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Frontier U: Jeremi Suri on public universities in American History

Posted: January 4, 2013
J. Frank Dobie in 1943 (Austin History Center/Austin Public Library)

J. Frank Dobie in 1943 (Austin History Center/Austin Public Library)

Written by Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Distinguished Professor for Global Leadership, History, and Public Policy, UT Austin. Original article appears in the January 2013 issue of The Alcalde.

"In 1958, during the height of the Cold War, University of Texas Provost Harry Ransom wrote of a “counterfrontier” that challenged the stereotypical image of the state as a place of cowboys, ranchers, hunters, and hard drinkers.

Ransom pointed to an often-overlooked tradition of hard work, local cooperation, and self-improvement that allowed Texans, and thousands of other Americans, to turn frontier settlements into sites of prosperity and progress. “What concerned these people,” Ransom wrote, “was the significance of human life, the dignity of the human being, the rights of the individual man.” Texans of the “counterfrontier,” according to Ransom, believed in higher education and its potential for the public good.

Of course, Ransom was not writing of his home state alone … " Read the rest of this article on The Alcade, at

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