“Boys for Sale” Houston is the Worst (1981 Forgotten Documentary with Now Deceased Professor Philpott)

Part II of the Video, “Boys for Sale” (link below)

https://archive.org/details/AV_126_127-BOYS_FOR_SALE

Alternative Views #126,127: BOYS FOR SALE (PARTS I&II)

by Frank Morrow

Publication date 1981
Usage http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/us/
Topics Alternative Views, Alternative Information Network, progressive media, alternative media, public access television, Frank Morrow, Doug Kellner, Austin Community Television, News, boy prostitutes, Atlanta
Publisher Alternative Information Network
Language English

126. (N) BOYS FOR SALE (PART I)

The tragic and shocking abuse of boy prostitutes is discussed by Dr. Tom
Philpott and former Editor of _The Daily Texan_, Mark McKinnon, who has
written articles on the subject. Philpott has found that these children are
frequently physically abused, even tortured and killed. Many of the men who
participate in this “practice” are among some of the most respected people
at the top levels of the U.S. corporate and governmental structures. We
discuss prominent cases of sexual abuse of boys and possible connections
between child prostitution and the murder of black children in Atlanta. The
program is enhanced by the use of segments of two 1979 documentaries _Boys
for Sale_, produced for Channel 11 in Houston and Channel 13 in Atlanta.

Run time: 59:14
Recorded October, 1981
News 1984
Copyright December, 1983 ???

127. BOYS FOR SALE (PART II)

Because this tragic, national scandal has largely been ignored by the mass
media, our concluding segment focuses on the press coverage and on the
handling of the situation by the law enforcement and judicial systems. The
program looks closely at the boys themselves: their backrounds, how they got
into “the life,” why they stay in it and how they feel about themselves. We
also reveal the extent of the threats and violence toward the people who
have been active in exposing the situation and bringing it to the attention
of the public.

Run time: 58:18
Recorded October, 1981
Copyright October, 1981

*******************************************
* Note:
* The Alternative Information Network
* address in the video is no longer in use.
*******************************************
Credits
Co-hosts: Frank Morrow and Doug Kellner
Researcher: Mike Jankowski
Technical adviser: Brian Koenigsdorf
Color color
Identifier AV_126_127-BOYS_FOR_SALE
Run time 1:58:00
Sound sound
Year 1981

Boys for Sale is mirrored in the later documentary The Conspiracy of Silence (1995), which concentrates on Omaha in the same years. Sadly, on October 9, 1991—soon after his interview was aired—49-year-old Dr. Philpott was “suicided” and investigations into what was happening in Houston came to a halt—much like what happened to “Baer boys” just before the Franklin Credit Union investigations began, though I don’t think that Dr. Philpott decided to wrap plastic around his face like the boys around here had done to them.

http://s6.zetaboards.com/Free_Thinkers/topic/10019299/1/

http://utwatch.org/archives/tejas/october1991_eulogy.html

This is from UTWatch.org, “the website of the student organization UT Watch – officially registered as University Watch as a student organization at the University of Texas at Austin”…

As for the page saying Page 2, there doesn’t seem to be a page 1 as far as the eulogy.
Dr. Tom Philpott: Eulogy
October 1991; page 2
Tejas
The untimely death of Tom Philpott reminds us that a great mind and a good heart offer no assurance of an easy life. Tom taught history, but to those who knew him, he taught much more.
There was no individual at the University of Texas who meant so much to so many. He symbolized a college education as a learning experience. He was that rare breed of University professor committed to students and learning. Tom did not mold minds, he opened them. He taught, through example, that every one of us had the power to initiate change. Students were drawn to Tom – not because he ran against the UT grain – but because he managed to remain one of “us.” At every turn, Tom confronted the University bureaucracy. He constantly fought a losing battle to keep the University a place for education, not for business.

When he battled, it was done full tilt, without regret or reservation. He stood in protest with students on the West Mall more times than memory serves.
The written word was his tool. Tom depended on the pen of others to deliver his message as quickly as he relied on himself. There were so many books . . . Altgeld’s America, The Book of Lights, My Name is Asher Lev, A Rumor of War, Souls on Fire, to name but a few. They are all studies in the human spirit, lessons in overcoming obstacles. Lessons Tom thought we should learn.
We can extend his commitment to learning by obtaining the best education possible; and retaining our convictions in the process. We were proud to have him as a teacher. We shall not see his like again … Fiat lux, Dr. Philpott.
———————————
“Alternative Views” was one of the longest running public access television programs in the United States. Produced in Austin, Texas in 1978, it produced 563 hour-long programs featuring news, interviews and opinion pieces from a progressive political perspective. Show founders and on-air hosts, Douglas Kellner and Frank Morrow, produced the show on virtually no budget using facilities at Austin Community Television (ACTV) and The University of Texas at Austin. They also pioneered an innovative syndication system that placed the program in almost 80 television markets around the country.
Content
Each installment of Alternative Views included a regular news section that utilized material from mostly non-mainstream news sources to provide stories ignored by establishment media, or interpretations of events different from the mainstream.
Alternative Views landed many significant interviews during its run, and it was often ahead of mainstream media in identifying major stories. Its first program featured an Iranian student who discussed opposition to the Shah of Iran and the possibility of his overthrow. It also had a detailed discussion of the Sandinista movement struggling to overthrow Anastasio Somoza. It would be several weeks before national broadcast media discovered these movements.
Early shows included long-form interviews with Senator Ralph Yarborough, a Texas progressive responsible for legislation like the National Defense Education Act, and former CIA officials like John Stockwell and Philip Agee, which both presented arguments for shuttering the CIA.
Other interviewees included:
Anti-war and anti-nuclear activists like Helen Caldicott, George Wald, Ramsey Clark, Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Klare, David Dellinger, and representatives of the European peace movement.
US New Left activists like David MacReynolds, Stokely Carmichael, Greg Calvert, and Dr. Benjamin Spock.
Feminists, gay activists, union activists, and representatives of local progressive groups appeared on the show; and officials from the Soviet Union, Nicaragua, Allende’s former government in Chile, the democratic front in El Salvador, and many other Third World countries and revolutionary movements.
In addition, Alternative Views broadcast many documentaries, both self-produced and produced by others, and it screened raw video footage of the bombing of Lebanon and aftermath of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila, of the assassinations of five communist labor organizers by the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, North Carolina, and of counterrevolutionary activity in Nicaragua.
Staff
“Alternative Views” was staffed exclusively by volunteers, many of whom have become influential filmmakers and television producers. It was founded by Douglas Kellner and Frank Morrow at the University of Texas at Austin. (Kellner is now a chair at UCLA.)

Other producers and hosts, many of whom were drawn Kellner’s philosophy courses, included Ali Hossaini, Tommy Pallotta, Noah Khoshbin, Richard Linklater, Steven Best, James Scott and Danny Postel.
Video links
The Internet Archive ( http://www.archive.org/details/alternative_views ) hosts a growing collection of Alternative Views videos. By June, 2008, over 200 programs were available to view or download.

The Case of the Campus Crusader

by:  Victoria Loe

Source:  Texas Monthly, May 1982

https://archive.org/stream/TexasMonthlyMay1982-TomPhilpott-TheCaseOfTheCampusCrusader#page/n5/mode/2up

https://archive.org/stream/TexasMonthlyMay1982-TomPhilpott-TheCaseOfTheCampusCrusader/TexasMonthlyMay1982-TomPhilpott-TheCaseOfTheCampusCrusader_djvu.txt

Tom Philpott was just your average radical professor.  Until he got shot.

1^ om Philpott’s apartment looks like the apartment of any
” sixties-spawned leftist graduate student: the living
room has wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, El Sal-
vador and Bobby Kennedy posters, a frayed and fading
. flora!, print sofa, two large stacks of records leaning
against one wall (Frank Sinatra and Carlos Santana outward most),
a filing cabinet doubling as an end table. The dining room holds a
metal and fake-wood-veneer dinette set. The bedroom is stark,
dominated by a venerable four-poster on one wall. But (bete, just
above the headboard at about waist height, is the one anomalous
touch: a neat round bole in the white plasterboard. On the adjacent
wall, slightly higher, is another hole, made, like the first, by a
.38-caliber bullet.

At first glance, Philpott himself might pass for a graduate student,
rather than the associate professor of history that he is. Up close,
though, he looks every bit of his forty years. A liberal sprinkling
of gray peppers his sandy hair, a gentle paunch mars the compact-
ness of his five-nine frame, and a wariness tightens the skin around
his wide, ingenuous eyes. But perhaps the most striking thing about
him is a gesture: from time to time, unconsciously, it seems.,
Philpott kneads fretfully on his upper left arm and rotates it gingerly

For years Tom Philpott was known as UT’s resident radical fire-
brand. Now he’s known as the prof who got— or had himself— shot

 

 

1« TEXAS MONTHLY/MAY 1982

 

Illustrated by Melissa Grimes

 

 

Slides and alt, Philpott’s emotional lectures on America ore the greatest show on campus,

 

to flex his shoulder. Across the back of that
shoulder runs a livid three- or four-inch
scar, made by the same slug that now rests
in the wall above his bed. The wound and
the bullet hole dale from last October 27,
when, Philpott says T two intruders broke
into the Austin apartment and shot him with
the Sterling Arms .38-caJiber automatic
pistol they took from a shelf beside the bed,

Popular young college professors, even
notoriously outspoken ones like Tom Phil-
pott, aren’t expected to get shot; the attack
created a storm on the University of Texas
campus. Philpott told the campus news-
paper, the Daily Texan, that the shooting had
come as no surprise to him. In fact, he bad
been expecting something of the sort for
some time. He said he had made mortal
enemies by investigating pederasty and
organized child prostitution, and he inter-
preted the attack as an attempt to discredit
his work by Creating the impression thai he
had committed suicide. However, die Austin
police let it be known that they found his
story farfetched. Within days* the case of
State Representative Mike Martin -accused
of having had himself shot as a publicity
gimmick— was being invoked as a parallel.
The police stopped investigating altogether
when Philpott, like Martin , refused to lake a
polygraph test. He said the results would not
be valid because he is a diagnosed manic-
depressive, and manic-depressives do not
test reliably, but that didn’t mollify the
police.

If the shooting made Philpott a genuine
celebrity, his face and name were hardly
unknown, at UT or in Austin before October
27. As one of the most vocal left-leaning
scholars at one of the nations leading
universities. Philpott has been visible in
almost every city- and campus- wide con-
troversy of the past thirteen years, from in-
tegration of the public schools to curbs on
Austin’s growth,, from city, state, and na-
tional politics to the selection of university
presidents and regents, and from the tenur-

 

ing of controversial professors to U.S.
foreign policy in Viet Nam. Iran, and El
Salvador. His intense, highly opinionated
lectures on the inequities of American socie
ty have drawn huge classes, a devoted band
of followers, and more than a little criticism
from faculty and students. (In March Phil-
pott was named among both the twenty
best and the twenty’ worst professors in a stu-
dent poll conducted by the UT campu.s
magazine.)

Every university has its Tom Philpott;
there’s always at least one professor who
turns up at the center of every controversy,
who seems lo make his living as the ad-
ministration’s quasi-official gadfly and whip-
ping boy. Each attracts his own litde band.s
of followers and critics. Philpott is of a type:
the radical professor. He is something quite
different from the professor who happens to
privately hold radical political views, He is
radical first, professor second. Tom Phil
pott’s fondest dream is to be remembered
among the great American social crusaders.
to join a pantheon thai includes Jane Ad-
dams, Clarence Darrow. Jacob Riis, Fred-
erick Douglass, Robert Kennedy, and Mar-
tin Luther King, Many people at UT scoff ai
the very idea; that, too, is the usual lot of the
radical professor. In only one way does
Philpott depart from the common folkways
of radical professordom. He got shot.

Mhilpotts apartment houses curi-
osities other than bullet holes
)nc sits in a frame on the book-
a yellowing certificate of rea-
lization issued by the U.S. gov-
ernment in 1913 to one Thomas Francis Lcc.
then aged 25 and listed as a subject of Great
Britain. In point of fact, Lcc, the maternal
grandfather and namesake of Thomas Lee
Philpott, was an Irishman. At fifteen, he had
run away from an overbearing stepfather to
follow his older brother and sister to Chi-
cago. Thomas Lee’s people were of the mer-
chant class, but Tom Phil pott’s maternal

 

 

Philptttfx office if a shrine n> rebels and martyrs.

 

164 TEXAS MONTHLY/MAY 1962

 

 

 

“Every university
has its Tom Philpott;
there 9 8 always at
least one professor
who turns up at the
center of every con*
troversy 9 who seems
to make his living as
the administration ‘s
quasi-official gadfly
and whipping hoy* “

grandmother and his, father were descended
From shanty Irish, peasants who had fled the
Potato Famine of the 1840s. Phil potts
father, an accounting clerk, died in 1943,
just one year after Tom, the second of his
i w« sons, was born. His widow got a job as
executive secretary to [he president of the
Rock Island Railroad and moved herself and
her two boys into her parents 1 modest apart-
ment on Chicago’s South Side, next to the Il-
linois Central tracks. Tom slept on a day bed
in the dining room.

Tom was essentially raised by his grand-
parents in that respectable lowcr-middlc-
ctass neighborhood, near both the opulent
Gold Coast along Lake Michigan and the
tenements of Steeltown. As a smaller-than-
average child he learned to take his knocks.
He was, he says, always getting into fights
-and always losing. Tom recalls his grand-
father fondly as a complex, inarticulate man
whose conscience was frequently at war
with his emotions. Thomas Lee disliked
blacks, for example, but he regarded that
dislike as a sin, and acting on it as an even
greater sin. Tom remembers his grand-
mother simply as “the nicest human being
I’ve ever known.” The old couple raised the
boy with an easy hand and he adored them
in return, although he envied his friends for
having both a mother and a father. It was his
grandpa who first impressed upon him the
importance of learning. “Get your educa-
tion. Thomas,” the old man told him, “it’s
the one thing they can’t take away from
you.”

“At the lime I didn\ know who 1hcy’
were,” Philpott says, “but of course ‘they’
were the British, Grandpa thought just like
an Irishman,”

 

_H_tiona

 

both real and fictional: Chief Joseph , R. P. McMurphy. Cool Hand Luke, Bobby Kennedy,

 

lash- forward; It’s a wintry after-
noon in early 1982. Philpott is
giving a lecture on Ireland as part
of the UT student union’s Interna-
tional Cultures Week. “I was born in
| the U.S., but I’m an Irishman,” he tells the
25 or so listeners drawn up in a circle on
(Continued on page 212)

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Source:  Texas Monthly, May 1982 at https://archive.org/stream/TexasMonthlyMay1982-TomPhilpott-TheCaseOfTheCampusCrusader/TexasMonthlyMay1982-TomPhilpott-TheCaseOfTheCampusCrusader_djvu.txt

 

 

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The Case of the
Campus Crusader

(Continued from page 165)
sofas and chairs. The Irish have a history
terrible among the peoples of the world.” he
says solemnly. “Irish symbols reek of loss.
And yet the Irish carry a great burden of
guilt, because in fighting British desecra-
tions they have committed atrocities of their
own. Only an Irishman could have said, “It
is not those who can inflict the most but
those that can suffer the most who will
conquer.’

“The Irish boast of little in their culture,
but they do have one telling conceit: their
capacity for love. Irish blood gives the
warmth that keeps the human race from
freezing over. Only an Irishman could also
have said: “The strength of a man is in his
sympathies/ That statement is as alien as is
conceivable to American culture. Americans
think the Irish and Irish Americans are bar-
baric -not because of their violence but
because of their feeling.”

I ike the South Side, Tom’s Catholic
elementary school brought together
rich and poor. {“I was in grammar
J school,” he recalls, “when it
_m suddenly hit me that some kids
lived in houses.”) Also like his neighbor-
hood, his classes were lily-white. The only
time he entered the city’s Black Belt was
when he traversed it on the way to Comiskey
Park to see the White Sox play.

But when he reached high school age,
Tom began to commute to the same parish
school his father had attended. It lay five
miles from home on the opposite side of the
Black Belt, ko now he rode a bus through the
ghetto twice each day. It was the late fifties
and the nation was just beginning to feel the
reverberations of Brown v. Board of Educa-
tion and the first civil rights demonstrations.
In 1955 a black Chicago youth named Em-
mett Till went to visit relatives in Missis-
sippi. He was found drowned in chains after
he supposedly whistled at a white woman.
Ai about the same time, Tom Philpoct
bought and read a book called Stride Toward
Freedom, by Martin Luther King, Jr. –
though at first he worried that the author,
being named after Martin Luther, might be
an evil man.

Tom had seen blacks ejected from his
church and from Rainbow Beach on Lake
Michigan, where he swam, and it disturbed
him. When a parish priest exhorted students
at a football pep rally to “kill the monkeys”
from the black school across town, Phil pott
threw a penny at his feet and was made to
stay after school every day through the end
of the year. Undeterred, he joined sympathy
demonstrations against national merchants
whose lunch counters Southern blacks were
struggling to integrate and took part in a
wade-in to integrate the beach. (“God-
dammit, Thomas,” his grandfather later
complained after a trip to the beach, “it’s a
fright. It’s like going to Africa.’*)
While Tom was in high school his mother

 

remarried and moved to Evanston, But he
stayed behind with his grandparents in order
not lo lose his friends, his job at the local
newsstand, and most of all, his new girl-
friend. Her name was Anne, and she was
beautiful, Irish, Catholic, and confined to a
wheelchair. Neither of them seriously dated
anyone else. “There was a certain charm to
believing in the sanctity of marriage and
virginity,” Philpon says. “I went all the way
through college on sublimated sex drive.”

Spring semester. 1982: Students file
into UFs Burdine Auditorium for
History 3I5L, “America Since
1865,” special section for foreign
students. Standing alone on the
broad stage of the 540-seai hall, flanked by
two enormous movie screens, Philpon looks
smaller than ever, peculiarly vulnerable.
The term has just begun and he’s giving the
class, composed of 120 or so foreign
students and roughly the same number of
Americans, an overview lecture listed on the
syllabus under the heading “The Promised
Land -The American Creed.”

But first things first. “I’m not big on
dates,” Phil pott assures the class, “I’m not
going to make you memorize a lot of
numbers. But there is one date I think you
should know.” Two hundred forty notebooks
rustle expectantly. “January 21, 1942.” Two
hundred forty pens go into action. “Exactly
forty years ago today is when I date the
beginning of modern history. . . . Thai’s the
dav I was born.” Pens stop irt mid-sentence;
the class laughs.

Then the lights dim. A photo of the Statue
of Liberty appears on the right-hand screen.
“The fundamental question of American
history.” Philpon begins, “is whether or not
this nation has lived up to its rhetorical
creed, to the concept it was founded on: that
America’s unique abundance would create a
society of unlimited opportunity, a society
with no barriers to class mobility and no
poverty.” (If any of the students doubt the
accuracy or that highly debatable formula-
tion, they keep quiet.)

The Statue of Liberty vanishes, a Pluck
and Luck comic book giving the success
story of a fictional office boy takes her
place. On the opposite screen a gaggle of
grimy child miners stare hollowly into the
camera. More slides: on the right a
nineteenth-century illustration of the ladder
of success; on the left a nineteenth -century
photo of children working in a textile mill.
“In 1932 Franklin Roosevelt said the aim of
government should be to take care of the
forgotten man at the bottom of the economic
pyramid. In this class we’re going to take a
look at those forgotten men.”

Still more slides: William Vander hilt’s
block- long New York mansion; a design for
“model” tenements so cramped that almost
eight hundred families could be squeezed
into a single block, “Poverty. Disease. Vice.
Violence,” Philpon spits the words out like
insults. “Crime. Disorder. Wretchedness.
These things weren’t supposed to happen in
America.” A measured silence. “I’m an

 

212 TEXAS MONTHLY^MAV MM

 

American, I still believe in the dream. 1 just
dont think it’s been applied very successful-
ly. I urge you 10 take the risk of being
critical. I won 1 ! teach any other way. I’d
rather go back to driving a bus or sell ling
newspapers as 1 did when I was a young
street kid rising to fame and for-
tune . . , such as I enjoy here before you
today.”

I om Philpott arrived at Chicago’s
‘Loyola University in 1959 plan-
ning: IO study English literature and
le ft it four years later with a degree
in history and a commitment to
teaching, In the interim he continued to, as
he says, “do a little moving and shaking” in
the realm of protest politics. He led a drive

 

 

to protect the job of a professor who had
angered the school’s Catholic hierarchy by
documenting the German church’s ac-
quiescence to the Nazis; he helped organize
a boycott of a segregated swimming pool
near the campus. The boycott fizzled, Phil-
pott recalls wryly, when one of his friends in
the Loyola administration pointed out
“where the greater good lay”- that is. thai
the owners of the building that housed ihe
segregated pool were important benefactors
of the university.

The budding radical also joined the
ROTC, however. He planned to marry
Anne, and he thought that a man with a
handicapped wife had belter go into the
Army as an officer if he was obliged to go
at all. Their wedding took place in 1963, as

 

 

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soon as both had graduated. They moved
into one of Chicago’s few integrated apart-
ment buildings, where they were neighbors
to the radical comedian Dick Gregory . Tom
enrolled in a doctoral program at the Univer-
sity of Chicago, supplementing his fellow-
ship by driving buses and working at the
newsstand and the university gym, Mean-
while. Anne cared for the two sons and one
daughter she bore within ihe marriage’s first
four years,

Philpott thrived on the political ferment of
the sixties. By mid-decade the focus of the
civil rights movement had shifted north-
ward, and Dr. King had chosen Chicago as
the crucible of the fair housing right. When
King arrived! in 1966 to stage fair housing
marches, Philpott marched. When blacks
and whites organized a rent strike in an
apartment complex. Philpott traipsed up and
down stairs and hallways distributing lit-
erature, proud to demonstrate thai a grad-
uate student could be content to do the leg-
work and leave the planning to the common
people. He also worked with Saul Alinsky in
(he Woodlawn Organization lo draft a model
cities program to counter one written by
Mayor Richard Daley’s staff. (Daley’s plan
wound up being challenged in court, so Hiz-
zoncr got President Lyndon Johnson to have
the guidelines governing such programs
changed.)

Philpott’s mentor at the University of
Chicago, Richard Wade, indoctrinated him
into Democratic party politics — so deeply
that in 1963 he helped organize the Indiana
towns of Gary and Whiting for Robert Ken-
nedy’s presidential campaign. The day after
Kennedy died, Philpott went to meet Wade
at the candidate’s Chicago headquarters.
“Richard was the merriest person I’ve ever
known,™ Philpott says, “but when I got there
he was crying. He took my hand and patted
it and then he kissed it. I said. This is it, I
quit.’ Then he grinned. ‘You cant, Tom,’ he
said. “No one is allowed to quit until he turns
thirty.” ” Philpott falls silent, then he says
softly, “1 had written Bobby in 1967, saying,
YouVc got to run, no matter what it does to
you.’ “

/* /* A merica Since 1865″ revisited:
l§V)^ Philpott begins class by pointing
,out an article in the Daily Texan
about ihe Reagan administra-
tion’s decision to send emer-
gency military aid to El Salvador despite
congressional concern over the Salvadoran
junta’s civil rights record, “If you’re going to
defend that,” he snaps at the class, “I. as a
professor and as a citizen of this country and
the world, challenge you to at least know-
how it is being do™– , , , Hmmm I dont
have the slightest idea what’s going on
behind those masks (hat are your faces.”

With a shrug, he picks up the historical
thread of the previous lecture. “The Puritans
were very radical in some ways,” he says.
“They believed that each individual bore re-
sponsibility for the whole community. If
society was corrupt, and filthy, and vicious,
the individual had a responsibility to set him-

 

 

2H TEXAS MONrHLV/MAY 1982

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self in opposition to it.”

It’s time for the slides- Lincoln on ihc
left. Manin Luther King on the right. Under
their stem gaze Philpott draws a large circle
on the chalkboard. The circle, he says, is the
limit of popular opinion within which every
politician must stay. Outside Lies the ter-
ritory of another sort of leader, who seeks to
expand the limits of that public tolerance.
“Those men arc called reformers after
they’re dead,” he says. “While they’re alive
they’re called agitators, subversives, ter-
rorists. Reformers can afford to be bold – up
to a point. Both of these men” -he gestures
at Che screens— “were assassinated-*

Shifting gears, he reviews the presidential
careers of Franklin Roosevelt, John Ken-
nedy, and Lyndon Johnson, complete with
slides, winding up with a photo of a tearful
Bobby Kennedy standing beside his brother’s
coffin. ”Robert Kennedy was; the most loved
and hated man in America.” Philpott tells the
class. “He voiced the unspoken needs of
those who had no advocates- blacks, other
minorities, the poor. And he was winning,
he was pushing out the limits of American
opinion. The most intense political activity
in American history was trying to get him
elected president. But in 1968 he was shot
down. He was cut out of America’s life, and
since (hen no one has even tried to fill his
place.” (Any number of politicians might
quibble with that one. but they’re not present
to object.)

“War. Inequality. Poverty. Injustice.
Those arc hot subjects. They’re avoided by
the politicians, the press, the preachers,
because they’re dangerous. Do professors
raise them?” The class laughs nervously , “Is
it prudent for a professor lo go into a
classroom and talk about inequality and in-
justice? It is not prudent. “

I”n 1969, having finished all of his
course work but not his dissertation,
Philpott accepted UT*s offer of an in-
structorship. Anne, at least, was not
. impressed with their adopted state.
“The drive was awful.” she remembers. “It
was August, we had no air conditioning, and
everything from Oklahoma on looked com-
pletely barren. I hated Austin for about a
year.” They could find no racially mixed
neighborhood like the one they had left, so
they chose the next-best thing: an all-white
area of modest houses in Northeast Austin
that looked like a good bet lo become mixed
as East Austin’s black population grew.

With his family settled if not content.
Philpott embarked on his nerve-racking first
semester by throwing up in the men’s room
before each class, In 1970 he began team-
teaching a course called “The American Ex-
perience.” It quickly became one of the most
lalked-about and sought-after classes on
campus, particularly among freshmen and
sophomores hungry to fulfill subject re-
quirements, for whom its three hours of
history, three hours of government, and
three hours Off English credits were an un-
equalcd bonanza. At its peak, the course
drew more than 800 students per semester;

 

21 fl TEXAS MONTHLY /MAY 1982

 

1

 

by the time Philpott quit teaching it in 1981.
■over 12,000 young minds had been exposed
to his multimedia vision of American
history. The Philpott legend took hold and
flourished, one of its cornerstones being that
he always cried in class at least once a
semester. (Philpott admits that he may occa-
sionally get misty-eyed over the plight of the
poor and oppressed, but it exasperates him
that every reporter seizes on this one detail
as the most salient fact of his career.)

Wading through the voluminous sheaves
of evaluations filled out by students who
took “The American Experience.’ The
American City,” or “America Since 1&65.”
one discerns a running thread of disaffec-
tion: “biased,”‘ “poorly organized,.” “repeti-
tive,” “too subjective,” “too emotional,”
“likely to cause a riot someday,” and even
the grudging “You may be a bleeding heart,
but you play the part well.” But most of ihc
comments read like cover blurbs from a
smash best seller: “a great course.” “the
highlight of my college career.” “one of the
most meaningful things I’ve ever done,” “un-
forgettable,” 1 “a good teacher and a good
man,” “a beautiful man.” “Philpott, people
like you are all the hope this country has
got.”

With his career at UT established. Philpott
dabbled assiduously in local politics. He
testified before the city council on school de-
segregation; he worked on the Austin
Tomorrow Goals Assembly, which wrote
the city’s master plan. He helped found a
group called the Northeast Austin Demo-
crats and thrice was a delegate to the state
Democratic convention, Anne and Tom
organized a precinct for George McGovetn
in 1972 and campaigned for liberal state rep-
resentative Gonzalo Barricnlos in 1972 and
1974 . A 1974 letter to the Daily Texan from
Philpott and Texas Observer publisher Ron-
nie Dugger is a classically Philpott tan piece
of political rhetoric: “Gonzalo is un hombre
de sentimientos. a man of feelings. He
deserves to win . . .”

Philpott also kept busy in his own neigh-
borhood, which, as he had foreseen, over
the years became first racially mixed and
then almost exclusively blaek. When the
Philpotts welcomed rather than resisted the
change, white neighbors stoned and egged
their house and car and harassed their three
children. Even after the racial balance
shifted, the tension took years to abate; it
came to a head when a bicycle stolen from
one of the Philpott children turned up at the
home of a black family; Philpott got his jaw
broken and was threatened with a gun when
he went to retrieve the bike,

One Upshot of all this activity was that
Philpott never quite got around to com-
pleting the dissertation that stood between
him and his doctorate. In 1972 UT gave him
notice that he would have to leave in a year.
With that incentive he finished the project,
(It was published in 1978 by the Oxford Uni-
versity Press as The Slum and the Ghetto:
Neighborhood Deterioration and Middle-
Class Reform, Chicago I8S0-I930, and it
drew favorable notices from such eminences

 

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as Harvard education professor Nathan
Glazer, who called it “a fine and sobering
book.”) UT rescinded its edict and in 1974
welcomed Philpoti to the fold for good by
granting him tenure and promoting him to
associate professor.

It was a move the administration soon
had reason to rue. Phi I pott’s running
confrontation with the university began
in 1975 when acting president Lorene
. Rogers invited Kennedy-Johnson
brain truster McGeorge Bundy. one ar-
chitect of the Viet Nam War, to speak at
UT’s graduation ceremonies, A few students
heckled Bundy; they were ejected from the
proceedings by campus police; Philpott and
one other professor walked out in protest.
That summer when Rogers formulated the
next year’s salaries, Philpott found that he
had gotten a $900 raise rather than the $2000
his department had recommended. After
several weeks of accusations and eounterac-
cusalions, Philpott and six other politically
active professors whose recommended
raises had been cut— including the man who
had left commencement with Philpott— filed
suit against the university for “pursuing a
course of conduct designed … to curtail
free expression at the University of Texas at
Austin.”

The suit took four and a half years to come
to trial, but in March 1980 federal district
judge Jack Roberts ruled against all the pro-
fessors. (Three appealed; the Fifth Circuit
Court overturned Roberts’s ruling in favor of

 

one.) In Philpott s case, Rogers said she
hadn’t even known that any teachers walked
out of commencement. She said she had
overruled the departments salary recom-
mendation because Philpott s career was
shaky, he had been granted tenure only one
year after receiving his Ph.D., and he had
not at that time published a book. Bui in a
handwritten memo to his American Civil
Liberties Union lawyer, Philpott outlined a
darker scenario:

Commencement is the single big-
gest annual promo-propaganda-porno
show for the parents & alumni -the
Deans all arc running around that
week , . . hoping that everything
goes off with the proper pomposity.
And wc . . . walked out on bundy
(for Christ’s sake -and Lorene picked
him herself, without asking anybody.
& later. Cod help us, she said she

D1DNT F — IN’ EVEN KNOW HE WAS DR.

strangelove. altho she did say she
had heard there had been this distur-
bance in Viet Nam} . . . The 2 of us
spoiled it all for her & it was so god-
dam sweet . . . shee-IT.
Of course, by the time that was written,
Rogers herself had become the hottest
political issue on campus. Right on the heels
of the salary controversy, the UT regents
named Rogers president, even though a
student -faculty advisory committee had re-
peatedly refused to endorse her. On Friday,
September 12, 1975, the largest crowd of
students to gather since the glory days of the

 

antiwar movement listened to speakers de-
nounce the appointment. The first and,
according to the Daily Texan, most warmly
received orator was Tom Philpott, “It is our
responsibility to teach the deans and chair-
men by our example,” he told the crowd. A
leiter to regent Tom Law written the next
Monday is vintage Philpott, full of emotion
and high rhetoric:
Dear Tom

Everything is chaotic, and I haven’t
had any sleep in two days. This is
Monday morning; I’m to debate
[regent and former governor] Allan
Shivers tonight . . . It’s important for
you to understand how negative the
atmosphere has been on this campus
for years, how beaten, how defeated
the faculty has felt, how cynical most
people were about . . . the judgement
and the honor of the Regents, . . .
What wc need here is a strong student
body, a strong faculty, strong Chair-
men and Deans, a strong President,
and a strong Board of Regents. And I
mean morally strong … I am angry
about this: I expressed these views for
years, and I was ridiculed and not
taken seriously and thought some-
thing of a chump, somebody who
would grow up eventually and learn
how it is. I never could accept that
and now that I have done something lo
help turn it around I never warn to see
it go back , . .
That night, Philpott alienated even some

 

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of his. own followers by clowning his way
through the debate with Shivers. The Texan
reported that at one point Philpott cried and
that at another Shivers stopped to rebuke
him for making faces. Perhaps exhaustion
was taking its toll; perhaps Philpott \ manic-
depressive illness -characterized by wild
swings between elation and despair— was
emerging. In any case, Lorcnc Rogers
stayed on as UT president. The protest and
the loosely organized boycott that accom-
panied it were doomed just as surely as Phil-
pott s suit against the university.

Even so, the battle had its comic elements:
lucked away in Philpott ‘s files is a charm-
ingly childlike student drawing. “ELECT
phiijpott for responsible, honest <& sensitive
University Gov’t,” it says above a smiling
likeness of the candidate. “Political an-
nouncement paid for by the UT committee
searching for a real presidem.” And at the
bottom: “Hang in there, blue eyes.”

Hang in he did, if just barely. His mar-
riage to Anne was beginning to unravel.
While he took on the University of Texas,
she delved more deeply into political work.
‘The marriage was very rough on her,” Tom
concedes. There she was, living with an un-
diagnosed manic-depressive who was going
through one hell of a beating after another on
campus. And something happened to me— I
wasn’t sure that I loved her anymore the way
I had.” They separated from Thanksgiving
of 1975 through the following June.

Governor Dolph Briscoe presented Philpott
with a new windmill to till at early in 1977,

 

when he appointed three of his political
cronies to the UT Board of Regents. Philpott
led a drive to block their confirmation by the
state Senate, circulating a petition to faculty
and students, lobbying at the Capitol, pro-
viding background on the appointees’
political peccadilloes to liberal senators,
submitting editorials and open letters to the
Daily Texan. But the Senate confirmed the
appointments before Philpott could gather a
quorum – 15 per cent of the faculty —to meet
and vote on a resolution against them.

Meanwhile, Philpott was falling apart. He
collapsed several times- in a photocopy
shop, at a McDonald’s, at the theater. Final-
ly he checked into a private hospital, where
doctors diagnosed him as manic-depressive
and prescribed tranquilizers and lithium. But
even as his medical condition improved, his
marriage broke up for good, Philpott found
himself living one of the cliches of aca-
demia; he fell in love with a student. Her
name was Louise Epstein, and she was the
twenty-year-old daughter of a UT anthro-
pology professor. She was also separated
from her first husband, whom she had mar-
ried at eighteen. Anne insisted Tom choose
either her and the children or Louise. Instead
he chose a potentially fatal dose of lithium,
but his son Paul and Louise got him to a
hospital in time to save him. In October
1978 Tom moved in with Louise. He and
Anne were divorced the following May; he
wed Louise that October. It was, Louise
says half bitterly, “the scandal of the
century.’*

 

“Anne was beautiful and she was in a
wheelchair,” Tom says. “I think people had
romanticized us as this fairy-talc couple.
After the divorce most of our friends never
invited me into their homes again.”

I”n 1979 the professor whom many stu-
dents had credited with changing their
lives had his life changed by a student.
John Kells was only nineteen, but al-
– ready he was an accomplished tele-
vision reporter. Kells and another reporter,
David Glodt, had just made Boys for Sale, a
one-hour documentary about runaways who
lived on Houston’s streets and survived by
selling themselves to pederasts. When Phil-
pott learned of the film he asked to see it. “I
was devastated,”‘ he says, The suffering of
these children goes beyond poverty, beyond
anything I’ve ever known,”

Philpott began spending weekends in
Houston, observing and interviewing boy
husders. He shelved two years’ worth of
research on the Molly Maguires, a radical
Irish American coal miners’ organization,
and began gathering material for a book
about street children. Kells got a job as a
newsman in Houston; he and some of his
colleagues drove the streets of Montrose in
their off hours, trying to help boys find
shelter, jobs, ways to gel out of “the life.”
Late in 1979, when the Daily Texan ran ar-
ticles about two incidents in which men had
been charged with sexually abasing boys,
Kells and Philpott contacted Gary Fendler,
an editor at the Texan, and Mark McKinnon,

 

 

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a reporter.

“It was all very clandestine, very secre-
tive,” McKinnon remembers. “At that point
nobody was supposed to know about Kells’s
film, but they arranged a private screening
for us. Then they started telling us about
how people investigating child prostitution
had been kncccappcd and had acid thrown in
their faces. It got pretty crazy. Philpott said
his kids had been followed.” Later. Philpott
told other friends other ominous tales: that
the prominent and wealthy men who profited
from organized boy prostitution had spied on
him and sent emissaries to provoke him into
violent confrontations; that his phone had
been bugged and his apartment repeatedly
broken into; that one day as he was riding
down the freeway a passenger in another car
pointed a rifle at him; that his colleagues in
the investigation had been shot at and had
hired bodyguards to protect themselves.

In the winter of 1980 Philpott’s elder son,
Paul, moved in with Tom and Louise. Hav-
ing him in the apartment compounded the
stress of their already hectic lives. Louise,
outwardly the calmest and most matter-of-
fact of women, was struggling through
graduate school; Tom was deeply immersed
in his research on boy hustlers; both of them
had to cope with the belief that his life was
in danger. Louise was fond of Paul, but the
three of them were living in very close
quarters and the situation wasn’t working.
Tom curtailed his work in Houston and an-
nounced that he would no longer teach the
mammoth “American Experience” course. It
wasn’t enough. In June 1981 Louise moved
out and filed for divorce.

“It was good for us to split up.” she says
now. “I had gotten BO caught up in the terror
that it had made me combative. I think the
only reason I was able to survive the divorce
was that I’d prepared myself for Tom’s
death.” Suddenly, unexpectedly, her eyes
fill with tears. Suddenly she doesn’t seem
nearly the rock one friend aptly described
her as, “Some nights, I used to lie in bed
shaking. But once you really face the pos-
sibility of death you just begin living day by
day. I’m not afraid anymore,”

On the evening of October 27
1 Louise quarreled with her new
I boyfriend. As he drove away.
“she went to the phone to call a
woman friend. Instead, she found
herself dialing Toms number. He told her he
had been ambushed and shot. She went to his
apartment and persuaded him to let her take
him to the hospital. The rest is history.
Before the year was out they were fully
reconciled. Around Christmas Paul went to
live with his mother again. Louise and Tom
remarried on March 17, 1982 -Saint Pat-
ricks Day,

Today Philpott concedes that his memory
of the attack is hazy. He says he was stand-
ing at the kitchen sink when he heard a noise
in the bedroom. He thinks there were two
men, he thinks they were white, he thinks
that during the struggle for the gun they tried
to put it to his head and make him shoot

 

himself. (He speculates that they chose that
course because he had made suicide plausi-
ble by having attempted it.) He says he had
made the second bullet hole in the far
bedroom wall several months earlier, testing
to make sure that in a shootout a stray bullet
would not penetrate his son’s room. Believ-
ing that his enemies had previously entered
his apartment at will, he docs not think it odd
that the police found no signs of forced entry
after the shooting. And his conviction that
the ringleaders of organized child prostitu-
tion ordered the attack was bolstered in
March when a professor from Northern Il-
linois University was shot to death while do-
ing research on boy hustlers.

For their part, the detectives on the case
say they arc bothered by several incon-
gruous pieces of evidence. Philpott says just
one shot was fired, but they found two shell
casings. And both of the bullet holes looked
fresh to them. They were not notified of the
shooting until Louise signaled to a patrol car
on the way to the hospital. They found no
fingerprints or other physical evidence to
give substance to Philpott’s story of in-
truders. But most of all. they’re miffed that
he wont take a lie detector test. Until he
does, they II continue to suspect that he shot
himself for publicity or sympathy, or that he
was wounded in a domestic quarrel.

As matters now stand, there’s little likeli-
hood that the case will be solved. The only
thing that is clear is that the victim and the
police dont much trust or care for each
other. But how much of their mutual suspi-

 

cion may have existed before the shooting is

anybody’s guess. We are dealing here, after
all, with a self-appointed crime fighter who
says a hideous problem has gone undetected
or been willfully ignored by the police — not
the type of guy your average cop on the beat
is likely to be fond of,

Philpott’s critics have treated his story of
would-be assassins with unconcealed dis-
dain. Even his friends regard it with pal-
pable anguish and confusion, and he knows
it. “Before October I didn’t have all kinds of
people looking at me sideways and whisper-
ing.” he says bitterly. But if the truth be
known, his admirers-and he still has
many— had wrestled with ambivalence even
before the shooting, fearing that Philpott is
a compulsive publicity seeker, a determined
martyr racked by Irish Catholic guilt and
still struggling, as one dryly put it, “to get
over the Potato Famine.” And Philpott
doesn’t make it easy for them to bury those
doubts. On the day after the shooting a
longtime friend decided to attend Philpott’s
lecture class; he walked in to find a photo of
Philpott himself projected on the screen.

“My roommate and I used to sit in his class
and doodle bleeding hearts in each other’s
notebooks,” recalls one former student,
“And yet . , .” And yet. The one thing
almost no one denies is Philpott’s ability to
teach. Yes, he is emotional, he is a dema-
gogue, he is easy to manipulate, concede
many students. And yet, they add, he held
my attention and he got me to think.

“He makes freshmen want to go on to be

 

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sophomores.” says Mark McKinnon simply.
Then he broods for a minute. “Tom was so
popular and in the center of things. And now
he’s on the fringes, like the catcher in [he
rye.”

And not only because of the shooting. The
early eighties have provided Philpott with a
full complement of less-than-popular causes.
In 1980 it was the arrest and prosecution of
two dozen Iranian students who had inter-
rupted an on-campus speech by a former
Iranian ambassador. Nineteen eighty -one
brought El Salvador, edgy confrontations
between American and Palestinian students,
and the suspension of a radical grad stu-
dent’s leaching duties- Nineteen eighty two
dawned with socialist government teacher
AJ Watkins being denied tenure. Philpott
presented the Faculty Senate and the Univer-
sity Council with eight separate resolutions
in behalf of the Iranian dissidents alone.
Two very general calls for administrative
restraint eventually passed after protracted
debates, which Philpott dominated, f Think
of that tradition called OU weekend.” he
chided slyly at one point, “when the ad-
ministrations of this university, the Univer-
sity of Oklahoma, and the city of Dallas
combine to permit what would otherwise be
defined as a mob to do what another night
would be called riot. This is dealt with with
discretion, mildness,”) Philpott also testified
at the Iranians’ trial; twelve were convicted
and all appealed.

Like any compulsively outspoken figure.
Philpott had always been jeered at in some
quarters. But championing Iranians (in the
midst of the hostage crisis, no less) and later
Palestinians was another matter altogether.
It made him, as he himself puts it, odious.

jhilpott from Five angles, scene
one: “Not Another Viet Nam,”
‘pleads one sign. “Murder Will
Out -So Should U.S. of El Salvador,”
warns another. Organizers at a table
hand out other signs to the ragged group of
perhaps 150 protesters gathered on UT’s
West Mall. At the fringes of the rally a
young man wearing a “U.S. Out of El Salva-
dor” T-shirt reads the Daily Texan, ignoring
the speakers and musicians who troop to the
microphone -a Vict Nam veteran, an Arlo
Guthrie-style folkie. a Latin combo, two
members of the A fro- American Players.
Philpott stands unnoticed near the center of
the crowd, not sure whether hell be called
on to speak- The rally’s organizers had ap-
proached him, but they admitted when he
asked that yes, it had occurred to them that
he might be a liability rather than an asset,
what with having been so visible for so long
and ail.

At ten to one the tower carillon goes wild,
drowning out the Afro-American Players’
chant. At one o’clock precisely, the driver of
the university sound truck pulls the plug on
the protesters’ microphone, and Philpott ad-
journs to the Cactus Cafe to kill time until a
three o’clock march on the Capitol. Midway
through his second gin and tonic he’s ac-
costed by a young couple at the next table.

 

 

They want him to explain the Viet Nam
War. Why did we lose? they demand eager-
ly . Why are so many of the vets screwed up?
What was the Tel offensive? As the hour
edges toward three he gently but not regret-
fully disengages himself from them, “That
same guy latched onto me yesterday,” he
confides with a slight shudder, “It happens
all the lime, but it’s a little scary when
they’re so intense.”

The marchers form two lines— perhaps fif-
ty Middle Eastern students and a dozen
Americans. Philpott attaches himself to the
end of the procession, awkwardly holding at
his side the sign he has been handed. “One,
two. three, four/’ chant the students, starting
down the Drag. “U,S, out of Salvador!” The
scene at the Capitol is more or less a replay
of the one on the mall, only with fewer peo-
ple around to ignore it.

Dusk is falling and Austin’s white-collar
work force is streaming out of downtown as
the marchers walk down Congress Avenue
to the river for a candlelight vigil. They
hunker down on a grassy slope and Philpott
addresses them through a bullhorn, strug-
gling to make himself heard over the steady
roar of traffic. ‘This, is a day.” he says, “for
commemorating the deaths of thirty thou-
sand brave people. People like us- we are a
revolutionary people, too. It is a crime that
[his tyranny continues. It is a crime that this
suffering continues. It is a crime that we of
ail people not only tolerate but support it.
This war will poison us who stand by and
watch it” When he finishes the protesters
move to the bridge, where they huddle in
little knots, trying cheerfully but vainly to
shelter their glittering candles from the
wind.

Scene two: History 350L, “Children
and the City Streets.” It’s the first
day of class, and about thirty peo-
ple are crowded into a seminar
room meant for fifteen. “Three
hundred people tried to sign up for this
class,” Philpott tells them. He asks some
students to give up their places in the class
to bring it down to manageable size. “Four
hundred people tried to sign up for this
class,” he reminds them. {Oh, well, what “s a
little exaggeration among friends?) At last
four or five leave, Philpott asks each re-
maining student to give a brief auto-
biography and tell why he’s interested in the
course. “I’m in love with you,” offers one
middle-aged woman.

“1 really don’t know how to leach this
course.,”‘ Philpott confesses to them, “The
literature on hustling is very weak, I think
partly because blindness to the problem is
conditioned in this society. If you go over to
the Graduate School of Business you’ll get
the impression that American society is
perfect -and getting better. They have no
conception of what happens as darkness
begins to fall in any American city.” He
stares moodily into the dusk outside the
classroom window, perhaps contemplating
the pain, and the isolation, chat awareness
brings. ‘To a person in the academic com-

 

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munily,” he says al length, “one of the most
intimidating things is the fear of being
thought naive or prudish. All anyone wants
to know is “What’s wrong with these
reformers, anyway?’ If you’re well i men-
tioned, if you try, you get nailed to the
cross. “

Scene three: office hours. Like his
apartment, Philpott’s tiny office in
the history department’s not-so-
gracefully aging Garrison Hall is a
marvelous hodgepodge: a Chicago
White Sot pennant; Barricntos and fair
housing campaign stickers; three photos of
Martin Luther King; six photos of Bobby
Kennedy, one taken immediately after he
was gunned down; pictures of immigrant-
laden ships; portrails of the Kcni State Four;
two of the seven leaching awards he has won
over the years; movie posters for Cool Hand
Luke, Bound for Glory, Serpico: a sublimely
shabby brown armchair; yellowing slacks of
student exams; the armless statue of a black
groom, “emancipated,” Philpott says* from a
fraternity house at Centenary College in
Shreveport.

Philpott holds office hours from one to
five. Today, the first three and a half hours
arc monopolized by students either com-
plaining about last semesters grades or try-
ing to talk their way into his already
overflowing courses for the new term. “I’m
just looking for a way to make this semester
worthwhile,” one dewy-eyed freshman
pleads.

“My friends told me he makes history just
like a soap opera.” she confides as Philpott
turns his attention to a heavily made-up
woman who has barged in to demand a grade
change. “You need to raise my grade.” the
newcomer tells him impatiently. Tve got to
have a two-poini-two-five average or I can’t
get into my marketing classes.™

Next, he spends half an hour with a male
student, passionately discussing the merits
of his “America Since I&65” essay final.
(The question: was the Viet Nam War a just
or unjust war?) “I don’t care about the
grade,” the student insists. *I just wanted
you to read the paper.” Philpott changes his
grade to an A anyway, even though the
teaching assistant had awarded only a 78 on
the final and an 84 on the midterm As
Philpott is filling out the grade-change form,
another man sticks his head in the door.
Philpott greets him warmly and asks if he’s
still working for the Peace Corps in Wash-
ington, They reminisce and. after a few minutes’ calculation, established that the visi-
tor took Philpotfs “American Experience”
course in 1972.

Al about four-thirty, Philpott is alone. A
young man slips in and perches on the edge
of a chair. After some hailing small talk, it
emerges that the student is there because he’s
heard of Phtlpotts course on runaway
children. “I was a male hustler in New
York.” he says softly. Philpott nods sym-
pathetically and spends the rest of his day
listening to the young man’s labored, heart-
rending confession.

 

Scene four: the regents’ boardroom.
University of Texas System of-
flees. It’s half past noon, the rc-
I gents have just adjourned. Laugh-
ing and talking, the well-fed, well-
dressed staff and administrators head off in
search of lunch. No one takes much note of
the small, confused band of students – and
one professor- huddled in a corner, dwarfed
by the cavernous room with its paneled and
brocaded walls, gold chandeliers, and velvet
draperies. Actually, the kids are lucky to be
there at all: they had come hoping to calk to
the regents about the fate of government
teacher Al Watkins, but the security guards
downstairs wouldn’t let them near the
meeting at all until they promised they
wouldn’t cause a disturbance. Now it’s clear
that the regents have slipped through their
fingers, and they’re at a bit of a loss. At last
they corral the two or three reporters still
present and hold an impromptu press con-
ference, lounging in the regents’ high-
backed chairs with all the relish of five-year-
olds trying on Mommy’s and Daddy’s
clothes. Each representative makes a polite
speech on behalf of his or her organization:
they applaud one another sweetly as three
bored UT cops munch on doughnuts. They
ask Philpolt to speak, loo— he’s here, after
all. al their request.

“I’m a colleague of Al Watkins’*.'” he says
gravely. “Tve taught with him, I’ve seen him
teach in the classroom, and I’ve watched him
teach in the wider sense, outside the
classroom. He has performed the greatest
service I think any professor at this universi-
ty ean perform; he has taken great risks in
public. I’m heartened to sec UT students
organizing to do something worthwhile.
And this is worthwhile,” he says, earnestly
addressing his handful of listeners and the
opulent, empty room.

Scene five: home again. These days
Tom Philpott doesnt much like to
talk about his shooting. And he
flatly refuses to discuss the stories
about threats against him. “All that
cops-and-robbers stuff is only a distraction.”
he insists. ‘”Death is nothing. I’ve never
feared death— only dishonor. And besides,”
he says, “having gotten shot is probably the
best insurance I could have.”

Which is fortunate. Because, he says, de-
spite the whispers that he suffers from a
martyr complex. “I want to live. More than
anything I want to try lo live normally, to be
a little bit merry.” To shield himself from
criticism, he reaches for the mantle of
history. “One enduring theme of American
life is the alien amidst the tribe. The tribe
transgresses, and in order to recall it to
itself, the reformer must become an out-
sider; he’s forced out by those he would
redeem.

“1 said I’d never leave this place until I
made one real improvement.” And has he?
He laughs. “It’s too hard to tell.” He pauses,
then grins. “Actually, I’d kind of like to be
buried in the stone of the West Mall, like
Jack Reed in the Kremlin. “%

 

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7 PROFESSORS SUE U. OF TEXAS HEAD

—SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES  OCT. 1, 1975

http://www.nytimes.com/1975/10/01/archives/7-professors-sue-u-of-texas-head-they-say-she-denied-raises-to.html

AUSTIN, Tex., Sept. 30—

Seven professors at the University of Texas filed suit yesterday against the new university president and Board of Regents, charging that their rights under the First Amendment had been violated.

The professors alleged that the university’s president, Lorene Rogers, had arbitrarily reduced salary increases recommended for each of the seven by their deans and department chairmen.

“We have, in the past, worked for constructive change in university policies and procedures and we believe we are being punished for that work,” said Philip White, a histbry professor who is a plaintiff.

The professors said they were part of an “enemies list” and that Mrs. Rogers’s reduction of their pay increase was “designed to stifle the legitimate activities [of faculty members] and to “curtail free expression at the University of Texas.”
“Rogers set out to do us in, she took the razor to the budget and slashed us in the back,” said an associate history professor, Thomas Philpott.

Click on the following link to read more about Professor Thomas Lee Philpott’s lasting legacy in the teaching profession (as studied as “the best and the worst teachers in history”) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1305888/

Cell Biol Educ. 2005 Winter; 4(4): 279–280.
doi:  10.1187/cbe.05-08-0112
PMCID: PMC1305888
A 15-Year Study of 63 Teachers at 24 Institutions Reveals: “What the Best College Teachers Do”
Review of: What the Best Teachers Do, by Ken Bain; Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA); ISBN: 0–6740–1325–5
Robin L Wright, Aaron Charlson, and Carrie F Olson

A PROFESSOR’S VIEW
In this brief but inspiring book, Ken Bain, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at New York University, reports results of a 15-year analysis of the scholarship and practices of “the best college teachers in the United States.” Although Bain has been interested in understanding the practices of best teachers for more than 40 years, this study was catalyzed by the suicide of Tom Philpott, a gifted teacher whose “library of teaching talents and practices burned to the ground when he died.” Bain’s motive was to capture and distill the collective wisdom and experience of exceptional college teachers so that their accumulated wisdom did not evaporate when they were lost to us.
The first chapter of the book provides an executive summary of the study and its conclusions. Bain defines the best teachers as those who have a “sustained, substantial, and positive influence on how [their] students think, act, and feel.” He briefly describes how he identified a cohort of 63 (mostly) unnamed college teachers who met these criteria, based largely on analysis of student evaluations for evidence of “deep learning.” The practices of teachers who made the “best teacher” list, as well as their students, were studied through interviews, statements of their teaching philosophy, observations, analysis of course materials and student work, and comments from colleagues.
In spite of an overall weakness in describing details of how teachers were selected and studied, the conclusions ring true: 1) The best college professors know their subjects extremely well and understand human learning. 2) They prepare to teach with the same rigor and dedication that they bring to their research endeavors. 3) They have high expectations of their students. 4) They create a “natural critical learning environment” in which students confront important problems in ways that force them to rethink assumptions and “examine their mental models of reality.” 5) They have deep respect for their students, including an assumption that their students are both able and eager to learn. 6) They assess their own teaching effectiveness and make changes to their approaches based on these data.
The remaining chapters of the book elaborate on these conclusions, using many examples from actual classrooms. These examples and anecdotes make the book a great pleasure to read and provide a great deal of its value. In fact, it is one of those books from which I have found new insights and inspiration on my second and third readings. For example, Chapter 2 summarizes our current understanding of human learning, including examples of creative ways in which the best college teachers apply this understanding to their classes. Bain explains the importance of motivating long-term learning through intrinsic rather than extrinsic rewards (usually grades). He then describes ways in which the best college teachers apply this motivating principle in their classes. Among other actions, they avoid assigning grades based on averages of performance throughout the course, provide many and varied opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery, and focus on the subject itself rather than logistical nuts and bolts on the first day of class. Reading this section reinforced my growing discomfort with my own reliance on summative assessment of student learning. Why shouldn’t a student who develops a sophisticated understanding of mitosis and meiosis by the end of the course receive the same grade on that subject as a student who gains that understanding earlier in the course? Based on this insight, I now count the final exam grade in lieu of exam averages if it provides students with a higher grade. (Of course, this practice brings up the myriad of problems associated with high-stakes exams and the eternal but unfounded optimism of students that they can always simply ace the next exam. I’m still grappling with these issues.)
The major inadequacy of the book is its minimal description of the teacher selection criteria and methods of analysis. Although more detail is provided in an appendix, the descriptions appear superficial, at least to my sensibilities. In addition, there appear to be no peer-reviewed articles generated by this study to which one could turn for detailed experimental information. In fact, few references of any kind are provided to the reader, and these are confined to a cumbersome “notes” section. The lack of experimental detail is a flaw of the book that creates a deep wound of missed opportunity. For example, on its own, providing a mechanism for using teaching evaluations for more than a popularity poll would have been of great value. Without these details, the collective wisdom of this clearly talented and insightful student of great teachers and great teaching runs the risk of being lost in much the same way as the teaching wisdom of Tom Philpott.
Still, in spite of these limitations, this book provided me with useful, practical insights about how I can improve my teaching, even if I never make the best college teacher list. More importantly, it continues to inspire me (now on my fourth reading!) that I can develop more effective ways to support my students’ learning, even within the constraints of the limited time I have available to devote to my teaching. This ongoing value has earned What the Best College Teachers Do a special place on my bookshelf.
Go to:
THE VIEWS OF TWO UNDERGRADUATES1
When we were invited to review What the Best College Teachers Do, we wondered, “How can we, as students, give any insight into what is involved in good teaching?” Surprisingly, we found that this book helped us not only to think more critically about excellent teaching but also to reflect on our own learning. We began to see that our impressions of previous instructors, both good and bad, reflected the criteria the book used to define good teaching. We almost felt inspired to begin writing letters to past teachers either thanking them for taking these factors into account when preparing to enter the classroom or pleading with them to read this book and think about how their own skills could improve by applying these qualities to their lesson plans.
One result of the study that particularly struck us was how Bain selected the best teachers and, consequently, how he defined the best teaching practices. It was a relief to find that the definition of good teaching doesn’t just involve how well a particular group of students, usually the upper crust, does on a test. Instead, good teaching involves bringing about inner changes in the student, such as helping students develop a new appreciation of the topic and a desire to pursue it further. It seems too often, at least from our student perspective, that the professor is simply going through the motions to cover the required material without even trying to inspire students to explore beyond the boundaries defined by the expected tests. Our best teachers have had the attitude, emphasized in this book, that it is not sufficient that a student remembers some facts or formulas but that the student learns how to use them. Our experience agrees with the book’s definition of what great teaching should encompass: the passion of the professor being passed on to the student.
This definition of good teaching (and learning) runs counter to the emphasis on memorizing facts that we encounter in many of our classes. From our own experience, we know that what we “learned” in such content-focused classes is quickly forgotten after the final examination, creating a “bulimic” learning cycle. The possibility that so much of our hard work in college can be so easily lost is deeply troubling. As described in the book, our best teachers have helped us avoid the learn–purge cycle by taking us beyond the facts and leading us into an understanding of the topic on a deeper, more intuitive level. As the book describes, they have helped us think deeply by asking questions that challenge our preconceived ideas about the subject and point out the flaws or holes in our current understanding. They have taught us in the context of complex or controversial problems. They have torn down everything we thought we knew and helped us replace it with more refined ideas of the world.
We found it very interesting that, as we read this book and thought about best teaching strategies and approaches in general, we also thought about our own learning in ways we hadn’t done before. For example, as we evaluated our own best and worst teachers using the principles defined in this book, we began to look for examples of teachers who had had a long-lasting impact on our thinking. Surprisingly, one of these teachers was initially on our “worst teacher” list. Thus, reading about teaching helped us to think more kindly about our professors as well as to examine our own learning in new ways.
The ability of this book to help us reflect on our own learning was particularly valuable. In fact, although we would recommend this book to our faculty who want to improve their teaching, we also would recommend the parts that describe human learning to students. For example, the idea of constructing knowledge rather than receiving it is a message that is important for students and teachers alike. Although teachers play a crucial role in helping their students understand the applications and implications of the information presented, the student must be a willing participant. After all, that’s where the learning actually takes place — in the student’s brain! Thus, knowing more about how learning happens could help students assess what type of learning strategy they are using and hone their skills to achieve greater learning, no matter what teaching situation they happen to be in.
Go to:
Footnotes

1Aaron T. Charlson and Carrie F. Olson are undergraduates at the University of Minnesota. Mr. Charlson is a junior double-majoring in Genetics and Microbiology; Ms. Olson is a junior double-majoring in Genetics and Ecology. Both have been engaged in undergraduate research for several years and share an interest in the undergraduate educational experience, as evidenced by their serving as peer mentors for incoming freshmen. Collectively, they have accumulated more than 8,000 hours in college classes and been taught by approximately 40 different professors. They would like to thank the teachers who have inspired and challenged them; these teachers taught them a great deal about the subject but, more importantly, helped them learn even more about themselves.

 

Articles from Cell Biology Education are provided here courtesy of American Society for Cell Biology

 

 

 

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