The Blue Sky
By the time that Hutchins was invited to take the presidency of Chicago there was no surprise in his airy suggestion that Mortimer Adler come on along with him. And no surprise in Adler's acceptance. (Columbia's psychology department wouldn't hold Adler very long anyway—or try to.) The deluge of Adlerian memoranda ("I have a grand idea for you. It's a little wild, but has a real kick.") became a cascade of schemes to abolish courses, credits, grades, textbooks, lectures—and why not (this seriously) professors somehow? Older and wiser (if not smarter) at twenty-eight, seasoned by administration of a law school, Hutchins knew that it was not going to be like that—but hadn't they for two years now talked about how it might be like that if there was ever to be a real university?
Each of them, sizing up the other in New Haven, suspected that the other, like himself, got his exercise swimming upstream. Each suspected that the other would go places. Each suspected, after their first few meetings, that they would go together.
It was like Hutchins to say "Come on along," and like Adler to say, "And do what?" Hutchins thought they ought to teach the Great Books together; in that way he'd get to read them. Adler wanted to know where they ought to teach them. Hutchins thought they ought to teach them all over the campus. Adler wanted to know to whom. Hutchins thought to freshmen, who hadn't had a chance to be ruined by professors. Adler thought there'd be trouble. Hutchins was sure there would be.
The trouble they had in mind, and they certainly had trouble in mind, would begin when they started teaching. A new university president has more pressing, not to say more useful, things to do than teach—and teach freshmen , and teach the Great Books , and teach them with another Johnny-come-lately as his coinstructor. The trouble would, they supposed,
begin the first day they met their freshmen, when the president of the university opened the honors course by saying, "It will come as a surprise to you to learn on the highest authority in this educational institution that the purpose of an educational institution is education."
Hutchins and Adler understood each other, though they spoke different languages—or, more precisely, the same language in different tones of voice, Adler undeceptively shrill and insistent, Hutchins deceptively bland and sedate. The radically different styles of the reasoning man and the reasonable man would ever afterward astonish their students (and not only their students). Adler told them what dialectic was and reached for the blackboard; Hutchins tilted back in his chair, quizzed them dialectically, and now and again turned to his fellow votary of dialectics to thank him for his enlightening lecture. (The students giggled, and Adler, who wasn't foolish, looked foolish.) They were two radically different kinds of men. But they possessed one kind of mind, and were of one mind about education.
What neither of the two seemed to have realized when the tall one said to the short one, "Come on along," was that the trouble would begin when Mortimer J. Adler had to be appointed to the faculty of a great university. To the extent that Adler was unidentified when he came along, he was suspect. To the extent that he was identified, he was more suspect still. The psychologists at Columbia told their Chicago colleagues that Adler might be a philosopher, but they doubted it. The philosophers said that he might be a psychologist, but they doubted it. He was, all agreed, an ebullient young man; objectionably so.
The honeymoon that saw Hutchins get almost everything he wanted (or should have wanted) saw him, in the Adler case, get one furious, first-first-class beating. It wouldn't have been much of a beating for another, less truculent administrator. After all, it was a single appointment, and a junior appointment at that. But it was the most important appointment, the most important beating, and the most important association of his career.
When Adler came on along, early in 1930, Hutchins had not yet unleashed his assault on departmentalism. But there could have been no doubt around the campus that he would, if he meant to do anything at all about the higher learning. The department—any department—was the enemy. The enemy's general staff were the senior members of the department, and the senior members of the department were the great specialists. Adler wasn't great when Hutchins invited him to come along, or (at twenty-four) senior. He wasn't a specialist; he was a strident enemy of specialization. He was the original Professor of the Blue Sky.
But there was no Department of the Blue Sky, and Adler had to be
appointed to a department. Statutorily the president made all the appointments to the faculty—or, rather, forwarded them to the board of trustees, which made them. The way it went (and goes) was something else entirely. The board had all the nominal power, but nobody, including the board, thought that the board had any academic competence. In practice the department brought the appointment to the president (who had no competence in that or any field) and the president "recommended" the appointment to the board; the president was the messenger boy.
A messenger boy with a message of his own is an autocrat begging for a broken head. Hutchins went begging for twenty years. He should have "known better." He didn't, and he never would. In the winter of 1943—he'd been president for thirteen years—Igor Stravinsky and Jacques Maritain came to Chicago at the same time, to lecture for the Committee on Social Thought, an interdepartmental beachhead which Hutchins had established with private funds. The three had lunch with economist John U. Nef, a solid Hutchins man, who presided over the committee. As they rose from lunch, Hutchins invited both visitors to join the faculty of the University of Chicago. Stravinsky was unable to consider the invitation, but Maritain was interested. The Frenchman was the leading living Thomist and one of the world's leading living philosophers. A convert to Catholicism, he had broken with the church leadership by supporting the Spanish Loyalists in 1936, and now, with France occupied by the Nazis, he was stranded in America.
Nef, in his memoirs, tells us that three times in the next few years Hutchins tried to get Maritain appointed in the philosophy department. The department blocked the appointment each time—even when Hutchins offered to put Maritain on the committee's private payroll. There are two accounts, both of them doubtless correct, of what happened. In Nef's, Hutchins sent "emissaries" (probably Nef) to the department chairman, who said, "Maritain is not a good philosopher." Emissaries: "Is there a good philosopher in the Department?" Chairman: "No—but we know what a good philosopher is." The other account has Hutchins pressing one of the department's logical positivists (whose own appointment Hutchins had urged) with the need to balance the dominant pragmatism of the department. Logical positivist: "Maritain is a propagandist." Hutchins: "You're all propagandists."
The appointment was never made. Maritain continued to lecture a few days a year in the committee as a visiting professor—the department's acquiescence wasn't required for such status—until 1958. He finally accepted a permanent post in another (and better) philosophy department—Princeton's. Jacques Maritain was no young Johnny-come-lately
like the Mortimer Adler of 1930; he was, in 1943, and earlier, a man of the first eminence in European scholarship.
When, on the other hand, Hutchins himself presumed to stand pat against a departmental recommendation, the few friends he had closed ranks against his presumption. The history department chairman, William E. Dodd—later Roosevelt's heroic ambassador to Berlin—had been one of the trustee-faculty committee that had chosen Hutchins as president. On one occasion in the early 1930s, he came in to inform the president that the department wanted to have a certain man appointed in ancient history. "It's my impression," said Hutchins, "that he isn't very good." "He's one of the most respected men in his field," said Dodd. "I know that," said Hutchins, "but I don't respect him. But I'm willing to be converted. Let me talk to him." The candidate came to Chicago and, to his surprise, found himself discussing Roman history with the president, who wasn't an historian. After he left, Hutchins said to Dodd, "I'm sorry, but I think he's no good. He's worse than I thought he was before I met him. If the department insists, I'll forward its recommendation to the board with the strongest possible objection attached to it." The department withdrew its recommendation, and the relations between the heroic chairman and the stand-pat president were never again quite the same; very far from it. The two had liked each other, the old historical revisionist (of the Civil War) who admired President Woodrow Wilson of Princeton and the young revisionist of education who studied Wilson's futile attempts to do something sensible about the American university. Dodd had introduced Carl Sandburg to Hutchins, and these two, too, had taken a shine to one another. Dodd had been far from unhappy when Hutchins invited Sand-burg to lecture at the university—in the university, but not in the history department. For Dodd was a stern departmentalist, a product of the de-partmentalist supremacy at Leipzig. In 1936 he was called home from the U.S. embassy in Berlin for critical consultation on the Nazi threat, and came back to Chicago to meet with his colleagues and their graduate students. "From what they say," he wrote in his diary, "the University's merging of history into the social science as a minor subject is most discouraging. They lament the failure of the University to give American history in a large comprehensive way, and add that they can not get sufficient knowledge except upon their own initiative and with library work. This is Hutchins' system. I have long feared his scheme of limiting departments and avoiding departmental selection of professors would greatly injure this institution. Nothing is more important than eminent professors developing their subjects in their own way, first being sure the professors are worthy of appointment. I am distressed at the University of Chicago.
Sometimes I wish I might again bring pressure to bear here." Two years later, when Hitler found him persona non grata in Berlin, he came back to the university and did bring all the pressure to bear that he could.
The complication in the Adler case was that Adler seemed not to conform to any acceptable department type. He belonged (if at all) in the Blue Sky, and all the nonphilosophers in all the nonphilosophy departments always agree that the repository of the Blue Sky is the philosophy department. And that was where the trouble was going to be.
A philosophy department of ten men would like as not have ten mutually unintelligible schools in it. The exception would be the department headed by a man who, in the patient, persistent exercise of seniority had weeded out every school but his own and weeded in his acolytes—an understandable proclivity. The two most notable such cases were Chicago and Columbia. In both institutions the philosophy departments were implacably Deweyite—and, since John Dewey was preeminently a philosopher of education, so were Chicago's School of Education and Columbia's Teachers' College.
Dewey was no more a philosopher than Adler was, or Goethe, or Jefferson, or Emerson, or Russell. Adler was (or was to become) a commentator on systematic philosophy and an elaborator of it. Dewey was a learned critic of it; a highly original thinker (as neither Adler nor Hutchins was) in the tradition of the educational reformers of early twentieth-century Germany. To call him (still less Adler, least of all Hutchins) a philosopher was only a commonplace courtesy; even at the painstaking hands of brilliant disciples, "Deweyism" defied systematization. What John Dewey was was a psychologist of learning who believed that the principles of growth—the central term of his doctrine—had been discovered by modern psychology in its experimental form. "Change," "process," "experience" were all. There was no real dichotomy between science and philosophy except as to subject matter, no nonscientific method of obtaining knowledge, no immutable knowledge, no immutability, no fixed natural or moral (much less divine) law, no species aeterna . "Everything," said Socrates of the Deweys of his time, "is a charming flux." The contemporary child learned in and from contemporary society: "The school is not a preparation for life," said Dewey. "It is life itself." It is the life the child is living in the place that he lives that interests him, not the life of a past he didn't know and couldn't relate to himself. Education had to be child-centered, interest-centered, activity-centered. John Dewey was the nearest thing to a philosopher that a nonphilosophical America had produced in the twentieth century. When Hutchins began his career, Dewey was the most influential educator of his time.
To the extent that Dewey was a philosopher, he was above all else a philosopher of science as (he said) "the organ of general social progress." He saw the hope of the world in the refinement of the arts of precise measurement, controlled experimentation, and the conscientious collection and confrontation of the facts. He saw the social sciences coming into their own as true sciences, producing findings as irresistible in their application to human life and human society as the mathematician's are to engineering. It went without saying—though he said it—that he was irreligious, incapable (like the consecrated scientist) of recognizing that the validity of his own method, his own materials, his own objectives rested squarely on faith in those indemonstrable assumptions that Hutchins and Adler (like Aristotle before them) insisted on calling first principles or, as one ardent Dewey disciple called them, "the ultimate trivialities."
In the early 1920s, as the most eminent of the Columbia faculty Dewey characteristically attended the meetings of the student philosophy club, and at one meeting one of his students was delivering a paper on philosophy and religion. Professor Dewey's face warmed as the intense, insistent young man warmed to this theme, finally quoting a passage from Dewey himself and saying, "There is certainly nothing of the love of God in this utterance." Dewey blew up. He got to his feet, said "Nobody is going to tell me how to love God," and walked out.
The outrageous young man, Mortimer J. Adler by name, then began harassing the outraged sage with very long letters arguing that later Dewey lectures contradicted earlier Dewey lectures. Dewey, generous, tolerant, responsive, read the letters aloud in class for a while, and then (as Adler tells it) summoned this jump-up member of the rising generation to his office and suggested that he lay off; which, of course, Adler didn't. Picture the preposterous confrontation: the American philosopher, in his towering midsixties, with a Praetorian guard of loving disciples and a swirl of reverent students at his hem—and an unloving, irreverent upstart in his early twenties tearing into him with that merciless kind of picayune analysis that Dewey considered the root of sterile scholarship. It was precisely that kind of analysis, demanding the definition of terms and then the definition of the terms used in the definition, that "Deweyism" was incapable of standing up to.
Adler was a one-man category. That he should turn up at Chicago—and with Hutchins as what Dewey must have regarded as his mouth-piece—added a peculiarly sensitive injury to the insult. For Chicago (like Columbia) was Dewey country.
To be a non-Deweyite at Chicago was one thing; to be an anti-Deweyite an unthinkable another, above all in the philosophy department, whose
two senior members, George Herbert Mead and James Hayden Tufts, both of them friends and contemporaries of the master, rotated the departmental chairmanship between them. Mead had great distinction as a pragmatist. (Tufts was memorable for a jaw that made Don Quixote look chinless.) Their junior faculty was predominantly Deweyite, and Chicago at the apex of Deweyism was generally regarded as one of the country's strongpoints in philosophy. That it was so regarded was itself a commentary on the condition of the discipline in America. The department was weak in every area except pragmatism, and spectacularly weak in the Greek and scholastic traditions, which underlay all of Western thought prior to the work of Charles Sanders Peirce and William James at the end of the nineteenth century—and the thinking of the two great pragmatists (unlike that of their followers) by no means represented a clean break with ancient and medieval Europe.
Hutchins knew that this was the kind of philosophy department he was going to have. What he didn't know was that he was not going to have it. The record of the disaster has to be pieced together from a few letters, a few memoranda, and a few fading recollections. On June 27, 1929, four months before he was even inaugurated, he got a letter from Adler informing him that Scott Buchanan and Richard McKeon had both refused the philosophy chairmanship at Cornell because they preferred to join Hutchins at Chicago; it is clear that Hutchins was (or thought he was) handing out jobs like a politician between election day and inauguration day. He was either magnificently presumptuous or magnificently innocent, and his experience at Yale militates against his having been innocent.
So far as any record indicates, he had not at this point discussed any of these men with the philosophy department. It didn't take anything more than a philosophical tyro to recognize that the department was incestuous. To legitimate it meant to strengthen the classic areas. Adler already had some small status as a medievalist. Buchanan and McKeon were "Greeks."
Hutchins' lifelong fight for general education was directed against the provincialism of what he called the uneducated specialist. He could have traded all his multifarious crusades for this one—and just possibly have been more effective in the end than he was. His uneducated specialist was Artistotle's natural slave, born and bred to serve a purpose that was not his own. He was, still is, and always will be, in and out of education, something much more pernicious than the popular hyperbole suggests—the man who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing at all.
The elective system encouraged ever more premature specialization in
collegiate, even in subcollegiate, education. For young men and women bent on an academic career, the earlier a student got started up the ladder the better—and one ladder rather than just any. It meant the narrowing of perspective not to one field but to one area in that field, and to one school (that is, one man) in that area. And in 1930 Chicago's "Deweyite" philosophy department was a characteristic case in point. Adler was previsioned at Chicago—letters going back and forth between the Midway and Morningside Heights—as a Thomist (or, by way of further denigration, if that should be possible, a neo-Thomist). That took care of Adler, however roundly he was criticized in bona fide Thomistic circles as a dilettante and however headily he might take issue with the angelic holy doctor of the Church on points of the highest order (including the cornerstone "five proofs" of God's existence).
That noble jurist, Felix Frankfurter, for all his European training, repeatedly, and heavy handedly, twitted Hutchins about his "Tomism," his "Tomist institution," and his "Tomist belief in universals." Hutchins just as repeatedly (and with no success whatever) tried to convince Frankfurter that it took more than teaching St. Thomas to make a man a Thomist, just as it took more than delivering milk to make a man a cow. On one playful occasion, while Frankfurter was still at Harvard, Hutchins wrote him, "I want very much to have you go on the Supreme Court. For that reason I should take the time to explain to you the difference between the Platonic and Thomistic views of universals. I can not have one of my friends exhibiting his ignorance in the law courts. Unfortunately, I am so occupied just now in trying to make my students understand this point that I can not undertake your education in addition. I shall have to content myself with pointing out that 'Thomist' is spelled with an 'h'."
The western end of the Midway-Morningside Heights correspondence did not elicit anything much about Buchanan apart from the fact that, like Adler, he was suspiciously involved in the great books and had been teaching them evenings to unsuspecting immigrants at Everett Dean Martin's People's Institute in New York. His specialty seemed to be logic, but logic of the fossilized, (i.e., prepositivist) sort. McKeon, like the other members of the Hutchins consortium, was under thirty; but he had already published on Aristotle. (His edition of Aristotle's basic works appeared a decade later and remains a scholarly landmark.) Thirty-five years later he recalled his amazement at being classed as an "Aristotelian": "In the first place, my interpretation of Aristotle does not agree with what is commonly held, on the authority of recent scholars, to be Aristotelian doctrines and errors. I have never troubled to point out these differences because
the name 'Aristotelian' is used not to describe a person or a position but to be unkind, and if I was to be charged with guilt by association, I could not do better than be associated with 'the Master of Them That Know.'"
It was six wild and wooly months before Hutchins (now installed as president) replied to Adler's June 1929 letter in which it was clear that Adler, Buchanan, and McKeon were to come to Chicago. On December 4, Hutchins informed Adler that Buchanan would teach logic, McKeon medieval philosophy, and Adler "the geometrics of the soul," but it would be a year before the Holy Trinity (as Hutchins put it) would be operative, the stock market (and with it the university's budget) having collapsed between Dear Mortimer's letter and Dear Bob's reply. The appointments of Buchanan and McKeon would have to wait until 1931; but Adler was to come on as soon as he could for the academic year 1930-31.
Buchanan was an associate professor at Virginia when Hutchins told him—just like that—to "come along." He went to the president to tell him of the offer, and the president, in an effort to keep him, went immediately to the board and got Buchanan a promotion to full professor. A few weeks later Buchanan, hearing from Hutchins (just like that, again) that there was no money for the Chicago appointment that year, had to tell the president that he wanted to stay. The president, of course, who had no previous suspicion of Buchanan's apparent duplicity, now had no choice but to conclude that the Chicago invitation had been a fake on Buchanan's part (with or without the connivance of Hutchins), designed to obtain the Virginia promotion.
Forty years afterward Dr. Irene Tufts Mead, daughter of Professor Tufts and daughter-in-law of Professor Mead, was sure that Hutchins had simply informed the department of 1930 that Adler and McKeon were to join it (she did not recall Buchanan's having been involved); and there was no one, after forty years, to gainsay her recollection. Mead and Tufts, she said, were "incensed" and the whole department "felt depreciated."
Shortly after confirming his invitation to Adler, Hutchins asked the department to have lunch with him and Adler in a private dining room at the faculty's Quadrangle Club. Adler showed up in amiable (if amiably contemptuous) form, and Hutchins amiably introduced him around the table.
The weather, the depression, and the low quality of the lunch having been taken care of, the philosophers turned, as usual, not to philosophy, but to courses. The department was giving an introductory course "covering" the field. When Adler asked what field, he was told "Philosophy." His ears and his hair went up, his jaw began jutting: one course covering philosophy. Whether it was Adler or Hutchins who asked the inevitable question is unrecorded, but instantly asked it was by one or the other of them:
What were the students reading for the course? Nor is the identity of the answerer known, but answered the question was: Will Durant's Story of Philosophy .
Silence; Hutchins drumming inaudibly on the table, Adler swelling as he reddened. He always seemed to stammer when he was enraged, and he stammered: "But—but—but that's a very bad book." He was right, of course, and somebody around the table besides him and Hutchins must have known he was right; maybe everybody. Durant was prefabricated pop, directed at the mass market. It "explained" philosophy—all philosophy—to people who wanted (or thought they wanted) all philosophy explained to them. Philosophy—the Queen of the Sciences. A university . And not just a university, but Chicago . Adler would have been a little (but only a little) less horrified if the students had been given a standard textbook instead of the original writings of the philosophers themselves. But Durant—.
After Adler finished his outraged stammer there may be supposed to have been an outraged silence on the part of the entire party of the second part. And then the philosophy hit the fan. One thing led—as it would, logic being a province of philosophy—to another. The man who challenged Dewey, and then (as Dewey himself would have done) challenged Durant, was denounced as an Aristotelian . The luncheon did not end on the ostensibly amiable note on which it began. What Hutchins must have suspected, he now knew, and so did Adler. There would be a finish fight and it would determine the course, perhaps of Adler's career, certainly of Hutchins'.
To lose his first fight would be a premonitory scandal; if he could not do anything with the philosophy department, what would he be able to do with the departments in which he himself could not pretend to any competence whatever? He was, after all, a lawyer; he knew that his power under the university's statutes was the power of persuasion—nothing more. If he was ever going to get anything done, he had to win this one. If he lost it, he might as well resign—or resign himself to being a messenger boy. He had been in office six months.
If Hutchins was arrogant and grim, Adler was arrogant and manic. He wouldn't fight the stupid bastards—them and their Durant—and wouldn't take the job if they offered it to him. Hutchins corrected him: he wouldn't have to fight, but he would have to take the job. And it would be offered to him. Hutchins knew he could pull it off.
He thought he knew.
He went to the department with a proposal. An outside committee of philosophers would be invited to evaluate the department—member by
member—to determine its qualifications vis-à-vis Adler's. The proposal did not even get as far as the method by which the committee would be selected—an issue on which no agreement would be likely. The department spurned the proposal and exploded. Tufts, who had reached the retirement age but could have been invited to stay on a year-to-year basis, retired. Mead, with an offer from Columbia, decided to resign. (He died the same year.) Two of the three younger members of the department quit and got jobs at other schools. The department was not merely wrecked; it as good as disappeared.
Hutchins was beaten. Badly beaten. He knew better than to go back to what was left of the department and push the appointment, and Adler, still sure that he'd be coming to Chicago anyway, didn't want him to try. The law school was more amenable. It was a solid professional drill-ground of the kind Hutchins had found (but hadn't left behind him) at Yale. It prepared good students for good bar examinations and good law offices, and its faculty, including the senior members, had no special adherence to doctrine. Chicago's recognized Yale's as a law school of its own rank and the ex-dean of Yale as a member of its own fraternity and an able administrator. There was no objection—not at the time, at least—when Hutchins recommended Adler's appointment, not as associate professor of philosophy, but as associate professor of law.
For twenty years thereafter Adler, when he wasn't teaching the Great Books honors course with Hutchins, came hurtling across town (and through all the stop lights) to the law school to teach, naturally, The Philosophy of Law, The Nature of Law, Law and the Nature of Man—in one word, philosophy. With no more than a minor assist from Adler, Hutchins transformed Chicago's Law School; its emphasis shifted from the training of lawyers to the education of jurists, much as the first universities educated theologians and left the preparation of preachers to the seminaries. Hutchins (like Adler) was a Natural Law man, and the curriculum, as it was generalized, was strengthened in that area. But the subsequent appointments testified to Hutchins' insistence that what he wanted was not to "pack" the faculty but to make it more representative of conflicting viewpoints than faculties in the nature of things tended to be.
Philosophers—that is, professors of philosophy—across the country joined Dewey in deploring the Hutchins-Adler attentat. A Harvard man was reported (by Tufts) to have said that the sacrifice of a philosophy department was a high price to pay for the education of a president. But there was no report of the matter in the learned, much less in the unlearned, press; and no open outcry on the Chicago campus or anywhere else. The affaire was Hutchins' sorriest hour. It could have been used—
and, had it occurred a few years later, would have been—as a bomb under him. But this was the beginning of his tenure. The surviving memoranda—even those written by members of the philosophy department—uniformly suggest that the reasons for not making the issue public were on the whole lofty. The least lofty of the sentiments: nobody in one of the world's scientific centers cared what happened to the philosophy department or the law school. If there is one thing that is supposed to do a university less good than trouble, it is the disclosure of trouble. Hutchins was new and (as the then chairman of the board of trustees said several years later) didn't know the ropes. He had made a power grab and had failed, and he wouldn't be likely to try it again—a view that discloses a charming combination of naiveté and optimism. Perhaps he had some sort of right to have his man at hand; and, after all, Adler was an academic and did have rank at Columbia.
Of course Hutchins wanted to "pack" the faculty, just as Roosevelt wanted to "pack" the Court—but not quite. The political reformer saw no way to break into the classic circle of self-perpetuation short of breaking the circle; so too the educational reformer. But the political reformer wanted his own programs supported. The educational reformer wanted to introduce diversification into a stultified and stultifying system. In so far as Hutchins' own views were unrepresented—as they were in the philosophy department, and not only there—he would appear to be trying to do what the political reformer tries to do. But the record pretty well sustains Hutchins' insistence that what he wanted was a broad representation regardless of his own persuasion. There were only four "Hutchins men" among the more than five hundred appointments during the first ten years of his presidency; and of those four—Adler, McKeon, Buchanan, and Barr—only two, Adler and McKeon, remained, and only one, McKeon (who made it into a reconstructed philosophy department in 1934 and subsequently became dean of the humanities division), was appointed as a full professor. Of the eleven holders of distinguished-service professorships elevated to that Olympus during Hutchins' first decade, nine were scientists, one an educationalist opposed to Hutchins, and one, McKeon, a "Hutchins man." When Ralph Waldo Tyler of Ohio State was offered the chairmanship of Chicago's Board of Examinations—he later became dean of the social sciences division—he asked Hutchins, "Are you sure I'm the man you're looking for? I'm what they call a Progressive Educator and you're what they call something else altogether," and Hutchins said, "I know what you are, and I know what I am, and I want you here."
But the memory of the Adler debacle died a long, hard death; indeed, it never died. It was maintained by the recognition on the part of friends and
enemies alike that Hutchins did want to exercise power the statutes didn't give him in order to get men he respected into the institution—and men he respected were likely, given the prevailing imbalance, to be men of his own views. He was a lawyer, given, like some lawyers, to legality. For twenty years he tried to get the statutes changed to give him the kind of power a parliamentary ministry has, subject to dismissal on a vote of no confidence—or, alternatively, to strip the office he held of all power and retain the president as merely the chairman, or presiding officer, of the faculty. He never succeeded.
But neither did he fail completely; such men seldom do. Within a year of the Adler appointment the separate college faculty had been established, and within a year of that victory the faculty senate abrogated the requirement that all members of the college faculty be members of departmental faculties in the four upper divisions of the university. The dean of the college was empowered to recommend to the president appointments to the college faculty without departmental status. It was a Chicago first and a Hutchins triumph. Now, by virtue of his power to appoint deans—a power the faculty could override only by open rebellion—he could in effect appoint professors in the college. In the divisions he was careful to appoint deans of unexceptionable credentials, as witness Tyler in the social sciences. His appointment of his friend Beardsley Ruml, Tyler's predecessor, raised eyebrows among the natural scientists; but they did not much more care what happened in the social sciences division than they cared what happened in the philosophy department or the law school. Among the social scientists there was some objection to the lusty activist—it was "B" Ruml who later invented the pay-as-you-go system of withholding income taxes—but here Hutchins had his way on the assumption that Ruml would soon move on; and he did, after a couple of years: to the board chairmanship of Macy's. (Hutchins, who enjoyed his company and his brashness, wistfully announced that Ruml had leaped from the ivory tower into the bargain basement; Mrs. Hutchins topped that one by observing that "B" had exchanged ideas for notions.)
All that the reformer had to do now, with his separate college faculty, was to be patient and live long enough, and he would get the college he wanted. He despised patience as a high-grade way of doing nothing. He would, however, live a very long time. Long enough to realize that he would never get the college he wanted.