Posthumous degree conferred to former student caught in “Red Scare”

November 21, 2008

"See It Now" Advertisement in New York Times, Oct. 20, 1953.“See It Now” Advertisement in New York Times, Oct. 20, 1953.ANN ARBOR—In 1953, during the height of the McCarthy Era, Milo Radulovich was a student at the University of Michigan. He studied physics and served in the Air Force Reserves. Radulovich was targeted as a communist and removed from the Reserves as a result.

For Radulovich, as for many others, these charges were eventually shown to be false, but not before they had a significant impact on his life.

Radulovich was targeted because his father, an immigrant from Serbia subscribed to a Serbian newsletter and because he had a sister who was a civil rights activist in the United States. With the help of television reporter Edward R. Murrow, Radulovich was reinstated in the Air Force but the fight to clear his name continued. The targeting affected Radulovich’s ability to find work and thus his ability to complete his studies at the University. With his wife and two young children, Radulovich moved to California to find employment.

Milo Radulovich receiving the news of his discharge  from the Air Force (Detroit News Photo).Milo Radulovich receiving the news of his discharge from the Air Force (Detroit News Photo).The Board of Regents at its Nov. 20 meeting approved a posthumous Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in physics. Radulovich died Nov. 19, 2007 at the age of 81.

Provost Teresa Sullivan introduced the action to regents. She noted that Radulovich became a symbol of many innocent people whose lives were impacted by the McCarthy era accusations.

“Milo Radulovich was a student in good standing when outside events—the targeted accusations against him and the resulting work to clear his name—intervened. Mr. Radulovich was unable to continue his studies and his life was permanently changed. It is my honor to recommend this posthumous degree for a man whose life and education were disrupted by these events,” Sullivan said. She noted that in his later life, Radulovich was a strong defender of civil liberties and freedom of the press, principles he valued as a result of his experiences in the 1950s.

After extensive review of his academic career, LSA Dean Terrence McDonald concluded, “it is likely Radulovich would have completed his baccalaureate degree within a minimum of two terms if these circumstances had not intervened during his senior year.”

Milo Radulovich honored by the Michigan Senate with a  resolution of "respect and admiration" Nov. 12, 2003.Milo Radulovich honored by the Michigan Senate with a resolution of “respect and admiration” Nov. 12, 2003.A native of Detroit, Radulovich joined the U.S. Army Air Force in 1944 and was trained as a meteorologist. He was discharged from active duty and joined the reserves in 1952. His family’s activities led to the charges against him in 1953. His case made headlines at the time on Morrow’s show “See It Now,” and more recently his story was retold in the 2005 Academy Award-nominated film “Good Night, and Good Luck.” He served as a consultant for the movie and appeared in original footage used in the film.

After dropping out of school, he moved to California, where he became a meteorologist, eventually securing a position with the National Weather Service. He later returned to Michigan to serve as chief meteorologist at Lansing’s Capital City Airport until his retirement in 1994. He lived in Lodi, Calif., until his death.