Biography and History

In the tumultuous decade of the 1960s, the fight for civil rights and the escalating war in Vietnam dominated the American sociopolitical landscape. The college campus was but one stage on which these issues played themselves out. In 1964, student activists at the University of California, Berkeley came into conflict with administration officials over what they saw as their right to conduct civil rights and antiwar campaigns on campus. The confrontations that ensued began a wave of student protests intent on asserting the right to free speech. In December 1964, some 800 students were arrested for occupying the UC Administration building.

In the years that followed, student unrest gripped campuses across the country, including Princeton's. The 1967-68 academic year was particularly tense. 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 to the rallying cry “Community Control of Community Affairs” and demanded that the administration change its policies on all of these issues. In the largest demonstration in Princeton's history, more than 1,100 people 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 administrators 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 IDA. 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 on 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 Special Committee on the Structure of the University to be the agent of change for Princeton University.

In May 1969, the Committee publicized its final 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.

The membership of CPUC is comprised of the University President, the Provost, and five representatives chosen by the President from among the Financial Vice President, the Treasurer, the Secretary of the University, the General Counsel, the Dean of the Faculty, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Dean of the College, and the Dean of Student Life. One member of the Library Staff, Administrative Staff, Research Staff, Technical Staff, and Office Staff also serves, in addition to fifteen faculty members, twelve undergraduate students, seven graduate students, and four alumni.

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. Typically the Council meets once a month, October through May, with special meetings as needed. Moreover, all Council meetings are open to the public. Much of the work of the Council is conducted through its standing committees. When first established in 1969, CPUC consisted of six such committees: Rights and Rules, Governance, Plans and Resources, Trustee Relations, External Relations, and Community Relations. Reflecting two of the most explosive issues on campus at the time, the committees on Trustee Relations and External Relations were established to ensure that the make-up of the University's Board of Trustees was less exclusive and to review Princeton's association with outside organizations to avoid the conflicts that grew out of the relationship with IDA.

Five years later, in 1974, CPUC issued a new charter that dismantled the Trustee Relations and External Relations Committees. The Committee on Priorities was established to review the budget and consider any issues that surfaced during budget preparations. The Committee on Community Relations became the Committee on Relations with the Local Community, but the focus was the same: ensuring a productive relationship between the University and the surrounding community. The Judicial Committee was established to hear cases of misconduct that involved alleged violations of the established rules and regulations of the University, such as infringements against the Honor System. When individuals contended that the proceedings against them were not conducted fairly, the Judicial Committee agreed to consider appeals.

The charter underwent a third revision in 1977, and the committees underwent their third and final evolution. The Committee on Relations with the Local Community was dropped, leaving only the Executive Committee, Committees on Rights and Rules, Governance, Priorities, Resources (formerly the Committee on Plans and Resources), and the Judicial Committee. In this final arrangement, the Executive Committee continued to set the annual agenda for CPUC committees. The Committee on Rights and Rules contemplated the fairness and effectiveness of rules of conduct within the university community, making recommendations to amend or reconsider regulations as appropriate. The Committee on Governance continued to manage concerns related to university authority and, in consultation with the Committee on Honorary Degrees of the Board of Trustees, offer advice on the awarding of honorary degrees. While the Committee on Priorities continued to review budgetary matters, the Committee on Resources concentrated on questions of general policy concerning the procurement and management of the University's financial resources. Finally, the Judicial Committee continued to hear and rule on cases of alleged violations of university regulations.

Special committees also have been established from time to time. For example, in 1970, the Special Committee on Sponsored Research was charged with an examination of Princeton's unwillingness to accept any outside funds for weapons-related research. In 1969, the Subcommittee on the Operation of the University Store examined the need for a new store to serve a growing student body with an eye toward profitability. The Subcommittee issued its report in 1970 recommending that the store not exist as a passive resource for books and supplies, but should rather proactively influence the community through a wider selection of books, parking options, a new and larger location, and the addition of lines of merchandise that “appeal[ed] to the changing composition of the University,” i.e., women.

Source: From the finding aid for AC183

  • 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).

  • Council of the Princeton University Community Records. 1965-2016 (inclusive), 1969-1976 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC183

    The Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) was born out of the Special Committee on the Structure of the University established by President Robert F. Goheen in May 1968. 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. Much of the work of the Council takes place through its standing committees: the Executive Committee, the Committee on Rights and Rules, the Committee on Governance, the Committee on Priorities, the Committee on Resources, and the Judicial Committee.

  • Council of the Princeton University Community Records. 1965-2016 (inclusive), 1969-1976 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC183

    The Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) was born out of the Special Committee on the Structure of the University established by President Robert F. Goheen in May 1968. 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. Much of the work of the Council takes place through its standing committees: the Executive Committee, the Committee on Rights and Rules, the Committee on Governance, the Committee on Priorities, the Committee on Resources, and the Judicial Committee.