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Creating the Cold War University The Transformation of Stanford

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Rebecca Lowen challenges the conventional wisdom that the post-World War II "multiversity" and the so-called military-industrial-academic complex were the creations of military patrons, on the one hand, and academic scientists, on the other. Focusing closely on Stanford University, the archetype of the cold war university, she details the crucial role played by university administrators, driven by ideology and by institutional needs for prestige and money, to make their university dependent on military, foundation, and industrial patronage during and after the Second World War. She also effectively contests the standard view that the "federal grant university" arose inevitably after World War II in response to new sources of patronage (primarily military). Instead, she points to the critical significance of the Great Depression in creating financial pressures for universities and in stimulating academic administrators to seek new modes of funding institutions of higher learning. Lowen describes how university administrators reoriented academic programs in response to funding opportunities in both the natural sciences (e.g., physics and biology) and the social sciences (particularly, political science); how they redefined the role of university professors, minimizing the importance of undergraduate instruction and rewarding "academic entrepreneurship"; and how they worked with some faculty members to undermine the prewar tradition of departmental autonomy. Lowen also questions the usual depiction of the university as a bastion of consensus during the early cold war and documents considerable faculty resistance to the creation of the cold war university.