National Association of College
and University Chaplains

A multifaith professional community supporting spiritual and ethical life in higher education

The Decade of the 1970s

As the opposition to the War in Vietnam grew and campuses became anti-war enclaves and centers of anti-establishment positions, NACUC'S attention turned toward the "Nature of Revolution" and the "Serendipity in Revolution." When Gordon Verplank, the chaplain at Claremont, was subpoenaed by a California court, demanding that he reveal the names of those he had counseled as a draft counselor, colleagues in NACUC came to his defense. When the judge ruled that confidentiality must be maintained in the counseling relationship and the subpoena was cancelled, Verplank thanked NACUC and his colleagues in the association for their support. NACUC's 25th anniversary conference was held at Stephens College in 1972, and was deemed "a rousing success" by Newsletter Editor Don Shockley. Perhaps it was because there was "no theme" for the conference! Speakers included Sam Keen, Brother David Steindl-Rast, Bill Coffin and Dan Germann. Shockley wrote about the conference, "On the political front this conference was more active than those in recent years. There were late night sessions in which numerous issues were discussed. Resolutions on the war and busing were passed and sent to Nixon, Laird, Fulbright and the Democratic presidential hopefuls. A statement on amnesty was called to the attention of the conference…a straw vote on the presidency indicated that five out of six delegates at the conference would vote for McGovern." In 1973 Chaplain Hector Grant hosted the association at Huston-Tillotson, a predominantly black college in Austin, Texas. Richard Gelwick, Rabbi Laurence Lauer, C. Eric Lincoln, and Father Dan Berrigan were speakers on the theme, "Race, Resistance and Reconciliation." It was an enlightening experience for many of the white chaplains to spend time on the campus of Huston-Tillotson.

For several years in the 1970's, NACUC joined with other campus religious groups for conferences: With ACURA at Michigan in 1974, and again at Yale in 1975 and at N. Carolina State in 1976. That collaboration shaped the conference themes of "Re-Visioning a Multicultural World," "Strangers in an Alien Land," and "To Know One Another, To Learn, To Share, To be the Ministers of the New Age." Speakers in 1974 included Al Carmines, Margaret Mead, Irving Greenburg and Robben Fleming; in 1975 leaders were Michael Wyschograd, Valerie Russell, Henri Nouwen, and William Sloan Coffin (a perennial with NACUC). In Raleigh in 1976, Donald Shriver, Roland Murphy, Carter Heywood, Fred Herzog and A.K. Lowenstein addressed the conference. In 1977, NACUC shared in the Third Ecumenical Campus Ministry Conference at Berea, Kentucky. The theme was "Doing Theology, Living the Questions," with presentations by Harry and Ann Smith, Valerie Russell, James Ackerman, Kathy Held Green, Arthur Green, Ivan Salmon Campbell, George Simons. It was an exciting ecumenical conference, and the cooperative nature of Berea College was impressive. The McLean Family Singers provided a memorable experience as they entertained conference people on the campus grounds. NACUC went west in 1978 for a NACUC-only conference at U.S.C in Los Angeles. "The Impact of the Media on Education" was the theme and a relatively small group of NACUC'ers heard excellent presentations by Ray Bradbury, Tom Bradley, John Orr and Joseph Hough, Jr. NACUC ended the decade of the '70's with an April conference on "Voices in Our Midst" at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. A surprise "Alberta Clipper" with snow and a wind chill in the 20's greeted conference goers on the second day of the conference. But those attending were warmed by presentations by Vine Deloria, James Nelson, Patricia Wilson-Kastner and Roland Murphy. The "voices" were indeed diverse and provocative. Lynn Fitch of the University of Montana was elected as the first woman President of NACUC. Although Clarence Shedd might have been surprised at the obsolescence of the word "men" in his vision for NACUC, there is evidence that he would have heartily approved. During the 1970's a new component of the annual meetings was the presentation of position papers by active chaplains from diverse campus settings, with responses by colleagues and dialogue on topics ranging from Higher Education issues, to modes of ministry, to personal statements about vocation. Many of these were published and the development of the journal, "Ailanthus", ensued. Professional concerns were addressed during this decade through the publishing of "Guidelines and Standards for Chaplaincy," which was circulated to all college Presidents. Rabbi Yechiael Lander, Director, B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation at Smith College and a long-time leader in NACUC (who would serve as President of the association in 1981-1982), was designated as chair of Professional Relations. He was instrumental in supporting chaplains when administrators failed to respect NACUC's professional standards. In addition, Lander and the Professional Relations Committee successfully led the association to see the commonality of the rationale or purposes of the Association and the role and status of the chaplain as “consistent with the kind of religious pluralism found in the interests and needs of a particular university community.” In addition to Fitch, Chaplains Bauman, Bremer, Byers, Unsworth, Leslie, Haas, Nusbaum, Wettstein and Young served as presidents of the association during the 1970's.

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