To the Editors:
Probably many of your readers have read the April, 1970, AAUP Bulletin report on the fiasco at Alfred University in which Professor Michael Kay was summarily fired because of his participation in a peaceful demonstration. One result of the publication of the AAUP report is that Dr. Kay, Associate Professor of History, has again been arbitrarily dismissed, this time by the administration and board of trustees of West Chester State College. No valid reasons were given for refusing to renew Dr. Kay’s contract; instead he has been accused of failing to complete certain unspecified clerical forms, of misusing the college’s telephone system, etc. The real reasons for the firing of Dr. Kay, an able teacher highly thought of by his students, and a sound scholar who has published in the most prestigious professional journals, are clear enough. The administration and the politically appointed trustees do not like his unorthodox political beliefs and his support of black students’ attempts to end certain restrictive college policies.
The students at West Chester State have proposed to remedy this injustice in a new way: why not let the students hire their own professor? The student government (IGA) voted overwhelmingly to establish the IGA Visiting Fellowship and to make Dr. Kay the first recipient. The administration has denied the student government the use of their money for this purpose. Other funds, however, have been pledged by various student groups. Several area colleges and universities have shown interest in supporting the cause, and Swarthmore College students, for example, have pledged $1,000 to the Fellowship Fund.
We feel that the dismissal of even one professor for political reasons affects the welfare of all. Cases of this sort are rampant in the country today and can only be expected to increase, Imagination, courage, and support are needed to combat this trend. The IGA Fellowship, the concept of the Students’ Professor, chosen and supported by students, is one answer to the local and national problems of summary dismissals of faculty members whose views are untenable to an administration.
Your readers’ concern for problems of freedom and justice are known to us and we are therefore writing to you to ask their support for the Fellowship Fund. Give as generously as you can to the Fund. Please make checks payable to: Kay Fellowship Fund, IGA Office, West Chester State College, West Chester, Pennsylvania 19380.
William C. Davidon
Joel H. Levinson