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One Hundred Semesters: My Adventures as Student, Professor, and University President, and What I Learned along the Way [Kindle Edition]

William M. Chace
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In One Hundred Semesters, William Chace mixes incisive analysis with memoir to create an illuminating picture of the evolution of American higher education over the past half century. Chace follows his own journey from undergraduate education at Haverford College to teaching at Stillman, a traditionally African-American college in Alabama, in the 1960s, to his days as a professor at Stanford and his appointment as president of two very different institutions--Wesleyan University and Emory University.

Chace takes us with him through his decades in education--his expulsion from college, his boredom and confusion as a graduate student during the Free Speech movement at Berkeley, and his involvement in three contentious cases at Stanford: on tenure, curriculum, and academic freedom. When readers follow Chace on his trip to jail after he joins Stillman students in a civil rights protest, it is clear that the ideas he presents are born of experience, not preached from an ivory tower.

The book brings the reader into both the classroom and the administrative office, portraying the unique importance of the former and the peculiar rituals, rewards, and difficulties of the latter.

Although Chace sees much to lament about American higher education--spiraling costs, increased consumerism, overly aggressive institutional self-promotion and marketing, the corruption of intercollegiate sports, and the melancholy state of the humanities--he finds more to praise. He points in particular to its strength and vitality, suggesting that this can be sustained if higher education remains true to its purpose: providing a humane and necessary education, inside the classroom and out, for America's future generations.


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chace, former president of Wesleyan and Emory Universities, expounds on his half century in the academic trenches, drawing from his experiences as a student, professor and administrator at six different institutions. Through his memoir, Chace has set his sights on the larger issues of higher education, and at times is successfully illuminating. His discussions of the professor's cult of personality and the increasing economic stratification of modern higher education are particularly worthwhile, and Chace has the rare ability to take a strong stance without preaching. Perhaps inevitably, Chace's narrative returns occasionally to the introspection and self-indulgence that characterize the memoir form, but is at its best when Chace has a bone to pick, as when confronting D-1 athletics or contrasting the struggles of a professor with the role of a corporate CEO. He also tackles the ineffable quality of true education: how hard it is to explain and cultivate, and how citizens must continue to support colleges and universities to allow them to function without government or corporate oversight that could potentially change them for the worse. Rigorous but readable, this should hold interest for education professionals of all kinds.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

"None of the rooms where the work of a college or university occurs is now a secret to me," declares Chace. "I have been inside them all." As a student, professor, and university president at six of the nation's bellwether collegiate institutions, Chase has seen up close just how the campus world reflects--and in turn helps to transform--the larger national culture. His experience thus helps readers understand how the struggle for racial and gender equality has forced once-exclusive schools to redefine themselves as "multiversities" serving diverse communities. But in recounting this social progress, Chace's narrative also highlights the problematic way administrators have responded to growth by building depersonalizing bureaucracies. Chace further ponders the strange way that universities once roiled by 1960s radicals are now home base for savvy entrepreneurs. And though he does regard the university as a positive social force, Chace fears that some scholars--including his own colleagues in English literature--have wandered into ideological thickets. He laments that universities have abandoned the task of teaching moral standards and now turn a blind eye to widespread cheating. And he decries the diversion of scarce resources into bloated athletic programs. Hopeful yet sober, Chace's memoir provides an invaluable perspective on the challenges facing higher education. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 2012 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 10, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002WJM50U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #913,776 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insider's view of Higher Education September 8, 2006
Format:Hardcover
This charming and insightful educational memoir manages to tell us more about what's happening in higher education than could a truckload of educational studies. And Chace does it simply by telling his story.

Leaning toward West Point (a big place that trains warriors and engineers) over Haverford (a small place that focuses on the humanities and nonviolence), he can find no appointment to the academy and so winds up at Haverford. Almost despite himself, he soon becomes awash in the humanities -- and that perhaps makes all the difference.

Feeling his way uncertainly at first and then with more awareness, he moves from graduate school at Berkeley to professorship and young deanship at Stanford. From there he takes on the presidency of Wesleyan (in many ways a disaster zone) and then to preside over -- and admire -- Emory, the multi-purposed and distinguished Atlanta university.

It is a remarkable and instructive journey, and it tells us most when Chace is in the middle of the action, explaining his victories -- and his failures -- in prose both lucid and compelling.

Anyone on his or her way to a college presidency must read this unusual book. everyone entering the world of higher education -- student or parent or teacher -- should read it, those of us interested in seeking truth, a task the university is uniquely suited to do, need to read it.

Chace both honors the university as the best thing civilization has produced and warns us that its best qualities may be slipping away. And he makes clear that such a loss -- no matter our politics, our religions, our passions -- would diminish us all.

This disarmingly candid academic memoir is one rich in detail and long in wisdom. It may be one man's story, but it is one from which all of us should learn.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Its Kind September 17, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A disarmingly brave and revealing academic autobiography by a man whose peripatetic career on five college campuses (two where he was President) uniquely qualifies him as an observer of the academic scene. William Chace tells us at the outset, "[g]iven my experience, none of the rooms where the work of a college or university occurs is now a secret to me." True and unsurprising. What astonishes is that Chace actually invites his reader into those rooms where we observe, under the firm hand of his fine prose, the absurdities, the evasions and self-deceits, and the triumphs of courage that make up the variegated texture of modern American university life.

By telling his story (and he is a great storyteller) he manages to convey the peculiar dilemmas that face the contemporary university and to express his own strongly held views on a number of important issues facing the academy (the role of big-time sports, a university's ability to offer moral guidance to its students, the high cost of education, etc.). He also touches on other follies and oddities of the world he affectionately embraces as his natural element that are less often treated in such books: the strange ignorance of Trustees and the way institutions (probably rightly) protect them from real knowledge of the places with whose stewardship they are entrusted or the quaint way that faculty extend professional courtesy even to the most undeserving of their colleagues. The reader is also, sometimes painfully, invited to witness private agony, when events turn horribly astray, as when at Wesleyan his President's office is firebombed or later when an Emory student commits suicide and Chace must confront a father's grief. The result of all this frankness is truly extraordinary.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The full title summarizes this book very tidily March 25, 2007
Format:Hardcover
With distinguished cogency, Professor and President Emeritus Chace commingles memoirs of his first fifty years in American academia and scholarly "lectures" on the historical and current state of higher education. Assured, methodical, and tactful, Chace's 100 SEMESTERS must surely mirror its author who navigated the halls of learning at Berkeley as a grad student during the Vietnam war campus turmoil, taught and entered administration at Stanford, and presided over diverse and sometimes chaotic Wesleyan before assuming the presidency of well-endowed Emory for nine years.

Chace shows himself to be a teacher and leader of conscience, deliberation, and pragmatism. He holds staunch liberal/progressive views, yet acknowledges the value of tried-and-true basics. For example, although he supported vigorous integration of colleges and universities when such was controversial, Chace, unlike some, valued diverse student bodies as a means to enrich the entire institution, not as a means to radical political and social ends. And in English curriculum debates, he saw the merit of broadening course offerings to include women's studies and black literature, but he also believed abolishing core book requirements would weaken quality education.

This volume scrutinizes the growth of universities into, typically, large corporate-like entities and Chace, ever the teacher at heart, takes on some of the deficiencies he has observed in this. He states, "Research should not lead to monetary profits, but to further learning." Chace adds, "What makes some schools better than other schools is one thing only: the quality of the faculty.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars 150 Quarters
An insightful, well-written account of the forces, political and otherwise that shape universities through a first person memoir of an academic career in humanities and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Doc Robin
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly Honest
This is one of the best books on contemporary higher education, even though it consists largely of autobiography rather than analysis. Read more
Published on July 15, 2011 by Richard B. Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars One Professor Who Gets It
I wondered if I should read a 375-page book by a guy who never got out of school. He never left it because he thinks higher education is the best thing we've got. Read more
Published on June 1, 2007 by Dr. William C. Waters
5.0 out of 5 stars If all memoirs were this readable, you'd never pick up a novel
In this witty and thoroughly engaging memoir, William M. Chace looks at the big issues in higher education today, all through the filter of his personal experience over a... Read more
Published on May 21, 2007 by Carol J. Young
4.0 out of 5 stars too forgiving
This is probably the best book to begin if you want to get a review of what has been happening to higher education over the last 50 years. Very well written and comprehensive. Read more
Published on May 4, 2007 by Hydra
5.0 out of 5 stars The lowdown on higher education - review by 80 semester veteran in...
Anybody associated with higher education, students, parents, faculty, administrators, trustees and even a few university presidents would benefit by reading this lucidly written... Read more
Published on January 4, 2007 by Rumbullion
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for College Administrators and Trustees!
A delightful and instructive read. More than just a memoir, Dr. Chace's college career parallels the significant changes that occurred in American higher education in the last... Read more
Published on December 20, 2006 by Ginny Darkwood
5.0 out of 5 stars a major work on education in our time by one of the great teachers
I have known Bill Chace since I was a freshman in his English class, so I am hardly objective. But I still can see with a clear eye that this is a great book. Read more
Published on October 12, 2006 by Cynthia Cannady
5.0 out of 5 stars Outrageously funny and honest!
I ordered this book on the strength of an opinion piece in the NY Times that was funny and seems true to form.

I hope the book is as good. Read more
Published on September 7, 2006 by A_2007_reader
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