• U.S.

THE ADMINISTRATION: The Rotarian Professor

3 minute read

“I hate reformers,” Professor Herold Christian Hunt once said. “Anybody can go in and cut a new deck, and do almost anything. It takes an administrator to go in and change the thinking of the people who are already there.” In more than 30 years in the field of education. Hunt has repeatedly proved his ability both as an administrator and as a reformer. Last week President Eisenhower asked him to do it again, appointed Hunt to the post of Under Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

Hunt is a man of many oddly assorted parts. He is an academic in good standing, and he is also a Republican, an enthusiastic Rotarian, a shrewd organizer and a fluent speaker. He hit his professional stride as a high-school principal in St. Johns, Mich. (pop. 5,000) and, as a sideline, became a successful speaker at Rotary Club luncheons. While on Rotary’s wheel, Herold Christian Hunt swung over to a better job as superintendent of the rundown schools of Kalamazoo. After three years of cleaning up Kalamazoo, he was well established as an able mender of corrupt school systems. He rehabilitated the schools of New Rochelle, N.Y., Kansas City, Mo. and Chicago. After six years of rebuilding Chicago’s moldering. politics-ridden schools, he abruptly abandoned his chosen field and accepted appointment (and a $15,000 salary cut) to Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (TIME, March 30, 1953).

To his new job—and especially to the educational third of HEW, which will be his particular baby—Hunt will bring a topnotch administrative ability and a knack for inspiring the people who work for him. In the field of education on a national level, Hunt leaves the specifics to others, thinks in terms of broad policy, good public relations and orderly progress. “It’s not enough,” he once said, “that each of us recognizes and accepts his personal accountability for teaching. It is essential that we have a clearly stated and accepted philosophy of education that expresses our values and that guides all decisions related to our educational program. If we do not hold values in common, we may, like John Gilpin,* get on our horse and ride off in all directions.”

*In this reference Hunt’s scholarship is off in several directions. John Gilpin was the hero of a poem by William Cowper (1731-1800). Gilpin went off in just two directions—north and south. A wealthy London draper, he sent his wife off in a chaise for a holiday in Edmonton, eight miles to the north, and agreed to follow on horseback. But he galloped right through Edmonton to Ware, nearly 15 miles beyond. Then he turned around and headed for Edmonton again, but once more he rushed through the town and ultimately arrived safely in London, where his travels had begun. The person who went off in all directions was Lord Ronald, a character in Gertrude and the Governess, from Stephen Leacock’s (1869-1944) Nonsense Novels. Lord Ronald “flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.”

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