Scope and Contents
Oral history interviews (tapes, cd's, transcripts), news releases, photographs, color slides, publications, campus directories, and student papers dating primarily from 1969 and relating to the five-day controversy which arose on the campus of Rice University in February 1969 following the appointment of Dr. William H. Masterson as President of the university. The 69 interviewees include faculty, staff, residential college masters and leaders, and students of Rice University.
Restrictions on Access
Because of the sensitive nature of much of the material, the collection was initially closed for five years from 1969-1974, and five interviews remain restricted from access, as noted on the inventory.
Conditions Governing Access
Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via email@example.com or call 713-348-2586.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from the Dr. William H. Masterson Controversy records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
Quotations or citations of otherwise unrestricted interviews may not be published during the lifetime of the interviewee except with his or her written permission.
Reproductions of any recordings or transcripts may not be made without the interviewee's written permission. This provision is not intended to restrict bona-fide note-taking by researchers.
A five-day controversy rose on the campus of Rice University in February 1969 following the appointment of Dr. William H. Masterson by the Board of Trustees as the university’s new President to succeed Kenneth Pitzer, who had resigned in August 1968. Members of the faculty and student body protested in particular the method by which Masterson had been appointed, which was perceived as a unilateral decision by the Board without sufficient consultation with the committee of faculty and students appointed earlier by the Board to assist in suggesting and screening candidates’ names. A variety of personal objections to Masterson himself were also voiced, along with concern about appointment of a President from within the university (Masterson was a former graduate of Rice who had joined the faculty in the Department of History in 1951 and served later as Dean of Humanities before leaving Rice in 1966 to serve as President of the University of Chattanooga). As a result of the pressure created by the protests and by a campus-wide poll conducted among students and faculty (results of which were made known to Masterson), the controversy ended with Masterson’s resignation as President on February 25th, five days after his appointment had been announced.
The Masterson controversy can be seen within the context of a decade of nation-wide turmoil resulting from (among other things) the Civil Rights movement, the war in Vietnam, the emergence of feminism and women’s rights, and a general rebellion against authority among many of the nation’s youth. (Notable among other campus disturbances of the period was the confrontation between students and National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio in May 1970, in which four students were killed and nine injured).
Within two weeks of the Masterson controversy, a committee was formed to sponsor an undertaking called the Oral History Project on the Presidential Crisis of February, 1969 at Rice University. The project sponsors were Joseph Cooper, Associate Professor of Political Science and Chairman of the Department; Harold M. Hyman, Professor of History and Chairman of the Department; and Richard H. Lytle, University Archivist and Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, who was appointed as Administrator of the Oral History Project. An outside consultant and an interviewer were also appointed. The purpose of the project was “to collect data for scholars doing research in social and economic change in the university,” and funding was provided by a grant awarded by Rice University’s Center for Research in Social Change and Economic Development.
Interviews were conducted between May and October 1969 and were recorded on reel-to-reel magnetic tapes, from which transcriptions or abstracts were then made. (See list of interviewees, pp. 4-5). Since interviews were begun close to the end of the school year in May, students were scheduled first, followed by faculty interviews in June.
6 Linear Feet (12 boxes)
59.6 Gigabytes (UA0068aip_001)
Language of Materials