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Chicagophile
  > > e-Bulletin: 02/08/02


LETTERS
The proof isn't in the provenance


In your December/01 issue, one of your correspondents who addressed the subject of college rankings referred to them as absurdities. In my 40-plus years as a college teacher of history, I have also found them to be irrelevant. Citing a few among many examples, I can verify this contention.

The first history department I joined after receiving my Ph.D. at Chicago was populated by Berkeley, Chicago, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Wisconsin graduates. The most dynamic, productive colleague, who was elected chair before he turned 40, received his doctorate from the University of Missouri. The current president of the American Historical Association, who attended none of the aforementioned institutions, was my advisee at the University of Oklahoma, class of 1958. My doctoral students also included a young man who played football before graduating from Baylor and received his Ph.D. from Tulane University. His major scholarly accomplishment is a three-volume history of the Jacobin clubs in the French Revolution. Jacques Godechot, then holding the chair on the history of this event at the Sorbonne, greeted the first volume as the authoritative treatment of the subject historians had awaited for generations.

All three of these scholars were enthusiastic, intelligent, and industrious. These were the attributes that counted, not the provenance of their degrees.

Hans A. Schmitt, AM'43, PhD'53
Charlottesville, Virginia



  FEBRUARY 2002

  > > Volume 94, Number 3


  FEATURES
  > >
Liberal talk, realist thinking
  > >
The winning punch line
  > >
Physics for breakfast
  > > The young and studious


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