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Liberal Arts in Service to the Nation and the World   the front page of the September 21, 1939, MacWeekly heralded an extraordinary turning point in the life of Macalester College. On the left side of the page, a headline announced the upcoming memorial service for the recently deceased James Wallace; on the right, another announced the new presidency of Charles J. Turck. One of these men was the aged patriarch of the institution andchampionof evangelicalProtestantism,theotherwasaforty-nine-year-old liberalProtestanteagertomovethecollegeinnewdirections.Herewastheinstitutionalequivalentof regimechange,aliteraloutwiththeoldandinwiththenew. Historians wisely hesitate to identify watershed events that precipitate broad change for the simple reason that change is always the result of multiple influences and developing situations. But naming an event a watershed can be tempting, for certain events can illuminate transformations in ways that crystallize their significance. This particular watershed, an event that abruptly and decisivelychangedthetrajectoryof Macalester,isimpliedbythisfrontpage,for thedeathof Wallaceandthearrivalof Turckwouldfinalizethemostsignificant transformation of Macalester’s brief history: its deevangelicalization. With the passing of Wallace, the defender of the old guard and watchdog of the evangelical position throughout his long association with the college, the founding generation of evangelicals relinquished its grip on the college’s identity. With the arrival of Turck, a new Christian perspective gained ascendancy. Turck was a committed Christian, a leader in the national Presbyterian organization, but he was not an evangelical. Like his predecessor, John Acheson, Turck embraced liberalProtestantism.UnlikeAcheson,hewouldnotneedtonegotiatehisviews  | nature & revelation with the old guard evangelicals who had run the place for years. With Turck, Macalester moved well beyond its evangelical roots. The ramifications of deevangelicalization were many. One of the most obvious changes was that missionary work no longer took center stage at chapel lectures and among campus speakers. A new language of tolerance, a willingness to learn about and respect other religions, and a move toward working with non-Christians eclipsed the language of Christian preeminence. These changes were relatively easily made, but another transformation would prove more complex, as the liberal Protestants strove to develop a new vision of the college’s mission that would be as powerful as the earlier evangelical linking of education and Christianity had been. If the mission of the college would no longer be to advance Christianity, what would it be? Liberal Arts in the Service of Democracy Inconductingthepresidentialsearch,theMacalestertrusteeshadsoughtahighprofile educator who could bring Macalester to a new level. In finding Charles Turck,arespectedintellectualandexperiencedadministratorwhowasrelatively wellknowninPresbyteriancircles,theyseemtohavesucceeded.Anativeof New Orleans, Turck had trained in law at Columbia University and had taught law at TulaneandVanderbiltbeforebecomingthedeanof theUniversityof Kentucky LawSchoolin1924.Fouryearslater,hebecamethepresidentof CentreCollege, a Presbyterian institution in Danville, Kentucky, and he remained there until 1936, when he became director of the Department of Social Education and Action of the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Christian Education. Infall1938,almostayearintothepresidentialsearch,Turckspokeoncampus at a chapel session. Chapel lectures had always been something of a sore spot with Macalester students. In the 1920s, disgust with the all-too-frequently uninspiring , not to say downright tedious talks led to one of Macalester students’ earliest on-campus protests and to President Acheson’s suspension of the requirement for part of a semester.1 In addition, discussions over how to improve chapel sessions arose from time to time. The sessions in fall 1938 had begun on apromisingnote withUniversity of Minnesotaphilosophy professorGeorge P. Congerspeakingon“MyVisitwithGandhi.”Thatlecturewasfollowed,however, by such character-building fare as the executive secretary of the YWCA, Mrs. Bradshaw, speaking on “Making Choices,” Miss Doty of the YWCA speaking on “Making Friends,” and Professor Kenneth Holmes of the Macalester history Liberal Arts in Service to the Nation and the World |  departmentspeakingon“WhatIBelieve.”Thoughwehavelittleinformationon the response to these lectures, they are of a type that, at least in previous years, hadspurredsomemeasureof revoltinMacalesterstudents.Chapelhadbecome noted for being a nice time to catch up on one’s sleep, read the newspaper, or finish knitting that scarf. In this context, Charles Turck’s topic, “Problems of Social Education and Action,” was somewhat out of the ordinary.2 The talk seems to have resonated. Turck, a moderate Republican interested in the intersections between law, education, and liberal religion, introduced a new kind of activism to the Macalester campus that November morning: social action. Though Macalester students were no strangers to helping others, having embraced years earlier the idea of improving the lot of others through missionary work, Turck raised the stakes, imagining education in a partnership with other institutions, including government, to work for peace and justice. On this historically Republican campus, Turck’s progressivism would have appealed to the moderate Republicans who were gaining strength...


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