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15. Culture to the Crossroads

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

THE INDIANA UNIVERSITY system of main and regional campuses grew from an early and continuing policy of its administrations to take education to the people if the people could not come to the institution. At first, two or three faculty members traveled to the cities from which requests had come for classes in certain courses. Subsequently extension centers were established when the demand and favorable circumstances warranted. Ultimately there developed the vigorous regional campus system that, with the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, constitutes Indiana University as we know it today. Robert E. Cavanaugh has written a detailed history of this development.1

Why did the development take that form rather than that of a public junior college system, a two-year extension of high school, in the state? One reason was the failure of several junior colleges that were begun. Another, more telling reason was, I believe, a realization of the clear advantages to be gained from association with an established university. The benefits of full integration with a parent institution such as sharing its administrative and library resources, prestige, and academic maturity while forming its own individuality as a smaller, more locally oriented educational center undoubtedly were persuasive elements in the decision of a civic group to seek establishment of a branch of Indiana University in its community rather than found an independent junior college. The efficiency and economy that result are advantageous both to the state and to the student. The viability of the branching system is one evidence of the remarkable variety, diversity, and flexibility of higher education in America.

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22. An Unusual Mission to the U.S.S.R.

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

MY AWAKENING interest in Russia and its people grew steadily as I came to know individual Russians at the UN San Francisco Conference and later on at UNRRA and Unesco committee meetings and in the UN General Assembly. Some of my colleagues here at Indiana University visited Russia in an effort to activate a U.S.-Russia exchange of scholars, and I learned from them something of the Russian scene. All of these contacts with Russian diplomats and American experts on Russia whetted my appetite to see Russia itself and to try to learn something, if I could, about that enormous land and society so different from our own. Russia was not hospitable to mere tourists and did not have the facilities to handle them. However, as part of its propaganda effort, it did spend a considerable amount of money and time on officially sponsored visits, mainly by delegations from Third World and Communist Bloc countries, which came in large numbers.

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13. To Make Room for the Future

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

IN JULY, 1937, when I assumed the presidency, almost the whole of the Bloomington campus of Indiana University lay between Jordan Avenue and Indiana Avenue on the east and west, Tenth Street and Third Street on the north and south. All the academic buildings (except the Home Economics Practice House), the administration building, the library, the original Memorial Union Building, the President's House, a meeting and concert hall, all the sport and physical education facilities, the four residence halls, University School, the printing plant, the power plant, and two machine shops were situated in this quadrangle. Not all of the land within belonged to the university. Half of the sororities and fraternities had houses within these boundaries (many others were just across the street), and there were a number of private residences, particularly in the northwest section. Part was just open field belonging to the university and important in its planning.

Even though there was neither an east-west nor a north-south traffic artery through the campus, cars could travel east on Seventh Street to the Fieldhouse (now Wildermuth Intramural Center) or over a winding road that entered the campus at Fifth (Kirkwood) Street and exited down Sorority Alley (now a walk alongside Ballantine and Jordan halls) to Third Street.

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17. Academic Ferment

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

IN HIS history of Indiana University, Tom Clark told of the agony of the era. I remember more vividly the ecstasy of 1937–62.

Personal agony there was aplenty—the agony of shattering crises, of fourteen-hour days, of grinding drudgery with every minute scheduled and utilized and rarely a vacation, of disappointingly unrealized ambitions, of weariness beyond description. But these are dwarfed by the achievements of my talented, dedicated, and determined colleagues through nearly superhuman effort.

The years from 1937 to 1962 were filled with strenuous effort. Problems that almost defied solution had to be solved in order to make the adjustments required by the dislocations of World War II, the flood of returning veterans, the booms and recessions, and the military effort of the Korean War. The struggle to secure the necessary funds for operations and to expand the plant and facilities to meet what seemed to be inexhaustible needs was constant.

In addition during this period I undertook to be a good citizen by doing my share of civic activity at home and abroad from Bloomington to Bangkok, all of which demanded incessant travel around Indiana and from coast to coast in the United States, and innumerable crossings of the Atlantic and Pacific for meetings and missions in Europe, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Nevertheless, administration had first claim upon my time as we attempted to take full advantage of all the opportunities opening up. Administrative activity per se, however, was not the most exciting aspect of the era.

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7. The Fate of a Noncandidate

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

THOMAS D. CLARK, in the second volume of his history, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer, states that whereas I may have borne the title “acting president” I never really cast myself in that role. He went on to say, “Clearly, he acted like a president from the start.” While Dr. Clark was writing this volume he made similar remarks to me. At the time they seemed farfetched, almost preposterous. I remembered little of what took place from July 1, 1937, to June 30, 1938. Throughout my life I have tended to think infrequently about the past, concentrating rather on the future. I have that habit even now. The story of an incident that occurred long ago might illustrate the point.

At the death of Val Nolan, a trustee of the university, it was of course the sad duty of the trustees and officers of the university to attend the funeral. The transportation from Bloomington to Evansville was organized by Ward Biddle, the university comptroller. President Emeritus Bryan was to take his Buick, driven by his old chauffeur, Rocky, and Mr. Biddle assigned Trustee Paul Feltus and me to go with him. Feltus approached Ward Biddle privately, I heard later, and objected to his assignment, saying, “Can't you put me in another car? I don't want to ride 120 miles to Evansville and 120 miles back with two men who don't smoke and don't even know they live in the present. Bryan talks only about the past and Wells is somewhere off in the future.”

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