MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
ALABAMA POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE AND AUBURN UNIVERSITY
PRESIDENT RALPH BROWN DRAUGHON
July 28. The executive committee met because President Luther N. Duncan
had died two days earlier. They appointed Ralph Brown Draughon executive
officer of the board of trustees until the full board could met. Draughon
already was serving as secretary.
August 11. Draughon presented a statement regarding the qualifications
for the new president which had been prepared by the academic faculty and
the staff of the Extension Service and Experiment Station. The new president
should have "the highest degree of personal integrity...profoundly based
on Christian principles." Both he and his wife should "possess the social
graces appropriate to the position." It would be "highly desirable" for
the president to hold a Ph.D. degree, "or its earned equivalent," and that
his own research should have "made meritorious contributions to knowledge."
He should have broad experience as an academic administrator at a state-assisted
university, understand the importance of teaching, research, and extension,
and "the courage to take a positive and intelligent stand on important
current moral and social issues." Draughon also presented a similar statement
prepared by student leaders, which called for a president who was both
an educator and administrator and who had "no political history or aspirations."
The board selected Draughon as acting president. Berta Dunn became acting
secretary of the board.
October 1. Ralph Brown Draughon was unanimously elected president of
the Alabama Polytechnic Institute as of this date.
June 3. President Draughon called the board's attention to a policy
approved and recorded in the minutes of November 21, 1947. This policy
prohibited the support of any political candidate or partisan issue by
API or any of its divisions, schools, or departments.
January 9. The board discussed the need for screening faculty prior
to appointment to prevent "the admission of subversives...or sexually perverted
October 30. The post-war enrollment boom had caused API to request additional
funds for on-campus instruction at the past session of the legislature.
They thought they had coordinated this request with officials at the University
of Alabama, but Tuscaloosa opposed the Auburn request and it did not pass.
Apparently, some members of the legislature wanted to support Auburn, but
did not want to become involved in a political battle over the matter.
June 7. President Draughon reported on the recent decision of the United
States Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of segregated schools.
He suggested that Auburn adopt a wait-and-see approach to this question,
but noted that the school did not currently have any applications for admission
from black students.
February 15. President Draughon reported that Auburn had no applications
from black students. Should one be received, the board would meet to discuss
what action should be taken. He stated that the administration and board
supported segregation and would defend its legality. Draughon further stated
that every American citizen had a right to protest actions of the government,
but he condemned violence.
June 1. The board resolved that "Auburn--Alabama Land Grant University"
would be a fitting name for the institution.
October 30. The board resolved that the name of the Alabama Polytechnic
Institute be changed to Auburn University effective January 1, 1960, in
accordance with act number 332 passed by the Alabama legislature on October
June 5. A Plainsman editorial on race relations created a disturbance
on campus and violated what President Draughon stated as university policy
on this matter: to preserve an atmosphere of free thought by avoiding incidents
which would provoke "extremists" on either side of the issue. The board
passed a resolution which required the editors of the Student Publications
Board to advise the Dean of Student Affairs regarding "editorial or news
items of public affairs having a bearing on the good name of Auburn University."
November 9. The board met in executive session to discuss "what happened
in Mississippi," especially because they had been told that the United
States government would "not wait as long to send troops to Alabama as
they did to Mississippi." Draughon said that, for the past ten years, Auburn
had tried to avoid receiving an application from a qualified black candidate.
If they did receive such an application, they could fight it through the
legal system, but it probably would be "rammed down our throats."
July 17. The board met for an "informal" meeting in Montgomery with
Governor George C. Wallace. President Draughon announced that the purpose
of the meeting was to discuss "the current situation with reference to
Negro applicants." Since 1954, Auburn had received only 13 inquiries from
black students "that were serious enough to cause...concern." None of these
applicants ever completed the procedure. Draughon believed that this could
not continue. He preferred to select a black student to break the color
barrier at Auburn, but the board's policy was to avoid desegregation as
long as possible and then to fight it in court. Most of all, Draughon wanted
to avoid a public spectacle, which he thought had harmed other southern
universities immeasurably. Trustee Samford called attention to a catalog
statement which said Auburn "would never permit any Negro to register"
until the school had "court orders to admit him." Governor Wallace agreed
with the statement. He also said that, when the time came, law and order
would be kept.
August 30. The registrar and the dean of the graduate school had been
served with a summons and complaint regarding the admission of a black
student. The board adopted a unanimous motion to exhaust all legal means
to prevent the applicant from entering school and to carry the case to
a higher court, if necessary. Governor Wallace was in touch by telephone
during the meeting and indicated his support of this policy.
November 26. The board met in the governor's office to discuss preservation
of the peace when on January 2, 1964, Harold Franklin, a black student,
would be admitted to Auburn University. Auburn had tried to prevent Franklin's
registration on the grounds that his undergraduate degree was from an unaccredited
institution, but would not disrupt "the program and purpose" of the institution
by defying a court decree. Governor Wallace said he would not "stand in
the [school house] door, but he could not furnish a state bodyguard for
Franklin while he was on campus. He would, however, "use whatever force
might be necessary to keep anyone from being hurt." If violence broke out,
Franklin might be removed from the campus. The governor went on record
as being opposed to Franklin's admission and the board had not voted to
admit him. His admission was the result of a federal court decree.
November 6. Governor Wallace called for an executive session to hear
the report of the screening committee he appointed to seek Ralph Brown
Draughon's successor to the presidency of Auburn University.
May 5. Frank P. Samford, chair of the presidential screening committee,
nominated Harry M. Philpott as president of Auburn University. Trustees
Bamberg and Pace voted against Philpott, who was nevertheless elected by
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