The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983 Page: 276
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
tage to rivals in other states and implanted a permanent faculty griev-
ance. Most enduring was the presumption of faculty incapacity to han-
dle serious policy questions. Ferguson lost the battle for control of the
University. He won the argument that "practical men" should con-
tinue to be the ultimate authorities on all educational issues.
The politicization of the University of Texas that began with Jim
Ferguson had another, more subtle, impact on the institution's history
six decades after the war. Almost every academic question came to have
a potential political dimension. All the participants in the life of the
University were aware of the historical presence of governors, legisla-
tors, regents, and interest groups as possible forces in their lives. Such
an intensified consciousness existed about these external influences
that, in reaction, energies and hours were drawn off from the learning
and research processes themselves; thus allegations of dissent and medi-
ocrity became self-fulfilling. Perhaps it is impossible for a democratic
society to tolerate the mistakes, false starts, and human frailties of higher
education with patience and forbearance, confident that in the long
haul the true strengths, talents, and achievements of a state university
will prevail. The urge to interfere, to encourage, to supervise, and in
the end to politicize seems inescapable. Ferguson took the frail growth
that was the University of Texas before 1920 and disrupted it in a grim
parody of tearing a plant up by its roots to inspect its growth. Thus the
record and the legacy of the University of Texas in the Ferguson case
suggest that a state's willingness to endure imperfections and to limit its
political intrusion in the development of higher education will better
encourage the emergence of universities that are truly "of the first
45Texas, Constitution (1876), Art. VIII, Sec. io (quotation).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 86, July 1982 - April, 1983, periodical, 1982/1983; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101209/m1/312/: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.