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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, February 22, 1991. Interview L-0064-5. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The case of Moye Freymann

Pollitt discusses his role in the case of Moye Freymann, who argued he had been wrongfully dismissed as the director of the University of North Carolina Population Center. After describing Moye's role in establishing the Population Center, Pollitt explains that Freymann was dismissed in 1974 by the Board of Directors. Because of his work with the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), Pollitt knew many of the board members personally, but disagreed with their decision to fire Freymann without due process. Pollitt describes his effort to reverse the decision and explains why the Faculty Council and Chancellor Nelson Ferebee Taylor determined that determined that administrators were different than faculty members in terms of hiring policies and standards.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, February 22, 1991. Interview L-0064-5. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

So a little bit earlier we had the Freymann controversy.
ANN MCCOLL:
What was the name?
DANIEL POLLITT:
This was Moye Freymann. He was the director of the Population Center.
ANN MCCOLL:
And what is that?
DANIEL POLLITT:
Well, it's birth control, family planning. I guess HEW at one time in the early Kennedy years decided there should be family planning around the world. So they made money available to universities to set up family planning centers. We set up one. The Population Center it's called. It's like the Institute of Government or the Early Learning Center. We have a bunch of centers and institutes on this campus. This was the Population Center. Some people in the med school thought this was important and they put in for the grant. They got Moye Freymann who had been at Harvard in their public health school to come down and head it and they made him a Kenan Professor or something in the School of Public Health. His job was to create and develop the Population Center which he did. It became one of the foremost population centers of the world for study and advice and library and research and everything. You know, you sort of grow, you feed on what you have. So since we were the best, when the Carnegie Foundation wanted to get something done they would give it to us to do because we had the resources. Then we would expand and then we would be even bigger and better and then somebody else would give us money. Freymann was the heart and soul. He was just like Albert Coates who developed the Institute of Government. Freymann developed the Population Center and it expanded its bounds and it grew. I don't know; there were a hundred people working at the Population Center. They had projects all over the world. The way I first became acquainted with Mr. Freymann was when an Iranian came into my office and said he had just been fired from the Population Center and he was an Iranian from Iran who had come here to get a degree in sociology and population control and was really working for the Population Center and not in the Department of Sociology. There was a large grant from the government of Iran to the Population Center to work on population control in Iran. This was the guy, I think he was related to the Shah or something, who had come over there. Well, Freymann didn't like him for some reason and fired him summarily. Well, the guy had come to me and I went to see Freymann and I told him you can't fire people summarily. He said, "Well, this guy is in research on contract and he's not a professor and he's a graduate student in sociology. He's not really in the Population Center except we hired him to do a special job. He didn't do it well and we're not going to renew his contract. We're not violating academic freedom." And I said, "Well, tell him why and give him a chance to respond." He said, "He knows why." And I said, "Well, put it in writing." He says, "I don't have to bother with the likes of you." So I didn't know what to do. The Iranian was ready to go back to Iran or something, so he didn't want to file a law suit and that was about the end of it. That's how I met Freymann and I didn't like him, you know. I thought he had no feelings for his underlings. He took a concept and built it into concrete and bricks and bank accounts and libraries and everything. He was a great administrator and maybe that's what you have to do to be a great administrator. Then he himself went on a trip around the world to check on all the various projects that were going on. And it was a two month trip or something; maybe a month to visit all the projects. When he was in India he got a telegram saying that he was removed from the directorship. There was a board on the Population Center and it consisted of maybe six people. And the med school and the School of Public Health and the Department of Religion and sociology, you know; that was the board. They had decided they didn't like the way he was managing things, so they sent him a telegram and removed him from the directorship while he was in India. So he came back immediately and came to see me. So I looked at the telegram and I looked at the board. I know them all. Most of them are good friends of mine and allies in most things. One of them was John Graham who had been a real leading light in the med school; great reputation for his work and real concerned with social aspects of the world. He had been the Vice President and I had been the President of the AAUP. So all the people on this Population Center board I'd always thought of as very close friends. So I wrote them all a letter and I said, "Hey, you've gone overboard here and you forgot what we're all about and that decency and democracy and due process require that you tell him why you did it and give him a chance to respond. He doesn't respond to you first, but then there ought to be another group because you're his accusers and you shouldn't be his judgers." So they wrote me back and said, "Well, that's true for professors, but he's still a Kenan Professor in the School of Public Health. Directors have to earn their keep every day and they have no rights." They weren't going to tell him why they fired him.
ANN MCCOLL:
Did he have any idea?
DANIEL POLLITT:
He never told me any idea. He told me he had never done anything that was not a hundred percent perfect. So I never did find out. So then I went to see the Chancellor and that was Ferebee Taylor. I told Ferebee Taylor that you can't remove directors summarily by telegram. You have to have a process for removing them. And in the meantime Freymann wrote to all the contributors. One of them was Belk, Mr. Belk of the department store. They had an advisory committee which was all Mr. Bigs, fat cats, who contributed a lot of money. About ten or fifteen of the very wealthy prominent North Carolinians were…. This is a good thing to do to worry about population growth in the third world or whatever. So they all wrote a letter to the Chancellor saying, "Hey, Freymann is a wonderful guy. What are you doing?" That sort of made the Chancellor angry at me so I saw him and I had the letter, a copy of the letter and everything and said, "You know we're antagonizing a lot of the donors and supporters and besides the only right way to do it is to give the guy a chance to respond before an impartial group, a noninvolved group." And the Chancellor said, "That's not true for administrators." So he wasn't going to do anything. He wasn't going to provide a forum. So then I went to the Faculty Council and I was on the Faculty Council. I made a motion that we amend the by-laws to require that administrators are given the same rights that professors are given in terms of discharge. They have a hearing before the standing committee on hearings. So I made the motion to the Agenda Committee and they weren't going to put it on the agenda. So I stood up and they said, "Does anybody have any concerns?" There's a period for concerns and I had a concern and I wanted this discussed by the Faculty Council and they said, "Well they didn't think it was appropriate." I appealed the decision of the chair and you need two-thirds and we got two-thirds, so it was on the agenda for the next meeting. It was on the agenda for three consecutive meetings and we'd always extend the time. There is a compulsory closing time of 5:00 or something. We'd extend the time for another half hour and then for another half hour. Then no more because people had left and we didn't have a quorum anymore. But the Chancellor who presides at these things said, "I am entitled to earn my job every day that I go to work. I get up in the morning and if I don't do a good job that day there's no reason why Bill Friday down the hill can't fire me. And I want the opportunity to serve my job every day." So here we are sitting and there he is up on the platform and he's expressing the view and to amend the by-laws I need three-fourths. I'd get up and I had cases where professors… [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
DANIEL POLLITT:
So at the same time, there was a case involving Earl Peacock who is now a first year law student. Earl Peacock had been on the medical school faculty and during the Korean war he had been at Valley Forge Hospital and he had been assigned to burns on the hands. He had done three or four thousand operations on hands. His father had been in the business school. So he came back to Chapel Hill where held been born and bred and started a hands department over at the med school and a burn center. That still goes on, The Burn Center and the hands. And he got a lot of money from HEW to do his thing. He was very competent, very well-regarded, writes well, does research, writes papers, does operations. Arizona was looking for a dean of their medical school and hired him to be the dean of their medical school. So he left and went out to Arizona as their dean. Two or three years after he went there he had some altercation with the president and the president fired him as the dean of the medical school. So Earl Peacock is not one to take this lying down, so he filed a suit saying, "You can't fire me without due process," and asked for judgment. He got something like a million and a half dollars from the jury against the University and the governor and everybody else. Well, that was appealed and the court said, "That's too high," and sent it back. At the time that we were having our dispute, Earl Peacock had won the million and a half verdict. You can't fire a dean of a medical school without due process. Earl Peacock had been here ten or fifteen years and a lot of people on the Faculty Council knew Earl Peacock. So I was relying on the Earl Peacock case and a couple of others involving college presidents and said, "I have the law on my side and I have justice on my side. There's no reason why you should stab a man in the back. Come out front and tell him what you have against him and let him respond. Let the decision be made by an impartial peer group and if he's doing something bad, remove him." And the Chancellor and others were arguing, "No, directors are different." So I lost on Freymann, but we reached a compromise. Directors are not to be protected as are professors, but department chairmen are. The reason for that distinction is that the faculty recommend department chairmen to the Chancellor for appointment, but directors are appointed by the Chancellor without consultation with the faculty. Directors are the creatures of the Chancellor and department chairmen are creatures of the faculty. So that was the compromise. And so with three-fourths vote we had gotten the department chairmen protected. I had more than a majority, but not the three-fourths majority for directors. I was talking about retroactive, you know, ending cases. So Freymann lost there.