The “Philosophy Four” and other 1970s purge victims at UVM

Here is an entry from the Will Miller tribute page by UVM Professor Garrison Nelson. Here we see there were consequences for supporting the fight back against the purge of Michael Parenti in the 1970s. One of those purged was Harvey Salgo, then a member of the Department of Economics at UVM. In fact, he was publishing articles on the environment and capitalism around that time. See below for the testimony given by Garrison Nelson, published at the tribute page following Will Miller’s passing in 2005. -JS

Update: I have learned recently that a wave a purges took place following the formation of the United Academics union at UVM in the early 2000s. Many activists fighting for the faculty union were not reappointed or were denied tenure, including Dawn Saunders in the Dept of Economics. According to Dawn, Jane Knodell (then the chair of the Dept of Economics) was complicit in the Provost’s removal of her for being a union activist.  Thank you, Jane!


By Garrison Nelson
UVM Political Science Dept.
March 31, 2005

Will and I worked together in 1971-72 during the infamous academic freedom fight over Professor Michael Parenti’s reappointment contract. I was in charge of the Legal Defense Fund that covered Michael’s legal fees and Will headed up the Thomas Jefferson Chair Fund which was intended to fund Michael’s living expenses while the case was fought in court. The CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION considered the Parenti case to be the most winnable of the academic freedom cases fought that year. Michael and the Trustees settled out of court so the case never came to trial.

Unfortunately, the lack of a positive trial verdict made it easier to dismiss a number of faculty members who worked with Will and me on Michael’s behalf. Harvey Salgo of Economics, Eric Godfrey of Sociology and the “Philosophy Four” — Bob Rice, Gerry Anderson, Alan Paskow and Jim Corcoran were all obliged to leave UVM. Will and I survived.

Will and I remained friends over the next thirty years even if we no longer marched together. I never ceased to be amazed by his enormous energy and the depth of his commitment to social justice. Will was the University’s greatest warrior for economic justice for the faculty and the staff. But it was not just the University that held Will’s attention, it was the City of Burlington, the State of Vermont, the United States and yes, even the world itself.

Will’s boundless optimism and selfless dedication to change were beyond measure.

Like many of you, I wish that I had spent more time with Will during this past year. But my memories of Will are everlasting.

His truth is still marching on!

Garrison Nelson