Speech “Governmental Intrusion into Private Higher Education”

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Speech “Governmental Intrusion into Private Higher Education”


In this speech, University of Richmond president Dr. E. Bruce Heilman addressed the National Association of Private College and University Presidents in Scottsdale, Arizona. Heilman discussed the “unwarranted intrusion of the federal bureaucracy into the affairs of private institutions of higher education.” He stated that he would discuss UR's experiences with government intrusion and how the University responded. Heilman referenced the 1979 letter that UR received from the Department of Education Regional Office of Civil Rights (OCR) “informing us of the intention of OCR to audit the University for compliance with a host of civil rights laws.”

Heilman explained how following the 1979 letter from the OCR, UR retained counsel, decided that Heilman would not be directly involved with the investigation and that Title IX Coordinator William Leftwich would do so, and adopted an approach that the University would be “polite and civil but will resist undue demands on our time and will refuse to provide certain kinds of confidential information.” Heilman explained that the University highlighted its independence as a private university and emphasizing that the federal investigators “were on our campus as our guests and that they were deterring us from accomplishing our primary missions of teaching and learning.” Heilman emphasized the University’s decision to force the OCR to visit over the summer instead of the academic year. He also emphasized that the University “steadfastly refused” the OCR’s attempts to collect data and successfully deterred the OCR from investigating.

Heilman then referenced the 1981 letter from the OCR that indicated that UR had received allegations “on the basis of sex in the University’s athletic programs.” The OCR articulated that it had ninety days to investigate these complaints and ninety additional days to demand corrective measures. Heilman expressed that he took the same approach to this investigation as in 1979 by granting the Vice President control over matters. Heilman expressed that UR took further measures by suing the OCR and the Office of Education. Heilman indicated that their strategy was to claim that the “federal government is harassing our institution, is requiring us to spend large sums of money which we do not have, and that they do not have the authority to investigate our intercollegiate athletic program by virtue of the fact that this program receives no federal funds.” Heilman expressed that the federal government responded with a countersuit and that the case was currently in federal district court — and that the outcome looked positive for the University. He concluded by asserting that UR is a law-abiding "corporate citizen" that needed to protect itself from the federal government, and urged other institutions to take a similar stand.


Heilman, E. Bruce. "Governmental Intrusion into Private Higher Education", 4 December 1981, RG 6.2.5 Box 25 Folder 7 "Governmental Intrusion Into Private Higher Education December 4, 1981", University Archives, Virginia Baptist Historical Society









Richmond (Va.)

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Heilman, E. Bruce (Earl Bruce), 1926-, “Speech “Governmental Intrusion into Private Higher Education”,” University of Richmond Race & Racism Project, accessed July 12, 2024, https://memory.richmond.edu/items/show/2253.