Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Higher Education Facilities Act

December 16, 1963

I am proud and happy to approve at this time the Morse-Green bill, the Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963, and to especially compliment Chairman Powell, Congresswoman Green, and their colleagues in the House, Senator Morse and his colleagues in the Senate, and everyone else who worked so hard for the passage of this very important legislation.

A great former President of the Republic of my State said, "The educated mind is the guardian genius of democracy. It is the only dictator that free men recognize and the only ruler that free men desire." So this new law is the most significant education bill passed by the Congress in the history of the Republic. In fact, this session of the Congress will go down in history as the Education Congress of 1963, and every person here this morning who was invited to come to the White House at the request of the President can be very proud, and their children can be very proud, of the part they played in the enactment of this legislation.

Working together, the Congress and the executive branch have made possible the enactment of a series of legislative landmarks in the field of education. Under these various measures:

1. We will help to provide college classrooms for several hundred thousand more students who will nearly double college enrollment in this decade.

2. We will help to build 25 to 30 new public community colleges every year.

3. We will help to construct the technical institutes that are needed to close the gap in this crucial area of trained manpower.

4. We will help to build graduate schools and facilities in at least 10 to 20 major academic centers.

5. We will help to improve the quality of library facilities in our own universities and colleges.

6. We will increase the number of medical school graduates and we will relieve the growing shortages of physicians and dentists and other needed professional health personnel.

7. We will enable some 70,000 to 90,000 additional students to attend college each year under an expanded loan program.

8. We will modernize and expand our Federal-State programs for vocational education in order to train for the changing world of work the 8 out of 10 young people who will never obtain a college education.

9. We will reduce the shortage of qualified personnel for the training and teaching of mentally retarded and other handicapped children.

10. We will expand our manpower development and training program to meet the growing problem of untrained, unemployed school dropouts.

11. We will expand programs for teaching science and mathematics and foreign languages, while extending the other valuable provisions of the National Defense Education Act.

12. We will continue the program of Federal financial assistance for the construction and the maintenance and the operation of schools that are crowded by the presence of the children of Federal personnel.

13. And finally, we will, under legislation to be passed shortly, provide public libraries for the residents of cities and counties all over this great country who now have only antiquated library facilities and some have no libraries at all.

This legislation is dramatic, and it is concrete evidence of a renewed and continuing national commitment to education as the key to our Nation's social and technological and economic and moral progress. It will help meet the demands of our economy for more skilled personnel; it will enable many more of our young people to cope with the explosion of new knowledge and to contribute effectively in a world of intellectual, political, and economic complexity.

But these new measures will still not do the whole job of extending educational opportunities to all who want and can benefit by them, nor in meeting our growing national needs. I, therefore, strongly urge the Congress to take early, positive action on the unfinished portion of the National Education Improvement Act, particularly those programs which will assist elementary and secondary schools. In addition, I urge prompt action on proposed programs for combating adult illiteracy, for expanding adult education, for improving the quality of education at all levels.

President Kennedy fought hard for this legislation. No topic was closer to his heart. No bill was the object of more of his attention. Both his life and his death showed the importance and the value of sound education. The enactment of this measure is not only a monument to him, it is a monument to every person who participated in passing it, and most of you are in this room today.

It clearly signals this Nation's determination to give all of our youth the education they deserve, and as long as we have a government, that government is going to take its stand to battle the ancient enemies of mankind, illiteracy and poverty and disease, and in that battle each of you are soldiers who wear the badge of honor.

Note: The President spoke at 11 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening remarks he referred to Representative Adam C. Powell of New York, Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, and to Representative Edith Green and Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, Chairmen respectively of subcommittees of the House Committee on Education and Labor and of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare.

As enacted, the Higher Education Facilities Act of 1963 is Public Law 88-204 (77 Stat. 363).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing the Higher Education Facilities Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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