After meeting twice in closed session to discuss the nomination of a Marxist professor to a key post at the University of Maryland, the university's board of regents wound up their last meeting of the academic year yesterday without acting on the matter.
Board chairman B. Herbert Brown told reporters it would be some time before the issue is finally resolved. "We're a long way off," Brown said, but would not give a specific timetable.
At issue is the nomination of Bertell Ollman, an associate professor of political science at New York University, to head the department of government and political science at Maryland's College Park campus.
Chosen after a search involving more than 100 candidates, Ollman's appointment was endorsed last April by the division provost and the chancellor of the College Park campus and forwarded to university president Wilson H. Elkins.
But before Elkins could act on the matter some members of the board of regents and legislators objected to the idea of a Marxist's being in a top academic post, and acting Gov. Blair Lee III said the university might face Budgetary retaliation from the legislature.
Since then the controversy has escalated with backers of Ollman contending that denial of the appointment would be a serious breach of academic freedom and opponents arguing that approval would pave the way for indoctrination in the classroom.
About a dozen students disrupted yesterday's meeting briefly charging that "we are sick and tired of the foot dragging in this case. We demand that Bertell Ollman be hired today."
Brown recessed the meeting as the students began to clap and chant "Hire Ollman now." The students left a few minutes later after a squad of campus policemen ordered them out.
With the pending retirement of Elkins Friday, after 24 years in office, whatever decision is made in the case will come under the administration of John S. Toll, his successor. Brown said, however, that the regents would make the final decision in an open meeting "after a full and careful review."