• U.S.

Education: School for the Santa Fe

2 minute read

At the University of Southern California, 34 men solemnly marched into a banquet hall one evening last week for a special commencement ceremony. They were trainmasters, paymasters, auditors and public-relations men. Their ages ranged from 28 to 54. Employees of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, they had just finished a rugged new six-week course: how to think clearly about the society in which they live.

This ambitious project was the brainchild of Fred G. Gurley, 63, Santa Fe president and a U.S.C. trustee. Boss of 65,000 employees and 13,000 miles of track, Gurley had watched his railroad prosper, but with the uneasy suspicion that it was failing in a primary duty: to help its personnel understand the free-enterprise economy in which they operate. Last spring Gurley suggested that U.S.C.’s President Fred D. Fagg Jr. organize a new course just for the Santa Fe.

Headed by Dean (of Commerce) Lawrence Lockley, a six-man team of professors worked out the curriculum. They avoided specialized courses in business practices, concentrated on broad social problems. Students attended classes from 8:30 to 4 each day in subjects ranging from child labor to civil rights to Communism. They held mock business conferences, practiced public speaking.

Three times a week, after dinner, they attended a lecture, spent weekends touring industrial plants and ranches. They also had to find time for a heavy load of reading: Karl Marx, Paul Hoffman’s Peace Can Be Won, Norman Thomas’ A Socialist’s Faith, and the Wall Street Journal.

To the students, it all seemed something of a lark at first—six expense-paid weeks in sunny Southern California. But last week, as one by one they marched up to receive their graduation certificates, Dean Lockley happily noted that they all looked “five years older . . . We have tried,” said he, “to turn out men who can think.”

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