14 Testing Limits: The Cohn, the Killam, the Life Sciences, the Radicals, 1968-1972

Rebecca Cohn’s world and her building. Tito’s LL.D., 1971. The Killam Library. Duff-Berdahl Report and after. The rise and fall of Dean Henry James, 1968-9. The Life Sciences Complex. Student unrest, 1968-70. Sociology’s adventures. President’s office occupied, April 1970. Transition year program. Maritime School of Social Work joins Dalhousie. The Fenwick Tower, 1971. Hicks becomes senator, 1971.

Rebecca Cohn was born in 1870 in Galicia, in what is now Poland but then was Austria-Hungary. She was brought up speaking German and was probably convent-educated. She married Moses Cohen and in 1906 they emigrated to Canada, part of the considerable exodus of Austrian Jews to North America at the turn of the century. The Cohens had a difficult time at first. Rumour was that they got their start selling goods from a handcart in Halifax streets. They were childless, they worked hard, and they prospered. She was the brains of the team. They lived in Jacob Street, at the corner of Brunswick Street, north of what is now Scotia Square, their prosperity exemplified by gradual purchases of property around them which they renovated and rented. Moses Cohen became an invalid and died in 1921, but Rebecca went from strength to strength. She was clever, tough, reclusive, with snow-white hair and piercing pale blue eyes that seemed to see everything. She came up to one of her workmen one day. “You’re stayin’ here, Mrs. Cohen?” he asked. “I’m staying here until you finish,” she replied. “In that case,” he rejoined, “I’m finished now!” She told this with some amusement. She was also good at law and by herself could draw up a working document for the sale or conveyancing of property. She died in the Victoria General in October 1942 at the age of seventy-two, referred to obliquely in the Halifax Daily Star as a business woman, “well known in real estate circles.”[1]

Her will made some specific gifts, but her executors were instructed to sell her properties after twenty years and use the money for “such charitable purposes as they see fit and proper.” She seems to have had in mind an old age home for Jewish people in her native Rzeszow (pronounced “Zheshu”); but after the war the trustees came to consider a Halifax project. How the bequest came to Dalhousie and for an auditorium is mysterious; but it seems to have been through the friendship between Rebecca Cohn’s nieces, Marian and Louise Keshen, and the wife of Professor John Aldous of Pharmacology. Eileen Aldous was a splendid creature, who charmed everyone she met; she seems to have suggested to the Keshen ladies that Dalhousie would be a good place for their money and what Dalhousie needed more than anything else was a proper auditorium.

In November 1962 the board announced that the estate of Rebecca Cohn (the name had been somewhere shortened and made less obviously Jewish) would donate $400,000 to enable Dalhousie to build an auditorium. In April 1963 a deed of gift conveyed that money plus any interest arising, on condition that the building be ready within five years. It was the largest gift Dalhousie had received since Lady Dunn gave the Physics Building in 1957. In September 1963 the board appointed C.A.E. Fowler as architect. But the university did not yet know quite what it wanted to do. Dalhousie’s previous contributions to the Halifax cultural life had consisted mostly of public lectures given by enterprising members of faculty. In the days before television these were usually well attended. Once a year the students mounted a Gilbert and Sullivan production, ranging from very good to mediocre; they produced plays that could come off with startling eclat. Basically Dalhousie thought of itself as an academic centre, not a cultural one.[2]

In 1961, after prodding from Arts and Science, the Senate struck a committee to manage Dalhousie’s collections of paintings; in due course it was widened to the Senate Committee on Cultural Activities, under the vigorous chairmanship of G.V.V. Nicholls of Law. By that time Senate concluded that an art gallery, and cultural events generally, should come under the university, not any one faculty or department. But this was all slow and cumbersome, and Hicks was already uneasy over the timetable. He appointed Dean Cooke to plan what should be done with a Cohn building. What departments, if any, should it house? Who should control the building’s operations? Might there be a conflict between an arts centre’s public functions and its academic ones? It was not easy. In March 1967, with ground not even broken, Hicks had to ask the Cohn trustees for an extension until June 1969.[3]

Another underlying reason for the slow start was that Hicks had developed big ideas of what he might do. Half a million dollars (with interest, that’s what the Cohn bequest became) was just seed money, though vital for that very reason. By now Lady Dunn (now Lady Beaverbrook), installed as chancellor in May 1968, had been persuaded to give half a million herself for a theatre named after Sir James, and the Nova Scotia government had been induced to give $2 million for a cultural centre in Nova Scotia’s capital that had been notably bereft of any such thing since 1749. At last in May 1968 the first sod was turned; by some unfortunate oversight the two surviving nieces of Rebecca Cohn, Marion and Louise Keshen, were not invited. They were most displeased. They had also heard that the design of their auditorium was such that it would be useless as a concert hall. They got the architect on the phone and told him plainly they were fed up and were calling their lawyer to see if they could get their half million back. Fowler calmed them down. A month or so later they wanted the Cohn expanded; it had been designed to seat eight hundred; the Keshen ladies wanted one thousand. Mercifully, without too much extra trouble and only modest extra expense, the Cohn auditorium was expanded to seat 1,075. It was in fact better that way.[4]

The contract was finally let in May 1969. It was massive: $3,827,581, to Kenny Construction of Yarmouth, the building to be called the Dalhousie Arts Centre, the Cohn Auditorium to be its the most important part. Then the construction company ran into financial trouble and the contract had to be assigned to R.A. MacCulloch. The construction itself was by no means what it should have been, beginning with a leaky roof on the Dunn Theatre. As late as March 1971 Hicks was much concerned about the shortage of money to finish and equip the Arts Centre. The Molson Fund contributed $100,000, but the arithmetic gave the board no pleasure, though the auditorium did. The total contributions were $3.1 million; the total cost was $5.2 million. Dalhousie’s own contribution to the Arts Centre was 40 per cent of its total cost.[5]

What sort of place would it be? What kind of programs would appear there? Hicks wanted it as a lighthouse in the Halifax community, attracting all sorts and tastes. As Malcolm Ross of English told the Halifax Rotary Club in January 1971, it was not merely a centre to serve the high-minded in Dalhousie and south-end Halifax. John Cripton, its first director of operations, wanted not just concerts and quartets but folk groups and rock bands. The raunchy, the rough, and the popular would help pay for ballet and symphonies.

It was opened officially in November 1971 with two major events. The main scenario was a week of cultural events launched by a convocation on 20 November 1971, with honorary degrees to stars in the Canadian cultural scene: Leon Major, director of the Neptune Theatre from 1963 to 1970; Elmer Iseler of the Toronto Festival Singers; Lawren P. Harris, the painter; and Jean Sutherland Boggs, director of the National Gallery from 1966 to 1976. The program went extremely well. The acoustics in the Cohn were a delight.[6]

It was upstaged, however, by a development that came to maturity two weeks before: the arrival of, and convocation for, Marshall Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia, and Sir Fitzroy Maclean, a British officer who had been parachuted in to meet him during the Second World War. It is a curious story. One of the wilder officers of the Canadian army was Major Bill Jones (’23) a veteran of the First World War who got himself parachuted into Yugoslavia in the Second. He created a considerable reputation for himself among the partisans in Slovenia. Guy MacLean, historian, and dean of graduate studies, pursuing research on the war in Yugoslavia, met Jones in Ontario in 1968. The original idea to bring Tito to Dalhousie seems to have come from MacLean; Jones added his weight by writing to Hicks. There were representations in other quarters; Mitchell Sharp, then the minister of external affairs, surprised Hicks by phoning to ask, “What’s all this about an honorary degree to Tito?” Hicks enjoyed that. MacLean was going to London to interview Sir Fitzroy Maclean about his wartime mission to Yugoslavia, and Tito was added to the agenda. At lunch MacLean asked Sir Fitzroy if he could make inquiries. At first Sir Fitzroy was bleak and uninterested, but soon warmed to it.[7]

It was a bold idea. Tito was not exactly persona grata in North America, and in Canada there was a forest of Yugoslav exiles who had some reason to hate him and the Communist regime he represented. The Jones and Fitzroy Maclean connections worked. Tito was interested, though it turned out that there would have to be a state visit, even if only to Halifax, and External Affairs and the Yugoslav embassy in Ottawa had to be involved. It was also thought desirable for security reasons to keep the news quiet for as long as possible. It was all settled through the Yugoslav embassy by early October 1971, and announced two weeks later. There were plenty of protests, from within Canada and from the United States, but Hicks did not mind these. Security in Halifax was tight. The Mounted Police were out in force, both as national police and as secret police.[8]

On Saturday, 6 November 1971, the day of Tito’s convocation, there were security men everywhere, on the roof of the Cohn Auditorium, on the roofs of houses across the street; there were fifty in the Arts Centre itself. And armed. But there was no incident. All went well, almost too well. Tito and Sir Fitzroy got their degrees; as his convocation address Tito proceeded to give a Slavic policy speech, a good forty-five-minute run at Yugoslav gross domestic product, exports, imports, and other such important things, all in his Serbo-Croat language. It was translated, sparingly, into English. Afterwards there was a reception; Dalhousie supplied sherry and slivovitz, the latter ordered from Montreal and in quantity. It is made from plums, distilled into a white, fiery spirit. In the countryside of Yugoslavia it can be rough; what Dalhousie supplied was smooth as silk. Tito never drank the stuff if he could help it. He liked Scotch, and so in haste Dalhousie supplied bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Label. The party went on for some time. The government of Nova Scotia gave a dinner that evening for Tito at the Nova Scotian Hotel, where Premier Regan promised an annual scholarship to Dalhousie to a deserving Yugoslav student. Tito ended up at the lieutenant-governor’s and was still going strong at 3 AM. Thus did Tito get his only North American honorary degree, and thus did the Cohn Auditorium begin. Eileen Burns told Hicks the next day that he had presided magnificently. “Never was I so proud of my University nor of its President.” The Yugoslavs were proud and pleased too. Sir Fitzroy Maclean went back to London in Tito’s jet, for both he and Tito were lunching on Monday at Buckingham Palace. Prince Philip teased the two new Dalhousie doctors of law. “Dalhousie could not have picked,” he told them, “two more illegal people… !”[9]

In later years Hicks said the Arts Centre was one of his great achievements: “With this gift of half a million dollars, I undertook the construction of the Arts Centre, costing ultimately between six and seven million dollars. But that gave me a great satisfaction to be able to manipulate that nice [Cohn] donation into something that was at least fifteen times… the original.” Note “manipulate”; that says it all for Hicks’s methods.[10]

Photograph of Tito honorary degree, 1971.
The Tito convocation, November 1971; from l. to r.: Sir Fitzroy Maclean; Dr. Harold Uhlman, Dalhousie Registrar; Marshall Tito; Lieutenant-Governor Victor Oland; President Henry Hicks.

The Killam Library
The last thing Dorothy Killam and Hicks had talked about before her death was giving Dalhousie a new library. Thus the name Killam attached to the big Dalhousie library represented intentions, not reality. As to need there was no doubt. J.P. Wilkinson, the librarian from 1960 to 1966, did the best he could inside the skin of the Macdonald Memorial Library, but it was clear even before he came that Dalhousie needed a new building. There were two things wrong with the library: its collection was too big for its building; and more dangerously, its collection was not growing nearly fast enough. In 1960-1 it had 175,000 volumes, ninth among university libraries in Canada. But it was falling steadily behind, its accessions only 60 per cent of McMaster’s which ranked tenth, and only 41 per cent of Saskatchewan’s which ranked eight.

Dalhousie departmental libraries had also become desperately crowded. Dean Cooke looked at the whole library position in December 1964; the Chemistry library needed space; Biology could be accommodated only by moving out old issues of journals to accessible storage. But, he concluded, “The whole fact of the matter is that there is no solution other than the construction as soon as possible of a substantial new Library Building.”[11]

Wilkinson resigned in 1965 to take up teaching at the University of Toronto Library School. Dalhousie now needed a first-class librarian, and they were not easy to find. Hicks did not want just a librarian; he wanted someone first-class; he was “loath to settle quickly for anyone who does not fall in this category.” He also preferred a North American. In December 1965 a meeting of librarians and deans discussed possibilities, including the founding of a School of Library Science. H.P. Moffatt, deputy minister of education, had urged a library school as early as 1960 and a joint Senate-board committee was struck. Wilkinson reported it would cost $47,000 per annum for a library school that could meet accreditation standards. That cooled Kerr’s ardour, and in 1963 Moffatt called it off temporarily to await the findings of the new University Grants Committee. One thing was clear: Hicks would not have a library school that was not accredited.[12]

In 1966, after a year’s search, Dalhousie got its librarian. The Library Planning Committee was chaired by S.E. Sprott, a Milton scholar from Australia, who worked tirelessly on the new library. The committee decided that Laird Fairn, the architect, Art Chisholm, and Guy MacLean should visit some recently built libraries in New England. At Brown University (seven thousand students) in Providence, Rhode Island, a fine library had just been completed, some 1.5 million volumes. MacLean noticed that all Dalhousie’s questions were being answered by the associate librarian, a lively Greek, Louis Vagianos. It was learned that he would be interested in considering a move. Hicks was told, and within days Vagianos was visiting Halifax. He and Hicks hit it off from the start, and Vagianos was hired virtually on the spot. He came officially on 1 May 1966. After that the Library Planning Committee sat back and watched Vagianos run with library planning.

His background was philosophy, history, and library science, but he was a systems man who saw things broadly. His parents were Greek and that origin showed. He was ebullient, sharp, and spoke his mind with refreshing, occasionally disconcerting candour; there were few weasel words in Vagianos’s vocabulary. His brisk and brusque ways created opposition at first which surfaced in Senate in a motion of want of confidence in the new librarian. Vagianos won it, by one vote. He came to Hicks despondent. “Don’t be unnerved by it,” said Hicks, “You won, 39 votes to 38. You won big. But don’t let the opposition get consolidated.”[13]

Vagianos’s philosophy was that students mattered more than librarians or professors. Make the library serve the students. Make xeroxing as cheap as possible; it will help save library books from being mutilated or stolen. In place of earlier restrictions on book borrowing, Vagianos believed in letting students take out as many books as they pleased. Books did no good sitting on library shelves. If they were needed they could always be recalled.

Dalhousie needed to spend much more money on its libraries and Vagianos worked hard to convince the board. Libraries, he said, were the only Dalhousie investment that rose in value all the time. He reemphasized that Dalhousie’s acquisitions had not been growing in proportion to students and staff. In the Canadian hierarchy of university libraries, Dalhousie’s was going down:

I do not wish to underestimate the value of administrators, faculty or librarians but, ultimately, it will be the quality of the book collection that will determine Dalhousie’s greatness. It is not a coincidence that every good or great university is supported by a good or great library. There is no exception to this.

Hicks ran into some scepticism among board members and fought it. Dalhousie, he told the board, had already been bypassed by McMaster, and in 1968 would be by Windsor, and in 1969 by Victoria, unless things changed. The problem was made more urgent, he said, because Dalhousie was trying to establish a reputation as a graduate school; it had to add at least thirty thousand volumes a year for some years to bring the library up to scratch. Hicks and Vagianos aimed at a major referral library of one million volumes, big enough for the whole Atlantic region, by the end of the 1970s. It would have to begin with staff. When Vagianos came to Dalhousie, libraries had a staff of fifty-four of whom only nine were professional librarians. Within a year it was eighty-five, of whom twenty-three were professionals.[14]

Although Laird Fairn was the overall architect, the real design of the Killam Library was done by Ojars Biskaps, professor of architecture at NSTC, with Vagianos directing the library’s input. The design was approved by the board in October 1966. There was a debate over the outside finish; Fairn recommended Indiana limestone which, he claimed, had a mellowness not characteristic of pre-cast concrete. Dissenting was A.G. Archibald, who wanted something resembling what was proposed for the Arts Centre – that is, pre-cast concrete with local stone impregnated in it. Archibald got his way; at the next meeting of the board in February 1967, the Indiana limestone decision was discussed at length, then overturned in favour of pre-cast concrete with local stone in it. Hicks managed to get rosewood installed in parts of the interior, his knowledge and skill as cabinet-maker showing; Basil Cooke recommended, as geologist, the micaceous slates for floors and stair treads, and even in the elevators. The computer centre in the basement was included in the overall design. The call for tenders was issued in November, the lowest being from Fraser-Brace Maritimes, at $6,098,700. Completion date was to be 31 July 1969. The Macdonald would become the central science library when the Killam was ready. That would not be until 1971, however, for labour shortages held up completion of the Killam. The final cost was $7,280,000.[15]

Photograph of Louis Vagianos in 1974
L.G. Vagianos in 1974, University Librarian, 1966-9; Vice-President University Services, 1975-9; Vice-President Administration, 1977-80.

Remaking Structures
Since the early 1960s Dalhousie, especially the Faculty of Arts and Science, had been struggling with growing pains, staff, students, structures, curriculum. It is almost an axiom that linear increases in numbers produce strains that have consequences of geometric proportions. Infrastructures break down from sheer weight; committee systems and established procedures become overburdened. Thus, as new buildings were going up, old structures of university governance were being changed. The debate about the place of academics on boards of governors had been going since the late 1950s, urged on by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT, founded in 1951), which urged that professors should be on boards of governors. Some thought they should even be in a majority. Anyone, however, who has read C.P. Snow’s The Masters will know the infighting academics are capable of when an important decision (in that case the headship of a college) rests in their hands. W.P. Thompson, retired president of the University of Saskatchewan, observed shrewdly in 1960:

Faculty members do their best to avoid decisions which may injure particular interests or persons… And for the welfare of the institution such decisions must be made. It is better to leave such decisions to experienced, thick- skinned administrators who expect to have to make them.[16]

As this debate was under way, the AUCC and CAUT together commissioned a report on the working of Canadian universities. The two commissioners were Sir James Duff, retired principal of the University of Durham, and Robert Berdahl, a political scientist from San Francisco State College who had published an authoritative book on university-government relations in Great Britain. They began work in 1964 and reported in 1966. They concluded that Canadian universities needed reform. The major problem was that too many of then-senates were ineffective, too large, too divorced from the academic side, too filled with administrators and alumni representatives. Dalhousie’s Senate did not have all those problems, but it was large and cumbersome, including as members all full professors and heads of departments. Duff-Berdahl also urged that faculty should have a major role in the selection of university administrators, chairmen and deans in particular, whose terms of office should be limited and short.

Canadian universities listened, and acted with astonishing speed. By the end of 1966 a dozen universities had begun extensive revisions of their charters and procedures. So much so that a year later Sir James Duff remarked in Toronto, “The Walls of Jericho appear to have fallen with but one blast of the Duff-Berdahl trumpet.”[17]

Dalhousie had reacted to these structural tensions five years before the publication of the Duff-Berdahl Report. Appointed in December 1960, Senate’s Committee on University Government was given a sweeping mandate “to review the present structure and practice of government at all levels within the University.” It first created Senate Council in December 1961, a working cabinet of Senate, and went on from there. As to the Duff-Berdahl Report, the Dalhousie Faculty Association liked it; on the other hand some members of the Board of Governors bridled at some of its assumptions. Frank Covert did not think faculty needed any more power than they already had, and student demands, he thought, were ridiculous. But authoritarian though he was, Covert had a clear idea of the limits to the board’s decisionmaking power. His view also throws a telling light on the power of Dalhousie’s president for action and decision:

they [Duff-Berdahl] suggest discussion and decision by the Board; actually this is not the way a board of a Company operates… nor is it the way a board of a university should. If anyone really believes that a board makes decisions, I think they ought to have their heads examined. Very frankly, administration of a university… make the recommendations and they should be so well made that they convince a board; while a board may not be a rubber stamp, by and large if the decisions of the administration are not correct and adopted by the board, then there should be either a new administration or a new board.[18]

In 1967 the Dalhousie Senate recommended that “heads” of departments should be replaced by “chairmen.” “Head” savoured much authority, and many heads, in Medicine not least, revelled in it. Moreover, once appointed head, it was not easy for the incumbent to step down. That was, too often, owing to delight in the power the headship represented; but, as the Senate report noted, it was more complicated than that:

…it has been difficult to make a change [in the headship] without very considerable embarrassment. If a retirement has been involuntary, it has been regarded as a public declaration of “no confidence”… if it has been voluntary, it has usually been taken as a confession of failure.

The appointment of chairmen was now to be made by the dean on the recommendation of a three-person committee chosen wholly from outside the department concerned. The appointment would be for three years. The process began in June 1968 with committees appointed for History, Psychology, and Sociology, the last a new department split off from Economics in 1966. Not all faculties found chairmanship to their taste; Medicine continued in its old ways; there were still heads of departments on the Forrest campus.[19]

As to the appointment of deans, that was also being discussed by the Senate committee. It was something that the president took a lively interest in, because he wanted deans in whom he had confidence. But there was faculty’s interest also. Hitherto the choice of a dean had been largely the president’s prerogative, though he usually consulted members of faculty. The appointment of Hicks as dean of arts and science in 1960 showed how limited that consultation could be. Hicks as president recognized the value of faculty consultation; his inclination was to turn as much of the process as possible over to faculty councils, provided they could get on with it (never easy for a large committee), and provided also that he was involved in the process. An interesting and instructive example was the appointment in 1968 of a dean of arts and science to succeed Basil Cooke.

Photograph of R.C. Dickson, retired Head of Department of Medicine; C.B. Weld, retired Head of Physiology; Sir Peter Medawar, honorary degree recipient; Chester Stewart, former Dean of Medicine.
Four doctors in 1978. L. to r., R.C. Dickson, retired Head of Department of Medicine; C.B. Weld, retired Head of Physiology; Sir Peter Medawar, honorary degree recipient; Chester Stewart, former Dean of Medicine.

A New Dean of Arts and Science, 1968
Cooke had tried to retire at the end of his three-year term in 1966, but no one wanted him to go and good candidates were scarce. A three-year stint as dean played havoc with one’s research and ability to keep up with one’s subject. The honour and the glory were all very well, but where was one at the end of three years? In 1966 Sydney Wise, a historian at Queen’s, was offered the deanship, but he turned it down in favour of a better offer in Ottawa. By October 1967 it had become urgent; Cooke announced that he would not continue as dean beyond June 1968. Faculty Council gathered nominations, six from within the faculty and three from outside. One outside candidate, Professor Hickman, a biologist from Western Ontario, was invited to accept, but negotiations broke down over salary, Hicks not being able or willing to offer enough to entice him to leave London, Ontario. Perhaps Hicks preferred one of the internal candidates. Most had fallen by the wayside, but Faculty Council was “very favourably” disposed to one whom it interviewed in March 1968. Hicks thought highly of him and he was appointed dean as of 1 July 1968, at the substantial salary of $21,000. He was P.H.R. James, head of Psychology.[20]

Percival Henry Rowland James was English, brilliant, gifted, confident. He was born in 1924 in Bath, the old Roman town whose most celebrated buildings were either second-century Roman or eighteenth-century English. There was indeed an eighteenth-century character about James, versatile, stylish, not easily contained within the petty cloisters of academia. He was first-class in nearly everything he took on: first class in the Classics Tripos at Magdalene College, Cambridge; first class in the Moral Sciences Tripos. He then joined the Royal Navy in 1942 and became Japanese translator in Intelligence. Research fellow in psychology at Cambridge in 1948-50, instructor at Harvard in 1950-1, he was lecturer in psychology at the University of London, when Queen’s found him and brought him over in 1957 as associate professor of psychology. He came to Dalhousie in September 1962, as professor and head of psychology.

Dalhousie Psychology had been philosophical and clinical. F.H. Page had been the department since 1928, one of the best-read men in the university, though he wore it quietly. In 1959 the department had four members, mostly in clinical psychology and this was where its modest graduate work centred. Then came Henry James. He changed everything. An instinctive driver, smooth, aggressive, he effected a massive metamorphosis in the old department, and in one direction: towards experimental psychology. He recruited widely, and the best people he could get. Within four years Dalhousie Psychology had the largest graduate enrolment in the university except for English, and by 1966 his department was considered one of the four leading departments in the country. As Silver Donald Cameron puts it, his staff “ran sophisticated experiments, gave papers at important conferences, and reeled in foundation grants like so many mackerel. Other departments trembled as Henry James smoothly appropriated budgets, space, equipment and influence. His highrolling young cohorts admired him, abetted him, and nicknamed him, ‘Prince Henry the Navigator.’”

It was all in experimental psychology. In most departments of psychology the fissure between experimental and clinical is inherent. In some departments bridges are built; in others the split is so bitter that two departments have to be created. James was not concerned with the value to Halifax society and medicine of clinical and social psychology; much of that research he despised as dross, unscientific, utilitarian. He wanted research that would open up real science, that aimed outward at horizons of knowledge. He expected his staff to get research grants, and they had to get them within two or three years, or else. They did. James built empires; some colleagues thought him ruthless. Some thought him a genius; but geniuses can be ruthless too. Cameron, who observed him admiringly from the English Department, remarked: “James had a way of projecting what a university could be, what it should be, and of making a young academic feel part of a breathlessly exciting and invigorating enterprise.”[21]

Thus as head of Psychology James achieved astonishing results. Dalhousie found it difficult at times to rein him in; the only person that could do that was Henry Hicks, and he admired James. The Psychology Department soon moved from its old quarters in the A. and A. Building to something much bigger, the unoccupied president’s house on Oxford Street; there the old gardens were soon filled with temporary shacks and the basement given over to animals, mazes, and the paraphernalia of experimental psychology.

As vigorous and sweeping as James was, so seemed also his imperviousness to argument. He was not a good listener; driven by his own ideas he could not seem to stop to absorb those of others, especially if they ran counter to his. He also tended to say what he thought, as if not fully cognizant of the effect of his words. He thought the English Department was filled with uncreative, unimaginative professors, and said so, even to candidates who proposed to come to English. He made no secret of his views.

What may be effective in a head or chairman of a department may not translate well at another level of administration. A brilliant head does not necessarily make a brilliant dean. James’s techniques for building Psychology elicited different responses when he became dean of the faculty. Those who produced research, wrote papers, or got grants were on his side and were rewarded by his approval; those who just taught and produced little research were the objects of his contempt. He rode hard his penchant for brilliant, creative people; they would gather in his living room at a crowded party, acolytes at his feet swapping ideas on what made a department, a faculty, a university great. James’s wife Jenny, vivacious, handsome, intelligent, helped make the Jameses parties seem like an intellectual adventure, which indeed some of them were. It was heady stuff.[22]

The trouble was really with those who were not there, who did not or could not imbibe James’s vision of what Arts and Science should be. Thus, five months under his deanship, his faculty had grown uneasy and restive; over Christmas 1968 the beginnings of a split could be seen, notably between the science departments (including Psychology) on the one hand, and the Humanities, Classics, English, and some of the social sciences, on the other. History was divided. So was Philosophy. There were younger and yeastier members of many departments that liked what James was trying to do. Even older ones applauded some things.

Arts and Science was a big unwieldy faculty, with some 150 fulltime staff and two thousand students. In January 1968 when there had been talk of splitting it into two, only one-third of the faculty supported the idea. The humanities and social sciences feared the split, believing their support and their access to research funds might be weakened. Many professed the belief that the mix of arts and science was good for everyone. One report to faculty in January 1968 began, “Strong medicines can produce remarkable cures, but they can also kill the patient.” This was the majority view when James took over as dean.[23]

Into this state of unease came James’s radical proposals for reform of curriculum, to break down departmental boundaries, put accountability into departmental budgets, and get them to concentrate their work in fields where they had solid expertise; they would be the driving force to real excellence both at the undergraduate and graduate level.

There was not much wrong with most of those suggestions, but with them came rumours and distortions derived from James’s style and public utterances that made his proposals mutate into fearsome engines of tyranny. James told a meeting of high school administrators that Latin grammar was dull, and though useful to make students think, it was not very helpful in a modern arts curriculum. Was this an attempt to demote classics? James liked some social science departments; those he did not name became uneasy. There were allegations that the new chairmen of Physics, and of Chemistry, were put there because James manipulated the committees to put in men he wanted. Nearly all of these miasmas were later disclaimed by an investigating committee, but in the meantime the rumour mill flourished.

The tensions boiled up at a faculty meeting on n February 1969. James was held up by weather in Montreal and the chair was taken by his associate dean, Dr. D.E. Coates, a systems analyst whom James had brought in a few months before. The meeting did not go well and Coates lost control of it. A motion for adjournment came from the floor; Coates tried to deflect it, but it was not debatable. It passed overwhelmingly and the meeting broke up in a buzz of elation and confusion.[24]

In the meantime several heads of departments had visited Hicks and told him sternly that James would have to go. As A.R. Bevan, head of English, remarked, at a 25 February faculty meeting, “although the Dean’s ideas were admirable, his methods were deplorable.” After several meetings faculty decided that its council would discuss the dean’s proposals for change, and a special investigating committee would discuss the dean. Both were to make recommendations. On the first, council recommended that a vice-president academic was needed whether Arts and Science were split or not and that a faculty club was now a matter of urgent importance. With so many departments outside the A. and A. Building, there was no common place to meet and talk. Other proposals would be dealt with in due course. As for the dean, the investigating committee, headed by Horace Read, former dean of law, concluded that James, while not intending to do so, had “alienated a substantial proportion of the members of the Faculty,” that he “tended to devote excessive energy to the pursuit of what he believes to be objectives of urgent importance,” excessive because the energy had come at a considerable cost to the dean’s vital function, maintaining morale and harmony.[25]

Dean James announced his resignation on 15 April 1969, though he would continue in office until a successor was appointed. At the faculty meeting in May he was thanked by F.H. Page, former head of Psychology, for his efforts, Page expressing sympathy with James’s difficult task of “guiding a Faculty composed of many diverse points of view.” There was a round of applause; in this civilized way, the James affair was over. The most civilized was Page himself; his work had been largely ignored, pushed aside by the new head; clinical and social psychology were barely surviving. Yet Page’s essence, Christian sweetness of spirit, came through on that occasion. Page could resist, however; if he might bend, he would not be intimidated. He reminded one of Sir Thomas More, a man for all seasons; there was time for firmness, not very often indeed, but somewhere there had to be a stopping point. He was a marvellous man, too little noticed, not that he would have minded. Henry James would return to teaching psychology after giving up the deanship at the end of August 1969, and was then appointed Killam professor of psychology.

The new dean of arts and science was Guy MacLean, an historian who had been dean of graduate studies, an academic very different from James. Where James was hot, MacLean was cool. MacLean was a natural administrator, not easily ruffled, shrewd and capable. When he closed his office door at night, the problems stayed on his desk until he chose to tackle them again. George Wilson had seen his capacity in 1960 when he recommended MacLean as dean to A.E. Kerr. It was abundant evidence of his talent that he would remain dean of arts and science until 1975, and be vice-president academic after that. Then in 1980 Mount Allison chose him as its president.

Photograph of Guy MacLean
Guy MacLean, Professor of History, 1957-80; Dean of Graduate Studies, 1966-9; Dean of Arts and Science, 1969-75; Vice-President Academic, 1974-80; President, Mount Allison University, 1980-6.

The man whom the faculty committee selected to succeed James as chairman of Psychology was a new arrival in 1963, Charles Brimer. He did not really want to be chairman; James pressed him to take it. So did the department. Brimer had a PH.D. from McMaster, was divorced, and upon arriving at Dalhousie soon married a Dalhousie student, Ann Connor. The chairmanship took too much of his life, for he liked research, his specialty being aversive stimuli in classical conditioning in animals. In 1970, with the new Life Sciences Building under way, someone had to struggle for budgets, space, and programs for Psychology. But, diabetic, unhappy with the personal decisions that a chairman must make that affected friends and colleagues, domestic problems overwhelming him, late in 1971 Brimer shot himself in the laboratory.[26]

The Life Sciences Complex
The building that Brimer was working on was a big one that Psychology shared with Biology and Oceanography. “Shared” is not the word. As it had developed by 1968 it was three large inter-connected buildings with common facilities, lecture rooms, workshops, student areas, using some of the ideas in the Dalhousie plan of the NSTC architectural students of three years earlier. The lecture rooms would be university ones, available to the whole campus, which Dalhousie badly needed. Dalhousie’s lecture rooms were used to 90 per cent of capacity from 8:30 AM till late afternoon and even during the evenings. The new building’s design began under C.D. Davison of Halifax, but the firm withdrew in December 1967 and the design was taken over by an exceptional Montreal firm, Affleck, Desbarats et al. It faced technical problems of some severity, the most important being that it was an infill building – that is, a complex nearly surrounded by other buildings. Not only that, but it was four to five storeys high, and had to be excavated out of Halifax ironstone, most of it lying on edge. The First Baptist Church across Oxford Street was already worried in May 1969 about the blasting that would be necessary. J.G. Sykes, university architect, was confident that all would be well. Mostly it was.[27]

The buildings around the Life Sciences – Shirreff Hall, the A. and A. Building, and King’s – were all built of cut-stone exteriors. The Montreal architects came up with a building unique to Halifax, not to everyone’s taste, but which won the award of excellence from the Canadian Architectural Yearbook in 1968. The architects ignored both cut stone and concrete slab, and went for a highly innovative building – what one biologist dared to call the most advanced building in Nova Scotia of the time – constructed of poured concrete with the finish sand-blasted to expose the aggregate underneath. The type is now familiar; thirty years ago it was not. The exterior shape of the building resolutely reflected its interior functions. Not all observers agreed that the Life Sciences complex was “a very happy escape from rectangularity,” but escape it certainly was. There was an aesthetic integrity to it, no frills, no fuss, and on the inside it looked much the same as it did on the outside. Ray Affleck told Dalhousie people that at first they would be horrified at the lack of interior paint and finish, but in time they would come to like it. It proved serviceable and sensible to its users, though often a surprise to visitors.[28]

The cost was formidable, not so much because of the design but what the building had to do. There had to be salt-water tanks for marine animals, which was pumped up from the North-West Arm by a pipeline along South Street. For that the National Research Council promised $1 million. The Atlantic Development Board promised another $2 million for marine biology. Hicks and the two deans of arts and science and graduate studies went to work with the heads of Psychology and Biology and Gordon Riley, of the Institute of Oceanography, who had the difficult task of chairing that building committee.

The Institute of Oceanography had been clubbed together in 1959 by Ronald Hayes from four Dalhousie departments – Biology, Chemistry, Geology, and Physics. It was supported directly by the National Research Council and indirectly by several other federal agencies. In 1962-3 there were nine faculty members, cross-appointed from other departments, and twelve graduate students who took M.Sc. degrees. Hayes left for Ottawa in 1963 to chair the Fisheries Research Board, and Hicks needed a new director of the institute. Dr. Gordon Riley, oceanographer at Yale, came to give a seminar, to see and be seen, in October 1964. He was fifty-five years old, experienced and sage, and took to Hicks at once:

He [Hicks] was affable and witty and above all open and frank. He was a delight. I was used to guarded and political top-brass types… He spoke convincingly and I believed him. And I must say that in all my subsequent dealing with him, I never knew him to be less than frank and honest, even when the truth was painful.

As director of the institute Riley would report directly to the president, but his working arrangements with four departments were peculiar. Riley wanted full departmental status for Oceanography which, eventually, he got. There were, though, enemies lurking in the forest who thought Oceanography was just a conglomeration, much the way faculty had felt about Geography. The supreme despot was C.G.I. Friedlander, head of Geology, a crusty, austere Swiss who ran Geology with a heavy hand. But he came soon to retirement.[29]

The building program for the Life Sciences complex forced the pace of Oceanography’s recognition as a full department at Dalhousie. For it was really the Oceanography money that got the building going in the first place. Hicks was able to use the two federal marine grants, and go to the province with that $3 million as evidence of solvency and good faith. As Gordon Riley put it, “Henry went scrounging and came back with a handsome pot.” Handsome it was; the committee estimated the building at $13 million, but it rose steadily. In 1969 Dalhousie applied for a provincial loan of $11,750,000; it got Treasury Board in Ottawa, through Allan MacEachen, then minister of manpower, and E.J. Benson, minister of finance, to raise the Atlantic Development Board money from $2 million to $5 million, on the basis of a final estimate of $18,750,000. The loan from the Nova Scotian government was approved in July 1969. But it was subject to one certain and severe condition: if the cost were to rise further than $18,750,000, the Nova Scotian government would bail out entirely from any support. The work was started that summer of 1969, but its completion took four years. The special convocation to open the Life Sciences complex was in April 1974, with honorary degrees to Allan MacEachen and others. The one to MacEachen, at least in terms of the money he was able to direct towards the complex, was well deserved![30]

Photograph of Kraft von Maltzahn and Gordon Riley
Kraft von Maltzahn, Chairman of Biology, 1962-72, and Gordon Riley, Director of Oceanography, 1964-72, in a relaxed mood.

Students of the late 1960s
Behind the new buildings, the flourish of new programs, the developing role for professors in university governance, the new accountability of senior administrators, was an issue that Basil Cooke perceived but which Sir James Duff and Robert Berdahl had not so much ignored as underestimated. As University Affairs observed, “the dust from the walls of Jericho had hardly settled before students began to follow the faculty in demanding a greater role in university government.”[31]

There have always been student protests, even riots, of one sort or another, since the town and gown clashes in mediaeval Paris and Oxford. Much of it was youthful high jinks; Dalhousie convocations at the turn of the twentieth century were sometimes unseemly affairs, paper bags of flour and peashooters being much in evidence. After a major disruption at the convocation of 1904, that in 1905 was abandoned altogether. But there was little other conflict at Dalhousie other than occasional brushes with the law.

What was different about the students’ turbulence of the 1960s was that it was rooted not so much in poverty as in affluence; the instigators were middle-class students of ambitious middle-class parents. There were also a lot more of them. By 1968 the number of university students per capita in Canada was treble that of twenty years before. Many of these new students were not well prepared for university, nor did they know how best to take advantage of it. Too many expected that education could be acquired by easy osmosis; if that did not work, it was the fault of the system. Students in courses that imposed discipline and hard work by their nature – medicine, law, engineering, the natural sciences – were doing things that were important to their careers. They were, in short, working. The rebellious students tended to be in the humanities and social sciences, especially sociology, disciplines where much of the real work has to be directed from inside rather than imposed from without.[32]

Student radical leaders were most of them from comfortable middle-class backgrounds, and they were driven by an ideology that struck at the base of university life – the rejection of traditional values and mores. The philosopher that delivered this ideology in the United States, Germany, and to some extent in Canada, was Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), a German who came to the United States in 1934. Out of Marx, Hegel, and Freud he produced the thesis of “the great refusal,” that one had to reject the existing social order as inherently repressive. So student radicals argued that all society, all knowledge, was hopelessly skewed by class bias: rationality, freedom of speech, tolerance for other points of view, these were doctrines from a well already poisoned. Intolerance in such circumstances was a positive virtue. Be intolerant, of class bias, old structure, old ideas. These arguments sent elements of the student left into centrifugal distances, hallucinogenic drugs, experimentation with new experiences of all kinds, discovering the irrational subconscious, a world outside the too-structured present.[33]

Canadian radical students used American examples and precedents freely when it suited their purposes, whether from Berkeley, Chicago, Kent State, or Columbia. But such examples had only limited relevance to Canadian university experience. Canada had no Vietnam war, nor the draft that sent young soldiers to it, which did much to drive the American movement during the last years of President Lyndon Johnson and the early years of the Nixon presidency. The Canadian example closest to the strife at Columbia in April 1968 was at Sir George Williams University in Montreal in February 1969, when the computer centre was burnt and the police called in.

Not that the universities were blameless, as they sought to deal with the huge influx of students in the 1960s. Mass teaching, sometimes via closed-circuit TV monitors, or by ill-prepared instructors, was too common. Professors were apt to spend too much time on their research and not enough on students. Nor did all professors invest their power over marks with patience, conscientiousness, gentility. Some were just arbitrary. At Dalhousie one professor of biology in 1955 was ready to flunk an otherwise first-class student in pre-med because, a Cape Bretoner, he had not learned to pronounce “pharynx” properly. Appeal procedures to get out from under such actions were minimal or lacking altogether and the young Cape Bretoner managed to reverse that decision only with difficulty. By the 1960s the old heavy-handedness was going, but for the students it was not going fast enough.[34]

There was also criticism that the university curriculum was “irrelevant” to contemporary issues, which meant all too often, in the new TV age, students’ sometimes naive view of what world issues really were. Radicals aimed, said Northrop Frye, at dissevering the present from its past, to minimize the history of western values. Some student criticism was valid: too few courses in the third world, in labour history, women’s issues, Canadian literature. The Dalhousie Gazette took the view that to develop a critical faculty in students, Canadian literature was just as useful as Chaucer.[35]

Although Halifax and Dalhousie were continually being apprised of conditions in Vietnam, Paris, Berkeley, Columbia, and other flashpoints of 1968, nevertheless, the great bulk of its students were sceptical of radical rhetoric. “What has Rap Brown to do with us?” “What does Vietnam have to do with Nova Scotia?”: those questions measured the gap between the 1968-9 rhetoric of the Dalhousie Gazette and most Dalhousie students.

The Gazette in the two years after 1967-8 was run by radicals who drove its editorial comment and slanted selection of news. As early as November 1967 there were complaints that there was far too much Vietnam and not enough Dalhousie. The Gazette conceded the point; on 22 February 1968 it admitted it did not reflect student opinion. It couldn’t, it said. “The Gazette cannot reflect the opinion of the average student as we feel there is no such thing. One cannot editorialize by consensus.” Thus the next “relevant” headline in the Gazette was: “Rap Brown Must Be Set Free,” Rap Brown being one of the radicals, imprisoned temporarily in New York, who later helped lead the Columbia disruption and occupation in April 1968. It was all very well for the Gazette to say in a headline in November 1969 that “Vietnam – It’s our War Too,” but it wasn’t. The students wouldn’t have it. Their coolness led Jameel Ramahan, representative of the International Students’ Association, to deplore the lack of student protests at Dalhousie for world issues. Campus events and protests have failed, Ramahan said, because “Bookworms and other such lifeless forms that exist at Dalhousie show a complete lack of guts, self-confidence and a pitiful… lack of individuality.” Doug Hill (’70) remarked in October 1968:

When I see the Gazette is out, I immediately snatch it up in my hot little hand and hopefully look for some news about DAL, but inevitably a manhole cover is staring me in the face or there is a grape boycott somewhere in California. ARE YOU GUYS FOR REAL?

In 1969 Sifford Pearre Jr., a graduate student in oceanography, criticized it for “lazy man’s journalism,” and for simply being a conduit for outside editorials, outside Dalhousie, outside Nova Scotia, even outside Canada. Medical students were particularly critical of the Gazette, a “non-paper not worth wrapping garbage in” was the opinion of Vox Medica. Dalhousie students pay out $11,000 a year to keep that going? Henry Hicks was asked about the Gazette by Harris Sullivan for CJCH TV. “I do not read it,” he said, “It does not speak for the university. It speaks only for itself.”

The great majority of Dalhousie students also opted out of campus politics. There was a substantial core, perhaps as high as 80 per cent, who were not really touched by radical student politics. Three students were now full members of Senate; Hicks saw no reason why students should not become full members of the Board of Governors. (The Dalhousie Act had to be changed to effect that, and was in 1976.) The Faculty of Arts and Science had given some flexibility to old curriculum rigidities. Faculty generally had been willing to listen. There was still the tradition of senior faculty doing the first-year courses; and while there was some alienation in some of the very big first-year classes where accommodation was inadequate or lecturers the same, it did not reach the level of TV anonymity so noticeable elsewhere. The Halifax students, almost half of Dalhousie, came with a variety of political ideologies, but most were far from being metropolitan radicals aiming to unsettle the innate conservatism of students from the rest of Nova Scotia.[36]

Thus Hicks had some reason for confidence in the good sense of Dalhousie students. He did not believe in preparation for student unrest, which he thought might only invite action. But he told Chisholm, “I am resolved that we would move quickly to uphold the law.” It was a position not unlike that of S.I. Hayakama of San Francisco State College, who believed that universities should respond by all means to the need for change, but totally resist change pushed by violence.

Universities were easy targets. They were, as one American law professor told an Osgoode Hall convocation, “helplessly vulnerable.” Professors were overwhelmingly a peaceful lot, used to deciding issues by discussion and argument. Naked intimidation they were not used to; they tended to believe that there must be something in students’ demands that were broached so vociferously. That was meat and drink to real radicals whose demands were never-ending. The irony was that some student demands were legitimate and some were not; academic bodies were not always well mettled to discriminate. Academics who had not been through the toughening of war or other perils, who had not encountered intimidation first-hand from communist cadres, were often in a state of puzzled pusillanimity, as if, not knowing what to do, it was best to give in.[37]

Hicks was good at defusing issues, but some issues with fuses already lit had to be dealt with less circumspectly. That happened with sociology. By 1968 the Department of Sociology had evolved a group chairmanship composed of seven staff members and seven graduate students. It aimed to create an academic community of equals, students and staff together, without distinction of power or privilege, and with power to decide on new staff, promotions, curriculum. When W.N. Stephens of Florida Atlantic University was appointed chairman of Sociology in November 1968 he ran straight into Sociology’s newly formed course union. The negotiating stance of the department was unmistakable in their letter to Stephens:

There can be no question… of private discussions with Dr. Gamberg [acting chairman] in regard to the nature and future of this Department. If you want consultation it is there for the asking, but it must be real consultation with the Department… you must by now have realized that we take seriously our responsibility to the idea of democracy… We have, for instance, progressively integrated the student caucus in the Department into collective decision-making. Partly, we have fostered this, partly this has been their demand…

This means that, whereas formerly the headship was an authority position deriving its power from its place in the administrative hierarchy, the chairmanship is a position deriving its authority solely from the Department… the chairman is a front-man representing the majority wishes of the Department as a whole.

Stephens sent that argument to the president. Hicks liked it not at all. Nor did Senate Council, whom Hicks consulted at once. The change from “head” to “chairman” made no difference in the line of responsibility. Appointments and budgets were recommended to the president by department chairmen and the faculty dean. The change of title simply meant that the appointment was made “for a term certain rather than at the pleasure of the Board of Governors.” Hicks explained this to the two senior sociologists, Herb Gamberg and Graham Morgan. That led the Sociology Graduate Student Union to threaten strike action and occupation if the acting chairman and incoming chairman-designate did not accept, first, that the existing democratic structure of the Sociology Department is non-negotiable; and second, that the Student Union will oppose any attempt to impose a reactionary authority structure within the Department. Action would commence the next afternoon.

That afternoon under Hicks’s chairmanship the Senate Council made its position clear: no department at Dalhousie could by its own volition change the university rules and regulations laid down by Senate. Nevertheless, members of departments might appeal decisions of departmental chairmen. Certainly departmental chairmen should continuously consult the department, “including students when appropriate,” and should normally be acting on the basis of consensus of opinion in the department.

However, the Department Chairman is charged with certain responsibilities, and hence has the necessary authority to make recommendations, even when they are not concurred in by a majority of the members of his Department. It is hoped that such situations would be exceptional.

The threat of a strike by graduate students did not last long; Sociology Department meetings, however; continued to be harangues that went on and on. By Christmas 1970 Stephens was glad to go on sabbatical to Spain. A year later, however, new appointments had moved the department to the right, and there was a new chairman, Don Clairmont. What the Sociology Department needed, said John Hamer, a new staff member in 1971, was “less democracy and more Sociology.” By November 1971 a new system was in place, a central committee of three faculty, two student representatives, and the chairman. That did not end the pressures in Sociology, for some of them were embedded in the staff; but the department began to be less confrontational. Jerome Barkow, another new faculty member, described the history in a dramatic sentence, “a small, highly exclusive clique of poor-to-failing sociology students had ripped off the slogans of the radical left and were masquerading as oppressed proletarians in order to make faculty members too guilty to flunk them out.” That was one explanation, though only one, of the complex series of events in Sociology.[38]

The President’s Office Occupied, April 1970
Hicks’s one confrontation took place when he was away in Toronto making a speech claiming, ironically enough, that Dalhousie had been singularly free of the troubles that had characterized Simon Fraser, Toronto, and other universities. He and his vice-president, W.A. MacKay, former dean of law, had agreed between them that if there were ever an occupation, Hicks would go home to his stamp collection and let the courts work on the problem. MacKay phoned him at the Park Plaza in Toronto after his speech. “You’d better have a look at your Bermuda stamps!” said MacKay jocularly.[39]

Senate had been debating procedures for the appointment of presidents, vice-presidents, deans, and associate deans, which were contained in a report by the George Committee to Senate early in 1969. Student members of Senate were specifically asked for their comments (which they did not give); faculties gave their input; revisions were made and the report came to Senate on Monday, 13 April 1970.

At that meeting Senate was presented for the first time with a wholly new document by a group representing the Dalhousie New Democratic Youth (DNDY). It proposed the election of all senior administrators by students and faculty. Senators pointed out that this was incompatible with existing university statutes, but nevertheless spokesmen for DNDY were heard. They insisted that their submission must be discussed in Senate as a whole and not relegated to committee. K.T. Leffek of Chemistry grew impatient at this. “There’s been five years’ deliberation on this subject. Shall we go around the mulberry bush again?” When A.J. Winstanley, Student Council president-elect and senator, moved that Senate postpone consideration of the report, Senate voted against him. The DNDY students then left Senate for a “caucus,” and later returned with a demand, non-negotiable, that if the Senate did not reconsider its action and postpone adoption of the report, they would occupy the president’s office. Senate was not prepared to reconsider, and by the time it finished its agenda, at 6:45 PM, the president’s office was already occupied by students of the DNDY. The doors had been locked but one of the windows had been left unlocked. When Vice-Presidents MacKay and McNeill arrived, there were about fifteen people in the president’s office, including two students from Saint Mary’s. They were all asked to leave, MacKay pointing out the unlawfulness of their occupation. They said they intended no harm. Winstanley arrived and pointed out to them that the Dalhousie Student Council could not support the DNDY tactics. MacKay gave deadlines; the students insisted that Senate reverse its decision. MacKay replied that no one could dictate to Senate, neither he nor President Hicks, nor would he expect Senate to reverse its decision in the face of unlawful acts of a few students. The students remained overnight, promising no damage would be done, a promise almost kept.

The next day MacKay came at 8:45 AM and said that a Senate meeting had been called for 4:30 PM that day in the McInnes Room and that the occupation should now end. It didn’t; MacKay then asked for, and got, from the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, an interim three-day injunction, that prohibited those named in it from disrupting the university. The order was served by the sheriff of Halifax and his deputies dressed in plain clothes. When they arrived at 5 PM the occupiers had gone.

At the Senate meeting there was good turnout both of senators and students. The student senators moved that Senate reconsider its decision on the George Report. The discussion that followed was serious, orderly, and constructive. Senate refused to table the report, but it did agree to reconsider the form of its decision: it would recommend the George Report to the board on a year’s interim basis, with Senate willing to receive representations until 30 September 1970. Only one submission came in, from the DNDY. It was duly circulated to faculties by Senate for comment but elicited little. Thus did it end. Of 5,600 students, 20 per cent of whom lived on campus, the proportion of students in this incident was very small; perhaps sixteen were actually involved in the occupation. After Hicks got back to Halifax the occupying students told him: “We knew you weren’t here and we weren’t upsetting anything and we wanted to make the gesture.” That says much about student radicalism at Dalhousie.[40]

Another development that year began on 29 October with the disruption of a Law School panel on Trudeau’s War Measures Act. Five Maoist radicals pushed into the room shouting slogans and waving placards. There was some hurly-burly in trying to contain them. One law professor, Robert Samek, a refugee who had seen much of communist techniques in Czechoslovakia and who had fought intimidation there, was not going to have it here. He was the Maoists’ particular target and later in the evening was confronted and jostled, though no injuries resulted.

One Maoist was the Killam professor of mathematics, F.W. Lawvere, BA (Indiana), PH.D. (Columbia), who had an enviable reputation in a new field, category theory; with senior fellows and post-doctoral fellows added, his work became an important centre in the Mathematics Department. It started extremely well, but in his second year things changed. He became part of, probably leader of, a small Maoist group that took to physically disrupting meetings on campus they didn’t like. After Lawvere was again in a disruption at King’s, Dean MacLean and Arnold Tingley, chairman of Mathematics, talked to him through the whole of one evening. The conversation went in circles. At issue was not his competence, nor his Maoism, but his insistence that he would continue to disrupt “fascist” lectures or meetings whenever he felt it appropriate.

Tingley by now felt Lawvere had to go, and that was possible to arrange. When Lawvere first came he declined tenure, for there was a wrinkle in Canadian income tax law that exempted non-residents from having to pay tax. Thus Lawvere’s contract was simply allowed to expire. The Department of Mathematics voted by mail ballot; eighteen voted not to recommend Lawvere’s reappointment, thirteen voted to recommend it, and there were five abstentions. But Tingley’s decision took courage. He had been criticized almost daily by Lawvere supporters in the department. Some departmental members were hypocrites enough to say that they had to support Lawvere publicly but assured Tingley privately they really supported Tingley. He thought that was “less than admirable.” Departmental conservatives were even more of a nuisance than the radicals. As for the media, the best solution Tingley found, time and again, when there were phone calls, was simply to reply, “No comment.” The affair gradually ceased to be news. In similar troubles at Acadia and Mount Allison, Tingley observed, university officials presented logical arguments against such disruptive influences. That assumed that illogical positions could be refuted by logical discussion. They couldn’t. For his part Hicks left the affair mostly to his vice-president and deans, but told both Tingley and MacLean that they were wrong. In the end he reluctantly accepted their judgment that Lawvere had to go.

One result of Lawvere’s disruptions was that Senate in December 1970 affirmed its obligation “to preserve freedom of speech and assembly and to ensure the orderly conduct of its academic functions.” Thus, for “any deliberate disruption either by staff or students” of Dalhousie’s academic business, lectures, or organized meetings, Senate reserved the right to recommend disciplinary action “which may include suspension or dismissal from the university.”[41] But there were few occasions after that to apply Senate’s new rules. Disruptive radicalism was consumed by its own excesses, and it had never had much student support at Dalhousie. The university had in the meantime introduced student membership in faculties and Senate, and brought in changes to the curriculum that met most student demands for more flexibility.

Photograph of Arnold Tingley of Mathematics, Registrar, 1973-85.
Arnold Tingley of Mathematics, Registrar, 1973-85.

Transition Year Program
The idea behind the Transition Year Program was to bring disadvantaged students from visible minorities up to the standard of university entrance. What high-school dropouts, victims of years of low self-esteem, needed was the will and the opportunity to succeed. Such at least was the basic philosophy. The program was proposed to the Faculty of Arts and Science in 1969 by Dalhousie graduate students, with Senate Council approving it in February 1970. Arts and Science then invited members of the black and Micmac groups to submit proposals. The whole process was urged on by Vice-President W.A. MacKay, the judicious and thoughtful former dean of law. Funding was awkward; before Dalhousie could approach appropriate agencies in Ottawa and Halifax it had to have some proof that the program was supported by the local communities who were to benefit; yet Dalhousie did not wish to arouse false hopes. The project was estimated to cost $100,000 a year. With $59,000 in hand, $16,000 from Indian Affairs, $10,000 each from the two federal departments of Manpower and Citizenship, $23,000 from the Nova Scotia University Grants Committee, with a few private donations trickling in, Dalhousie officially announced the program on 27 April 1970. The director was P.D. Pillay, professor of history, of South African origin and Indian (from India) extraction.

The first year cost $90,000 in out-of-pocket expenses; Dalhousie put up 30 per cent of this but in fact contributed much more, for a significant number of instructors were Dalhousie professors whose TYP work was free-loaded on Dalhousie. In that first year, 1970-1, there were twenty-three students, seventeen blacks and six Micmacs. Eight of the twenty-three were women. About 40 per cent of all the TYP students came from Halifax/Dartmouth. By January 1971 the consensus of the instructors was that sixteen of the students were capable of doing university work if they continued to progress as they had been doing. There were problems of financing, but eventually fifteen of the twenty-three from that year attended Dalhousie, and four eventually earned bachelor’s degrees.[42]

The black community organizations wanted more input into the program. Dalhousie would have welcomed that had it not been accompanied by suggestions that Senate could not have accepted: equal share in decisions, in selection of students, and in evaluation of staff and students. Hicks was never an enthusiast for the program anyway; it was MacKay who was carrying it forward in the face of difficulties. In 1972 the decision had to be made as to whether it was worth while carrying on. Certainly some had been admitted to the program who could never have become university students. Faculty and Senate agreed that there were probably too many students in the program, and that the annual admissions should be limited to ten, selected on the basis of stricter academic criteria. So it was continued in 1972-3 and with much more success. Of the ten students admitted, nine continued to the BA program, and six got a degree. Thus the program survived.[43]

Maritime School of Social Work
Another Dalhousie outreach was its taking over the Maritime School of Social Work (MSSW). It had been established in 1941 by S.H. Prince, professor of sociology at King’s. The school’s directors consulted Nova Scotian university presidents and the school deliberately followed the model of the Nova Scotia Technical College, eventually affiliating with Mount Allison, St. Francis Xavier, Saint Mary’s, and King’s.

By the 1960s, looking for accreditation, which required incorporation into a university, MSSW came to King’s. King’s liked the idea but lacked the base to develop it. Hicks told H.D. Smith, president of King’s, that it would be purposeless for King’s to attempt this, for it would have to use Dalhousie facilities. It was a complicated issue; Saint Mary’s was ready and willing to take over the MSSW, and the MSSW board liked Saint Mary’s. The staff did not; they feared that their school would not get accreditation via Saint Mary’s. Hicks was not willing to be baited into a popularity contest. He wanted a Dalhousie takeover of MSSW discussed with a completely open mind. In May 1967 the MSSW board split equally between Dalhousie affiliation and the status quo, and the decision to join Dalhousie required a two-thirds vote. Dalhousie won out after internal wrangling at MSSW between board and staff. Amalgamation was effected as of 1 September 1969.[44] MSSW would be in Graduate Studies.

The province of New Brunswick balked at making its proper contribution to the school. Hicks pointed out that while once New Brunswick students were only 15 per cent of the school’s enrolment, now in March 1970 they were 30 per cent, and Dalhousie should not have to carry the MSSW deficit of $70,000 when New Brunswick was contributing only $5,000. There was action to be taken; Hicks told the dean of graduate studies, Forbes Langstroth, that action should resemble that taken by the Medical School five years earlier:

I think we ought to start squeezing out New Brunswick students in the Maritime School [of Social Work] without actually announcing that we are doing so. Almost certainly this will be the only way we shall induce them to reconsider their grant support. As you know, it was only when New Brunswickers thought we were doing this in medicine that they re-calculated their support to the medical and dental schools on a realistic basis.[45]

A minor incident in 1972 illustrates Hicks’s social and political sensitivities. Betty Dugas of Church Point applied to attend the MSSW. A borderline student, she had been accepted, then abruptly told she was not. She applied political pressure. Benoit Comeau, minister of lands and forests, wrote to Hicks about it. So did Peter Nicholson, minister of finance. By the time the admissions committee had favourably reviewed her request for reconsideration, she’d got herself accepted at the University of Ottawa. Hicks did not like it, and for several reasons:

It seems to me to show the inadequacy of our own admission procedures and the unwisdom of our forcing an Acadian girl to go to Ottawa for her MSW degree, when we, ourselves, have a substantial shortfall of students and ought to be serving our Acadian community, even if it does mean stretching things a little bit to take into account the deficiencies in background and preparation which our Acadian people all too often have.

…I think this is a fine example of how the University does itself harm in the eyes of its constituency, which, in this case, includes two members of the Provincial Cabinet, one of whom is, and will continue to be, highly influential in shaping the Government’s attitude toward universities in particular.

As to accreditation of MSSW, that was coming but on prescribed terms. By 1973 accreditation was Canadian and the Canadian committee was fairly blunt. It met Hicks on 3 April and told him what in fact he feared, that there would have to be a new director before accreditation. It felt that the whole staff was fairly undistinguished and still too isolated from Dalhousie. The committee reported, in effect, said Hicks, that “you have a group of nice, mediocre people, who are trying hard but are not terribly good.” L.T. Hancock, director since 1949, resigned; accreditation, Canadian and American, followed that summer.[46]

Buying Fenwick Tower
In 1968-9 Dalhousie’s total enrolment, full-time and part-time, was 4,600; the next year it rose by 23 per cent to 5,600, and the following year by 18 per cent to 6,600. In 1968 Dalhousie commissioned a housing study, which concluded that the open rental market in Halifax was close to saturation and the ceiling would be reached in 1969-70. The amount of rental housing available to students would remain static; if Dalhousie was to grow, as anticipated, to some 9,000 students by the end of the 1970s, it would need places for 3,000 more students than it had currently available. Already in December 1968, according to Dean James, the need for student housing was desperate; it was worse in August 1970. Then Dalhousie bought Ardmore Hall, the Sisters of Charity former convent at Oxford and North streets, for about $300,000. It would house seventy women students. The board also leased Quinpool Hall, the former Holy Heart Seminary, from the Roman Catholic Corporation, at $17,000 a year. It housed 188 men. Shirreff Hall now had 424 students and Howe Hall 416. In addition, Dalhousie had seventeen houses, eleven for men, six for women, that housed an additional 147. Altogether there were 1,250 students in residence.

Dalhousie was considering building a new residence on what was called the Paradise lands, at Summer and College streets, and the proposal had already been approved by City Council and the CMHC; it would accommodate 480 single students with eighty-eight married students in apartments. Sister Catherine Wallace, now on the Dalhousie board as a result of the affiliation of Dalhousie and Mount St. Vincent in 1969 (a five-year trial marriage), said that the Mount had discovered that the old-style dormitory residences were no longer meeting student needs.

Just at that point the Dalhousie board had a special meeting to deal with the bankruptcy of Kenney Construction of Yarmouth, contractors for the Arts Centre and the service tunnels from the Central Services Building. Both contracts were almost complete; three months’ work would complete the Arts Centre, three weeks the tunnels. Both contracts were protected through contractors’ performance bonds and would be completed without much difficulty, though there were legal wrinkles that made things awkward.[47]

One of the structures that Kenney Construction had been building was a tall, thirty-two-storey apartment complex on Fenwick Street, in the swale below Fort Massey hill. Hicks reported that it was almost finished and was awaiting sheriff’s sale in April 1971. It could probably be bought for about $5 million, and would house some 812 single and married students. It would need another $1.3 million to finish. Hicks smelled a bargain, but the board had difficulty with it. At that point in 1971 Dalhousie already had $30 million worth of construction going on. Although the Dalhorizons campaign, launched in 1969, had been going well with $4 million already in, and with hopes of another $7 million to come, nevertheless Dalhousie had heavy financial commitments on its plate. McInnes thought Fenwick was far too dangerous financially. But in the end the building was bought for $5,255,041. At that price it was a bargain. So much so that the Construction Association complained that Dalhousie was too sharp.

Fenwick had problems. Construction was not all it might have been; hurricane Beth came through on 15-16 August 1971 with 9.4 inches (235 mm.) of rain, and it filled the elevator shafts with up to 17 feet of water. Elevators had to be corrected; for such a large building they seemed a trifle rickety. In October a window blew in. From the upper floors the view was marvellous; so was the wind. On a windy day one could see the water in the washbasins sway slowly from side to side as the building did. Halifax building rules allowed Fenwick to sway 8 inches in an 80 m.p.h. wind; the building was substantial enough that the sway was only 5 inches. There were some 10,000 joints in the hot water system; in February 1974 when one of the hot water pipes burst on the seventeenth floor, the manager of Fenwick apologized for the mess, but added that only three of ten thousand joints had burst!

Not all student parties could be kept at a decent noise level, but there were controls; and no one in authority wanted Fenwick to become the Rochdale – that notorious Toronto experiment – of Halifax. On the whole the students at Fenwick were understanding and kept their complaints low-key. After all, Halifax certainly did not have a plethora of apartments on offer; one could say that there had been a chronic housing shortage since 1749.[48]

Henry Hicks Becomes a Part-time President
Early one morning in 1972. Hicks had a phone call from an old political colleague, Paul Martin, then government leader in the Senate. Hicks had not always supported him; at the 1958 Liberal party convention Martin had asked Hicks to back him for the leadership of the party. Hicks said, sorry, he was supporting Lester Pearson. In 1968 when Pearson retired, Martin said, “Henry, you couldn’t support me last time but surely you can this time.” Hicks again had to demur; he would have to back Trudeau. Paul Martin carried few grudges. In 1972 he said, “I think we’d like to have a university president in the Senate.” Hicks replied that he could not abandon Dalhousie, but that if Martin was interested in having “a university president who will continue his university presidency in the Senate, I’ll think about it.”[49]

Hicks believed in public service. He had already gone to battle for members of staff, mostly NDP or Conservatives, who wanted to run in elections. In 1972 he called the executive committee of the board together; most of them had been on the committee that had asked him to serve as Dalhousie president ten years before. What did they think? Most of them agreed with Frank Covert: “Accept by all means; just don’t stop being president of Dalhousie.” A.G. Archibald was not enthusiastic but later even he came round.[50]

The truth was that Hicks really wanted the senatorship but was not sure if the Dalhousie presidency could stand it. Louis Vagianos, now director of communications services, told Hicks he would be a 60 per cent president, exactly what Hicks feared. Upon his vice-president, W.A. MacKay, and his dean of arts and science, Guy MacLean, much depended. MacKay and MacLean were old friends; they had been students at Dalhousie together, played football together, on the Student Council together, and after post-graduate work both came back to Dalhousie in 1956 on staff. If Hicks became senator much more work would devolve upon MacKay. MacLean, who had already had three years as dean, was willing to continue, mainly to help MacKay. They thought they would be able to manage. Of course Parliament did not sit all year. When it did, Hicks said, he could take a Tuesday afternoon flight to Ottawa, get there for the Tuesday evening sitting, and take a flight back to Halifax late Thursday afternoon. Parliament would get two and a half days, and Dalhousie would get two and a half days, plus the Saturdays which he would have to inflict on his vice-presidents and deans.[51] Hicks accepted, and in April 1972 became a part-time president. There were many at Dalhousie, on the board not least, who believed that 60 per cent of Hicks was quite good enough. There may even have been a few who were glad to see some of the preternatural energy deployed elsewhere!

Cartoon of Henry Hicks in a paper airplane.
This cartoon appeared in Dalhousie’s University News in 1976, when President Hicks was in his fourth year as a member of the Senate. Between 1972 and 1980, when Parliament was in session, Hicks flew to Ottawa on a Tuesday afternoon, returned on a Thursday afternoon.

  1. It has been difficult to find information about Rebecca Cohn and I have not been able to establish firmly her maiden name, though it may have been Keshen. There is a brief obituary of her in the Halifax Daily Star, 24 Oct. 1942. Professor Malcolm Ross put me in touch with Dr. Anne Hammerling ('34) who remembered Mrs. Cohn, a friend of her parents. Phone interviews with Dr. Anne Hammerling, 28 Nov., 4 Dec. 1995, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives. I am also grateful to D.H. McNeill and Dawn Owen for getting me a copy of the 1963 deed of gift. There is a useful article about the Cohn Auditorium in the Globe and Mail, 13 Mar. 1976, by Blaik Kirby, who seems to have gleaned his information about Rebecca Cohn from Henry Hicks.
  2. Conjectures about the origin of the decision to give the bequest to Dalhousie for an auditorium were confirmed by Eileen Aldous’s husband, Professor John Aldous, interview with John Aldous, 9 Jan. 1996, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 2, Folder 51, Dalhousie University Archives. Board of Governors Minutes, 28 Nov. 1962, 11 Apr. 1963, UA-1, Box 35, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives. Gilbert and Sullivan was the staple fare in student musicals, but in 1959 modernity triumphed, if temporarily; see headline in the Gazette, 21 Oct. 1959: “‘The Boy Friend’ scuttles ‘Pinafore.’”
  3. Letter from Henry Davies Hicks to C.B. Weld, chairman, Senate Committee on Cultural Activities, 10 June 1965, President’s Office Fonds, "Dalhousie Arts Centre and Cohn Auditorium," UA-3, Box 450, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives; Sam Goodman to Henry Davies Hicks, 24 Apr. 1967; Henry Davies Hicks to Goodman, 26 Apr. 1967, Financial Services, Dalhousie University Archives. Goodman was the lawyer (and brother-in-law) of the Keshens.
  4. Letter from Henry Davies Hicks to Lady Beaverbrook, 17 May 1968, President’s Office Fonds, "Dalhousie Arts Centre and Cohn Auditorium," UA-3, Box 450, Folder 5, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 20 June, 17 July 1968, UA-1, Box 31, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives. Letter from C.A.E. Fowler to Henry Davies Hicks, 13 June 1968, confidential memorandum, President’s Office Fonds, "Dalhousie Arts Centre and Cohn Auditorium," UA-3, Box 450, Folder 5, Dalhousie University Archives.
  5. Appendix “A,” Financing, President’s Office Fonds, "Dalhousie Arts Centre and Cohn Auditorium," UA-3, Box 450, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 12 June 1969, UA-1, Box 31, Folder 3, Dalhousie University Archives.
  6. The Cohn acoustics were almost too good. The audience could hear the musicians turn pages of their music, the musicians could hear every shuffle of feet. That sensitivity was ameliorated. Interview with Mirko Usmiani, 22 Dec. 1995, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 77, Dalhousie University Archives.
  7. This chapter, along with chapters 8 to 12, have been read and commented on by Dr. Guy MacLean. Several specific issues in this chapter, notably Tito’s visit in 1971 and Vagianos’s appointment in 1966, have been much improved by Dr. MacLean’s detailed knowledge of men, women, and events at Dalhousie across half a century. Letter from Wm. M. Jones to Henry Davies Hicks, December 1968; Henry Davies Hicks to Jones, 12 Dec. 1968, President’s Office Fonds, "Special Convocation 1971," UA-3, Dalhousie University Archives; interview with Guy MacLean, 4 Dec. 1995, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 34, Dalhousie University Archives. For an account of Major Jones’s exploits, see Roy MacLaren, Canadians Behind Enemy Lines, 1939-1945 (Vancouver 1981), pp. 139-41, 143-49.
  8. In President’s Office Fonds, UA-3, Box 472 there are multiple files on Tito’s 1971 visit. A complicating factor in the date of the news release of his Dalhousie honorary degree was the Canadian state visit of Alexei Kosygin, premier of the USSR, on 17 Oct. External Affairs did not want to release news of the impending arrival of one head of state in the midst of the visit of another. There were also a number of protests, as many from the United States as from Canada. Hicks answered them, his theme being: “When a university awards an honorary degree it does not necessarily approve of everything about the person who gets the degree... This does not mean that we approve of Communism, but it does mean that we recognize the necessity in the modern world of having to live with people whose political ideologies... may differ from our own.” This from a reply to W. Scott Hubley ('70) who had written from Charlottetown to Henry Davies Hicks, 22 Nov. 1971, the reply being 1 Dec. 1971. The Globe and Mail, 25 Oct. 1971, had a letter from G. Lazarevich, in protest, a professor at Barnard College, New York City. See also Toronto Sun, 5 Nov. 1971.
  9. Dalhousie Gazette, 12 Nov. 1971. Most of this section is based on personal recollections. Eileen Burns’s comment is in a letter from Sunday, 8 Nov. 1971, in President’s Office Fonds, UA-3, Box 472, Dalhousie University Archives. There is an account of Sir Fitzroy Maclean’s Dalhousie degree in Frank McLynn, Fitzroy Maclean (London 1992), pp. 360-1. The Prince Philip story is in letter from Fitzroy Maclean to G.R. MacLean, 6 Dec. 1971, from London, President’s Office Fonds, "Special Convocation 1971," UA-3, Dalhousie University Archives.
  10. For Henry Davies Hicks’s 1983 reminiscences, see Henry Davies Hicks interview (typed transcript), Ottawa 1983, p. 110, Library and Archives Canada.
  11. Letter from Wilkinson to Cooke, 23 Nov. 1964; Cooke to Wilkinson, 4 Jan. 1965, President’s Office Fonds, “Macdonald Memorial Library,” UA-3, Box 515, Folder 17, Dalhousie University Archives.
  12. Letter from Henry Davies Hicks to Misses Falconer, Fullerton, and Mrs. Cooke, 26 Aug. 1965, President’s Office Fonds, “Macdonald Memorial Library,” UA-3, Box 515, Folder 17, Dalhousie University Archives; H.P. Moffatt to Kerr, 8 Feb. 1960; Kerr to Moffatt, 26 Feb. 1960; Wilkinson to Kerr, 10 Oct. 1962; Moffatt to Kerr, 17 Jan. 1963, President's Office Fonds, “Establishment of library school at Dalhousie,” UA-3, Box 597, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives; Report of meeting, 20 Dec. 1965, President’s Office Fonds, “Macdonald Memorial Library,” UA-3, Box 515, Folder 17, Dalhousie University Archives.
  13. Interview with Louis Vagianos, 20 Apr. 1995, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 78, Dalhousie University Archives.
  14. Letter from Vagianos to Henry Davies Hicks, 26 Apr. 1967, President’s Office Fonds, UA-3, Dalhousie University Archives; Dalhousie submission to University Grants Committee, Oct. 1967. Frank Covert claimed the board had no reservations and then proceeded to state them. Letter from Covert to Henry Davies Hicks, 5 June 1967, replying to Henry Davies Hicks to executive committee of board, 16 May 1967, President’s Office Fonds, Library, UA-3, Dalhousie University Archives.
  15. Board of Governors Minutes, 21 Dec. 1967, UA-1, Box 31, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives.
  16. W.P. Thompson, “University Government,” CAUT Bulletin 9, no. 2 (Dec. 1960), p. 6, quoted by David M. Cameron, More than an Academic Question: Universities, Government and Public Policy in Canada (Halifax 1991), p. 302. Cameron’s book is essential reading for the period 1960 to 1990.
  17. David M. Cameron, More than an Academic Question: Universities, Government and Public Policy in Canada (Halifax 1991), p. 307.
  18. Letter from Dr. G.H. Hatcher to H.E. Read, vice-president, 16 Mar. 1966, Faculty of Medicine Fonds, "Duff-Berdahl Report," UA-12, Box 14, Folder 14, Dalhousie University Archives. Dr. Hatcher was head of preventive medicine, and president that year of the Dalhousie Faculty Association. Covert’s letter is Covert to Hicks, 26 Apr. 1966, President's Office Fonds, UA-3, Dalhousie University Archives.
  19. Senate Minutes, 13 Nov. 1967, Dalhousie University Archives; Minutes, Arts and Science, 13 Nov. 1967, Dalhousie University Archives. The Senate committee was composed of John Aldous, Murray Beck, and Roy George.
  20. Minutes, Arts and Science, 11 Apr. 1966; 5, 15 Dec. 1967; 24 Feb., 25 Mar. 1968, Dalhousie University Archives.
  21. See especially the essay by Silver Donald Cameron, “In the Spiral,” basically about Charles Brimer, one of the bright scholars James brought to Dalhousie, with revealing perceptions about James. Cameron was briefly in the Dalhousie English Department, 1967-8. Silver Donald Cameron, Sterling Silver: Rants, Raves and Revelations (Wreck Cove 1994), pp. 1-14. The essay was brought to my attention by James Clark, professor of psychology. Some of the problems of psychology departments in general and an attack on James in particular is in in S.A. Rudin’s letter to Henry Davies Hicks, 6 Oct. 1964, marked “personal, private, confidential,” President's Office Fonds, “S.A. Rudin,” UA-3, Box 100, Folder 11, Dalhousie University Archives.
  22. The pertinent suggestion that talents at one level of administration do not always translate well at others comes from interview with Louis Vagianos, 25 Apr. 1995, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 78, Dalhousie University Archives. For an example of James’s outspokenness, see letter from Anthony N. Raspa to A.R. Bevan, 10 Feb. 1969, from Montreal, reporting interview with James, President’s Office Fonds, "Faculty of Arts and Science," UA-3, Dalhousie University Archives. For James’s parties, Alan Andrews to Peter B. Waite, 19 July 1995, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 2, Folder 52, Dalhousie University Archives; Silver Donald Cameron, “In the Spiral” in Sterling Silver: Rants, Raves and Revelations (Wreck Cove 1994), on Psychology Department parties in general, pp. 4-5.
  23. Arts and Science Minutes, 30 Jan. 1968, letter from Brookbank, Crook, Fraser, Huber, von Maltzahn, Ryan, n.d., but Jan. 1968, Dalhousie University Archives.
  24. Arts and Science Minutes, 11 Feb. 1969, Dalhousie University Archives. The minutes patently don’t say anything about “elation and confusion”; that’s the author’s recollection.
  25. This report came before faculty on 5 May 1969. The committee members were E.S. Deevey, M.M. Ross, A.M. Sinclair, D.W. Stairs, and H.E. Read, chairman.
  26. See Silver Donald Cameron, “In the Spiral,” in Sterling Silver: Rants, Raves and Revelations (Wreck Cove 1994), pp. 1-14.
  27. Letter from Henry Davies Hicks to Berton Robinson (secretary of the University Grants Committee), 28 Dec. 1967; J.D. Fraser, chairman, Property Maintenance Committee of First Baptist Church, to Henry Davies Hicks, 29 May 1969, President’s Office Fonds, "Life Sciences Building," UA-3, Box 476, Folder 8, Dalhousie University Archives. Hicks reassured the church official that the contractors would be careful and that they had substantial insurance against eventualities.
  28. M.J. Harvey, “Feedback: Dalhousie Life Sciences Centre,” in Canadian Architect (Feb. 1974), pp. 29-36, enclosed in letter from Harvey to W.A. MacKay, 9 Apr. 1974, President's Office Fonds, UA-3, Dalhousie University Archives.
  29. Gordon Riley, “Recollections,” unpublished manuscript, pp. 135, 141; these recollections have been loaned to me through the kindness of Dr. Donald Gordon and Joleen Aldous Gordon.
  30. There is extensive correspondence between Henry Davies Hicks and Arthur Murphy, and Henry Davies Hicks and Allan MacEachen especially; also E.J. Benson, mostly between Apr. and July 1969, in the President's Office Fonds, "Life Sciences Building," UA-3, Box 476, Folder 8, Dalhousie University Archives. The importance of MacEachen is indicated in the following letter, Henry Davies Hicks to MacEachen, 8 July 1969: “Just a note to say once again how much I appreciate the efforts you have made to secure a favourable result from the Treasury Board concerning the Atlantic Development Board grant to the Dalhousie Life Sciences Centre. I am sure that without your prodding and assistance this matter would not have been brought to a successful conclusion.”
  31. University Affairs (Apr. 1968), p. 7. It was a publication of AUCC. Cited in Cameron, More than an Academic Question, p. 307.
  32. Bruno Bettelheim was professor of educational psychology at the University of Chicago; part of his book Children of the Dream (New York 1969) is summarized in his brief article, “The Anatomy of Academic Discontent,” in Change (May-June 1969), pp. 18-16.
  33. Colin Crouch, “New Militancy v. Old Liberalism,” Manchester Guardian Weekly, 20 June 1968. Crouch was president of the Student Union at the London School of Economics, reading sociology. See also Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York 1987), p. 78.
  34. Cyril Levitt, Children of Privilege: Student Revolt in the Sixties (Toronto 1984), p. 34. This is a comparative study of Canada, the United States, and West Germany. The proper pronunciation of “pharynx” is “fair-inks,” whereas the student pronounced it “far-nix.” The professor was Ronald Hayes, and the student was a medical student who duly graduated. On the other hand, Hayes’s wife, Dixie Pelluet, was kindness itself. The student believed that what might well have saved him from a zero in Zoology 1 was pillow talk between Hayes and his wife. Interview, 16 Dec. 1995, name withheld but on file in Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Dalhousie University Archives.
  35. Arthur Kroker, “Migration from the Disciplines,” Journal of Canadian Studies 15, no 3 (Fall 1980), pp. 5-6; Dalhousie Gazette, 2 Nov. 1967.
  36. Dalhousie Gazette, 10 Oct. 1968, letter from Doug Hill; Hicks interview with CJCH was in mid-March 1969, and is transcribed in Broadcast on CJCH, 1 Apr. 1969, President’s Office Fonds, "Sociology," UA-3, Box 515, Folder 9, Dalhousie University Archives . The Vox Medica editorial also got into the Mail-Star. See Dalhousie Gazette, 11 Dec. 1970. For the change in the Dalhousie Act to allow students as full board members, see Board of Governors Minutes, 11 June 1976, UA-1, Box 33, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives. The act passed the legislature 20 May 1976.
  37. For Hicks’s view, see letter from Henry Davies Hicks to Chisholm, 26 Nov. 1968, President’s Office Fonds, “Student Unrest,” UA-3, Box 593, Folder 2, Dalhousie University Archives. For Hayakama, see Christian Science Monitor, 31 May 1969.
  38. Letter from seven sociologists, including H. Gamberg and Graham Morgan, to Stephens, 3 Mar. 1969; Henry Davies Hicks to Stephens, 26 Mar. 1969; Sociology Course Graduate Student Union to W.N. Stephens, 26 Mar. 1969; Henry Davies Hicks to Stephens and Sociology Graduate Students Union, 29 Mar. 1969, President’s Office Fonds, "Sociology," UA-3, Dalhousie University Archives; Senate Minutes, 27 Mar. 1969, Dalhousie University Archives. See also Dalhousie Gazette, 17 Nov. 1971, for a long article on the developments in Sociology by two sociology students; Stephens’s interview with the Gazette, 26 Nov. 1971; Dalhousie Gazette, 3 Dec. 1971, Jerome Barkow letter. I am grateful to Professors James Stoltzman and Graham Morgan of Sociology for comments on this section of the chapter.
  39. Interview with Henry Davies Hicks, 8 July 1988.
  40. Senate Minutes, 13, 14 Apr., 26 Oct. 1970; 11 Jan. 1971, Dalhousie University Archives. This account is also based on W.A. MacKay’s report, “Occupation of the President’s Office, April 13-14,” 1970, in President’s Office Fonds, “Student Unrest,” UA-3, Box 456, Folder 10, Dalhousie University Archives. The students named as defendants were Barry McPeake, Nick Pittas, Larry Katz, Martin Langille, Kim Cameron, Neil Henderson, Will Offley, Christopher Thurrott, Simon Rosenblum, and Peter Seraganian. Cameron, Offley, and Thurrott were sociology students; McPeake was a Carleton University student who was taking one course at Dalhousie in economics; Pittas failed his year at Dalhousie 1968-9 but was a second-year BA student. Katz was a Brooklyn, NY, student who was taking one course in immunology; Langille was a graduate student in English; Serganian and Gamberg were graduate students in psychology. Rosenblum was a Saint Mary’s student taking economics at Dalhousie. Pittas, Katz, Seraganian, and Thurrott all ended with Dalhousie degrees. Hicks’s recollection of what the students told him is in Henry Davies Hicks interview (typed transcript), Ottawa 1983, p. 69, Library and Archives Canada.
  41. Chronicle-Herald, 30 Oct. 1970; letter from Alan Crowe to Henry Davies Hicks, 31 Oct. 1970; Henry Davies Hicks to Crowe, 20 Nov. 1970, President’s Office Fonds, “Subversive Propaganda within Dalhousie,” UA-3, Box 608, Folder 5, Dalhousie University Archives; interview with Henry Davies Hicks, 8 July 1988, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 4, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives. See especially Professor Arnold J. Tingley’s account, Mathematics at Dalhousie (Halifax 1991), pp. 46-53.
  42. Letter from Henry Davies Hicks to Otto Lang, minister of manpower, 25 Feb. 1971, President’s Office Fonds, “Transition Year Program,” UA-3, Box 572, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives. Outside of these letters in Henry Davies Hicks’s files, documentation for the Transition Year Program (TYP) is not as ample as it should be. Files of its early days have been stolen from the TYP office. However, Professor Arnold J. Tingley, one of the teachers in the program, has written up a short history with the help of B.A. “Rocky” Jones, The Transition Year Programme: The Early Years (1993).
  43. Black and Indian Coalition brief to Dalhousie, in MacKay to G.R. MacLean and P.D. Pillay, 6 Aug. 1971, President’s Office Fonds, “Transition Year Program,” UA-3, Box 572, Folder 7, Dalhousie University Archives; Tingley, The Transition Year Programme: The Early Years (1993), Appendix A.
  44. Halifax Mail, 22 Apr. 1941. Lawrence T. Hancock, The Story of the Maritime School of Social Work 1941-1969 (Halifax 1992.); Letter from Henry Davies Hicks to H.D. Smith, 16 Jan. 1964; Fred MacKinnon to Henry Davies Hicks, 26 Feb. 1964, personal and confidential; Henry Davies Hicks to Walter Trost, dean of graduate studies, 2 Mar. 1964; G.R. MacLean, dean of graduate studies, to Henry Davies Hicks, 25 May 1967, President’s Office Fonds, “Maritime School of Social Work,” UA-3, Box 448, Folder 4, Dalhousie University Archives.
  45. Letter from Henry Davies Hicks to J.F. O’Sullivan, chairman, New Brunswick Higher Education Commission, 6 Mar. 1970; Henry Davies Hicks to Forbes Langstroth, dean of graduate studies, 6 Mar. 1970, personal and confidential, President’s Office Fonds, “Maritime School of Social Work,” UA-3, Box 461, Folder 10, Dalhousie University Archives.
  46. Letter from Benoit Comeau to Henry Davies Hicks, 29 Aug. 1972; Peter Nicholson to Henry Davies Hicks, 29 Aug. 1972; Hancock to Henry Davies Hicks, 20 Sept. 1972; Henry Davies Hicks to Langstroth, 17 Oct. 1972; Henry Davies Hicks to W.A. MacKay and K.T. Leffek, dean of graduate studies, 9 Apr. 1973, confidential; F.J. Turner, chairman, Board of Accreditation, Canadian Asociation of Schools of Social Work, to Henry Davies Hicks, 25 June 1973, from Ottawa, President’s Office Fonds, “Maritime School of Social Work,” UA-3, Box 461, Folder 10, Dalhousie University Archives.
  47. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Office, Committee of Deans Minutes, 6 Dec. 1968, Dalhousie University Archives; Board of Governors Minutes, 27 Aug., 17 Dec. 1970; 14 Jan., 11 Feb., 18 Mar., 1 Apr. 1971, UA-1, Box 3library and 2, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives.
  48. For some of the stories connected with Fenwick, see Dalhousie Gazette, 17 Sept., 22 Oct. 1971; 22 Feb. 1974; 20 Mar. 1980. More authoritative views were given by J.G. Sykes, university architect, in an interview on 14 Feb. 1996, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 71, Dalhousie University Archives. Board of Governors Minutes, 12 Nov. 1970; 14 Jan., 18 Mar., 1 Apr. 1971, UA-1, Box 32, Folder 1, Dalhousie University Archives. Interview with Donald McInnes, 2 Aug. 1988, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 28, Dalhousie University Archives.
  49. Henry Davies Hicks interview (typed transcript), Ottawa 1983, pp. 73-4, Library and Archives Canada; ibid, p. 61; interview with Henry Davies Hicks, 4 July 1988, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 4, Folder 6, Dalhousie University Archives.
  50. Letter from A.G. Archibald to author, 28 Feb. 1995, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 2, Folder 53, Dalhousie University Archives.
  51. Interview with Louis Vagianos, 25 Apr. 1995, Peter B. Waite Fonds, MS-2-718, Box 3, Folder 78, Dalhousie University Archives.


The Lives of Dalhousie University: Volume One, 1818-1925 Copyright © by Governors of Dalhousie College and University. All Rights Reserved.

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