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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with David Breneman, May 10, 1991. Interview L-0122. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

HEW establishes criteria for desegregation of southern colleges and universities

Breneman discusses the criteria that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) established for desegregation of southern colleges and universities in 1977. Following the decision in <cite>Adams v. Califano</cite>, which was part of a series of cases involving school desegregation during the 1970s, HEW worked to establish a uniform set of measures for universities and colleges in ten southern states. Breneman explains the purpose of the criteria and the process by which the criteria were established. In addition, he emphasizes the role of various officials such as Joe Califano, Peter Libassi, and Arlene Pact.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with David Breneman, May 10, 1991. Interview L-0122. 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

WILLIAM LINK:
I see. Tell me about the development of the criteria. I know that the criteriaߞrelating that is to desegregation of higher ed. I know that these were developed in response to Judge Pratt's decision, April 1977?
DAVID BRENEMAN:
Right.
WILLIAM LINK:
Which specified that HEW draft guidelines or criteria. I wonder if you could tell me aboutߞa little bit about the development of those and particularly who was involved in the drafting of the criteria and how they were drafted?
DAVID BRENEMAN:
Well again here, I probably should have kept a diary from that period, but I didn't.
WILLIAM LINK:
Yeah, well, it's been awhile.
DAVID BRENEMAN:
And my memory is a little fuzzy. Oddly enough, the ninety days I was in almost, I think, exactly coincided with the heaviest work on the Adam's criteria. I mean, it was just one of those things. And I got involved with it almost right away. And probably saw through at least, you know, a major part of it in the formative period. My memory of it is as follows. Peter Libassi was on board by that time and had been given, you know, the responsibility to work this out. And I was sort of delegated, almost to an offense to his staff, to help on it. And I don't know, to be honest, whether it wasߞwhose idea it was. I mean, I certainly remember him expressing it. But the ideaߞand I don't know if it was Joe Califano's, or maybe it came out of Judge Pratt's orders or something. Anyway, the whole notion was that a big change was going to be made in that instead of having a whole series of rules and regulations and kind of process controls on desegregation, which is the way the previous experience was portrayedߞyou know, people were trying to specify, you have to do this, and you have to do that, etcetera, etcetera. Libassi was suggesting he wanted to shift to an outcomes orientation where the department would back off entirely on procedure. I mean, sort of let the universities and the states do whatever they felt was the most efficient or politically effective way to go about doing it. But set up a series of clear measures, outcome measures, that would be looked at down the road and, you know, you would be judged in compliance if you measured up on those measures. And if you didn't then the weight of the government would come on your back. So that wasߞphilosophically, that was the scheme that we were trying to devise was what would be a set of measures, and what would be aߞwhat would be a reasonable period of time to expect somebody to meet those measures. And I don't remember all the details, but they had to do with the percentage ofߞof, you know, looking at the black/white populationߞrelevant age group population of the state. Specifying, and I don't remember if it was parity in enrollment rates or, you know, exactly what it was but it was a, you know, series of enrollment related measures. A series of graduation related measures. A series of faculty measures. I think those were the key ones. I'm sure there were others. And so on. But that's what we were working on was, you know, that you would be in compliance when your share of minority enrollment hit some kind of target. And when your faculty ranks hit some kind of target. And I and Arleneߞwhat was her name? Arlene Horowitz?
WILLIAM LINK:
Arlene Mindelson Pact[?].
DAVID BRENEMAN:
Mindelson?
WILLIAM LINK:
Well, it was Mindelson PactߞPactߞwhat it must have been then, Arlene Pact. Is that right?
DAVID BRENEMAN:
She and I wereߞat one stage, I remember the two of us working on it. I mean, she was sort of bringing the legalߞthe legal background, and I was bringing the educational knowledge about, you know, sort of what's possible and what's doable, and how fast can you do it. And we were trying to blend the two together. And I can remember some long weekends where, you know, we were both working. We had our own homes, and then getting together and doing cut and paste jobs. But at one stage she and I were heavily involved. Others wereߞI mean, others were certainly commencing[?] and doing some writing, as well. But, I remember the two of us being heavily involved for a period of two or three weeks anyway. And then, I don't know, then I think I got out of it, or got let out of it. I was somewhat removed from it. Maybe Libassi got into it. I really am fuzzy on that. I'm sure you can find somebody who knows the exact story there.
WILLIAM LINK:
To what extent did you consult with the states, the ten states involved, while you were drafting? Did you have ߞ
DAVID BRENEMAN:
Well, let's see. I remember we had one or two visitations in Washington. It seems to me, and again this is very hazy, but it seems to me there was a group from Arkansas or Oklahoma that came in and saw us, and we talked with them. And, you know, essentially what we didߞwhat we did in our conversations with the affected party, once we got on to this general strategy, is we explained the strategy to them. And said, "This is the way we're going to go. And we think it's sensible and we think it will be better for you, and for all concerned." And then I suppose we probably got into a discussion about what is a reasonable set of targets. And what are reasonable timings. You know, it was really targets and timing that weߞwe were dancing around the, you know, the issue that still plagues the government to this day in this arena, which is, "are we talking about goals or quotas?" I mean, how do we interpret the numbers? Are they hard and fast? Are they targets? You know. So, there was a lot of room for question about that.