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The Presidents of
the University of Chicago

A Centennial View
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Henry Crown Field House renovation, ca. 1976.

Henry Crown Field House renovation, ca. 1976. A second floor was added to the building to enlarge facilities and practice rooms for a wide variety of sports.

John T. Wilson

1914-1990
The Wilson years were colored by the atmosphere of belt-tightening and by the difficult adjustments which followed the period of campus unrest in the late 60s. Yet, once in office as president, Wilson was able to follow through on plans developed while he was serving as provost, so that the University could continue to maintain a "functional steady-state."

Because of his background, Wilson became a noted expert on the relations between universities and government. In 1963 he spoke of the need for educators to seek federal assistance actively and to participate in formulating programs in the humanities and arts as well as in science. The National Defense Education Act of 1958 had been the first major funding program of the federal government for education, and this was followed by additional programs more directly related to education needs. By the time he retired in 1978, Wilson had seen this trend come full circle, with problems developing from growing reliance on federal funding, at the same time that the government was pushing for increasing control over research and educational programs.

Reviewing the changing relationship between government and higher education over 33 years, Wilson concluded in 1983 that despite their close connections, "ignorance and misunderstanding about the nature and behavior of the other partner is pervasive on both sides." Although their purposes are different, "there is a mutual need for each other" which "requires a long-term, systematic commitment if the welfare of the nation is to be enhanced."


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