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The Man Who Thinks the Brain Trust is in the Lock Box 

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RU is Cool U

Roosevelt University began in 1945 when the faculty of Central Y College walked out in protest.  The Y was supposed to be open to any student, yet the board of trustees was that year trying to cap the number of blacks and Jews it admitted. Northwestern University and the University of Chicago had enforced such caps; the Y was supposed to be different, open, better.

Thus Roosevelt.

The faculty both supported and reflected the social justice mission of Roosevelt University. And their quality was indisputable.


Abba Lerner, Economist-Capmaker (1903-82)---his name says it all.

In social science the school was wise and fortunate to hire two outstanding scholars, Abba Lerner and St. Clair Drake, both world renown. Lerner was a world figure in debates concerning the theory of markets, government, and industrial organization.  A Socialist and Russian Jew, Lerner was also known to be very kind . . . to his friends! He kept friends for life, including fellow Brit, the Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase, with whom Lerner often disagreed about economics. (During a 2005 visit to RU, Coase spoke tenderly yet honestly about the days they spent at RU, arguing about markets versus government.)



St. Clair Drake, Sociologist-Magician (1911-90)---“can’t touch this.”

St. Clair Drake was a University of Chicago Ph.D., a student of the urban anthropologist Robert Park.  Drake wrote with Horace Cayton a first-class history and analysis of Chicago’s Bronzeville---actually, of black cities within cities, the world over---Black Metropolis (1945).  The book holds up better than DuBois's The Philadelphia Negro (1899).  It's also filled with a stark and beautiful urban philosophical poetry that will change the way you think about Chicago's still profound example of economic inequality, racism, and life-world segregation.  After years of devoted service, Drake left Roosevelt for Stanford, where he established the latter's famous Afro-American Studies Program.



©2006 Stephen T. Ziliak
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