Indiana University Bloomington

Some of the advance reviews for Herman B Wells:
The Promise of the American University

Robert M. O'Neil"Herman B Wells was, indisputably, the preeminent university leader of our time, who inspired and energized two generations of presidents, chancellors, and deans. Capshew's account of Wells’s remarkable career fills a critical gap—not simply by recounting his myriad achievements, but by helping us to better appreciate the true genius of a revered colleague and mentor."

—Robert M. O'Neil, former President, University of Virginia


Lee H. Hamilton"In this delightful biography, James Capshew has captured the essence of Herman B Wells, his extraordinary leadership of IU as president and chancellor, and his contributions to the university, observable from every corner of the campus. With tenacity, intelligence, and skill, Herman B Wells pursued his vision of building the greatness of IU—and it is all set out for us with grace and elegance in this volume to remember, learn about, and appreciate the life and work of Herman B Wells."

—Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative; Director, the Center on Congress at Indiana University


John R. Thelin

"This much-needed biography gives Herman B Wells his rightful place in the sun as an important university leader."

—John R. Thelin, University Research Professor, University of Kentucky; author of A History of American Higher Education


John C. Burnham

"It is impossible to really understand the history of American higher education in the twentieth century without this vivid, informed biography of one of the great, perhaps the greatest, of the university builders."

—John C. Burnham, Research Professor of History, Ohio State University


Michael A. McRobbie"Many universities have a giant of the past whose name is almost synonymous with the institution. Herman B Wells is Indiana University’s giant. His powerful vision and commanding presence transformed a small Midwestern college into a major research university of international stature. From his days as a student until his death in 2000, Wells demonstrated daily a deep and abiding love for Indiana University and the whole university community past and present.

"Professor James 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.

This compelling and magisterial book will enhance our understanding of IU’s legendary eleventh president and all he accomplished. And it helps us understand how he achieved these remarkable accomplishments in the face of constant difficulties and opposition. It is a story of tremendous vision, of exceptional and subtle intelligence, of persuasive skills of the highest order, of almost irresistible charm, of relentless driving energy, but also of a man who hugely enjoyed being president of Indiana University.

As such it is also a story which will serve the vital purpose of introducing new generations of students and new members of the Indiana University community to the extraordinary life and career of Herman Wells and to rekindle fond memories among those who knew this great and unique man."

—Michael A. McRobbie, President, Indiana University