I was using a box of William Houston’s papers this afternoon and there happened to be a folder in it that held congratulatory letters from friends and colleagues who had learned of his appointment as Rice’s president. They were pretty well what you’d expect, except for one:
That’s just funny all by itself. It’s even funnier, though, if you know that Frederick Hovde was president of Purdue for a full 25 years after he wrote this and that he became one of the great American university presidents of that era. If you know me at all, you know I don’t say that lightly. Hovde simply transformed Purdue, systematically building it into a major research university during his long tenure. He was also a remarkable person, a Chemical Engineer from the University of Minnesota and a Rhodes Scholar who was also a star athlete. Here’s a link to his New York Times obituary. It’s well worth a look.
Bonus: I had a nice visit today from Sigsby Rusk ’53, ’55, ’60. He was interested in R1 and R2 stuff but an offhand remark he made about his living arrangements while he was a student is what sent me into President Houston’s papers in the first place. Things took a really interesting turn and I have something pretty important to puzzle out. He left this while I was in the back room but I’m the one who needs to say thank you to him:
Great letters like the one from President Hovde are fun to read. With almost all communication done electronically now, what do you see as the future of archivists?
That’s a good question. The problem with all the email is that everything is preserved, including all the dreck about what time to meet for lunch.
We’re working on it.