Indiana University Bloomington

The Importance of Herman B Wells

Wells was unquestionably the greatest leader of Indiana University in the 20th century. Becoming president in the waning years of the great Depression, he led the university through the disruption of the long war years. Making strategic investments in personnel, facilities, and programs, he made possible a great leap forward after 1945 as Indiana joined the ranks of great American research universities. Research and professional training in the arts, humanities, and the sciences flourished on a greatly expanded campus as enrollments boomed because of the G.I. Bill. Exquisitely attuned to campus buildings and grounds, Wells also possessed tremendous social intelligence and charm. Known as an “educator’s educator,” he was a valued presence in national and international educational circles. After serving for 25 years as president, he spent the next four decades as university chancellor, providing administrative counsel, raising private funds, and just being there. The cultural life of Bloomington with its international flavor – music, arts, and cuisine – has been immeasurably enriched by his personal nurturance of individuals and institutional support of programs.

Herman B Wells: The Promise of the American UniversityHerman B Wells: The Promise of the American University, by James H. Capshew. Professor Capshew’s thoroughly-researched book provides thoughtful and detailed insight into Wells’ early life, his important contributions to banking reform, his road to the presidency, the transformation of the university he then brought about, his efforts to desegregate the campus and the community at a watershed time for the nation, his extensive contributions to the internationalization of Indiana University, and his steadfast and courageous support for academic freedom.

Being LuckyBeing Lucky: Reminiscences and Reflections, by Herman B Wells. In this absorbing autobiography, Herman B Wells, the legendary former president of Indiana University, recalls his small-town boyhood, the strong influence of his parents, his pioneering work with Indiana banks during the Great Depression, and his connection with IU.

The Vision of Herman B WellsThe Vision of Herman B Wells (DVD, approx 53 min). Colleagues, University alumni, faculty, and friends define the ideals that directed Herman Wells as IU President (1938–1962) and as University Chancellor (1962 - 2000). Archival photographs and films, home movies, as well as contemporary video, capture Wells’ academic and public service activities.