History of Innovation at the University of Pittsburgh

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This study provides a fascinating history of the evolution of student affairs and the chief student affairs officer position during the 20th century. It is primarily a book about people, individuals who served generations of college students with courage, passion, and perseverance. Through the protectiveness of the roaring 20s to the era of student unrest, the story is interwoven with events and political culture both internal and external to the university. The study highlights the program nurtured through the Dean of Women’s Office, a development of historical significance featuring one of the nationally recognized leaders in the early years of student affairs. The work also serves as an important source of historical documentation on the development of the modern American university. The thousands of administrators and faculty serving in the areas of general administration and teaching nationwide, but most particularly, those in student affairs administration will find the work inspiring and thought- provoking. Scholars and supporters of women’s issues will experience an enlightening picture of women’s education in the first half of the twentieth-century. The work provides appropriate reading for courses on women’s history and women in higher education.


“This study by Dr. Richard Herdlein of the evolution of student affairs at the University of Pittsburgh makes an important contribution to the literature of higher education. It serves to have a particularly useful impact on the body of knowledge about student affairs work. It does so because it is original and unique, and it provides a comprehensive review of how student personnel services evolved at a leading institution. The book is original because it is based in part upon interviews with persons who were familiar with the people and the institution during the period examined. Those witnesses to the practices in place were capable of insight and perspective that would not have been available elsewhere. The text is unique because no other examination of the development of student personnel work at an institution of higher learning, covering such an extensive period of time, has been published ... The story of student personnel work at the University of Pittsburgh was worth telling and is certainly worth reading.” – (from the Foreword) Thomas E. Miller, Dean of Students, University of South Florida

“Historical studies of Student Affairs on the urban campus have been neglected by scholars, which is why Dr. Richard Herdlein’s in-depth study of Student Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh is a welcome addition to the literature ... Dr. Herdlein directs attention to the struggles between the offices of the Dean of Men and Dean of Women, demonstrates the importance of a relationship of top student affairs administrators with the chancellor, traces the creation of the Dean of Students and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, at Pitt, and throughout observes how student affairs contributed to the institutional ethos ... These issues are common in the history of student affairs, and scholars will appreciate Dr. Herdlein’s attention to them. For persons interested in historical research on the urban campus, this book will be well received ... One unexpected benefit of the book is a biographical sketch of Dean Thrysa Amos, the longtime Dean of Women at Pitt, a woman to whom much is owed but little has been written ...” – James J. Rhatigan, retired Professor and former Vice President and Senior Vice President of Student Affairs, Wichita State University

“Dr. Richard Herdlein has done a thorough job of searching and researching numerous University of Pittsburgh records related to the student personnel deans from 1919-1980. He has connected them to the scholarship and philosophy that shaped student personnel, student development, and student learning during the twentieth century ... The tone of the study opens eyes and ears to necessary roles and commitments as student affairs demonstrates service, stewardship, and spirit with individual students: their diversity, their growth, and their learning ... This exception piece of history and heritage is filled with purpose and productivity that guides the scholarly transition of student services and programs over the years ...” – Phyllis Mable, Executive Director, Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, Washington, DC

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Thomas E. Miller
Acknowledgements, Introduction
1. Historical Foundations of College Student Personnel Work
2. The Formation of the Dean of Women’s and the Dean of Men’s Offices
3. The Dean of Women and Dean of Men: Similarities and Differences in Personnel, Values, and Programs, 1919-1941
4. The Passing of a Pitt Legend
5. Dislocations Brought on by World War II, 1941-1945
6. The Postwar Years, 1945-1956
7. Consolidation of Student Personnel
Functions and Development of the Student Services Model, 1956-1967
8. Student Unrest, the Movement from Control to Community Responsibility, and the Evolution of the Student Development Model, 1967-1980
9. Summary and Conclusions

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