Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Horns of a Dilemma: Copin... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: no writing
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Horns of a Dilemma: Coping with Politics at the University of Texas Hardcover – April 1, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
$25.00 $0.01

The Numberlys Best Books of the Year So Far
$29.95 FREE Shipping. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews


It was the early 1970s, and there was tension at the University of Texas at Austin, where the faculty and students found themselves publicly at odds with the intrusion of the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

Kenneth Ashworth was the vice chancellor for academic affairs at the UT System. In that position, Ashworth, who later served as a commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, had a front row seat to the era of Frank Erwin, the strong-willed, well-connected chairman of the board of regents, who controversially implemented his own vision for the university the results of which can be seen today by tearing down anyone standing in his way.

In his new book, Horns of a Dilemma: Coping with Politics at the University of Texas, Ashworth chronicles that time, and he sees echoes of it today.

The current UT System board of regents appears to be in the process of positioning itself to implement reforms pushed by Gov. Rick Perry and his allies that have academics, alumni, and students rallying in opposition. Similar reforms already being implemented at Texas A&M University drew a scathing critique from outgoing president of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Robert Berdahl, a former UT president and also the author of the foreward in Ashworth's book.

Ashworth says the days of Erwin and the current activities under new chairman Gene Powell are similar, but different. In Erwin's day, the politics of the governor and the regents were not so intertwined. Frank Erwin and Preston Smith could not have been more at odds, he says. They were both Democrats, but if not enemies, they were at least opponents.

--Reeve Hamilton --The Texas Tribune (4/18/2011)

In the early 1970s, Frank Erwin dominated higher education in the public University of Texas System of colleges and universities. He was a key player for Gov. John Connally and a drinking buddy of state senators, corporate executives and President Lyndon Johnson. Behind the scenes, this deeply conservative, dictatorial, lonely and strangely forlorn man befriended a hidden liberal high in the university system, Kenneth Ashworth, and embosomed him with tales of his tyranny as if Ashworth were his Boswell. The result four decades later, Ashworth s Horns of a Dilemma, flourishes a set of revelations as to how this bull of a man ran higher education in about 20 Texas colleges and universities with 75,000 students, for a little better and for a lot worse. It s as if he set out to prove that raw political power trumps higher learning in Texas.

--Ronnie Dugger --The Texas Observer (6/27/2011)

About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Ashworth is a former commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and former vice chancellor for academic affairs for the University of Texas System.


The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin (April 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976669765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976669760
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,364,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 4 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Horns of a Dilemma is a remarkable memoir.

Ken Ashworth spent nearly 50 years in Texas higher education as a student, academic administrator, commissioner of higher education, and most recently as a professor. Nobody knows more about academic politics in Texas than Ashworth. This memoir is a compilation of first-person stories about The University of Texas at Austin in the turbulent late 1960's and early 1970's.

A purpose of the book is to document the harm that legislators and regents can do to a university when they stop being policymakers and behave instead like middle managers. The book certainly does that. The exploits of Frank Erwin, a larger-than-life former legislator and chairman of the Board of Regents at the time, are found in almost every chapter. And, he's only one of many who tried to manipulate the university for their own purposes.

But, what I found remarkable about these stories were the big egos, hypocrisy, double dealing, and ineptness in many of the characters in these stories. There is a soap-opera quality to some of them. It is hard to believe well-educated, well-compensated, people responsible for a great university could actually act as they did.

What is equally remarkable about the book is Ken Ashworth's willingness to name names and call a spade a spade. For example, in a world of press releases in which university administrators are never fired and instead choose to return to "teaching and research," Ashworth describes the reality behind the press releases. He describes in some detail why people were fired, the process for doing it, and the results ... many of which were messy. His assessments throughout the book are exceedingly candid.
Read more ›
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Horns of a Dilemma is a page-turner for anyone interested in the periodic outbursts of efforts by persons in official authority to ride herd on public universities in general and the University of Texas, in particular.

But the real power of the book is not what it says about a turmoil-filled three-year segment in the history of the University of Texas. Instead, it is the author's careful development of the core questions with which so many in both the public and private sector have to deal: to what and to whom should one be loyal, and when does loyalty to a higher value demand disloyalty.

Ashworth takes care to emphasize that the story he tells is based on notes he took at the time, later conversations with some participants, and memory. He acknowledges that it may or may not be accurate in every detail. What is more important than precise accuracy at every turn is the story's illumination of the core questions.

Ashworth uses events over the short period covered by his book to convert his story into what is essentially a morality play. The play is especially worthwhile for aspiring and on-duty public servants like the target audience for Ashworth's earlier book, Caught Between the Dog and the Fireplug, or How to Survive Public Service. It also has value for the legions of those who shape and/or are expected to carry out the operations of large organizations in both line and staff positions.

Unlike navigation through a morality play where Right is Right and Wrong is Wrong, the reader will find that figuring out at a given point who is which is slippery. As Ashworth's story proceeds, the task is not as simple as it may first have appeared.

The author's talent for telling a good story shows through page after page.
Read more ›
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book brings to life the inner workings of the University of Texas system in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In itself this might not make for a wide audience if that were all this book was about but it is also an examination of how higher education and politics intersect and interact and the consequences.

As a UT freshman in the fall of 1970 it was confusing to try and understand what was happening on campus. Some professors were denouncing the administration and occasionally each other. A dean named John Silber had been fired which pleased some and outraged others. Few of the participants are still alive so Ashcroft's work is valuable for that reason alone. It is even more valuable for shedding light how Texas treated (and treats) higher education and the role politicians and powerful interests played (and play) in the process.

Ashworth must walk a line between the observer (who is looking back and writing the book) and the participant. Generally he is successful. If you find his inner monologues less than scintillating just wait, there's a good story right behind it.

Frank Erwin plays a large role in this book just as he did in the events it chronicles. As a student, I thought of him as just a bully with power. Later when involved in politics and dealing with him first-hand (after his heyday) he seemed a somewhat pathetic figure. Ashworth does an excellent job of putting Erwin into perspective and giving him his due for the things he did that were worth doing. This alone was worth the price of the book for me.

The book is particularly timely given the latest efforts by the current governor and his cronies to gain control of higher education in Texas (at least at UT and Texas A&M). In Texas, history seems to be repeating itself like a poor remake of Groundhog Day, still trying to get it right.
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Horns of a Dilemma: Coping with Politics at the University of Texas
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Horns of a Dilemma: Coping with Politics at the University of Texas