Dissent in the Heartland: The Sixties at Indiana University

By Mary Ann Wynkoop | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
The Dawn of Dissent: 1960–65

Herman B Wells announced his decision to retire in 1960. Although the actual event was two years away, university officials immediately began to consider the problem of choosing his successor. After an extensive national search, the board of trustees selected Elvis J. Stahr to be IU’s next president.

Stahr was secretary of the army under President John F. Kennedy and had been president of the University of West Virginia. In addition, he was a lawyer, and his understanding of the working of corporate boardrooms and government bureaucracies was among the many assets that he brought to Indiana University. What Stahr represented was a new breed of corporate scholar, who brought a perspective to the office very different from Wells’s intimate understanding of Hoosier students, faculty, and politics.

Stahr was forty-six years old when he arrived in Bloomington. Born in Hickman, Kentucky, he went to the state university in Lexington, graduated with the highest scholastic record in the university’s history, went to Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar, and earned a law degree. When he returned to the United States, his academic career took a bit of a twist—he went to Yale University for a diploma in Chinese languages. Then he joined a prestigious New York City law firm. During World War II he served as an infantry officer in China, Burma, and India. After the war, he went back to Kentucky to teach law and was appointed dean of the University of Kentucky’s School of Law in 1948. During the Korean conflict, he served as an advisor to the assistant secretary of the army, and

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