Education: Bigger Than Himself

When the University of Houston started out as a four-year institution in 1934, it had 909 students and one big shack on the San Jacinto High School campus. It also had one unusual asset: Vice President Walter W. Kemmerer. A Ph.D. from Columbia, Kemmerer was a blunt go-getter who thought he knew exactly what sort of university Houston should have.

As the driving force behind its philosophy ("We will teach anybody anything he wants"), he offered everything from a six-hour course in cafeteria sanitation to an eight-year course leading to a Ph.D. He made...

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