A controversy arose on the campus of Rice University in February 1969 when the Board of Trustees announced the appointment of William H. Masterson as the university's new president. Students and faculty protested the Board's failure to consult with a committee that had been created to advise on the selection, and many opposed the choice that the Trustees had made. After five days of peaceful protest, including a teach-in, march, and a campus-wide poll, Masterson resigned.
The Masterson crisis can be seen within the context of a decade of nation-wide turmoil resulting from the Civil Rights movement, the war in Vietnam, the emergence of feminism and women’s rights, and a general rebellion against authority among many of the nation’s youth. Many view the Masterson crisis as an event peculiar to Rice, influenced by yet separate from the wider student movement. With their slogan of "It Can't Happen Here" and their coat-and-tie dress code, Rice students and faculty distanced themselves from the demonstrations occurring at other universities and pushed for their cause to be taken seriously.