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Henry Wriston, The Role of the University in a Time of Crisis, April 6, 1941.
Yale in World War II Collection. Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University.

Samuel Jackson 11, On University Leadership

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What is the proper role of a university and its intellectuals in a time of war? How much can intellectuals engage in the political sphere? A month after President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease act, Brown University President Henry Wriston gave this speech at a Yale student conference, discussing the responsibilities of universities in times of crisis. Wriston argues that colleges and universities have a duty to preserve the cultural and intellectual heritage of generations past, but singles out the research university as a special “incubator” of revolutionary ideas, calling the research conducted therein the “seeds of revolution.” Wriston considers the university as the caretaker of history, a key component for national defense. He and his contemporaries oversaw the tremendous direct involvement of their universities’ intellectual and human forces in the war effort, with the government commandeering faculty, students, and administration alike at Yale and other schools across the country.