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The Presidents of
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A Centennial View
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Lawrence A. Kimpton, notes for speech to incoming freshmen, September 29, 1958. Kimpton told the new students, "if you are not seriously interested in education, better go home now." Still, he said, don't be "too grim": "Do your very best, learn to relax, & the best of luck."

 

Lawrence A. Kimpton

1910-1977

The University has always been a pioneer, striking out into new country, and, like the pioneer, often with little or no company until it had cut new paths. If the University has faults, they are the errors of commission rather than of omission.

Lawrence A. Kimpton

While the graduate divisions remained strong, the College, which had received intense interest during the Hutchins years, faced troubles from both outside and inside the University, due as Kimpton put it to a lack of "articulation with the basic structure of American education." Secondary educators felt threatened by the University of Chicago plan to accept high school juniors into college, and other colleges and graduate schools were suspicious of University bachelor's degrees which were granted to college sophomores. Some University professional schools even refused to admit graduates from the College. Facing declining enrollments due to the KoreanWar draft and a smaller population of depression-born youth, Kimpton felt the College could not remain outside the mainstream of American education. In the face of strong resistance, the "Four-Year" program was therefore dismantled, and the College adopted a more conventional BA program.

In 1960, with the University on firm financial and academic footing once again, Kimpton announced his resignation, stating that he had accomplished what he had set out to do, and it was time to move on: "My conviction is that the head of such a university as this one can do his best work for it within a reasonably short time. The University every so often requires a change in leaders who can apply fresh and sharply objective appraisals, and start anew, free of the associations, friendships, and scars of a common struggle." Kimpton had no interest in running any other university, and instead took an executive position with Standard Oil of Indiana, where he stayed until he retired for reasons of health in 1971.


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