An Adventure in Education cover page

New book traces college’s history “from Howard Lowry to the 21st century”

An Adventure in Education by Jerry Footlick ’56 released by KSU Press

28 April, 2015 by John Hopkins

WOOSTER, Ohio – When Howard Lowry left Princeton’s English department to return to his alma mater as president in 1944, The College of Wooster was a well-respected Presbyterian college little known outside the Midwest. Today, thanks in no small measure to the academic innovations that Lowry championed, Wooster is increasingly recognized as America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. The tale of that transformation, over a span of 60 at times tumultuous years, is told by Jerry Footlick ’56 in An Adventure in Education: The College of Wooster from Howard Lowry to the 21st Century.

The book, published this month by The Kent State University Press, is available online from the Wilson Bookstore, as well as on Amazon. Excerpts were published in the Winter 2015 issue of Wooster magazine.

From Lowry’s introduction of Independent Study – the senior mentored research project known to generations of Wooster students simply as I.S. – through the civil rights and antiwar protests of the sixties and a failed presidential search in the nineties, to the record applications and growing national reputation of the present day, Footlick paints a detailed, honest, but loving portrait of a college he has known well since he was a boy growing up a few blocks from campus.

The cast of characters includes five presidents, legendary faculty like Ted Williams and Aileen Dunham, equally legendary coaches like Phil Shipe and Nan Nichols, and Footlick’s fellow trustee and long-time board chair, Stan Gault.

When he began his research for the book almost four years ago, Footlick says his goal “was for readers to say, ‘Gee, I didn’t know that!’ at least 10 times.” By the time he wrote the last word, he had raised that target to 100. “I’ve been astonished at how much information has been available and how many times I’ve been surprised,” he says.

Edward B. Fiske, former education editor of The New York Times, and founder and editor of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, says Footlick “has used his world-class skills as a journalist and wordsmith to make the story of an important American liberal arts college come alive. An Adventure in Education is a meticulously crafted saga full of larger than life characters, academic triumphs and institutional foibles by someone who himself personifies the values that have defined the school and its place in American higher education.”

Footlick, who earned a law degree from Harvard after graduating from Wooster in 1956, has had a long and distinguished career as a journalist, including serving as education editor, legal affairs editor, and senior editor of Newsweek. He is the author of four books on higher education, including Truth and Consequences: How Colleges and Universities Meet Public Crises. He served on the college’s board of trustees from 1978 to 1984, and from 1988 to 2006. He was named an emeritus life trustee in 2006.

The College of Wooster is America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. Wooster offers an excellent, comprehensive liberal arts education, culminating in a rigorous senior project, in which each student works one-on-one with a faculty mentor to conceive, organize and complete a significant research project on a topic of the student’s own choosing. Through this distinctive program, every Wooster student develops abilities valued by employers and graduate schools alike: independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, and strong written and oral communication skills. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students.