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Academic Council of Homewood Faculties records

 Record Group
Identifier: RG-04-010

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The records of the Academic Council, spanning the years 1880 to 1983, consist almost entirely of the minutes and supporting papers of the council and its various committees, but also include some reports and correspondence.


  • Creation: 1880-1983


Use Restrictions

Records in this record group are restricted for twenty-five years from their date of creation. Employment records are further restricted. For details, see Regulations Governing Access to Restricted Records, in the front of each binder.


The idea of establishing an Academic Council began with President Daniel C. Gilman's Draft Plan for the University. Believing the traditional American method of governing an institution of higher learning was inappropriate for Hopkins, he envisioned a council consisting of the President, the dean, and one faculty member from each university division overseeing academic policy. However, Gilman's plan was not implemented until April 8, 1880, when the Academic Council of the Faculty of Philosophy met for the first time. The Council, when it actually came into being, was comprised of all full professors on the faculty.

The responsibilities of the Academic Council were stated in only the most general terms: the Council was to help guide the internal affairs of the University. Since this responsibility was so broad, the Academic Council created the Board of Collegiate Advisors in May 1882, to regulate undergraduate affairs. In October 1883, the Board of University Studies was formed, consisting of both professors and associate professors, and was given responsibility for graduate education.

On January 5, 1891, due to the growing size of the faculty, the Board of Trustees voted to restrict membership in the Academic Council to appointed representatives, all of whom were full professors. From 1891 to 1913, the Council was appointed by the Trustees upon nomination by the President. By 1913, protests by the junior faculty against their lack of influence caused the Board to institute a new mode of election. Members of the Academic Council were to be nominated by the entire faculty for a five-year term, and members would not be eligible for reappointment until one year following the expiration of their current term. In 1946, the Council passed a resolution stating that no person could be nominated by the faculty to serve beyond the first day of October following his or her sixty-fifth birthday.

Further changes in Council policy occurred in 1950 as a direct result of the "Bronk Plan" to merge undergraduate and graduate education. Upon creation of the General Assembly in 1950, the Council became less responsible for academic governance and assumed more responsibility for administrative matters such as policy questions, appointments and promotions. The General Assembly replaced both the Board of Collegiate Advisors and the Board of University Studies. Chaired by the President, the General Assembly consisted of all persons holding full-time appointments in the Faculty of Philosophy.

On January 26, 1966, the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Engineering were combined and reorganized into the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. As a result, the Advisory Board of the School of Engineering Sciences and the Academic Council combined to form the Academic Council of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. However, when the two schools split again in 1978, there remained only one Council, which was renamed the Academic Council of the Homewood Faculties.

The Academic Council currently consists of twelve full-time professors. Ten are nominated by qualified voting faculty (full-time professors, associate professors and assistant professors with three years residence) and two are nominated by the Council itself. The president is the permanent chairman, and the provost, deans, and associate deans are all members without voting status. A recording secretary is elected by the Council to serve for at least one year. Since its inception, the responsibilities of the Council have become more defined. The Academic Council is an advisory board to the president and recommends to him staff appointments at all levels, including fellowships and scholarship appointments. It also establishes faculty policy and curriculum standards. These responsibilities have generally remained constant. Committees have been formed as the need has arisen, such as Ad Hoc Committees on Promotion. Committee members do not necessarily belong to the Academic Council, but must report to the Council.

In March 1950, Senator Joseph McCarthy named Owen Lattimore, Director of the Walter Hines Page School of International Relations, the top Soviet agent in the United States. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared Lattimore of the charges in July, but Senator McCarran's Internal Security Subcommittee held hearings from July 1951 through April 1952. On December 16, 1952, a Federal Grand Jury indicted Lattimore on seven counts of perjury; these charges were eventually dismissed in 1955. The "Lattimore Affair" provoked intense discussion within the University, and ad hoc committees were set up at various times to address the problems which arose from Lattimore's predicament. In March 1952, the Academic Council formed a committee to discuss what the faculty's position should be, and President Bronk convened a committee to meet with Lattimore. Members of this latter committee included Philip Bard, William G. Cochran, Ernst Cloos, G. Heberton Evans, Jr., Frederic C. Lane, Thomas B. Turner, John C. Whitehorn, and Abel Wolman.

The Committee on Coeducation, appointed in 1969, was created to write a detailed report on changes necessary to accommodate women within the University as undergraduates. Their final report was issued in March 1970 and contained recommendations concerning living arrangements, health services, athletic facilities and admissions.

The Committee on Undergraduate Studies, a standing committee, was created to oversee undergraduate education. The committee investigates such areas as curriculum, admissions and discipline. The Curriculum Review Committee was established in 1979 to make recommendations on departmental requirements, course offerings and academic advising. The Committee on Student Relations was created to facilitate communication between the Academic Council and the students.

In accordance with the findings of the Ad Hoc Committee on Governance, the Academic Council and the General Assembly called for the appointment of a task force to study and revise procedures for policy formation. The Committee on Governance, which worked through the summer of 1970, was comprised of one administrator, three tenured faculty members, one post- doctoral fellow, one member of the professional research staff, three graduate students and three undergraduates. The Committee urged greater accountability by Council members, new channels of communication and clarified lines of authority. The Committee also recommended the appointment of an ombudsman to serve as a trouble-shooter for problems having no clear mechanism for solution. Finally, the Committee urged the creation of an Arts and Sciences Representative Council, with representatives from all faculty levels to advise the Dean on matters of general concern and to serve as a conduit for petitions.

Established in May 1970, the Blue Ribbon Committee on Undergraduate Education was charged by the Academic Council to study the undergraduate programs and make suggestions for improvement, in accordance with the 1970 report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Governance. The Blue Ribbon Committee consisted of administrators, faculty members, undergraduates, and a graduate student. To aid its deliberations, the Committee created a survey to which 1,057 undergraduates replied; the questionnaire concerned professors' accessibility, accelerated programs, independent study, housing, grading, etc. In February 1972, the Committee issued its final report; among its recommendations were the creation of a Dean of Students, the formation of a committee to evaluate teaching and to reward quality and innovations, the establishment of regular office hours for each faculty member, the improvement of teaching assistant quality, and the alteration of the faculty's attitude towards student advising.


15.04 Cubic Feet (2 record center cartons, 33 letter size document boxes)

Language of Materials



Some of the records of the Academic Council were transferred to the Archives by George E. Owen, Dean of Homewood Faculties (1972-1978), while more recent minutes were transferred to the Archives by Sally Marcin, Academic Council Secretary. The file on the Lattimore Committee was given by Dr. Ernst Cloos, Professor of Geology. Other records were transferred to the Archives by the Department of Special Collections of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. Still others were removed from various record groups, including the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Accession Numbers

finding aid prepared by Deborah Jeffrey, Maryanne Courtney, Sean DiGiovanna, Jennifer D'Urso, and Brian Harrington

Academic Council of Homewood Faculties records
Deborah Jeffrey, Maryanne Courtney, Sean DiGiovanna, Jennifer D'Urso, Brian Harrington
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA