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For the Common GoodA New History of Higher Education in America$
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Charles Dorn

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452345

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452345.001.0001

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“To Qualify its Students for Personal Success”

“To Qualify its Students for Personal Success”

The Rise of the University in the West

(p.115) 6 “To Qualify its Students for Personal Success”
For the Common Good

Charles Dorn

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the rise of commercialism in American higher education. Popularly known as Stanford University, Leland Stanford Junior University was exceptional both because of the Stanfords' thirty-million-dollar endowment—the largest gift in the history of higher education up to that time—and because it represented the commercial fortune one couple could amass as a result of changes to the nation's political economy during the second half of the nineteenth century. Thus, when Stanford University opened to students in 1891, it served as a conspicuous manifestation of commercialism's rise in American higher education. Indeed, Stanford University's founding grant reflected the rise of a social ethos of commercialism in higher education when it stated that the institution's central “object” was “to qualify its students for personal success.” While scientific and technological advances increased the number of professions from which students could choose, the industrial age accelerated the growth of a commercial society.

Keywords:   commercialism, American higher education, Stanford University, higher education, industrial age, commercial society

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