Herman B Wells
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Biography of a titan of American higher education

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Energetic, shrewd, and charming, Herman B Wells was the driving force behind the transformation of Indiana University—which became a model for American public higher education in the 20th century. A person of unusual sensitivity and a skilled and empathetic communicator, his character and vision shaped the structure, ethos, and spirit of the institution in countless ways. Wells articulated a persuasive vision of the place of the university in the modern world. Under his leadership, Indiana University would grow in size and stature, establishing strong connections to the state, the nation, and the world. His dedication to the arts, to academic freedom, and to international education remained hallmarks of his 63-year tenure as President and University Chancellor. Wells lavished particular attention on the flagship campus at Bloomington, expanding its footprint tenfold in size and maintaining its woodland landscape as new buildings and facilities were constructed. Gracefully aging in place, he became a beloved paterfamilias to the IU clan. Wells built an institution, and, in the process, became one himself.

Preface: A Hoosier State of Mind
Prologue: Campus Centennial, 1920
I. The Shaping of a Fiduciary, 1902-37
1. In the Land of Jordan
2. Betwixt Banking and Social Science
3. The Politics of Banking Reform
4. First Taste of Academic Stewardship
II. Transforming the University, 1937-62
5. Acting like a President
6. A Vision for Indiana University
7. Charting a New Course
8. War Stories
9. Renouncing Prejudice
10. Postwar World, Home and Abroad
11. Music Appreciation
12. The Man behind Kinsey
13. A Metropolis of Books
14. Expanding the University's Universe
15. Passing the Presidential Torch
III. At Large in the World, 1962-2000
16. Education and World Affairs
17. Back to Basics: Management and Marketing
18. Being Plucky: Covering the Distance
19. An Icon Aging in Place
20. A Peaceful Passing
21. Keeping the Memory Green
Epilogue: Reflections on a Hoosier Antæus



Publié par
Date de parution 30 avril 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253005694
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 5 Mo

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This book is a co-publication of
INDIANA UNIVERSITY PRESS 601 North Morton Street Bloomington, Indiana 47404-3797 USA
Telephone orders 800-842-6796 Fax orders 812-855-7931
Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana
History Center
450 West Ohio Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202-3269 USA
2012 by James H. Capshew
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences - Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Capshew, James H.
Herman B Wells : the promise of the American university / James H. Capshew.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-253-35720-5 (cloth : alk. paper) - ISBN 978-0-253-00569-4 (e-book) 1. Wells, Herman B. 2. Indiana University - Presidents - Biography 3. College presidents - Indiana - Biography. I. Title.
LD 25161938.W44 C38 2012
378.0092 - dc23
1 2 3 4 5 17 16 15 14 13 12
To the Genius Loci of Indiana University and in loving memory of Herman B Wells
Consult the Genius of the Place in all.
Alexander Pope, 1731
We are the children of our landscape; it dictates behaviour and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it.
Lawrence Durrell, 1957
The soul of a landscape, the spirits of the elements, the genius of every place will be revealed to a loving view of nature.
Karl Jaspers, 1970
One has to learn what the meaning of local is, for universal purposes. The local is the only thing that is universal.
William Carlos Williams, 1929
To become intimate with your home region, to know the territory as well as you can, to understand your life woven into the local life does not prevent you from recognizing and honoring the diversity of other places, cultures, ways. On the contrary, how can you value other places if you do not have one of your own? If you are not yourself placed, then you wander the world like a sightseer, a collector of sensations, with no gauge for measuring what you see. Local knowledge is the grounding for global knowledge.
Scott Russell Sanders, 1993
PREFACE A Hoosier State of Mind
List of Abbreviations
Campus Centennial
1 In the Land of Jordan
2 Betwixt Banking and Social Science
3 The Politics of Bank Reform
4 First Taste of Academic Stewardship
5 Acting like a President
6 A Vision for Indiana University
7 Charting a New Course
8 War Stories
9 Renouncing Prejudice
10 Postwar World, Home and Abroad
11 Music Appreciation
12 The Man behind Kinsey
13 A Metropolis of Books
14 Expanding the University s Universe
15 Passing the Presidential Torch
16 Education and World Affairs
17 Back to Basics: Management and Marketing
18 Being Plucky: Covering the Distance
19 An Icon Aging in Place
20 A Peaceful Passing
21 Keeping the Memory Green
EPILOGUE Reflections on a Hoosier Ant us
APPENDIX Memorial Resolution
Perhaps biography is the flat map Abstracted from the globe of someone s life.
Maura Stanton, 1984
A Hoosier State of Mind
As I left our first meeting in 1977, I knew at once Herman B Wells was an extraordinary human being. Mindfully present to others, he projected a radiant savoir faire. Fortune had smiled on me and given me the opportunity to learn from this remarkable individual. I labored as a lowly houseboy in the Chancellor s residence. In exchange for a few hours of pleasant work every week, I was provided a room, full board, and the complete run of the house. I also started my study of his personal character and his work at Indiana University, trying to fathom the secret to his effectiveness. This volume is one fruit of that continuing study.
I soon figured out that Wells existed at the center of a massive social network revolving around Indiana University. His devotion to its welfare and his inspired leadership were already legendary. His relationship to the institution stretched back to his college days in the early 1920s, and since that time he had enveloped generations in his warm embrace. He drew me inexorably into that network and made me feel that I had special status as a member of what I would later term his elective family.
After two years, when I graduated and left his employ, I was still amazed at his personal beneficence and institutional charisma. Over the next decade I pursued higher education on the East Coast and he reluctantly accepted the process that threatened to turn him into an icon. In 1990, I happily accepted a faculty position at IU , and joined the university that he did so much to build. Instead of letters and the occasional visit, now we could resume our face-to-face meetings, where we talked about nearly everything under the sun. But it always led back to this place, his beloved IU . When I broached the idea of writing about his life, Wells needled me playfully, Isn t there something better to do with your time? In his last years, he freely made time for my queries and questions, and wrote a letter of introduction to my research project. That blessing was all I needed.
Now a decade has passed since his death and I am experiencing a common reaction among biographers as they complete their studies. My late colleague, Richard S. Westfall, the preeminent biographer of Isaac Newton, put it well when he commented that the closer he got to understanding Newton, the more he receded from view. Westfall recognized a profound truth about all human relationships - at their essence they defy reduction into anything other than what they are. 1 Nevertheless I offer an interpretation of Wells s life and career, albeit a necessarily partial and incomplete one.
Herman Wells organized his life around Indiana University. As a student, he was born again when he discovered the rich cultural landscape of the Bloomington campus. The unique genius loci of Indiana became a touchstone that increasingly guided his activities to the time he became president in 1937, when he made a lifelong commitment to the welfare of his alma mater. Wells was the major architect for a prominent exemplar of one of our most distinctive modern institutions - the American research university - by building upon a premodern sensibility of place and altruistic devotion to others, using the tools he acquired from the political, bureaucratic, and technological developments of the twentieth century. During the first part of the century Indiana was a decent, yet provincial, university. Under his leadership it experienced a great leap forward, competing with its peers in the Big Ten and developing an impressive reputation in the sciences, the humanities, and the arts through graduate and professional education as well as international outreach efforts.
Although he was well known to other educators during his time, Wells is little treated in the historiography of higher education - in part because Indiana University does not figure prominently in the rise of the American research university before World War II. 2 A related cause is that the Bloomington campus lacks a medical or engineering school, so the institution is often overlooked in analyses that begin with measures of research funds or other monetary considerations. 3 Wells himself cultivated humility and modesty about his leadership. He did not write much about the pressing educational issues of the day, so his impact as an author was minor. His very modus operandi - face-to-face meetings, efficiently pushing papers across his desk, thanking others for their contributions, and generally avoiding the limelight - made this most public of men less famous than one might reasonably expect.
But close observers did notice Wells and what he was accomplishing at Indiana. Stephen Graubard, longtime editor of D dalus (proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences), stated, I visited the President of Indiana only once, but I knew a great deal about him. As someone interested in higher education in the 60s, it was impossible not to think of him as well as Kerr and others who retained greater reputations. 4 In their study of educational leadership, Howard Gardner and Emma Laskin maintained that the builders of the large national universities and multiversities of today, such as Herman Wells at Indiana University, John Hannah at Michigan State University, and, above all, Clark Kerr at the University of California depended upon success at the public articulation of an organizational saga and, at the same time, an ability to remain in the background while fostering a sustainable institutional culture. 5
American historian Allan Nevins, in his 1962 book, The State Universities and Democracy, thought that the creation of an atmosphere, a tradition, a sense of the past was a difficult but important task for tax-supported instit

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