The Hopkins Call

The first call for a meeting to discuss the founding of the AAUP was organized by Arthur O. Lovejoy at Johns Hopkins University in the spring of 1913. It was signed by “most of the full professors” at the institution and sent to the faculties of nine other universities. While several historical documents were published in the March, 1916, Bulletin of the American Association of University Professors, the Hopkins Call was not (although an excerpt was published in Science in 1913).

The following is a transcript that I made from one copy of the call. I found this copy in the microfilm version of the Roscoe Pound Papers. It was sent by Lovejoy to Pound, who was perhaps the most highly regarded legal scholar of his time, to ask him to represent Harvard at the organizational meeting.

The date listed in the letter below did not turn out not to be the date of the first organizational meeting. Instead, it was held to coincide with a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Baltimore in November 1913. The letter contains two blanks in which to insert who to reply to and by when. They were left blank in the version sent to Pound because that information was contained in a cover letter by Lovejoy who also included  similar letters from the faculties at Columbia and Cornell. The Call includes a list of names of those faculty at Hopkins who signed the letter (not included here).

The undersigned believing it to be desirable that a national Association of University Professors be formed, are inviting other members of the university teaching profession to join with them in this undertaking; and they request you to talk over the matter with your colleagues, either informally or at a meeting called for the purpose, and to secure the attendance of at least one representative of your university at a preliminary conference on the subject to be held in New York City on June 14, 1913.

The reasons which seem to demand the formation of such an association are fairly evident. The university teacher is professionally concerned with two distinct, though related, interests. Both of these interests can be furthered by cooperation and the interchange of views, and therefore by organization; for only one of them has suitable organization yet been attained. As scholar and investigator the teacher is interested in the advancement of learning and the diffusion of knowledge in his specialty; and cooperative effort for these ends is already effectively organized, through our numerous technical societies and the several sections of the American Association. But the university professor is also concerned, as a member of the legislative body of his local institution, with many questions of educational policy which are of more than local significance; he is a member of a professional body which is the special custodian of certain ideals, and the organ for the performance of certain functions essential to the well-being of society; and concerning the character, efficiency, public influence and good repute of this body he cannot be indifferent. It is on this side that there is a need for more definite and comprehensive organization.

The general purpose, therefore, of the contemplated association would be to promote a more general and methodological discussion of the educational problems of the university; to give means for the authoritative expression of the public opinion of the profession; and to make possible collective action when such action seems called for.

The scope and form of the proposed organization are to be discussed at the conference, and the undersigned do not attempt to determine them beforehand. Some examples of definite matters with which the association might concern itself are suggested:

1. The discussion, first in local groups, and subsequently at an annual national meeting, of questions of general university policy, especially in relation to graduate study; the desirability and practicability of more migration of graduate students; the dangers of the excessive multiplication of fellowships and scholarships, and the rules which ought to govern the granting of these aids; and methods of University government.

2. The eventual formulation of general principles respecting the tenure of the professorial office and the legitimate grounds for the dismissal of professors.

3. The gradual formation of a code of professional ethics.

4. The establishment of the representative judicial committee to investigate and report in cases in which freedom of teaching is alleged to have been interfered with by the administrative authorities of any university, or in which serious and unwarranted injury to the professional standing and opportunities of any professor is declared to have occurred.

Please inform Professor _________, not later than _________ , whether you are willing to participate in the formation of the Association and whether your university may be expected to be represented at the preliminary conference.

Very truly yours,


2 thoughts on “The Hopkins Call

  1. Pingback: James McKeen Cattell | Academe Blog

  2. I just want to thank you for this post. I have been conducting some research on James McKeen Cattell and his work on University Control, which lead me to the Hopkins Call. Thank you very much for sharing openly! –Ken Udas

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