Presentation covers University history after World War II

by Jessica Thompson

The Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum launches its fall 2000 public programming at 7:30 p.m. today in the Dayton Performance Hall with a presentation of University developments in the last half-century.
“Changes in the Citizens’ University,” presented by University historian Ann Pflaum, focuses on three periods of University history: the growth and expansion following World War II; the instability of the 1960s and early 1970s; and the retrenchment and constricted resources of the 1980s.
Pflaum also focuses on the impacts of higher education on the lives of students.
“When students came to the University in the 1940s and 1950s, a lot of them had never left Minnesota or been around people from different cultures, religions, or countries,” Pflaum said. “It was a tremendous eye-opener and opportunity for people.”
Pflaum’s presentation also highlights various leaders in University history. She will discuss the contributions, for example, of Kathren Densford, the 1930-1959 director of the School of Nursing who fought for racially integrated nursing.
Another key figure she cites is Ancel Keys, a public health faculty member who studied starvation and was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1961 for his studies about the effects of cholesterol on dieting.
Pflaum stresses the difficulty of paying tribute to everyone who has contributed to the school but said she hopes to highlight a few of the University’s leaders.
The presentation is a preview of “The University of Minnesota: 1945 to 2000,” which was co-written by Pflaum and retired history professor Stanford Lehmberg.
The book, which will be published in February 2001 by the University of Minnesota Press, is based on more than 200 interviews with students, faculty and staff.
Most of the interviews were conducted by retired history professor Clarke Chambers, who was involved in the project’s formation.
“We thought this would be an appropriate way to honor and celebrate the University in its sesquicentennial year,” Chambers said.
The book is a sequel to one written by English professor James Gray which documented the University’s history from 1851 to 1951.
Lehmberg said it will focus on the experiences of the University community rather than on the factual history of the University.
“We did not want this to be just an institutional history or just to represent the point of view of the president’s office,” he said. “We tried to present more of a intellectual and social history of the University.”
Lehmberg said although the book includes some interviews with well-known faculty members, it focuses more on experiences of the general population.
Pflaum added the book is not intended to be definitive.
“The history makes no pretense to being comprehensive,” she said. “But we tried consciously to represent different cultures, departments and generations.”

Jessica Thompson welcomes comments at (612) 627-4070 x3232