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The University of Louisville

The University of Louisville

Dwayne D. Cox
William J. Morison
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The University of Louisville
    Book Description:

    Dwayne Cox and William Morison trace the twists and turns of the University of Louisville's two hundred year journey from provincial academy to national powerhouse.

    From the 1798 charter that established Jefferson Seminary to the 1998 opening of Papa John Stadium, Cox and Morison reveal the unique and fascinating history of the university's evolution. They discuss the early failures to establish a liberal arts college; tell the extraordinary story of the Louisville Municipal College, U of L's separate division for African Americans during the era of segregation; detail the political wrangling and budgetary struggles of the university's move from quasi-private to state-supported institution; and confront head-on the question of the university's founding date.

    The history of the University of Louisville defies the stereotype of orderly and planned growth. For many years, the university was essentially a consortium of two professional schools -- medicine and law. Not until the first decade of the twentieth century did the liberal arts gain a firm and permanent foothold. Because of its early emphasis on practical, professional education and the virtual autonomy of its separate units for many years, the University of Louisville is unusual in the annals of higher education.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5755-9
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    William F. Ekstrom

    The bicentennial celebration of the University of Louisville has stimulated interest in the story of an educational institution both venerable in time and increasingly vital to the life of a heartland community of a million people. One of the most important testimonials to the university’s sustained curiosity about the past is the publication of a comprehensive history of the institution, a landmark achievement in that it is both an initial effort and a well-developed and well-documented account.

    A university, like any other corporate entity, grows and develops along lines determined by its historic past. It can ignore this past not...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. ONE Jefferson Seminary, 1798-1829
    (pp. 1-10)

    On April 3, 1798, eight men declared their intention to establish the Jefferson Seminary in Louisville, and called on their fellow citizens to join them in pledging funds to buy “a small Lot of Land,” erect “the necessary Buildings,” and supply “other requisite Expenses” for the academy they envisioned. Thus began a community effort to provide an advanced level of education for the young people of a frontier settlement barely two decades old. Near the end of the eighteenth century these early Louisvillians took the first steps on a journey that would link them to the modern University of Louisville.¹...

  6. TWO “First Among the Medical Schools of the West”
    (pp. 11-19)

    By 1830 Louisville boasted a population of more than eleven thousand residents, making it the commonwealth’s largest community. Just two years earlier it had been incorporated by the state legislature as Kentucky’s first city. Although the decade began with the Falls City bereft of its academy, a new generation of leaders capitalized on the prosperity generated by the burgeoning steamboat trade. Building upon the work of their forebears, they moved Louisville quickly to a position of prominence among the nation's western cities.

    In rapid succession the city saw the completion of the Portland Canal in 1830, bypassing the Falls of...

  7. THREE From Frontier Academy to City College
    (pp. 20-22)

    At the opening of the Louisville Medical Institute, Charles Caldwell declared that the city had left behind its coarse, frontier origins. He envisioned a municipal university as the capstone of the public schools, offering degrees in medicine, law, theology, and liberal arts. Chartered by the state, this “great and commanding university” would be the commonwealth’s premier institution of higher education. It must be located in Louisville, Caldwell declared, for that place alone among Kentucky cities could provide the necessary financial support.¹

    The city council agreed. In November 1837, in the wake of the founding of the Louisville Medical Institute, the...

  8. FOUR The Emergence of a University
    (pp. 23-27)

    City officials and other friends of the college won the battle but lost the war. Over the objections of the LMI faculty, the state legislature in 1846 combined the Louisville Medical Institute and the languishing Louisville College to form the University of Louisville. It was the first use of this modern name. Unfortunately for the insolvent college, however, the new charter made no provision for the financial invasion of the medical school.

    In addition to leaving each division financially autonomous, the charter made no allowance for public financial support. This left both the medical school and the college to survive...

  9. FIVE Civil War Travails
    (pp. 28-30)

    Louisville voters seemed reasonably unified in their thinking about the issues that divided the nation in the 1860 presidential election. They cast the majority of their ballots for John Bell of Tennessee and Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, the two moderate candidates. Abraham Lincoln of Illinois and John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, candidates strongly identified with the North and the South, respectively, received relatively few votes. Most local voters apparently shared the views of Samuel Smith Nicholas, the university’s first president, who attributed the Civil War to extremists of both South and North, and who decried “all bastard allegiance to...

  10. SIX Competition, Consolidation, and Reform
    (pp. 31-38)

    At the end of the Civil War the University of Louisville consisted of a weakened medical school and a part-time law school, loosely bound by one board of trustees. The issue of the establishment and nourishment of a strong, permanent liberal arts college, which had been so dominant in the life of the university and its predecessor schools for two generations, was dead, not to be resurrected for more than forty years. Meanwhile, new medical schools continued to open in Louisville, and their histories eventually became intertwined with that of the university.

    By 1910, when Abraham Flexner published his landmark...

  11. SEVEN The Late Nineteenth-Century Law School
    (pp. 39-43)

    U of L’s law school during the late nineteenth century had a weaker corporate identity than its counterpart in medicine. Consequently, it left a weaker documentary record. The professors bickered less, probably because they had less to bicker about. As late as the 1870s, the school still supported a faculty of only three professors, each of whom met classes two days per week for four hours. In 1872 students still attended two courses of lectures for the degree and paid a $5 matriculation fee, a $20 fee to each professor, and a $10 diploma fee.¹

    During the following decade the...

  12. EIGHT The Rebirth of the Liberal Arts College
    (pp. 44-56)

    As the University of Louisville’s medical and law schools responded to educational changes, the Louisville Commercial Club began arguing for a liberal arts college to fill the gap between the city’s high schools and its various professional schools. They were aided by Judge Theodore L. Burnett, who in 1905 succeeded Judge James Speed Pirtle as president of the university. Burnett, the university’s fifth president and the first who received a salary, graduated from the Transylvania University Law Department in 1846, practiced law in his native Spencer County, and served in the Mexican War. With the outbreak of the Civil War,...

  13. NINE Campus and Academic Expansion
    (pp. 57-74)

    During the two decades that followed the Flexner report in 1910, the University of Louisville took on the administrative structure of a modern institution of higher education. It acquired a full-time president who served as the executive agent of the board of trustees. It also held middle managers, called deans, accountable for their schools. The board, president, and deans concerned themselves with accreditation standards, financial affairs, and lines of authority. As a result, academic purpose and command came into sharper focus, but this process produced strains which eventually resulted in sharp conflict.

    In 1914 Arthur Younger Ford became president of...

  14. TEN President vs. Faculty
    (pp. 75-79)

    President A.Y. Ford died in June 1926, and the board wasted no time in seeking a replacement. The trustees wanted someone who could continue the momentum generated during Ford’s administration, including fund-raising and the expanding role of the president’s office. Within a few weeks they had chosen George Colvin, a Kentucky native who had been elected state superintendent of public instruction in 1919. He had also been an unsuccessful candidate for governor in the Republican primary in 1923, and for the past three years had been superintendent of the Louisville and Jefferson County Children’s Home.

    Colvin was the first U...

  15. ELEVEN Academic Respectability
    (pp. 80-87)

    The next president of the University of Louisville was neither a Kentuckian nor a politician. For the first time in the institution’s history, the board of trustees selected someone other than a resident of the commonwealth. Raymond A. Kent, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University, took office in the summer of 1929. He was the first professional educator to hold the office since the chartering of the university in 1846. During his fourteen-year presidency, the university recovered from the Colvin administration, weathered the Great Depression and the charged political atmosphere of the 1930s, and saw...

  16. TWELVE A Dream Deferred
    (pp. 88-101)

    The Louisville Municipal College for Negroes (LMC) grew out of the increasing political and economic strength of American blacks following World War I. This was the period of the Harlem Renaissance and Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association as well as the mass migration of blacks out of the rural South. In urban areas, African Americans formed a political base that gave their leaders a new degree of independence from white supporters. As noted previously, black opposition to the 1920 U of L bond issue, subsequent support of an improved version, and lobbying for action constituted evidence of this trend...

  17. THIRTEEN Famine, Flood, And War
    (pp. 102-114)

    President Raymond A. Kent emphasized the achievement of academic respectability, a significant challenge in itself, but at the same time he faced social and economic issues unparalleled in the history of the university and the nation. He took office in the wake of the disastrous Colvin presidency, and a few months later Wall Street crashed and the United States plummeted into a financial depression that lasted until the outbreak of World War II. This severely limited the potential for increased public revenue and private giving to support Kent’s academic ambitions. The depression at home and the threat of war in...

  18. FOURTEEN The “Golden Age”?
    (pp. 115-139)

    The University of Louisville faced many of the same problems that confronted the rest of postwar America. White officials contended with the burgeoning civil rights movement, as African Americans in Louisville contested discriminatory laws and customs, such as being denied access to the mainstream of public education. By the late 1960s, college and university campuses had become centers of an increasingly militant counterculture that questioned postwar ideals of suburban tranquility at home and the containment of Communist aggression abroad. Meanwhile, the flight of tax-paying citizens to the suburbs helped bring the University of Louisville to a critical point in its...

  19. FIFTEEN Statehood
    (pp. 140-145)

    By the early 1960s, President Philip G. Davidson was well aware that the University of Louisville could not maintain the breadth and quality of programs for its students or the level of services to its community in the absence of major increases in revenue. The city’s support had been reduced to the point where it was supplying only 10 percent of the school’s budget. For years, county support had not exceeded one percent. For more than a decade, state funds, limited to medical and dental education, had not gone beyond eleven percent. Furthermore, the city’s population was in decline; within...

  20. SIXTEEN Student Unrest
    (pp. 146-153)

    President Woodrow Strickler provided seasoned leadership as the university entered the state system. He also had an understanding ear for student protestors during the late 1960s and early 1970s. These factors, amid a fairly conservative social climate coupled with the lack of a sizable on-campus student population, helped account for the university’s relative stability during one of the stormier periods in the history of American higher education. In retrospect, the counterculture and racial tensions that confronted the university’s leadership in the late 1960s were not a sudden, unpredictable outburst. Evidence of social and political conflict, rather than consensus, appeared throughout...

  21. SEVENTEEN Growing Pains
    (pp. 154-173)

    University of Louisville officials knew their choice of a successor to Woodrow Strickler, who had been at the school since 1938, would be crucial to the institution’s future. It was clear the trustees thought it best to look outside the university, probably outside the state, and surely outside the Kentucky political arena for a new president. They announced their selection in February 1973.¹

    James Grier Miller came to the university with a distinguished scholarly background and a notable record as an academic administrator. Having taken four degrees at Harvard University (A.B., M.A., M.D., and Ph.D.), at the age of thirty-two...

  22. EIGHTEEN An Agent for Change
    (pp. 174-197)

    In January 1980, President James Grier Miller announced his retirement effective eighteen months later, on July 1, 1981, and the board of trustees set about to find his successor. In April, David A. Jones, who had just begun his second year of service on the board, was named search committee co-chair, along with trustee Mary Rudd. Jones was head of Humana, Inc., a nationally prominent chain of for-profit hospitals based in Louisville. He had been a critic of the university’s handling of the hospital situation up to that point. The search schedule quickly changed when, on September 18, 1980, Miller...

  23. NINETEEN Looking Ahead, Looking Back
    (pp. 198-207)

    John W. Shumaker, the sixteenth president of the University of Louisville, was chosen in April 1995 and began his administration on July 1 of that year, at age fifty-two. There was no interregnum; his predecessor, Donald C. Swain, had announced his decision to retire a year earlier, giving the board of trustees time to seek a successor.¹

    A native of Pittsburgh, Shumaker received his degrees in ancient Greek and classical studies from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pennsylvania. He began his teaching career at Ohio State University, where he soon received an administrative appointment. After a decade...

  24. APPENDIX ONE: Deans of the Schools and Colleges of the University of Louisville
    (pp. 208-210)
  25. APPENDIX TWO: Louisville Municipal College Faculty Members 1931-1951
    (pp. 211-212)
  26. Notes
    (pp. 213-238)
  27. Index
    (pp. 239-252)