Edmund J. James and the Making of the Modern University of Illinois, 1904-1920

Author: Winton U. Solberg and J. David Hoeveler
The life and legacy of a pivotal figure in university history
Cloth – $75
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Cloth: 11/12/2024
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About the Book

In 1904, Edmund J. James inherited the leadership of an educational institution in search of an identity. His sixteen-year tenure transformed the University of Illinois from an industrial college to a major state university that fulfilled his vision of a center for scientific investigation.

Winton U. Solberg and J. David Hoeveler provide an authoritative account of a pivotal time in the university’s evolution. A gifted intellectual and dedicated academic reformer, James began his tenure facing budget battles and antagonists on the Board of Trustees. But he successfully pushed for a state tax to provide a fund for university needs while engaging alumni to join their political influences in support of his various causes. James’ growing popularity gained the support of voters while increased support from the board aided his successful campaigns to address the problems faced by women students, expand graduate programs, create a university press, reshape the library and faculty, and unify the colleges of liberal arts and sciences. James also urged his model of scientific inquiry as the foundation of all academic disciplines and followed one of his scholarly passions into forming a top school for classical learning. Throughout, the authors explore the political milieu and the personalities around James to draw a vivid portrait of his life and times.

The authoritative conclusion to a four-part history, Edmund J. James and the Making of the Modern University of Illinois, 1904–1920 tells the story of one man’s mission to create a university worthy of the state of Illinois.

About the Author

Winton U. Solberg (1922-2019) was a professor of American intellectual and cultural history and served at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from 1961 until his death. His books include The University of Illinois, 1867–1894: An Intellectual and Cultural History; The University of Illinois, 1894–1904: The Shaping of the University; and Creating the Big Ten: Courage, Corruption, and Commercialism. J. David Hoeveler is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. His books include John Bascom and the Origins of the Wisconsin Idea and Creating the American Mind: Intellect and Politics in the Colonial Colleges.

Also by this author

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“Skillfully completed by David Hoeveler, this book completes Winton Solberg’s extraordinary, three-volume history of the early years of the University of Illinois, where he for so long taught. Centering on President Edmund James’s ‘institutional transformation’ between 1904 and 1920, it’s a major, distinctive contribution to the history of American higher education and the public university ideal. It's unlikely to be surpassed.”--James M. Banner Jr., The Ever-Changing Past: Why All History Is Revisionist History

“The University of Illinois was the quintessential state university in the early twentieth century. Edmund James, the foremost public university president of the era, elevated the institution into the ranks of the new research universities, including membership in the Association of American Universities. He also fostered an abundant collegiate regime that included the gamut of student activities. In this volume David Hoeveler, a distinguished intellectual historian, has masterfully completed Winton Solberg’s life work in chronicling the history of the university as well as the intellectual and social life of this era.”--Roger L. Geiger, author of The History of American Higher Education: Culture, Careers, and Learning from the Founding to World War II