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Interview with Glen Clanton

Audio (first part)

Molly Dohrmann: This is Molly Dohrmann for the Peabody Oral History project concerning the merger with Vanderbilt in 1979. Today's date is March 22nd, 2006, and the interview today is with Glen Clanton, Associate Provost and Dean for Academic Services at Vanderbilt at the time of the merger.

Glen Clanton: Deputy.

Dohrmann: Deputy, OK.

Clanton: Instead of Associate.

Dohrmann: OK. Deputy Provost. To begin, please talk about the capacity in which you served at the time of the merger, with an overview of the Vanderbilt perspective on the merger.

Clanton: At the time of the merger, I was the Deputy Provost and Dean for Academic Services, which meant that the library system, including JUL, the computer center, the Financial Aid Office, the Admissions Office, and the University Registrar came under my leadership. At the time of the Peabody discussion, I was also a member of the Chancellor's Cabinet, where things were discussed once a week. A lot of things were going on in the country dealing with the Federal Government and its relationship to universities, and this caused a lot of discussion on the campus, and ultimately resulted in Chancellor Heard being appointed by President Nixon to join him in the White House for daily discussions. As a result of this assignment of Chancellor Heard's time, Emmett Fields, who was President of the State University of New York in Albany, was asked to become President of Vanderbilt University, taking over the daily responsibilities that Heard had been unable to do because of his assignment in Washington. It was at this time that the publicity and discussion and the worry about what was happening at Peabody became a very serious topic. First of all, at that time Vanderbilt had no music presence on the campus, and had no education department on the campus, and were very much tied in with Peabody and Scarritt in running the Joint University Library. So it became a problem for Vanderbilt to look at, to see whether some protection could be found for the connections that already exist. At that time, Vanderbilt had 2,600 enrollments at Peabody, and each year we had to set up a formula for funding Peabody for that service. And at about this time, Del Sawyer had been appointed to the Blair -- had started the Blair Academy out of Peabody, and he became conscious of the fact that he might have an opportunity to move the Blair Academy into the Vanderbilt system, and that resulted in a building being built on the Vanderbilt campus for the Academy, which later became the Blair School of Music, of one of the ten schools within Vanderbilt. All of this was happening during a rather short period of time, but it finally got to the point where something had to be done because of what appeared to be an unstable situation at Peabody, to us, and so Chancellor Heard took over the responsibility of setting up the machinery to do that. And he contacted Peabody and there was some evidence that the President at Peabody was surprised, but I'm not sure why he would have even been surprised because the cross-registration had been responsible for Vanderbilt not developing a school of education. And so we had two problems, music and education, that was lacking on the Vanderbilt campus, but a desire to shore it up on the part of Chancellor Heard. And then the rallying cry became, "Let's see what we can do to develop some kind of merger or some kind of support for Peabody that would not in any way keep us from having the courses at Peabody open for the Vanderbilt students." We understood that there was a problem with the Joint University Library which was under a different contract relation. The benefits for the employees for the Joint University Library was different from the Vanderbilt benefits for faculty and staff, and the same was true for Peabody. So.

Dohrmann: Can you talk about some of the key people on the Vanderbilt side, on the Peabody, from Scarritt?

Clanton: The original approach taken by Chancellor Heard was to appoint an important committee on the campus of Vanderbilt to inventory all existing Vanderbilt and Peabody interconnections. That committee was made up with President Fields as the Chairman, Provost Wendell Holladay, working with the Deans of the schools, and other academic officers, including the Joint University Library's Director. Rob Roy Purdy, the Senior Vice President, Donald McDowell, the Vice President for Business Affairs, and Vernon Wilson, Vice President of Medical Affairs. All of these people are called -- the word "President" was eliminated later on, all of these people were Vice Chancellors if you look for them today. The General Counsel Jeff Carr will be informed of all legal considerations exposed and have responsibility for all the legal aspects of the inquiry. The Vanderbilt Trustees Committee, Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate, and others, including the Reassessment Panels, will be kept informed and consulted during the whole course of the study. The Chancellor, the President, and the Vice Presidents, and all general officers will meet regularly to assess the developments. Copy of these appointments was sent to President Dunworth. And in the beginning, everything was more or less on a legal basis because we were talking about whether Peabody would become a school on the one hand or it would be a stand alone, associated merger institution in some other way, and the legal offices were involved. I don't know who the Peabody people were who were looking at the legal things with Vice Chancellor Carr. I do know that it became important for me, assigned by the Provost, to meet regularly with the Peabody, the Executive Deans I believe they were called, James Whitlock and Dean Stovall, and we discussed their position and what they were trying to do as often as we felt necessary. No official report was ever developed from these discussions, but later on after it was agreed that Peabody should be approached and dealt with in such a way to keep their important programs intact and all of the aspects of the Joint University Library would be dealt with in proper ways so as that Scarritt would be involved and so would the Peabody people be involved, and so when the decision was made that Peabody would become a school within Vanderbilt, then it was clear that the administration of Peabody would have to be changed to match the administration at Vanderbilt in my office with Associate Provost Tivis Nelson given a lot of responsibility. I had to move into the situation to make all of the financial and budgetary and faculty and staff benefits designed in such a way that they could function as a regular school just like the School of Engineering, and that was done. [This time?] I'm not sure.

Dohrmann: OK. Do you think that covers the details of the merger that you were responsible for?

Clanton: There was discussion about -- before the final merger, there was a discussion between me and my staff and their staff about what would it mean, for instance, since I was responsible for JUL's Director, and he had, as far as I know, no reporting responsibilities to Peabody. The whole idea of what was going to happen, how admissions would start working, would we retain the admissions program? And the Development Program at Peabody with Beverly Bond, what would we do about that? I didn't have anything to do with making those decisions, but I knew that they had to happen. But I did have responsibility for admissions, financial aid, and the keeping of records, and the giving of diplomas in the Registrar's Office. So I had to work with that to make sure that Peabody was a full-fledged member of the Vanderbilt community. But one of the real tough jobs was to look at the organization as it was going to settle in at Peabody, decide what the budgetary units would be and how money was to flow, and how the ETOB system of Vanderbilt would be applied to Peabody. And Tivis Nelson, the first rate mathematician, took over that job. He had been Associate Professor of the Management School, and had joined our office as the Associate Provost, and he worked with the Vanderbilt Controller and other financial people to make sure that he brought a recommended way of going, which he did. Tivis did a beautiful job.

Dohrmann: OK. Do you want to talk a little bit about the reaction on the Vanderbilt side once the merger was announced?

Clanton: Well, people in the know knew that something had to happen, because if Vanderbilt all of a sudden had to fill up the lives of this student body with the vacated places that would exist, maybe, in education, that it was just absolutely impossible to do and that we should go ahead. So there was a great deal of worry that those -- that cross registration and the interaction with the psychology programs at Peabody, which were very important, including the Kennedy Center -- and fortunately we had, during most of these discussions up to this point, we had Nick Hobbs as our own Provost, and he held a joint position at Peabody and this helped a great deal. And a lot of his thinking can be seen in what happened, it was sort of a dream of his and he worked very hard toward it, and he convinced Chancellor Heard of its importance. And we've seen that most of the things he said are true.

Dohrmann: What do you think have been the negatives of the merger between Vanderbilt and Peabody?

Clanton: Well, people didn't know what was going to happen with the faculty over there, whether they would be given faculty positions at Vanderbilt, that kind of stuff. It's the kind of thing you would expect nerves to generate. And also the quality of the student body, would our admissions office deal with that? What would happen to their endowment? All that. Oh, there was a lot of discussion, but most people knew that the campus was a beautiful campus, and then it had things that Vanderbilt didn't have. And so people settled down. There was a little joy going on between some of the Vanderbilt senior people who were involved in the discussion, and Peabody people were trying to maximize the gain of their faculty so that people wouldn't get hurt. And ultimately what happened was that committees were formed to deal with the faculty that had to be terminated, and help them find positions elsewhere, and money was put aside to take care of them. And we all knew that was going on, but I didn't participate in the daily discussion. I knew who was leaving and who was not, but some were retained and some were not. I know that there was some question about what might happen to the mathematics area of Peabody, which is my area. There was a discussion that certainly those, the people who had professorial positions in mathematics over there, would not fit very well into the Vanderbilt math department unless it was reformed and redesigned. And so there was a discussion of that, you know, people saying, "Those people can't come over here," you know, that kind of stuff. But by and large it was professionally done, and the Peabody people came out very well, and so did the Vanderbilt people. So I think it was a good deal all the way around, and it's proved to be one of the great so-called mergers that I know about. And JUL came out all right.

Dohrmann: Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

Clanton: Well, we had a Nashville University Center headed by Anne Brown, do you know Anne?

Dohrmann: I don't, but I know the name.

Clanton: She used to run the Metro Arts Commission.

Dohrmann: Yeah.

Clanton: So we dealt -- I was Vanderbilt's representative to that committee, to run that organization. And the Executive Vice President of Fisk, the Vice President of Meharry -- I'm drawing a blank as who was representing Peabody at the time, but I became good friends with the President of Scarritt, Don Welch, not the Don Welch in our law school.

Dohrmann: Yeah.

Clanton: But JUL became --

Dohrmann: HG Hill representing Peabody, is that right?

Clanton: That's right.

Dohrmann: OK

Clanton: No, that's --

Dohrmann: No, that's for another one.

Clanton: That's a different committee.

Dohrmann: A different committee, OK.

Clanton: There was also a committee running the Joint University Libraries that had Welch, Trustee from Peabody, Hill, and myself on the committee, which was the Management Committee for the Joint University Libraries to see it was funded appropriately, and formulas one and two that was funding the library was approved by this committee. And about the time we started the discussions with Peabody, both Fisk and Meharry tried to join the Joint University Library system, and that was frowned upon by both Peabody and Vanderbilt, and then they wanted free use of the Joint University Library, and that probably had been -- Nick Hobbs was very much interested in this group called a University Center. He even thought about having a common police force for these five schools, a common computer center for these five schools, set a model about on the JUL model. And he set up a bus that every hour went in a circle hitting Peabody, Scarritt, Vanderbilt, Fisk, and Meharry, and he worked hard to open up the opportunity for all the people at Fisk and Meharry to ride that bus and enroll in courses at Peabody and Vanderbilt that they didn't have over at their place, and so it became a very interesting program. The program died about the time the Peabody merger talks started. I'm not sure of the date.

Dohrmann: OK

Clanton: But it was an interesting experience. Also one of the things that happened along about that time is that Hobbs led the University in creating what's now known as Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies, and Professor Hargrove on the campus at Vanderbilt was very much involved in that. And that's turned out to be a very good thing.

Dohrmann: Do you have other stories, anecdotes about Peabody and Vanderbilt?

Clanton: Well, from my perspective, my own experience was a good one. I mean, I enjoyed the people that I met over there, and I was usually restricted to the administration because the first thing that happened administratively was to appoint an acting Dean to replace Dunworth. And Hardy Wilcoxon was selected for that position. And then a full time Dean was needed, and so Provost Holladay got to worrying about what was needed and spent a lot of time with people at Peabody trying to figure out what kind of person was needed, and discussions resulted in the appointment of a political scientist with an interest in education, Bill Hawley. And he then turned to Jim Cunningham and -- Joe Cunningham, I guess it is --

Dohrmann: Yeah.

Clanton: And Jim Hogge.

Dohrmann: Yes.

Clanton: As his two associates, and I became very much acquainted with them and respected them very much, especially Hogge. We became dear friends, still are. So it was a good experience. It wasn't easy to decide what to do with the faculty over there but ultimately it came out OK. Some people had trouble finding positions, but by and large there were people like Thomson in History, had no trouble.

Dohrmann: Then what?

Clanton: But there was a good committee set up to take care of these people, pay bills for going to visit places, things like that. And then I told you once before that we had already determined that since the Director of the JUL reported to our office, that the staff and professional people of the library didn't have the same fringe benefits, especially retirement program, that Vanderbilt had. In fact, I was very surprised that as we looked into it, there were a lot of differences. But we moved quickly. Don McDowell, the Vice Chancellor for Business at Vanderbilt, or Administration I guess they call it, and I met with this staff leader, Elaine Goleski, and she detailed what the concerns were of the staff over there, and we moved very quickly to respond to what they needed. At that time, before OSHA got involved, the key staff was a group of the staff that were given faculty benefits, and deciding who was in that category was one of the problems we had to deal with. But that meant for every -- if you put in 5%, [Fenuel?] would put in 10%, as for key staff and faculty. But OSHA changed it, we had to go to 70% or something like that for everybody, staff was never -- OSHA finally told us that you can't separate faculty from staff in your retirement programs.

Dohrmann: So these were changes after the merger?

Clanton: Well, just adjusting to the change.

Dohrmann: Mm-hmm.

Clanton: I mean, we had the staff of JUL seemed to feel that they were left out in left field, not knowing where to go and how to go to get things, and Frank Grisham, was not helpful because he didn't know either. But since he reported to me we straightened it out all right. But this business of the key people from Peabody and from Vanderbilt to affect the merger, I know the Vanderbilt list, I don't know the Peabody list. But ultimately the Board of Trust of both places had to decide and Jeff Carr had to handle the legal aspects. I don't know what charters were -- Peabody was a chartered institution so it was changing and becoming a school within a university which had a charter. But the legal office dealt with that.

Dohrmann: OK.

Clanton: And Jeff Carr, I told you, is still on the campus.

Dohrmann: Yeah.

Clanton: I don't know who he assigned to do it, but -- Callison, maybe.

Dohrmann: Is there anything else you'd like to add to all this?

Clanton: No.

Dohrmann: OK.

Clanton: I wasn't that important to it all, just did the legwork I think.

Dohrmann: OK, thank you very much.


Audio (second part)

Dohrmann: This is a continuation of the interview with Glen Clanton. There.

Clanton: I would like to deal with the negatives and the positive outcomes of the merger. The status of the Peabody faculty was one of the perceived negatives. And the positives outcomes was that Chancellor Heard had always wanted a music presence on the campus, and during this period what had begun at Peabody as the Blair Academy had resulted in the Blair School of Music and so the university had a very good music program. And also the desire to maintain and add to the education programs of the university was really a positive outcome. And the library system has seemed to me to develop into a much higher level of library institution than it was before. I see that as a positive. And certainly the addition of the campus itself, the dormitories and other buildings, have been very important to the growth of Vanderbilt University.

Dohrmann: And the Kennedy Center.

Clanton: And the opportunities that have developed out of the Kennedy Center in connection with the Medical Center is proof that the opening up of the -- or tearing down the boundary between Peabody and the Medical Center was a very good one because we've seen things like all of the good things that they have done and the reputation they have go a long way toward developing a good neuroscience program and others. And I certainly can't do justice to that, but I know that's a real positive outcome of the merger.

Dohrmann: Thank you.


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Audio files processed by Brian Smokler of the Peabody Technology Support Center.

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Last updated April 9, 2007 by Chris Benda.