Office of the President (Carl W. Borgmann) Records
Scope and Content note
The collection is arranged by academic year and alphabetically within years, being mostly university business correspondence and memos. Among the interesting topics are folders on the U.S. House Un-American Activities policy and security speeches (1952-1953), the Negro Land-Grant Committee (1953-1954), and a WCAX proposal for the establishment of a television station, 1954.
Collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the University Archivist.
Carl W. Borgmann was born in Mt. Washington, Missouri, and lived in Colorado for much of his childhood. After a B.S. degree and M.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Colorado, he studied in Norway, Sweden, and England, and was awarded his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1934. He taught at the University of North Carolina and the University of Colorado, also serving as coordinator of research and director of the Colorado state experiment station before leaving in 1947 to become dean of facilities at the University of Nebraska. He came to UVM in 1952.
Borgmann's most lasting contribution to the university was his advocacy for a clarification of the question of the relationship between the university and the state: was UVM a state university, or was it primarily a private university with state support? As related in the historical notes for the Board of Trustees (RG1), the issue was important for a number of reasons, the most significant being that the state would provide more financial support if the university was clearly designated as a state university. The supporting bill passed in the Legislature, and the board of trustees added members selected from the Vermont Legislature to its composition, comprising a majority of the Board. The university charter revision that resulted from that bill united the three corporations of which the university was composed: the University of Vermont, the state agricultural college, and the combined corporation of the two entities created by the legislative act of 1865. In part, the bill read that the University of Vermont and the State Agriculture College, now combined into one entity, "shall be recognized and utilized as an instrumentality of the state for providing public higher education..." and that the general assembly of the the State of Vermont would provide funding for this corporation.
Other advances during Borgmann's tenure included the establishment of the Graduate College. By the end of the 1950s, there were more than fifty programs and departments offering master's degrees, and in 1958, the first Ph.D. program, in biochemistry. Borgmann also began the expansion of the campus that would gain momentum in the following presidency of John Fey. An important addition to the university cultural was the creation of the George Bishop Lane Artists Series in 1953, which still sponsors major performance artists at the university.
One dark episode during Borgmann's tenure was the McCarthy era firing of noted scientist Alexander Novikoff under allegations that he was a former member of the Communist party. Borgmann attempted to calm the situation by instituting a new university policy, that those faculty members who claimed to no longer be members of the Communist party would be "investigated by a faculty-trustee committee that would make recommendations as to his fitness to continue on the staff of the university." But Novikoff's refusal to testify before the U.S. Senate subcommittee convinced the UVM board of review to vote to fire him, with only one dissenting vote, that of Catholic Bishop Robert F. Joyce.
Borgmann resigned as president in 1958 to become director of the science and engineering division of the Ford Foundation. After eight years in that position, he returned to the University of Colorado to become interim dean of the graduate school.
Sources consulted in the preparation of this note and others in Record Group 2 include:
Daniels, Robert V. editor. The University of Vermont : The First Two Hundred Years Hanover, NH : University of Vermont : Distributed by University Press of New England, 1991.
Marshall, Jeffrey. Universitas Viridis Montis, 1791-1991: An Exhibition of documents and artifacts telling the story of the University of Vermont. Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont, 1991.
Smallwood, Frank. The University of Vermont Presidents: Two Centuries of Leadership. Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont, 1997.
18.055 Linear feet
Language of Materials
Borgmann served as president of the University of Vermont from 1952-1958. The collection is arranged by academic year and alphabetically within years, being mostly university business correspondence and memos. Among the interesting topics are folders on the U.S. House Un-American Activities policy and security speeches (1952-1953), the Negro Land-Grant Committee (1953-1954), and a WCAX proposal for the establishment of a television station, 1954.
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