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19. A Glorious Experience in the Springtime of My Career

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

FOLLOWING WORLD WAR II Greece was in a state of political turbulence. It had gone through a four-and-a-half-year period of dictatorship during which usual political activity was forbidden, followed by the Axis occupation, and then more than a year of civil strife between the forces of the Left and the Right. It was alleged that the Communists were pouring a good deal of money and support into the country in order to try to take possession of it. Historians and Russian experts agree that a longtime objective of Kremlin policy had been to gain an outlet and a year-round, warm-weather port on the Mediterranean, and Greece offered the best possibility for this. After all, one of the southernmost Soviet republics, the state of Georgia, is partly of Greek origin and the Georgians are closely allied with the Greeks in culture and attitude.

The Greeks were convinced that a democratic election had to be held soon and that they would need help from the outside to ensure the fairness of the process. Already the Soviets were charging the British military in Greece with intimidation and covert activities. At Yalta the Allies had pledged themselves to help the liberated countries reestablish their democratic institutions. In line with this pledge and upon the invitation of the Greek government, the United States, France, and Great Britain agreed to create a tripartite commission to observe the Greek election and to report to the world on its fairness and adequacy. The South Africans associated themselves with the observations as an international gesture and because of the large number of Greek immigrants in South Africa. The Russians, though pledged at Yalta, nevertheless declined to participate, using the excuse that the mission would interfere with the sovereignty of an independent state.

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4. Country Bank Failures

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

THE OFFICES OF the Indiana Bankers Association (IBA) were located in Indianapolis, and during my two years with the association I lived in Indianapolis although much of my time was of necessity spent in traveling throughout the state. I attended county and regional meetings of the members of the association and called on both members and nonmembers to stimulate their interest in the program of the association.1

I had left the University of Wisconsin with the understanding that I would return after one or two years with the IBA. Dr. Kiekhofer agreed with me that the experience in the IBA would give me an excellent opportunity to gather material for my dissertation, which was to be concerned with country bank management and prevention of bank failure. It was appropriate, therefore, that I keep him advised of my activities in Indianapolis.

On March 13, 1929, I wrote in a letter to him:

My work has been very absorbing. Our Association has undertaken a campaign of self-improvement for the banks in the state of Indiana that is unique in the history of cooperative bank endeavor. Our Better-Banking Practices platform includes fifteen planks such as universal service charges, establishment of a credit bureau for the dissemination of credit information on duplicate borrowers in every county, secondary reserves, limitation of amount of money to be loaned to any one borrower, etc. It is being pushed by three key men in every county, with whom I attempt to keep in touch in order to keep them working and informed. I speak on different phases of this program of Better Banking as best suits the occasion, before county and group meetings of our membership frequently. At certain periods I speak several times per week.

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14. Student and Alumni Relationships

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

I HAVE LONG greeted freshman students with, “So you are a freshman. Great! Freshmen are very important people. Without freshmen there soon would be no seniors or, in fact, a university, and I like it here.”

With rare exceptions I had happy relationships with the students during my days in the president's office. I saved time for contact with them; I tried to accept their invitations even though in some instances it was not particularly convenient to do so. I recognized the fact that they invited me to their many functions in the best spirit, evidencing their interest in Indiana University and their friendliness toward me. Many times student dinners are a bit stiff and awkward, but the youngsters are learning the art of entertaining, a useful part of their whole learning experience. By keeping close to students, one is reminded that they are a major reason for the existence of the university and certainly the major reason why the state supports the institution. In the quality and spirit of these youngsters is to be found the future of the state and nation. They and their parents are making sacrifices in order to realize an individual and family dream, seeking the mobility and self-fulfillment that can come with a collegiate and professional education.

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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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2. Widening Horizons

Herman B Wells Indiana University Press ePub

ONE OF my high school teachers had sold me on the idea of going to a business school. Business schools were in their first flush of popularity then; they were new. As the University of Illinois had the outstanding one in the Midwest at that time, I chose to go to Champaign. Other considerations such as fees and transportation did not loom large. Out-of-state fees were low enough to be of little comparative consequence in those days, and I could go by train to Champaign from either Crawfordsville or Jamestown.

The summer before I left for college I had traveled to Whites-town daily to run a little country bank that had been organized there in opposition to the established bank. My income was rather good for a teenager, and in four months I had saved quite a bit of money for college. Later, at the end of my sophomore year in college, the bank offered me a permanent job at two-hundred dollars a month, which to me seemed like so much money that I tried to persuade my father to let me leave college to accept the job. In those days even college graduates were not being paid as much as that on their first jobs. My father was unyielding.

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