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Letter Appointing Members to the National Commission on Higher Education

July 13, 1946


As veterans return to college by the hundreds of thousands, the institutions of higher education face a period of trial which is taxing their resources and their resourcefulness to the utmost. The Federal Government is taking all practicable steps to assist the institutions to meet this challenge and to assure that all qualified veterans desirous of continuing their education have the opportunity to do so. I am confident that the combined efforts of the educational institutions, the States, and the Federal Government will succeed in solving these immediate problems.

It seems particularly important, therefore, that we should now re-examine our system of higher education in terms of its objectives, methods, and facilities; and in the light of the social role it has to play.

These matters are of such far-reaching national importance that I have decided to appoint a Presidential Commission on Higher Education. This Commission will be composed of outstanding civic and educational leaders and will be charged with an examination of the functions of higher education in our democracy and of the means by which they can best be performed. I should like you to serve on this body.

Among the more specific questions with which I hope the Commission will concern itself are: ways and means of expanding educational opportunities for all able young people; the adequacy of curricula, particularly in the fields of international affairs and social understanding; the desirability of establishing a series of intermediate technical institutes; the financial structure of higher education with particular reference to the requirements for the rapid expansion of physical facilities. These topics of inquiry are merely suggestive and not intended to limit in any way the scope of the Commission's work.

I hope that you will find it possible to serve on this Commission.

Very sincerely yours,


Note: This is the text of identical letters sent to 30 appointees to the National Commission on Higher Education. The White House release making public the letter listed the members of the Commission of which George F. Zook, President, American Council on Education, was named as Chairman and Dr. Francis Brown, Director, Division of Higher Education, American Council on Education, as Executive Secretary. The release stated that the President, in announcing the appointment of the Commission, called upon all Federal agencies to cooperate with the Commission in its work and designated Dr. John R. Steelman, Director of War Mobilization and Reconversion, to serve as liaison officer between the Commission and the agencies.

Harry S Truman, Letter Appointing Members to the National Commission on Higher Education Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231835

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