The Stanford University faculty senate adopted a compromise resolution Thursday asking the university to "reassess" its relations with the Hoover institution, a semi-autonomous conservative think-tank on the campus.
Liberal university professors have long been upset at the activities of conservative Hoover scholars and their close relations with the Reagan administration.
Recently 84 faculty members called for an investigation of Hoover's relationship with the university. But more than 130 faculty members signed a petition calling the proposed investigation of Hoover a "grave threat . . . to academic freedom."
In Thursday's faculty senate debate, political science professor John F. Manley complained about the university's lack of control over the appointment of Hoover research fellows and use of the institutions's $9 million annual budget, much of it raised from conservative sources outside university channels.
The controversy focused mainly on the Hoover Institution's unique role as a center for conservative thinkers, more than 30 of whom have found places in the Reagan administration. President Reagan has been an honorary institution fellow since 1975.
Manley noted a Hoover claim that its scholars had placed more than 240 articles in newspapers last year. He suggested that the institution was using Stanford's name to promote a partisan viewpoint.
After a two-hour debate, the faculty senate passed a compromise resolution that appeared to satisfy both sides. It urged university president Donald Kennedy, a former Carter administration official, to consult with university trustees "with a view to appointing a committee in the near future to explore and reassess the relations between the Hoover Institution and the university, including governance and appointment procedures with the goal of promoting more effective and cooperative relations."
French professor Alphonse Juilland, a leader of those opposed to an investigation, said today he was happy the resolution did not refer to Hoover scholars' political activities. Manley said he was "absolutely delighted" with the outcome.
Although there are other conservative think-tanks, Hoover is the only one of its stature with such close ties to a major university. Set up in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, the wealthy engineer who later became president, the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace served as a documents archive and refuge for European scholars escaping communism.
Conservative economist W. Glenn Campbell began to raise money to turn it into a much more active research center when he became director in 1960. It now includes among its research and senior fellows former White House adviser Martin Anderson, conservative economist Milton Friedman, conservative black scholar Thomas Sowell, Stanford political science professor Seymour Martin Lipset, and retired Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, former leader of U.S. prisoners of war in North Vietnam.
George Marotta, Hoover public affairs coordinator, said he wondered why liberals did not make a fuss about university involvement in partisan politics when many Harvard faculty members joined the Kennedy administration in 1961.
Although calling this "probably the most effective" argument against an investigation of Hoover, Manley said Harvard scholars were not coming from a "central liberal think-tank . . . largely autonomous from university control."