The Parent’s Reactions to President Miller
President George Tyler Miller had served as head of Madison College for twenty years when the Student Government Association (SGA) began discussing the abolishment of the Parental Approval Cards. Seen as the “Builder President,” Miller saw abundant growth on campus. The college now enrolled 4, 300 students, 3,300 more than when Miller was appointed, and now male students were in the mix. In addition to enrollment 21 new buildings were constructed on the campus of Madison College. Student dialogue from the SGA meeting in October suggests that President Miller and the student body did not always agree, and that the students had attempted to initiate policy change before. Still the SGA did not send letters home without the approval of the President of Madison College, a move which acknowledged that they still respected his authority.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday in the autumn of 1969 the SGA questionnaire regarding the abolition of the Parental Approval Cards were sent to the parents and guardians of all Madison College students. Unfortunately, for President George T. Miller, the response was rapid and negative. Many outraged parents, mainly fathers, wrote strongly worded letters to President Miller and the faculty at Madison College. Elroy B. Basham, father of Bonnie Basham Hodges, was a father who did not support the SGA’s proposal. In his letter he “reminded” President Miller and the faculty that they had to enforce the rules and teach the students to respect all forms of authority as they had been taught to respect their parents. He was outraged that students were even given the opportunity to discuss altering the rules! Mr. Basham sent his daughter to Madison College because the regulations of Madison College would uphold his daughter’s dignity. He is echoed in several other cross letters to President Miller, many of which suggest extending the card to cover male students as well.
A copy of the letter from Mr. Basham, it was stapled to the front of the survey sent home by the SGA.
There is no record in the SGA files that they moved forward on the abolition of the Parental Approval Card for the remainder 1969-1970 school year. If there are any response letters from President Miller or the administration to angry parents, they are not housed in Special Collections at James Madison University. President Miller retired his post in 1970. Perhaps he was unwilling to take on a strenuous battle with students and parents just before departing Madison College, and thought it best to not make an issue out of the Parental Approval Card. The decision would fall on the new President of Madison College Dr. Ronald Carrier.
Control #: Pmil08. JMU Historic Photos Online, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
Control #: Pmil03. JMU Historic Photos Online, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
“A Guide to the G. Tyler Miller Collection, 1949-1970,” Biographical Note, Special Collections, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
Rules Review (SGA), October 23, 1969 7pm. Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
Letter to President George T. Miller and Faculty from Elroy B. Basham, November 1969. 1926-1971 SGA file, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.