1968: Columbia in Crisis

Causes > Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA)

Letter from Rudd and Freudenberg to Kirk (27/3/1968)

Letter from Mark Rudd and Nicholas Freudenberg to President Grayson Kirk, March 27, 1968.  The letter calls on Kirk to end all affiliations between Columbia and the IDA.

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In 1959, Columbia joined the five-year old Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), and University president Grayson Kirk became Columbia’s representative on the IDA board.  IDA served as a forum where leading research universities and government agencies that funded military research could discuss issues of mutual interest. Although IDA did not issue contracts for military research and development, participating members were given de facto priority. Columbia acknowledged its membership in IDA when questioned by SDS in the mid-1960s, but proved less forthcoming about the extent of defense-related secret research conducted at the University.  President Kirk refused to consider allowing the faculty to vote on the issue of withdrawal from the IDA when other universities, including Princeton and University of Chicago, were doing just that. In response to growing criticism of Columbia’s involvement in IDA Kirk created the Henkin Committee in January 1968 to investigate the University’s ties to the defense industry.

Response letter from Kirk to Rudd and Freudenberg

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April 2, 1968 letter from President Kirk written in response to the one he received from Mark Rudd and Nicholas Freudenberg.

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