said Baratz.

This resignation marked the end of the Lee-Baratz years, and the beginning of the Dorsey years.

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