School of Public and International Affairs as a Memorial to Woodrow Wilson


School of Public and International Affairs as a Memorial to Woodrow Wilson


School of Public and International Affairs




1947 April


The cover for the prospectus of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.


Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Papers, University of California, Santa Barbara


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


Princeton University


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum staff




[Drawing of Nassau Hall.]

Prepared At The Request Of
The Trustees Of Princeton University
April, 1947


[Official presidential portrait of Woodrow Wilson.]


THE course of post-war events has brought our thinking about Woodrow Wilsons ideals of democracy and collective security into fresh focus. As we follow the progress of the United Nations, we feel the sweep of Wilsons philosophy of world affairs and the force of his faith in democracy as the embodiment of freedom. We can see, too, that his vision sprang from the belief that democracy-beyond any other form of government-respects the worth and dignity of individual human beings.
     Princeton University has a special reason to ponder earnestly the meaning of Woodrow Wilson for today. Here it was that, as teacher and president, he developed his concept of the role of colleges in a democracy. A free people, to exist as a nation, must constantly refresh itself with trained leadership, he said, and the colleges task is to produce such leaders.
     Because Wilson is a part of the American heritage, and because his contribution to higher education has been so enduring, Princeton University is creating a lasting memorial to him. An enlarged and strengthened School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton is the natural and most fitting vehicle to accomplish this. Here young men will prepare themselves for public responsibilities by studying the subjects Wilson used to teach. We feel certain that the School would have been Wilsons choice among all possible ways in which his memory could be honored.
     The following pages tell of the University's plans to equip the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs with instruction and facilities unequaled in this type of education, and to erect a building to be known as Woodrow Wilson Hall. These plans offer a timely opportunity to honor one of Americas great presidents and to promote the cause of world freedom.     Harlod W. Dodds


     THE School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton began in 1930. The men who drew up its plan of education had but one purpose in mindto encourage young men to take part in public affairs and to give them a training for the public responsibilities of future careers in business, the professions, or government.
     It was entirely natural that the idea for such a School should be born at Princeton. For, pervading the University Campus is a spirit of public service extending back through two centuries of American history.
     When John Witherspoon, the colleges sixth president, signed the Declaration of Independence, he was joined by two Princeton graduates, Richard Stockton, a member of the first class, and Benjamin Rush.
     Eleven of the sixty-five delegates to the Constitutional Convention were Princeton men, including James Madison, William Paterson and Oliver Ellsworth. Witherspoon alone numbered among the Princeton students of his day one president of the United States, a vice-president, three Supreme Court Justices, nine cabinet officers, twenty-one U.S. Senators, thirty-nine Representatives, twelve governors and thirty-nine judges.
     Wilson, speaking of the history of the college called it "The Seminary of Statesmen," and said, "In days quiet and troubled alike Princeton has stood for the nation's service to produce men and patriots." Those words were uttered fifty years ago. But the voluntary service in high government posts rendered by Princeton graduates during World War II lends modern day testimony to the weight of the tradition.


     The School of Public and International Affairs represented a departure from customary college courses, because it was one of the first attempts in American higher education to lower the traditional departmental walls in order to study problems rather than subjects. As a a co-operative venture of Princeton's three social studies departments, it gives students an opportunity to combine courses in history, politics, and economics.
     The enrollment of the School is limited to the number that can be treated individually so as not to destroy intimate contact between faculty and students. Undergraduates of the School share in all the phases of the liberal education program of Princeton University. They are also brought into contact with the realities of world affairs through field work and contact with the men dealing with important public problems.
     Lying midway between New York and Philadelphia, and only three hours from Washington, Princeton is well located for such a School. The generous co-operation of government and business officials is a vital factor in the success of the instructional program. The School also benefits from the rich resources of other Princeton departments, such as the new Firestone Library, which in operating and education efficiency will be among the foremost libraries of the world.


     The most unusual educational device the School of Public and International Affairs has developed is the Conference Method, which has become its most distinctive activity and its primary contribution to the art of training for participation in public affairs.
     The Conference puts into action a principle of education which Woodrow Wilson emphasized on many occasions. "It is not learning," he said "but the spirit of service that will give a college place in the public annals of the nation. It is indispensable, it seems to me, if it is to do its right service, that the air of affairs should be admitted to all its class-rooms."
     A Conference duplicates as nearly as possible the way the outside world examines public problems, in, for instance, a meeting of a United Nations commission, in a governmental agency, an industrial board of directors, or a city council. Each student takes part in one of the several Conferences held each term. The work emphasizes three sorts of training which the college man will obviously have need for in a public affairs career: First, training in the use of correct methods of fact-finding; second, in effective written and oral presentation of findings; and, third, in the techniques of the conference-table.


     Each Conference is assigned a broad national or international problem for study and investigation. It must recommend a practical solution to the problem based on consideration of the evidence and conflicting points of view. The faculty consults with individual students on their work, but an undergraduate chairman and commission actually direct the Conference.
     A quick glance at a recent Conference offers perhaps the best picture of how the method works. One held on United States Policy Toward Japan provides a good example.
     A faculty director drew up a summary of the problem. An open meeting of the students in the Conference discussed the summary and prepared a final version. For three weeks the Conference members read intensively in background literature, devoting themselves particularly to three aspects of the problem: Historical Background of the War; Defeat and Occupation of Japan; Underlying Issues in Post-War Policy.
     Meanwhile, the members met in small groups with faculty members to discuss the import of the background reading. They also met with the New Zealand Minister to the United States and with the United States Assistant Secretary of State in charge of occupied areas, each of whom spoke off the record and answered questions.
     The second phase of the Conference began with an open meeting to assign research work. From then on the work was under the direction of a student commission headed by a student chairman. As far as possible each member concentrated on a subject matter of his own choice.
     The investigators wrote their reports nine days before they were to testify at an open hearing. In this period each delegate discussed his paper with the English Department to get help in both the written and oral presentation of his findings.Simultaneously, a series of informal Conference sessions was held to make sure all phases of the Japanese problem were covered and to avoid duplication. Other experts from the outside came to Princeton to consult with the Conference, including American, Australian and British authorities on problems of the Far East, State Department officials, and representatives of General MacArthur's staff.
     The Conference sent student researchers to New York and Washington to hold personal interviews with authorities. Some attended meetings of the Far Eastern Commission.
     Each student presented his findings at a formal session of the Conference in a brief oral statement, defended his point of view under cross-examination, and submitted a written report. From these presentations the commissioners wrote their tentative conclusions which received thorough debate at a meeting of the Conference. The commissioners called upon several student investigators for further testimony and drafted a final report.


     A Conference like this comprises one-fifth of the student's course schedule. The other hours are devoted, under a carefully planned program, to courses in history, politics or economics, and to liberal arts electives. In his senior year a student combines independent reading with firsthand investigations as the basis for a 25,000-50,000 word thesis. Field study is undertaken during the previous summer, many students going abroad for this purpose. These trips not only benefit the individual, but also enrich the courses and Conferences in which he takes part.
     Developing out of the School's instructional program and closely related to the School are three nationally recognized research agencies. The Office of Population Research, the Office of Public Opinion Research, and the Princeton Surveys are conducted by faculty members in addition to their teaching duties. Other research centers such as the University Section in Industrial Relations and the Industrial Finance Section are available to the students. Thus, they absorb the outlook of various scholars who are dealing with current and pressing problems of the United Nations, and our Federal, state and local governments.
     From the beginning the School has sought advice outside of academic circles in order to improve the training methods it has developed. The advisory council in the School's formative period included: John W. Davis, Charles Evans Hughes, Albert G. Milbank, Roland S. Morris, Dwight W. Morrow, De Witt Clinton Poole, William Church Osborn, and Owen D. Young. Recruiting younger men from time to time, the council has constantly taken an active interest in the School's program.
     By availing itself of such counsel and by keeping a close check on the results of its methods, the School of Public and International Affairs has earned a place for itself on the Princeton campus and in American education. Almost 600 young men have received its certificate and are now engaged in promising careers in government, law or industry.


     The United Nations can succeed only if it is supported by an intelligent and informed world opinion. The United States has an especially heavy responsibility and it is more urgent than ever before that this nations potential leaders receive a training which will prepare them to understand the broader aspects of the problems with which they must deal. We confidently expect that the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs will become one of the chief training grounds for representatives of the United States in foreign nations and for other Federal officials as well as for state and local government experts and business officials in daily contact with the governments of the world.
     It is important that men whose ability gives special promise of leadership should have a more advanced training than can be given to undergraduates. The School plans, therefore, to expand its present graduate work and to offer a new kind of graduate program in public affairs. This program, involving the establishment of new courses and new methods, will differ from the conventional graduate work now offered by American universities. It will stress practical understanding of broad problems, rather than attempt to train men to be teachers or scholars.
     The history of the School, its reputation and its high future purpose combine to make it an institution worthy of Woodrow Wilson's name. Accordingly, the Trustees of Princeton University have resolved to change its name. Formal dedication as the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs awaits only the attainment of Princetons financial objective for the School, an important part of the Princeton University Third Century Fund.

                    GIFT OPPORTUNITIES

     Present plans, when completed, will take the School a long step toward its ultimate role in the national education system. These plans provide a number of opportunities which will associate the name of the donor with that of Princeton's thirteenth president who was the twenty-seventh president of the United States.
     Some of these possibilities are:
     Woodrow Wilson Hall, a distinguished memorial building, will provide a specially designed home for the Conferences and other phases of the instructional program as well as a base for the research activities. The $500,000 required for the hall may be provided through a single gift, or through a number of smaller gifts for various units, such as the auditorium, lecture rooms and offices.
     An endowment of $3,000,000 will be neeeded to make the plans fully effective. Of this sum, $1,500,000 already has been raised through previous endowment effort. The $1,500,000 endowment to be raised includes attractive units of a permanent nature. Professorships, each endowed at $250,000, will be requiredas for example, in Pan American affairs, in new developments in international law, or in Russian affairs.
     Additional opportunities for endowment gifts exist in the need for graduate fellowships, travel scholarships, and funds for research and publication. These require capital funds varying in amounts from $10,000 to $150,000.

                  A LASTING MEMORIAL

     The potential field of service of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs is broad. Wilson himself outlined the area when he said, "It is plain what the nation needs as its affairs grow more and more complex and its interests begin to touch the ends of the earth. It needs efficient and enlightened men. The universities of the country must take part in supplying them."
     A School having this goal before it offers the finest possible medium through which a man interested in the education of youth for active citizenship can, either by gift or will, leave a lasting memorial not only to Woodrow Wilson but to himself.

Gifts to the Third Century Fund or to specific projects within it, should be made payable to "Princeton University" and sent to the Princeton University Third Century Fund, Clio Hall, Princeton, New Jersey. Contributions are deductible from income subject to tax, to the extent provided by law.

[Photograph of Woodrow Wilson surrounded by                   a group of young men.]

                          On Liberty 
                   And Higher Education

(This hitherto "unpublished essay" is actually a compilation of a number of quotations from Wilson's speeches, books and articles written over a period of nineteen years. Some of the sentences were set down in the quiet library of his home in Princeton; others might have been written in the White House, on trains, aboard ship.)

                     Individual Liberty

     THERE is one thing I have a great enthusiam about, I might almost say a reckless enthusiasm, and that is human liberty. The individual is indisputably the original, the first fact of liberty. There is no such thing as corporate liberty. Liberty belongs to the individual, or it does not exist.
     Human freedom consists in perfect adjustment of human interests to one another. You cannot have liberty where men do not want the same liberty, you cannot have it where they are not in sympathy with one another, you cannot have it where they do not understand one another, you cannot have it when they are not seeking common things by common means.

        Democracy: Framework of Freedom

     Democracy is unquestionably the most wholesome and livable kind of government the world has yet tried. The people of a democracy are not related to their rulers as subjects are related to a government. They are themselves the sovereign authority, and as they are neighbors of each other, quickened by the same influences and moved by the same motives, they can understand each other.It is for this that we love democracy: for the emphasis it puts on character; for its tendency to exalt the purposes of the average man to some high level of endeavor; for its just principles of common assent in matters in which all are concerned; for its ideals of duty and its sense of brotherhood.

                 Training for Leadership

     A kind of liberal education must underlie every wholesome political and social process, the kind of liberal education which connects a mans feeling and his comprehension with the general run of mankind, which disconnects him from the special interests and marries his thought to the common interests of great communities and of great cities and of great states and of great nations, and, if possible, with that brotherhood of man that transcends the boundaries of nations themselves.

               The Duty of the University

     It is the business of a university to impart to the rank and file of the men whom it trains the right thought of the world, the thought which it has tested and established, the principles which have stood through the seasons and become at length a part of the immemorial wisdom of the race.
     The college should seek to make the men whom it receives something more than excellent servants of a trade or skilled practitioners of a profession. It should give them elasticity of faculty and breadth of vision, so that they shall have a surplus of mind to expend, not upon their profession only, for its liberalization and enlargement, but also upon the broader interests which lie about them, in the spheres in which they are to be, not breadwinners merely, but citizens as well, and in their own hearts, where they are to grow to the stature of real nobility.

             The World in the Classroom

     When all is said, it is not learning but the spirit of service that will give a college place in the public annals of the nation. It is indipensable, it seems to me, if it is to do its right service, that the air of affairs should be admitted to all its class-rooms. I do not mean the air of party politics, but the air of the worlds transactions, the consciousness of the solidarity of the race, the sense of the duty of man toward man, of the presence of men in every problem, of the significance of truth for guidance as well as for knowledge.

                     Liberty and Action

     Liberty does not consist in mere general declarations of the rights of men. It consists in the translation of those declarations into definite actions. The philosophy of conduct is what every wise man should wish to derive from his knowledge of the thoughts and the affairs of the generations that have gone before him. We are not put into this world to sit still and know; we are put into in to act.
     I have studied the history of America; I have seen her grow great in the paths of liberty and of progress by following after great ideals. Every concrete thing that she has done has seemed to rise out of some abstract principle, some vision of the mind. Her greatest victories have been the victories of peace and humanity.
         Princeton in the Nation's Service

And in days quiet and troubled alike Princeton has stood for the nations service, to produce men and patriots. Her national tradition began with John Witherspoon, the master, and James Madison, the pupil, and has not been broken until this day.
     In planning for Princeton, moreover, we are planning for the country. The service of institutions of learning is not private, but public. It is plain what the nation needs as its affairs grow more and more complex and its interests begin to touch the ends of the earth. It needs efficient and enlightened men. The universities of the country must take part in supplying them.

[A photograph of the archway of 79 Hall.]


When Wilson was President of Princeton, his office was in the room over the archway of 79 Hall. The Hall, a gift from Wilsons class on its 25th Anniversary, is shown here as seen from the proposed site of the Woodrow Wilson School.

"In a world now on the threshold of a new and fateful age, Princeton is preparing to meet any challenge, to dare any adventure to preserve her integrity and to further her enduring purpose. Proud as we are for our history and grateful for the strength our heritage brings us, we know that to rest on our past would only lead to decay and destruction. We intend to be the progenitors of a stronger Princeton, not merely the beneficiaries of generations that come before us."   

Harold W. Dodds
Announcing the Princeton University 
Third Century Fund

Original Format




School of Public and International Affairs, “School of Public and International Affairs as a Memorial to Woodrow Wilson,” 1947 April, WWP19662, Eleanor Wilson McAdoo Collection at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.