Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Ike's Speech Warned of University Abuses, Too
On Jan. 17, 1961, fifty years ago, outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower gave his farewell address to the nation, now recognized as one of the most prescient speeches of all time. Astutely, he warned that, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwanted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."
Less remembered, but equally prescient, were these words in that speech: "The free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by federal employment, project allocation, and the power of money is ever present -- and gravely to be regarded."
Oh yes, he also said that, during his time in office, "The Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well." Hmmm.