Building the Ivory Tower: A Selected Bibliography

March 9th, 2018

Today, universities serve as the economic engines and cultural centers of many U.S. cities, but how did this come to be? In Building the Ivory Tower, LaDale Winling traces the history of universities' relationship to the American city, illuminating how they embraced their role as urban developers throughout the twentieth century and what this legacy means for contemporary higher education and urban policy.

In the twentieth century, the federal government funded growth and redevelopment at American universities—through PWA construction subsidies during the Great Depression, urban renewal funds at mid-century, and loans for student housing in the 1960s. This federal aid was complemented by financial support for enrollment and research, including the GI Bill at the end of World War II and the National Defense Education Act, created to educate scientists and engineers after the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik. Federal support allowed universities to implement new visions for campus space and urban life. However, this growth often put these institutions in tension with surrounding communities, intensifying social and economic inequality, and advancing knowledge at the expense of neighbors.

Winling uses a series of case studies from the Progressive Era to the present day and covers institutions across the country, from state schools to the Ivy League. He explores how university builders and administrators worked in concert with a variety of interests—including the business community, philanthropists, and all levels of government—to achieve their development goals. Even as concerned citizens and grassroots organizers attempted to influence this process, university builders tapped into the full range of policy and economic tools to push forward their vision. Block by block, road by road, building by building, they constructed carefully managed urban institutions whose economic and political power endures to this day. LaDale Winling will discuss Building the Ivory Tower on Friday, March 9 at 6pm at the Co-op.

Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960, by Arnold Hirsch - This classic book on urban redevelopment at mid-century is a foundational text in urban history. Hirsch's fine-grained analysis of city politics and bureaucracy maps onto redevelopment projects that continue to shape Chicago.

Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America, by Beryl Satter - Satter's account of her father's work as a real estate investor and civil rights attorney provides an important window into the private world of property management, illustrating how central racial segregation was to making a profit.

Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley, by Margaret Pugh O'Mara - The Stanford research park looms as preeminent model for university-led research and development in the national consciousness. O'Mara explores the creation of the suburban research park and university-corporate collaborations to understand what the political and spatial impact of this wildly successful and much-imitated development has been when copied in communities across the country.

The Uses of the University, by Clark Kerr - The president of the University of California gave a series of lectures on higher education and the changing economy in the 1960s that illuminated key transformations in American society.

About LaDale Winling: LaDale Winling is an assistant professor of history at Virginia Tech. He studies the politics of metropolitan regions and earned his PhD in 2010 from the University of Michigan. He has taught at Loyola University of Chicago and Temple University in addition to Virginia Tech. Building the Ivory Tower is his first book.

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