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Albert Prentice "Prent" Kenyon (1906-2004)

Mr. A. Prentice KenyonBased on four interviews conducted by John T. Mason Jr. from November 1972 through March 1973, the volume contains 219 pages of interview transcript plus an index. The transcript is copyright 1973 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the interviewee placed no restrictions on its use.

Mr. Kenyon retired in 1973 after serving the Navy since 1941, first as an officer and later as a civil servant. In this memoir, he reviews the history of education and training in the Navy, organization within the Navy, transition from old to the current systems, some problems encountered along the way, tools of teaching, educational incentives, some officers who have been influential in the educational programs, and the future outlook for Navy education and training.


An index to this volume can be viewed here (.pdf).




Mr. Kenyon: Today we either have removed or will soon remove NROTC units from all New England Ivy League schools and from Stanford, Columbia, and Princeton. This is unfortunate but this is the way the academic fraternity insisted on playing. We had some real rough conversations with the school admini­strations at that time.

John T. Mason, Jr.: Would you talk a little about some of those?

Mr. Kenyon: Well, yes. We tried hard to convince the admini­stration, for example, in these institutions that they should make the choice and not leave it to a part of their faculty. The usual dissenting portion of the faculty were members of the arts and sciences faculty and not all the others. Therefore, it wasn't fair, you might say, to their other schools for them to give in to the arts and sciences faculties. As I say, there were many negotiations and some of them at various times were rather fruitful. We have had some negotiations more recently about going back on the campus in some of these institutions. Brown, particularly, has set forth some indications of a desire to have the Navy come back. They have not, however, succeeded in getting themselves to the point where they're willing to come back on the Navy's terms, so we're not back in.

John T. Mason, Jr.: Do you envision any change in this attitude now that the Vietnam War has come to an end?Midshipmen in their lab class

Mr. Kenyon: I don't think there'll be any difference just because the war has come to an end, but I think there is a feeling among many faculty people and the staffs of some of these institutions that they think now in retrospect that it was the wrong way to go and they would like to get an NROTC back. Of course, the Army and the Air Force have continued to stay in some of these institutions. They weren't willing to meet the Navy's terms, however, so we have withdrawn.

The going was rough in places like the University of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, and a few others, but painstaking negotiations and the intestinal fortitude of their academic leaders has resulted in the Navy remaining in these institutions. So I'm saying that there were some that resisted the internal pressures to the extent of negotiating on a favorable basis.

John T. Mason, Jr.: You spoke about some of the Eastern universities not being willing to meet the Navy’s terms. What are the bones of contention in this area?

Mr. Kenyon: Well, the two conditions that the Navy has insisted on are really conditions which we interpret as being pre­scribed by law. One of those is that the professor of naval science must be recognized by the institution as a member of the faculty, and secondly that the institution must agree to give some college degree credit for naval science courses. The law makes these two clear, but I admit that they’re subject to interpretation on the latter point because it says that the institution shall be agree­able to providing the course of instruction which is prescribed by the Secretary of the Navy. We have interpreted that to mean that this requires the institution to give some credit toward a degree, not insisting on the 24 credits that we negotiated back in 1946, but on some credit for naval science courses.

So those were the two conditions. The initial formula was designed to ensure the school would grant 24 semester hours for naval science courses. This has been compromised over the years as the institutions, aided and abetted, in some cases, by accrediting agencies, such as in the engineer­ing specialty, have reduced the amount of credit. However, the Navy still insists on being granted some academic credit toward a degree.

It may be interesting to note in passing that whereas in the past more credit difficulties were experienced in the engineering schools, the more recent eruptions occurred usually in the liberal arts department of the institutions involved. These more recent outbursts of campus dissension were not the first such difficulties experienced by the ROTC, although they had the most far reaching results. Student elements at institutions like the University of Wisconsin and Cal, Berkeley, had registered protests against military units on their campuses in prior years. At one time serious consideration was given to withdrawing from the Berkeley campus, but the Navy persevered and we’re still there. At the moment things are quiet.


(Note: Due to edits, corrections, and/or amendments to the original transcription draft, there are some inconsistencies between the recording and the text.)


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