In a recent letter regarding my Feb. 3 commentary on the alleged 1941 UFO crash outside Cape Girardeau, a Tribune reader said: “Wickersham’s public delusions must be terribly embarrassing to the MU community. Thus, it is unbelievable that no one from the MU faculty or administration has stepped forward to defend science and rational thought.”
Regarding embarrassment to the University of Missouri community, that ship sailed long ago. During my first 11-year period of MU service, from 1959 to 1970, I did my best as a nonviolent educational agitator to focus the MU community’s attention on several pressing human problems that to my mind deserved additional research, teaching and community service. As a tenured professor of Extension Education and assistant director of MU’s Community Action Training Center (1966-67), my calls for academic involvement in the U.S. Economic Opportunity Program — an anti-poverty program — were indeed embarrassing to some of my colleagues, even though our socially conscious Extension dean supported the program wholeheartedly. The same partial faculty response was true of my dissent concerning the university’s Extension Civil Defense program, which developed training manuals for young 4-H Club members on how to have fun in a fallout shelter during World War III.