Reports to the Board of Trustees
From the President's Office Records, RG 533
LUTHER N. DUNCAN, 1935-1947
Report to the Board of Trustees, June 25, 1937
This report covered the past five years, from the beginning of the
administrative committee that governed Auburn between 1933 and 1935 through
the first two years of the Duncan administration. According to Duncan,
this period represented "the most difficult period" in the history of the
college. The faculty had lost approximately $300,000 in salaries, the administration
had "practically no funds available for the purchase of vitally necessary
teaching equipment," and the enrollment had increased by 35 percent. Duncan
traced the source of the problem to shortfalls in the state appropriation.
In 1930-31 the school received $208 per student, while in 1935-36 the figure
was $56. Duncan raised the old complaint that the legislature lumped funds
for the Extension Service and Experiment Station together with funds for
teaching, which presented a distorted picture of Auburn's resources, but
was pleased to report that the 1935 legislature separated these accounts,
an act of "far-reaching importance." The president also reported that API
officials had worked with Senator John H. Bankhead and American Farm Bureau
President E.A. O'Neal in "originating, formulating, and passing" the Bankhead-Jones
Act, which was signed by FDR on January 29, 1935. This increased Auburn's
funds for resident teaching, agricultural research, and agricultural extension.
Auburn also provided administrative headquarters for several New Deal agencies:
the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the Soil Conservation Service, and the
Resettlement Administration. Duncan reported that the Unified Educational
Bill of 1927 had appropriated funds for high school teacher-training, 70
percent of which were earmarked for the University of Alabama. This remained
the case until 1936, when the ratio was changed to 39-39-22 for Alabama,
Auburn, and Montevallo.
Report to the Board of Trustees, June 2, 1941
Duncan called the trustees' attention to the important role played
by land-grant colleges "in these times of national emergency and world-wide
chaos." He considered the work of the School of Engineering in the Engineering
Defense Program particularly noteworthy. By this time, the college had
"no outstanding unfunded obligations" and the revenue set aside "to retire
the bonds on the P.W.A. building program" was "exceeding all expectations."
Report to the Board of Trustees, June 1, 1942
Wartime enrollment had not yet dropped significantly, but academic
programs had been accelerated and modified according to the needs of national
defense. Students had evidenced no "war hysteria," but had cooperated with
the school's efforts to contribute to the war effort.
Report to the Board of Trustees, June 7, 1943
This report covered the past decade, from the beginning of the administrative
committee that governed Auburn between 1933 and 1935 through the first
eight years of the Duncan administration. Duncan recalled that in 1933
Auburn faced a desperate financial situation. The road to recovery began
in 1932, when under the leadership of Governor B.M. Miller the legislature
proposed a constitutional amendment which would have allowed the retirement
of state debts by the issuance of bonds financed through income tax. The
proposal was defeated. Fortunately, the voters ratified a similar amendment
on July 18, 1933. Nevertheless, state appropriations were classified into
primary and secondary obligations, with those for education as secondary.
Consequently, API appropriations were not paid in full for several years.
After overcoming many obstacles, Auburn was permitted to issue bonds which
allowed its participation in the federal emergency public works building
program. Duncan reported that the college owed much to Senator Lister Hill,
who guided this program "through the maze of entanglements, restrictions,
and regulations of the federal government."
Report to the Board of Trustees, June 4, 1945
During the past year, API organized a Department of Veterans Affairs
"to assist the returning veterans in their readjustment to college and
civilian life." Along these same lines, the president called the board's
attention to the need for additional student housing.
Report to the Board of Trustees, June 3, 1946
Duncan reported that "a tidal wave of students" had descended upon
Auburn. During the course of one academic year, enrollment had increased
from 1162 to 4383. Furthermore, approximately 1500 students had been denied
admission because of inadequate faculty and facilities. Enrollment could
peak as high as 7000, if API had the resources necessary to accept all
qualified applicants. Of course, the "tidal wave" was, in large part, veterans
returning to college under the G.I. Bill.
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