The McClellan Controversy

1967-1968


           (click image to enlarge)


(click image to enlarge)        

"If I am reinstated and basic issues are not resolved, I could not, in good conscience, remain at the university." —Dr. Robert McClellan

In the middle to late 1960s, NMU found itself faced with the question of how to expand the university. With more and more students flocking to Marquette for higher education, space started to become an issue. The administration decided on a controversial plan called the Doxiades Plan. Announced in October 1966, the plan called for the university to buy up land located around campus bounded by Wright St., Fair Ave., Lincoln St., and Lake Superior. The university also sought to purchase land north of Wright St. in order to move the homes that were located in the expansion area.

The area was by and large inhabited by lower income families. Many of of the families who owned these homes worked for the Cliffs Dow Charcoal Plant, and were not educated on their rights as home owners. The university quickly became mired in a heated debate with the city of Marquette over the proposed plan, and the debate spawned the creation of the "Citizens for Marquette" organization. Dr. Robert McClellan, an assistant professor of history at NMU, was an active member. In an effort to educate the citizens who were to be affected by the plan, McClellan created a class project for which his students were required to go door-to-door with helpful information regarding the proposed buy-out.

President Edger Harden regarded McClellan's work with the "Citizens for Marquette" organization, and his efforts to educate the community, as a direct challenge to the administration. Harden was not a man to tolerate such insubordination and terminated McClellan by not reappointing him for the fall semester of 1967. However, since the administration failed to follow its own formal protocol, McClellan decided to fight the decision. The proceedings prompted 137 other faculty members to join the suit in defense of McClellan and academic freedom. Even the student government joined the case in McClellan's defense by collecting money for court proceedings and joining the suit against Harden and the administration. The case was settled out of court in June of 1968. McClellan was immediately reinstated and gained tenure in the fall of 1971. He remained at the university until 1993. His efforts allowed faculty members to speak openly as Marquette citizens without fear of university reprisal.


            (click image to enlarge)


(click image to enlarge)            


              (click image to enlarge)


(click image to enlarge)           

Student Response

Faculty Response

(click image to enlarge)