Shannon Carter CCCC 2012
Draft: Please don‟t quote or cite!
numerous levels, yet rich with potential guided by the “Best Practices” our field would publish
nearly fifty years later. Let me begin, then, at the beginning.
Part I: “Toward a Common Citizenship”
In 1947, the Truman Commission published
Higher Education for Democracy,
a six-volume report articulating the American college
‟s inextricable link to democracy‟s future.
Thesame year, James G. Gee moved to rural, Northeast Texas to become ET
‟s fifth president and
lead the campus through the most dynamic period in American higher education. For Gee, thereport could not have been timelier or more
deliciously quotable. “If we are to give more than lip
service to a democratic conception of the function of a college,
” Gee declared
in his inauguraladdress
in November of „
47, we must
develop within each student a sense of responsibility to
the social order.” The report‟s articulation of higher education as “the carrier of democraticvalues, ideas, and processes” resonated deeply with Dr. Gee
. He was convinced that, as the
report insisted, “[e]ducation is the fou
ndation of democratic liberties,
” convinced of higher education‟s obligation to “transmit
[to students] a common cultural heritage for a commoncitizenship
Originally from South Carolina, Gee was a veteran of both world wars who hadrisen to the rank of colonel and identified deeply with his family ties to the Confederate Army.He was at once deeply patriotic and increasingly preoccupied with the communist threat he sawlurking around every corner. He was also an outspoken segregationist who frequently conflatedthe long civil rights movement with communist rhetoric,
a subject I explore at some lengthelsewhere. In the face of what he assumed to be communism
s increasingly seductive and powerful influence, higher education appeared to be
America‟s only defense.