Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraph

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

I am extremely grateful to many friends, family members, students, and colleagues who supported me throughout the time I worked on this project. Although its faults are my own, the book would not exist had it not been for their contributions. I am also thankful for the very generous research travel and sabbatical support that Bowdoin College and the Spencer Foundation have provided over the past several years.

Many Bowdoin College students participated in the book’s development. I especially appreciate the helpful comments I received on drafts of the...

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Prologue

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pp. 1-12

Higher education in America is against the ropes. Almost weekly, a new book is published, a report released, an address delivered, or a documentary premiered declaring colleges and universities to be in a state of crisis. To some critics, these institutions are no better than playgrounds, coddling students for four, five, even six years before sending them into the real world, adrift with few skills or job prospects. 1 To others, these same colleges and universities have bent too far in a different direction—they have become too modern, too accommodating, so enamored of emerging thought as to follow each academic fad. They forgo the...

The Early National Period

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1. “Literary Institutions Are Founded and Endowed for the Common Good” The Liberal Professions in New England

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pp. 15-29

Late in the summer of 1802, residents of Brunswick, a town in a noncontiguous part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts known as the District of Maine, gathered to witness a rare event in the history of their young nation—the opening of an institution of higher education. Bowdoin College would, within just twenty-five years, become alma mater to future US president Franklin Pierce, acclaimed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, celebrated novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne, and John Brown Russwurm—the third African-American to receive a college degree and cofounder of the country’s first black newspaper,...

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2. “The Good Order and the Harmony of the Whole Community” Public Higher Learning in the South

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pp. 30-50

As the residents of Brunswick, Maine, prepared to celebrate the opening of Bowdoin College in 1802, legislators in the South Carolina General Assembly, one thousand miles to the south, gathered to cast their votes to establish a state-supported, state-controlled college in the capital city of Columbia. The act was unusually bipartisan in a season of rancorous party politics. Having been guided through the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention by Federalist leaders such as John Rutledge and Thomas Pinckney, South Carolina voters helped elect Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson to the presidency in...

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3. “To Promote More Effectually the Grand Interests of Society” Catholic Higher Education in the Mid-Atlantic

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pp. 51-70

At first glance, Georgetown College’s founding seems characterized by a collection of inconsistencies. 1 Unlike Bowdoin and South Carolina Colleges, which were established by their respective state legislatures on identifiable days, Georgetown has no corresponding date. Officials initially used 1788—the year construction began on the institution’s first building—to mark its founding. In 1851, however, the college catalogue misidentified “Old South’s” construction date as 1789. Consequently, Georgetown’s centennial celebration occurred in 1889, and the institution has celebrated 1789 ever since. Its founders,...

The Antebellum and Civil War Eras

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4. “To Spread Throughout the Land, an Army of Practical Men” Agriculture and Mechanics in the Midwest

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pp. 73-91

In May 1907, US President Theodore Roosevelt traveled to East Lansing, Michigan, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, the first four-year college of agriculture in the United States. In an address entitled “The Man Who Works with His Hands,” Roosevelt described the occasion as one of “national significance” and proclaimed to the crowd of twenty thousand, “Educational establishments should produce highly trained scholars, of course; but in a country like ours, where the educational establishments are so numerous, it is folly to think that their main purpose is to...

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5. “The Instruction Necessary to the Practical Duties of the Profession” Teacher Education in the West

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pp. 92-112

In the same year that Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act into law, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Andrew J. Moulder submitted a proposal to the state legislature to establish what would become California’s first publicly supported higher-education institution—the California State Normal School. 1 Named after the French école normale and dedicated to teacher education, normal schools were initially established in the United States during the antebellum period and flourished in the decades following the Civil War. Providing women, especially, access to higher education at a time when most colleges...

Reconstruction Through the Second World War

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6. “To Qualify Its Students for Personal Success” The Rise of the University in the West

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pp. 115-132

In 1906, several years after publishing his groundbreaking The Theory of the Leisure Class, economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen left the University of Chicago for northern California. While serving as associate professor at Stanford University, Veblen completed a blistering critique of American higher education entitled The Higher Learning in America: A Memorandum on the Conduct of Universities by Business Men. Skewering university administrators and governing boards for importing commercial practices into higher education and applying corporate principles to academic inquiry, Veblen claimed that “pecuniary...

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7. “This Is to Be Our Profession—To Serve the World” Women’s Higher Education in New England

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pp. 133-150

On November 1, 1881, Smith College student Esther “Daisy” Brooks penned an enthusiastic letter home regarding a young woman she had met on campus for the first time that day. “Doubtless, you will be pleased to know,” she wrote her mother, “that I had a pleasure, this evening, in the shape of a talk with a girl who is almost in the same circumstances that I am.” Describing her classmate as “one of the best, nicest girls in all the world,” Brooks went on to elaborate the circumstances she shared with her newfound friend. “She is determined to be a doctor as well as I; her parents are also opposed, and talk in the same style that mine...

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8. “The Burden of His Ambition Is to Achieve a Distinguished Career” African American Higher Education in the Mid-Atlantic

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pp. 151-172

In 1930, the Howard University Board of Trustees bestowed an honorary degree on acclaimed African American scholar W.E.B. DuBois. Accepting the distinction, DuBois also accepted the trustees’ invitation to deliver that year’s commencement address. In a talk entitled “Education and Work,” he used the occasion to assess the types of education that had for decades sought to improve African Americans’ economic, political, and social lives. 1 DuBois’s observations on both the “Negro college” and its graduates, however, undoubtedly surprised his audience. Having previously advocated the higher education of a cadre of...

The Cold War Through the Twenty-First Century

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9. “A Wedding Ceremony between Industry and the University” The Urban University in the Southeast

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pp. 175-199

Just months before the newly established University of South Florida (USF) opened in Tampa in May 1960, the university’s director of institutional research, Lewis B. Mayhew, released results of a survey his office had conducted of high-school seniors in the surrounding region. A public four-year institution founded with the aim of serving a “nontraditional” urban student population, USF expected to draw most of its initial enrollment from within a forty-five-mile radius, where almost 25 percent of Florida’s population resided. 1 The survey results confirmed much of what USF’s first president, John S. Allen,...

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10. “To Meet the Training and Retraining Needs of Established Business” Community Colleges in the Northeast and Southwest

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pp. 200-226

The community college is the workhorse of American higher education—and it has never been more popular. In 2013, approximately 46 percent of the US undergraduate population enrolled in community colleges. In comparison to higher-education enrollments nationally, these students were disproportionately of color: approximately 57 percent of the total were Hispanics, 52 percent African Americans, and 43 percent Asian-Pacific Islanders. 1 In addition, almost 61 percent of Native American undergraduates were enrolled in community colleges, many at one of twenty-five two-year tribal...

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Epilogue

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pp. 227-236

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, a social ethos of affluence dominated American higher education—a transformation that has hardly gone unnoticed. In Higher Education and the American Dream, historian Marvin Lazerson observes that colleges and universities have been wildly successful in assuming responsibility for preparing skilled labor, providing expert knowledge, and conducting scientific research—success that has “brought with it millions and millions of dollars from public and private sources.” As with John Kenneth Galbraith’s examination of...

Notes

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pp. 237-282

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 283-300

Index

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pp. 301-308