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John W. Boyer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226242514

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226242651.001.0001

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One Man’s Revolution

One Man’s Revolution

Robert Maynard Hutchins, 1929–1951

Chapter:
(p.215) 4 One Man’s Revolution
Source:
The University of Chicago
Author(s):

John W. Boyer

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226242651.003.0005

Perhaps the most controversial chapter in the book explores the career of Robert Maynard Hutchins, who next to Harper was Chicago’s most important President in the Twentieth Century. Hutchins is a larger than life figure who is still invoked as a guardian of a certain kind of intense, highly rationalistic university culture and as a proponent of classically based general education, against ‘vocationalist’ tendencies within the modern university. The chapter explains Hutchins most salient interventions and contributions, including his reorganization of the University in 1930, his sponsorship of the first Core curriculum, his later fights with the faculty over the shape and nature of that curriculum, the creation of the all-general-education “Hutchins College” in 1942, his attempts to restructure graduate education, his courageous defence of academic freedom in the 1930s and 1940s. The chapter argues that Hutchins had a major impact on the intellectual culture and value norms of the University, an impact that still resonates in the self-understanding of today’s University, but he left the University in a severely weakened financial state, a condition, which then framed and over-determined the challenges and problems that his successors in the Presidency had to deal with over the next 50 years.

Keywords:   Robert Maynard Hutchins, Great Depression, College and Divisional structure, University in World War II, University finances, fundraising, core curriculum, theories of general education

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