Biography and History

The Vietnam War was fought by the United States from 1965 to 1973 and represented a turbulent period in America's history. It was the longest war in which the United States had been engaged, and nightly television coverage of the horrors of war caused many Americans to question the relevance of U.S. presence in a conflict that was taking place halfway around the world. The conflict gave rise to the largest and most successful anti-war movement in United States history. The college campus was the locus of many demonstrations held to decry the perceived immorality of the war, and Princeton was not immune.

The 1967-1968 academic year was a tense one for the Princeton community. A number of issues were being hotly debated on campus: the future of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program and military recruitment, counseling students about the draft, the rule regarding women visitors in dormitories, and the relationship of the University to the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA). On May 2, 1968, demonstrators marched on campus with the rallying cry “Community Control of Community Affairs” and demanded that the administration change their policies on all of these issues. The largest demonstration in Princeton's history, more than 1,100 participants marched on Nassau Hall to protest the exclusion of students and faculty from university decision-making. Peter Kaminsky, president of the Undergraduate Assembly (UGA), criticized University Trustees and Administration for what he called an “arrogant dismissal of student and faculty demands.” The University, in the view of demonstrators, should be “a community of students and faculty, not businessmen.” Their primary demand was a complete break with the IDA. The IDA, a Washington-based nonprofit research organization whose principal customer was the Department of Defense, was under the direction of retired General Maxwell D. Taylor, who also served as a special presidential assistant to Vietnam. Concerned members of the Princeton Community expressed that association with IDA suggested a corporate stand on political issues, something that the University had traditionally avoided. “Change and advance in the university,” observed University President Robert F. Goheen, “must always be pursued by argument and debate, by reasoning rather than force.” In May 1968, Goheen established the Committee on the Structure of the University to be the agent of change for Princeton University.

For its representatives on what would come to be known as The Kelley Committee, the faculty appointed David P. Billington, professor of civil engineering; F. Sheldon Hackney, assistant professor of history; Suzanne Keller, professor of sociology; Stanley Kelley Jr., professor of politics; Harold W. Kuhn, professor of mathematical economics; Aaron Lemonick, professor of physics; John H. Marks, associate professor of Near Eastern studies; and R. Bruce Partridge II, assistant professor of physics. President Goheen was a member ex officio.

The Undergraduate Assembly (UGA) chose Richard D, Darby Jr. '69, W. Joseph Dehner Jr. '70, UGA President Peter J. Kaminsky '69, and UGA Vice President Thomas G. Travis '69. An open meeting of graduate students selected Robert A. Nerenberg '69, William H. Tucker '72, and Dan. W. Verser '74.

In June 1968, Kelley, who had been chosen to chair the new 16-member group, along with several other committee members stayed in Princeton to conduct research on university governance, particularly that of Princeton. On September 30, 1968, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) voted that the three student members of the structure committee who belonged to SDS (Kaminsky, Tucker, and Nerenberg) should leave the committee because, they charged, it fostered an illusion of reform while actually rejecting any serious university restructure. At an open meeting of the committee on October 8, 1968, SDS's Radical Arts Troope interrupted the hearings with a three-act mini-play, and 28 minutes into the session the three dissenting members left the committee; 40 other supporters in SDS joined them.

The committee issued an interim report on November 21, 1968 recommending the formation of a university-wide senate and more delegation of power by the trustees in certain areas, particularly with regard to dormitory parietals. In May 1969, the Trustees' Executive Committee had set up their own group, headed by James F. Gates Jr. '21, which was also studying the structure of the university and the functioning of the trustees in particular. This committee conferred with the student-faculty group several times, and in April 1969 the Trustees adopted a proposal worked out by the two structure committees and the Alumni Council for annually electing a senior to the Board of Trustees. Two months later, the Trustees set a ten-year term for charter trustees, replacing the retirement-at-70-rule which had allowed some individuals to serve as trustees for twenty years or more. The Trustee's nominating committee also consulted with the students and faculty on the Kelley Committee before recommending new board members-another major change.

In May 1969, the Committee publicized their finals plans for a university-wide senate to be called the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC). Providing a forum through which all the major groups of the University could address problems and reach consensus, the first meeting of the Council took place on October 27, 1969. Typically the Council meets once a month, October through May, with special meetings as needed. Additionally, all Council meetings are open to the public. Much of the work of the Council is conducted through its standing committees, including the Executive Committee, Committees on Rights and Rules, Governance, Priorities, and Resources, and the Judicial Committee. Special committees also have been established from time to time. CPUC is primarily a deliberative and consultative body, with the authority to “consider and investigate” university policy, governance, and any general issue related to the welfare of the University. Recommendations are then made to the appropriate decision-making bodies, or to the appropriate officers, of the University.

Source: From the finding aid for AC044

  • Special Committee on the Structure of the University Records. 1967-1970 (inclusive), 1968-1969 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC044

    The 1960s was a tumultuous decade in the history of the United States. Prominent on a landscape of political assassinations, civil rights, and the fight for gender equality was the prolonged conflict in Vietnam. Although discontent was growing against the war in Southeast Asia, the largest and most vocal expression against America's involvement was compellingly articulated on college campuses throughout the nation. Author Thomas Powers notes that the war in Vietnam was, for America, "one of those things that come along once in a generation and call entire societies into question, forcing people to choose between irreconcilables." One of those irreconcilables, for the Princeton community of students and faculty, was their exclusion from university decisions that involved everything from university parietals to Princeton's association with the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA). In response to student demonstrations and faculty protests, Princeton President Robert F. Goheen established the Committee on the Structure of the University to examine Princeton University's governance and explore how it could be more inclusive of the university community in making decisions. The Kelley Committee, as it came to be known, would be responsible for the introduction of perhaps the most sweeping administrative changes in the University's history and establishing the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC).