A University of the First Class: J. Frank Dobie

On the occasion of the Alcalde’s 100th anniversary, we asked Longhorns what “a University of the first class” means to them.

A University of the First Class

J. Frank Dobie

MA ’18, Life Member
Author, folklorist, and journalist (1888-1964)

From “In Texas or of Texas,” April 1934 Alcalde:

People of the present generations who have paid attention to the affairs of the University of Texas can hardly remember when the ideal of its founders, to make it “a university of the first class,” was not echoed. The full meaning of that million-times quoted phrase has, to me at least, not always been clear … I conceive that the University of Texas should not be merely a university of the first class in Texas but the university that represents Texas, that interprets Texas to itself, that makes Texans aware of the phenomena of life about them … and gives a richer meaning to their cultural inheritance.

J_Frank_Dobie_01The factors that determine whether an American university shall be ranked in the first class are largely physical, altogether impersonal. Lest I be misunderstood, I wish to say that I am glad that the University now classes; but ranking as a university of the first class can not alone make it represent and interpret the genius of the state to which it belongs. And it is only through intelligent interpretation of their environments and a just evaluation of their social inheritance that civilized people can come into some sort of harmony with their surroundings. A great many Texans think that they are inheritors of a tradition worth preserving. The University of Texas has done much to preserve this tradition. It can do more.

Read more takes on the phrase “a University of the first class” here.

Illustration by Sean McCabe.




No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment