"Instruments of national purpose". World War II and Southern higher education: Four Texas universities as a case study
Penney, Matthew Tyler
Boles, John B.
Doctor of Philosophy thesis
This dissertation considers the significance of the relationship between the federal government and U.S. higher education during World War II and the immediate postwar years, using four Texas universities (the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor University, and the Rice Institute) as case studies. World War II and Cold War contexts of emergency and moral purpose were manifest in America's institutions of higher learning, which channeled their resources to assist a national agenda. Reciprocally, the federal government provided support to universities on unprecedented scales. This partnership was especially relevant to universities in the South, which had historically lagged behind their non-southern peers in research capability, had been more wary of outside influence, and had tended to stress regionalism over---if not at the expense of---nationalism. Yet despite the changes depicted in this study, a preexisting role of the southern university as serving one or more constituencies made the cooperation with the federal government less of a shift in the uses of the university than might otherwise be apparent. Among the topics that this study looks at in some depth are wartime financing of university research, curricular change, campus trainee programs, postwar veteran enrollments, the southern university as a trainer in so-called American values, and the impetus to assert these values. Of special note is the rise of defense-oriented research agendas and securing the revenues to sustain them. The partnership between the university and the federal government institutionalized a new a way of conducting university business that became so normative in just a few years after World War II as to seem irreversible. This dissertation shows the importance of this partnership at a group of universities outside the few high-profile institutions typically invoked as iconic or indicative of war-era federal cooperation. With its regional perspective that considers the southern university's role in advancing defense research, commerce, and technology, such investigation also highlights another basis on which to recognize World War II and the immediate postwar era as transformative in the history of the U.S. South.
American history; History of education; History of science; Higher education