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Records of the President's Office Werner A. Baum Papers

Scope & content

The records cover all aspects of the organization, administration and operation of the University, the URI Faculty Senate established in 1960, various all-university committees established by the president's office, the files of the University's legal counsel during Baum's tenure, typed and handwritten manuscripts of speeches and addresses delivered by Baum to various audiences during his presidency and carbon and photographic copies of outgoing letters written by President Baum between 1968 and 1973.

Baum came to the presidency of the University of Rhode Island after a distinguished career in government and academic service. From 1947 to 1949 he was an Assistant Professor and Chairman of the Department of Meteorology. He remained as department chair until 1958 when he was appointed Dean of the Graduate School and Director of Research. In 1960 he was named Florida State's Dean of the Faculties.

Three years later Baum left Florida State University to assume the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at the University of Miami, Florida. From there he went to New York University as Vice President for Scientific Affairs and Professor of Meteorology. After two years in New York, Baum was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson as the Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Science Services Administration. He assumed the presidency of the University of Rhode Island on July 5, 1968, succeeding Acting President F. Don James who had left to become president of Southern Connecticut State College.

Baum's five year tenure at the University of Rhode Island was marked by a great deal of tumult and controversy, which in many instances was not of his own doing. Among the problems which he faced were a nearly million dollar deficit inherited from his predecessors, three governing boards in five years, a University-wide student strike in the spring of 1970, an African-American student take-over of the Administration building in the spring of 1971, a legislature which frequently fancied itself as a sort of collective college administrator, students who were demanding more privileges and parents who did not want them to have them, and a faculty that organized for collective bargaining. By the time of his departure in 1973, URI students were able to drink on campus in a student pub, were able to live in coed dormitories, and were able to come and go when and as they pleased. With the lowering of the age of majority to eighteen in 1971, the last vestiges of in loco parentis disappeared.

Baum submitted his resignation as president of the University of Rhode Island in the spring of 1973 to accept the chancellorship at the University of Wisconsin's Milwaukee campus. His last day at the University of Rhode Island was August 14, 1973.