LOCAL COLOR continued
Former UN dean Calvin Cannon (far right) meets with The Dinner Party committee members (I to r):
Diane Gelon, artist Judy Chicago, and Mary Ross Taylor.
necessary to make a re-assignment."
Dr. Nanette Bruckner co-chaired that
evaluation committee with colleague
Dr. John Gorman. "I'm astonished to
hear the Chancellor's account of our
faculty evaluation, which was overwhelmingly in favor of Dean Cannon.
I would say 45 out of 50 were highly
favorable. There were only a few critical evaluations, but that's to be expected."
Cannon said he himself ordered the
evaluation after he discovered two faculty members had written a letter, "denouncing me as dean." He came upon
that letter quite by accident.
It seems that months after a faculty
appointment that Cannon recommended
was turned down, he learned about the
existence of another letter — one critical
of this particular faculty member. It had
been in the possession of the Provost and
Vice Chancellor Louis Rodriguez. Cannon
"stormed into the provost's office," demanding to know why this letter was
never brought to his attention.
"Instead of producing that letter —
he was so nervous, I guess — he produced
the wrong letter, one denouncing me,
dated December 1977, five months
Cannon said he was furious with the
provost, not with the two faculty members who had written the letter criticizing him. He read the letter at a faculty
meeting and asked for the group's evaluation of him as dean. "I did not wish to
live in Fool's Paradise. If the general
feeling of the faculty had been that I
had served my time, I needed to know
He said the faculty evaluations were
largely positive and while he won the
battle, he may have lost the war. "The
provost never forgave me for that."
There is more than a suggestion from
Cannon that Provost Rodriguez is the
silent partner and party to his dismissal
as dean, and that Neumann is simply
carrying out the deed.
Breakthrough tried unsuccessfully to
reach the provost. Rodriguez told one
news source he would add nothing to
Neumann's comments, and did not want
the matter "bandied about in the press."
Top down administration is the law in
Texas. Administrative officials of any
university serve at the pleasure of their
"No one denies the chancellor had the
legal right to do this," said one faculty
member. "At a large university the faculty would probably not have much to do
with the dean, but Clear Lake is new and
relatively small and the relationship was
an intimate one from the start." For
the administration to act alone, not to
involve or give them any reason for the
administration's actions was very wrong,
in her view.
"You feel powerless with all those
people making decisions without any consideration for our feelings," said Bruckner,
an associate professor in behavioral
sciences and women's studies. "I would
say the faculty is unanimously upset
about the way in which he is being reassigned or let go."
"I could introduce you to people
whose morale has been lifted by this,"
said Neumann. "For every detractor,
I can find a protagonist end vice versa.
For every person who thinks the chancellor's done the wrong thing in this
case, I can find you at least one who
thinks I did the right thing. But don't
take a poll, it might come out the wrong
Cannon, feeling "utterly frustrated"
by the whole affair, said the action was
"completely unfair and unjust. I feel
something's wrong with a university
in which this could happen. Just like I
think a preacher should be less sinful
than his flock, I feel a university should
be more humane than, say, the Post Office. Universities are there as moral
"A mere personality conflict or
policy differences are just relatively
trivial compared to other things. I've
given 10 years of the best I've had to
offer to the university."
In the faculty letter of support, the
45 signers credited Cannon's deanship
for bringing events "for which we as a
university have received (national) recognition — Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party.
a Stockhausen concert, and James Clauser
"Working from your remarkable knowledge and understanding of the arts, a
knowledge that would be rare even in an
art administrator, you have developed an
arts program that would do credit to a
university twice our size," wrote the faculty. "It is well known in Houston that
Clear Lake is the place where the really
interesting events are occuring.
In Canon's view, the arts are simply a
component part of the university. He recalled a discussion that came up when
they were looking at the blueprints for
the campus, of whether or not to have an
art gallery. "And I said no. In the first
place that would be expensive. With the
kind of architecture that we have begun
to develop here, there is no reason to
have a gallery. The whole university should
be a gallery. Instead of having art tucked
away in some place where only the artist
and the cognoscenti go look at it, let's
have art throughout the whole university.
I tried to take art to everybody."
Gretchen Mieszkowski, a full professor
of literature at UH/CLC, had taught at
three other universities, Yale, the University of Chicago, and Queen's University in
Canada. "Calvin Cannon is one of the
finest administrators I've ever worked
with," said professor Mieszkowski. "I admire his values and his capacity to trans
late them into effective action — his
support of contemporary art, in repeated
splendid exhibits, his support of women's
studies by traditional means and by his
untraditional means of bringing the Judy
Chicago show here."
Cannon is working on the final preparations for The Dinner Party. "Quite
frankly, if it had not been for my commitment to The Dinner Party, I probably
would have just walked out," confessed
Cannon. "In the chancellor's mind, this
was not in any way intended to diminish
the success of The Dinner Party. Unfortunately, the raw fact is that my firing has
consumed the entire month of January."
For now, the only matter tne cnan-
cellor and the former dean agree on is that
the monumental sculpture become a
monumental success. "It's a grand piece,"
said Cannon. "I'm obviously convinced
about the idea of what it represents cul-
tually. It deserves all our support."
"The more The Dinner Party or anything else brings attention to this university, I'm in favor of that," stressed
Neumann. "We don't have a basketball
team or a football team. Anything we can
do to draw attention to this university
Angels up in the air
BY JOANNE HARRISON
Around the end of January, it looked like
tube time for the Houston Angels. The
Women's Professional Basketball League
(WBL) franchise seemed to be going
down for the count. It had cancelled one
home game on January 19 because its
opponent, the Dallas Diamonds, had
folded—or so it seemed at the time.
The bad publicity from the Dallas
cancellation had no sooner made itself
felt, when the Angels found themselves
locked out of both of their official
"home courts", the University of Houston's Hofheinz Pavilion and the Summit.
Both facilities refused to allow the
team to play until the Angels' front office
came up with enough money to cover
past due bills. Neither arena has been
paid the rental fees for the Angels' previous appearances, and both the University and The Summit were damnding
cash up front.
Cash shouldn't have been a problem.
Only a few weeks before President and
General Manager Hugh Sweeney had
announced the sale of the franchise for
$1 million. A group of Houston investors headed by attorney Richard Klingler
had offered Sweeney 20 times the
$50,000 he'd paid for the Angels during
the "foundation" of the WBL.
Despite the fact that women basketball players are among the lowest-paid
professional athletes (averaging about
$10,000, an amount roughly comparable
to the salaries of male indoor soccer players) Sweeney had dumped over a quarter
of a million dollars during the team's
first year of operation. Things were even
more expensive at the start of the second
year, and, like many other sports entrepreneurs, Sweeney wanted to get out
from under fast, but at the same time
make a reasonable profit on the time
and money already invested. Sweeney
himself admits that he knew nothing
about women's basketball. "In fact,"
he says, "the first women's basketball
game I ever saw was the Angel's home
Joanne Harrison is a senior editor at Houston
opener on December 22 of last year
Insiders say that Sweeney never intended to hold on to the franchise for
more than a year or so, and that's why
the sale to the Klingler group seemed a
Unfortunately for Sweeney, the team,
and the fans, the Houston group-known
as Sports Resources International, Inc-
proved less than sincere. To put it simply, their checks bounced all over the
"Wi! could have filed an action on
them for fraud," says WBL Commissioner
Bill Byrne. "Those people put up front
money, they filed documents, everything
looked above board and then their checks
started bouncing and Hugh Sweeney had
to step back in."
"Hugh Sweeney is totally innocent.
He's had to meet all expenses and even
make good on some of their debts," explains Byrne angrily.
"At the time," he continues, "I called
their attorney and said 'What are you
people doing? You don't sign contracts
and make deals until you have money in
Byrne was on his way to Houston at
press time. "We're going to pull the franchise through," he said. "We did it in Dal-
las--we found new owners (a group headed by builder Mike Staver) for the team
only three days after the old owners had
difficulties, and we recently arranged the
sale of controlling stock in the Iowa team
to a cable TV and radio station owner
named Dick Vance."
"Let's talk facts, this is a professional
league. It's not different from any other
new league. I was with the old American
Football League, and although it sounds
terrible to say, in any professional sports
league only the strong will survive."
As Byrne is working to save the franchise-including entertaining offers from a
group of Alabama investors who want to
move the team to Birmingham-the Angels are going ahead with the remainder
of their home schedule.
Thanks, no doubt, to former Owl
Coach Don Knodel's connections, the
struggling WBL 1978 champions are
playing their home games at Rice University's Autry Court. They met the resurrected Dallas Diamonds on Friday, February 8 and San Francisco on Wednesday
Febraury 20 with a February 14 game
against New Orleans at another location
still to be determined.
Fans of women's basketball, or all
those who just believe in the idea of women's professional team sports, can do very
little about the financial machinations of
the WBL, but we can buy the tickets that
are the lifeblood of any pro sport. Besides, the Angels need all the moral support they can get.