The dean remembers

03-25-05_image-1_thumb.jpgWhen Wayne C. Booth, AM’47, PhD’50, was named dean of the College in December 1964, he had a grand ambition: to recreate the Hutchins College. But things didn’t turn out the way he’d planned.

In a lecture videotaped at Chicago’s Alumni House this week—to be added to the Alumni Association’s Mind Online Web page later this spring—Booth, the George C. Pullman distinguished service professor emeritus in English language & literature and the College, explained that his academic vision failed to win campus approval because he forgot the importance of “precinct” politics in institutional affairs. Before he could try again, the changing tide of national politics hit the quadrangles.

As sit-in followed sit-in, Booth found himself torn between support for the protestors’ anti-war stance and his institutional duties. In his journal entries he recorded his feelings of hypocrisy, failure, and the occasional moment of accomplishment. When black students occupied the Administration Building, he managed to convince the Chicago policemen who’d been sent to the scene that they were not needed. When he sat back down on the hallway floor, for the first time since he’d arrived, a student spoke to him: “Mr. Booth, would you like an apple?”

By M.R.Y.

March 25, 2005