December 21. Thorington produced a bill he intended to introduce to the upcoming session of the Alabama legislature. It called for moving API to Montgomery, but added that the city would provide land and buildings before this happened. Again, Thornington urged the board not to proceed with any construction in Auburn. The trustees rejected this proposal and urged that all further agitation on the issue stop.
Webb then presented his case: Dowell lacked experience in higher education; he had been unable to win respect from the students, who'd hung him in effigy, hissed when he spoke, and placarded the town with signs saying "To hell with Spright;" he had been unable to inspire the faculty, including B.A. Wooton, who left complaining that office clerks imposed "petty, irritating tyrannies" upon him; the president had lost the support of the alumni; enrollment at API, while it had not dropped, lagged significantly behind other schools in the state in the percent of increase; the buildings and grounds had not been well-maintained; and the president had not endeavored to keep pace with land-grant colleges in neighboring states, such as in the establishment of a textile engineering program. In addition to Webb, Henry T. DeBardelaben, Charles F. DeBardelaben, Dan E. Martin, and Jessy Gwin signed the document that was presented to the board.
Haygood Patterson--representing a group of Montgomery County alumni who included Bert Fitzpatrick, S.H. Roberts, W.G. Fowler, and William S. Patterson--also presented a letter containing charges against Dowell. In doing so, they assumed that the president's resignation already was before the board because his own sense of self-respect and his obligation to the board that appointed him should have compelled him to offer it. If this was not the case, the committee felt compelled to offer their reasons why Dowell should be replaced. They have no one to advocate as Dowell's successor, but believe that he should come from outside Alabama. Dowell, they said, had high moral character, but lacked all the other qualities needed by a university president: intellectual attainments, undaunted courage, love for youth, freedom from political entanglements, diplomacy, and the ability to impose discipline and still maintain respect. Specifically, they charged Dowell with the following: he was not "big enough" for the Auburn presidency; for lack of tact, he had not been able to resolve "jealousies" among some of the departments; he had stated that Auburn had "the dry rot," but had done nothing about it; he had appointed men incapable of fulfilling their responsibilities; and he had allowed the percentage of enrollment increase to drop in comparison with other institutions. Patterson claimed that Auburn alumni were not typically involved in university politics, but they did respond when a crisis arose. They did five years ago, when Thach stepped down. They did less than five years ago, when the school was in a financial crisis. They did less than three years ago, when a move to Montgomery threatened. And they had come forward again to meet the fourth crisis in five years.
February 11. The board met and heard the report of a committee charged with investigating the allegations against President Dowell. The committee reported that they found no grounds for pursuing the investigation and the full board concurred.
June 1. Victor Hanson stated that President Dowell "had rendered signal service" during his administration and that under his leadership the school "had made greater progress than during any similar period in history."
June 24. In light of Dowell's medical condition, B.B. Ross was appointed acting president.
November 11. The board reconstituted the legislative committee, named Hanson chair, and urged the committee to meet with Governor-elect Graves to discuss the financial needs of the college, particularly related to indebtedness.
November 1. The special committee assigned to investigate the Dowell administration met and heard statements from various individuals. The minutes provided no details, but indicated that a stenographic record of the meeting was created. Various officers of the institution were summoned to make statements and several students appeared as well. L.N. Duncan was among those who made statements in support of Dowell.
November 5. The board of trustees met to review the situation with President Dowell. Haygood Patterson was among those who made statements in this matter. Dowell appeared and submitted his resignation.
March 16. Samford presented a resolution regarding the Teacher Training Equalization Fund. Apparently, the state Board of Education had appropriated $20,000 for API out of this fund and $65,000 for the University of Alabama. The board protested that this would, over the long term, give control of the state's educational system to the University of Alabama.
May 21. Samford presented the report of the special committee appointed to investigate the situation discussed on March 16 regarding the Teacher Training Equalization Fund. The committee recommended that API engage an attorney to protect its interests in this matter. R.E. Tidwell, state superintendent of education, made a statement in which he claimed that if Auburn proceeded with its current plan, the net result would be expensive duplication of programs in higher education throughout the state. He stressed the need for cooperation and coordination. The tone of the committee report was that this was a deliberate attempt to give the University of Alabama an unfair advantage in programs designed to train teachers in primary and secondary education. The committee noted that this effort coincided with a transitional period in Auburn's history, the implication being that proponents of the measure believed API would be too weak to challenge the decision.
May 18. President Knapp submitted a report regarding the relationship of extension service employees to the cooperative purchasing and marketing of farm goods. For a full discussion of this issue see Dwayne Cox, "Luther N. Duncan, the Extension Service, and the Farm Bureau," Alabama Review 51 (July 1998): 184-197.
June 13. The most pressing matter before the board was negotiation of "a loan of $300,000.00 or lesser amount to care for the pressing financial obligations of the institution" brought about by the state's inability to pay warrants from the building fund.
May 6. The college could not pay faculty salaries until the state paid cash for the warrants held by the institution.
June 24. The board authorized the president to issue certificates of indebtedness against the state warrants in the hands of the institution.
July 28. President Knapp reported that he had been operating under severe stress and the board granted him a leave of absence for the month of August. One board member offered to make a special request to the governor for payment of Knapp's salary, but the president refused to accept preferential treatment.
August 5. Knapp having resigned, Governor Miller urged the appointment of an administrative committee rather than an acting president. He proposed George Petrie, L.N. Duncan, and J.J. Wilmore as committee members. The board agreed. See Dwayne Cox, "Luther N. Duncan, the Extension Service, and the Farm Bureau," Alabama Review 51 (July 1998): 184-197, for a discussion of the administrative committee and L.N. Duncan's eventual appointment as president of the Alabama Polytechnic Institute.
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