Building the Ivory Tower

By Lauren Lowen


Building the Ivory Tower is a historical monograph written by LaDale C. Winling, an associate professor of history at Virginia Tech. Winling’s Building the Ivory Tower is a comparative study on the role of universities in urban development. Winling’s book provides insight into understanding the evolving importance of the University of Dayton to the City of Dayton. Although not included, by Winling, the University of Dayton’s growth relates to the City of Dayton and has strong parallels to other cities across the nation. In the following pages I will provide an outline and analysis of Winling’s arguments.

Along with Building the Ivory Tower, Winling has written Mapping Inequality, and collaborated with the University of Richmond on the project Electing the House of Representatives, 1840-2016.[1] A central theme that emerges out of the book is that the federal subsidies helped them to grow. The growth of these universities was necessary, states Winling, as more students attended and applied for higher education as a result of the federal aid they received through the GI Bill after World War II in the 1940s. He shows that the influx of students created difficulties for universities and cities who then had to face issues such as overcrowding and overuse of real estate and infrastructure.[2]

Dustjacket image of Building of the Ivory Tower, edition 1, hard cover.

Universities sought to create a different vision for themselves and their cities by creating and supporting new organizations.[3] Universities had increasing influence that created tensions in local neighborhoods. Winling explains that the growth of universities caused social and economic inequality, and had a negative effect on the universities neighbors. The growth of universities contributed to class differences within cities as the institutions became a critical platform for social and economic mobility. Although these universities proved that they could be agents of good, there were also multiple cases where they increased poverty, racial segregation, inequality and isolation in the cities. 

 As Winling explained, “Thus, these institutions reproduced America society-the problems and the promise-as they sought to create it anew.” By specifically highlighting Ball State University, the University of Texas, University of Chicago, University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Winling showed how universities worked with a variety of outside groups including business organizations, the federal government, and philanthropists to achieve their development goals. Winling explains how in the 20th century universities in cities across America had a major role in American society, and the development of human resources.[4] Each of the case studies reveal how universities changed their image, and instead of being institutes of higher learning they became social agents in their surrounding communities.

Case Study 1: Muncie, Indiana

In the opening chapter Winling shows how one family, the Ball family, effectively created a university. Frank Ball and Edmund Ball started the Ball Brothers Manufacturing Company in Buffalo, New York. Their company produced glass jars that preserved fruits and vegetables during the winter.[5] As their business grew, they invested in and saved the failing teacher training school, and donated it to the state.[6] Winling explains that, “The Balls did not set out to remake Muncie, but the founding of the Normal School helped bring about powerful and wide-ranging shifts in patterns of urban growth and economic development.” [7]

Circa 1900, First graduating class of Eastern Indiana Normal University. Eastern Indiana was among four failed attempts to establish a college in Muncie, Indiana until the Ball family helped launch a state-assisted public normal school in 1918.  (

In the Progressive era, George Ball sparked a second economic transformation by purchasing the previous Indiana State Normal School. George Ball was one of the seven children in the Ball family, which consisted of five boys and two girls. His family’s goal was to push knowledge-based social improvement.[8] Winling states that combined with the rise of industrialization this, “led to a population boom, growing levels of wealth and, leisure, and ambition on the part of city boosters to rank as a leading Indiana city.”[9] However, this luxury neighborhoods were limited to those of the “pure white race.” To attract residents to move out of traditionally prestigious neighborhoods, the Ball Family continued the tradition of only allowing white families to purchase property in their housing developments. Winling explained how the more restrictive covenants in Muncie, such as the prestigious area of Westwood, forbid ownership or residence by minorities, unless they were domestic servants.[10] The Ball Family’s attempt worked, Winling includes, the Lynds commented on the shifting geography of real estate in their 1937 follow-up study of Muncie, Middletown in Transition. The Lynds stated that the Ball family had “moved the residential heart of the city.”[11]  Along with the new subdivisions, the Ball Family transformed the college, as well as gave the city a new hospital. These endeavors show how the Ball Family saw it was their duty to transform their school, as well as influence and shape the city that reflected their values.

Case Study 2: Austin, Texas

The University of Texas shows how racial prejudices influenced universities desires to grow and expand. The University of Texas was fortunate, like other universities, to receive money through the federal government’s education programs. However, they also received money from the discovery of oil in West Texas. This allowed the university to change the spatial organization of the city, and the economy of Austin, Winling states.[12] The institution also had the opportunity to achieve a new elite rank on a national level.

However, the growth of the university also increased the effort of some to enforce Jim Crow in the South. As seen through the construction in 1928 of a sculptural gateway on campus, there was a movement to revive the Southern Lost Cause.[13] The Southern Lost Cause was a “‘mystique of chivalric Southern soldiers and the noble Confederate leadership embodied in Jefferson Davis’ defending a way of life, state’s rights, even the original American Revolution, against a rapacious Northern Industrial machine.”[15]  This along with statues of George Washington, Jefferson Davis, Woodrow Wilson, Robert E. Lee, James Hogg, John Reagan, and Albert Sidney Johnston were all erected during the growth of the university. The resources from federal programs were separated along race lines. While, “… the city’s African Americans might benefit from federal slum clearance,” explained Winling, “white college students at segregated universities like Texas received the education subsidies of relief jobs and affordable dormitories that would allow them to become middleclass professionals.”[16] The segregationist practices as a result conflicted with its national aspirations. The Civil Rights Movement had the potential to change the class structure at the University of Texas.

Beaumont, Texas. One of the towns where oil was discovered in Texas in the early 1900s. Image courtesy of The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

With victories such as Sweatt v. Painter and Brown v. The Board of Education many saw Austin’s segregation a slowly deteriorating institution.[17]  Winling explains how civic leaders and education administrators, “continued to pursue development within the university and the city in such a way that the legal system was overturned, spatial segregation remained firmly entrenched within the expanding boundaries of Austin city limits.”[18]

Case Study 3: Chicago, Illinois

The University of Chicago case study shows how some universities attempted to purchase and change their surrounding neighborhoods. Chicago contained the primary Metallurgical Laboratory used in The Manhattan Project.[19] After the war, the University wanted to increase its influence in Chicago and the nation. As Winling argues, “consolidate its position as a global leader in research for the postwar era.”[20] The university used federal support to create research institutes to house world famous scientists such as Enrico Fermi. The university also funded other projects not involving research, such as university housing, to increase the schools revenue. By choosing to purchase, demolish, and rebuild the communities around the university the school administrators had tremendous influence on the city. As explained by Winling:

The school administrators had shown that if it chose to take on the challenge, an institution of higher education had the tools to fundamentally remake an urban area – to become an agent of dramatic urban change. Following the University of Chicago’s example, many institutions would choose to – or be expected – to do the same.

The University of Chicago shows how institutions who saw themselves as social agents chose to prioritize their own personal goals over the surrounding communities. They did this in order to compete on a national level with other top institutes of higher education. In this case then shows how an institution of higher education could be an agent of dramatic urban change, like racial inequality.

Veteran Housing on the Midway, 1946. The University dealt with the housing shortage following the WWII by erecting 201 prefabricated units of two and three rooms on the Midway. (

Case Study 4: Berkeley, California

The University of California at Berkeley was a sleepy suburb before World War II. In the middle of the 20th century, it took on global responsibilities that resulted in more planning, more development, and an effort to revitalize the surrounding areas. The university’s ambitions shows how mass education would take hold in the later part of the twentieth century. However, this shift in education sparked social and political debates throughout the country. Winling argues that “Racial segregation, centralized planning, community participation, and alternative lifestyles were all grounds for debate as students abandoned the mid-century liberal coalition and the center proved unable to hold.”

Berkeley effectively became ground zero in national debates over free speech, the war efforts, and racial equality, especially in urban centers.  In Berkeley traditionalists and the radicals agreed on similar urban work projects, such as the BART line and the neighborhood preservation efforts. The student body and the locals formed an alliance. They created an urban plan that helped those already living in the surrounding communities, while also maintaining the historical character of the area, as well as making strides in getting the communities participation in issues that affected them. The university created what is referenced today as a “Progressive City”, through these efforts. Winling explains how the foundation of Berkeley is a conservative ideology of traditional urban form.[21]

On the Left: Free Speech Demonstration in Berkeley in the 1960s. (

Case Study 5: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Finally, Winling focuses on Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Unlike many other cities, Cambridge had a prosperous economy which provided it the unique opportunity to choose its future. In contrast to, “… other cities discussed in this book, Muncie and Chicago, the universities were proportionally too small to counter the massive loss of manufacturing jobs in the second half of the twentieth century.” Winling argues that as a result of this success, working class residents and university leaders, debated the future of the city of Cambridge. The working class wished for the city’s economy to contain their values, whereas the university leaders hoped to attract more students and prosperity to their school by investing in a new technology. The MIT and Harvard who both had different economic visions for Cambridge that favored their own personal values.

Associate Professor of Production Management Herbert H. Goodwin with students and scale models of tools and production equipment, circa 1950s. Courtesy of MIT Archives. (

Both universities funded different urban renewal projects on opposite sides of town, so that the center of Boston would be more conveniently located towards themselves, instead of their rival. The involvement of the Universities led to a dependency on both institutions, as stated by Winling, “This contest in the late 1960s and the 1970s revealed the interdependence among the city’s political constituencies: whatever their position, they relied upon the success and stability of the universities.”[22] In the end, the economic opportunities brought about by the universities defeated the values of the working class in Cambridge. Areas like Kendall Square, an urban renewal project of MIT, was a real example of how an empty parking lot could turn into glass skyscrapers. Although the working class did attempt to regain their historical character, the cities neighborhoods, as explained by Winling, would eventually turn into “neighborhoods dotted with art galleries and brew pubs patronized by the new tech class of metro Boston.”[23]

University of Dayton

Winling’s study offers insights for understanding the relationship of the decision to change the institution’s name from St. Mary’s College to the University of Dayton in 1920. As stated in Larry Schweikart in his book the Voices of UD, “The evolution toward a university continued when, in 1920, the school revised its charter and, in gratitude to the city that had supported it, took the name University of Dayton.”[24]In the 20th century the University of Dayton sought to play an greater role in the surrounding communities.[25] The changing of the name showed how the University of Dayton goals included being a positive agent for the city that surround it.

Donors to the University also hoped to benefit both the University and the city of Dayton. Similar to the Ball Family’s influence in Muncie, Indiana, John Patterson, industrialist and founder of the National Cash Register Company, greatly supported the University of Dayton. This relationship began when the St. Mary’s Institute needed property to expand, and John Patterson needed money for his future business endeavors. They struck a deal that satisfied both parties. After the transaction, Patterson was able to create the National Cash Register Co. which connected the Patterson family to the City of Dayton and the University itself.[26] The Patterson’s collaborated with business, as well as the federal government in order to better their family and the surrounding community.[27]Schweikart argued that the early Marianist ‘family’ in Dayton was closely bound to the Pattersons, who he considered to be the early First Family of Dayton.[28] For many years, as the University grew, the National Cash Register Company helped the University grow as one of its primary donors. John Henry Patterson, and his predecessors, donated large parcels of land in order to keep it in competition with rival institutions.[29] These donations allowed Dayton to build facilities such as the Fieldhouse, as stated by Schweikert, “ UD followed the nation into a period of progressive calm in the 1950s, nearly completing construction on a new $600,000 fieldhouse for intramural and intercollegiate athletics.”[30]

Portrait of John Patterson. (

The land gained by the NCR was very beneficial to the university. In the 1960s the University positively benefitted through the decline of NCR. As the University of Dayton shifted from being a mainly commuter school to a residential school in the 1960s, it needed housing for its out of state students to reside in. The university solved the dilemma by purchasing the employee housing of the former NCR employees. The partnership between the NCR and the university ended when NCR changed its headquarters to Atlanta. Ultimately, the demise of the NCR was a great University of Dayton benefit by providing one of its staple features, the student neighborhood, that students still reside in today. [31]

 The University of Dayton also faced issues regarding integration and prejudice like the University of Texas. Both Austin and Dayton faced white, middle class, migration to suburban neighborhoods. In Dayton, this resulted the city’s west side to become crime-ridden and dilapidated.[32] The university of Dayton is at the edge of the City of Dayton, also at the edge of some prominent municipalities. These suburbs were lines of segregation that formed during the 20th century. As stated by Todd Uhlman, “The 60,000 people living there faced decades of unrelenting housing and educational segregation.”[33] The African American Daytonians frustration reached a boiling point during the summer of 1966 following the murder of an African American man on Labor Day. Known as the Dayton Race Riot, the violence created great tensions throughout the city of Dayton. The university’s ambitions to become an elite, national institution was threatened by its prejudices and race relations. During the latter half of the twentieth century, both universities felt national pressures from the Civil Rights Movement, and the Social Justice Movements of the 1960s and 1970s to reform their universities.

Between 1959-1979, President Reverend Raymond Roesch of the University of Dayton undertook a massive university expansion program like the University of Chicago. Both universities sought to bolster the university through housing programs that greatly affected the surrounding neighborhoods.  Reverend Raymond Roesch, “presided over the largest student enrollment growth in UD’s history, from 3700 in 1959 to 7500 in the late 1960s.”[34] The University built Kettering Lab, Roesch Library, Kennedy Union, Miriam Hall, the University of Dayton Arena, and student housing using money from the federal government. The University of Dayton planned to increase student enrollment through programs like the President’s Commission of Higher Education.[35]

President Roesch also had an important beginning role in the University of Dayton Research Institute that was founded in 1956. John Westerheide, appointed to lead the University’s first full-time researchers on a classified project, predicted that “an organized research environment would be the only way to coordinate quickly growing efforts and position the University of Dayton to compete with other universities and research organizations.”[36] Having twenty projects in 1956, University leaders hoped that an individual institute would draw more companies to the University. Not only has the institute attracted globally recognized companies to the city of Dayton, providing jobs and awesome opportunities to the students but the research revenue that started at one million in 1956 has grown to one hundred million in 2016, and topped two billion in cumulative sponsored research in 2016 as well. This globally recognized institute has helped improve Dayton’s reputation, and has provided revenue for the University as well as the City of Dayton.

Reverend Roesch also was involved with wider community endeavors to improve the City of Dayton on the institution’s values. President Roesch’s was involved with the Community Development Corporation, and other volunteer organizations, and had a significant role after the race riots of 1966.

On the Left: Portrait of President Raymond Roesch from the Dayton Daily News C0llection, Wright State Univesity Special Collections

Roesch proposed a strategy to create the Area Progress Council Negro Committee, or APC-Negro to ease racial tensions. Lead by Roesch, he believed the University’s arena project had the potential of improving the economic problems that formed the foundation of the racial issues in the city. While also helping to heal the city’s prejudices and racial tensions.[37] However, there are cases in which the university did act for their own benefit over that of the city.

The building of the UD Arena left the university at odds with the city, “Archival sources indicate President Roesch and other UD administrators were deeply concerned about these local problems. However, the plan proposed by the city did not entirely fit the interests of the university. Administrators wanted a venue closer to campus that it controlled.”[38] The city did hope to be an active social agent in the surrounding community, however as seen through Winling’s case studies, Universities act on their own interests. Ultimately, athletic director Thomas Frericks chose land across Miami River, closer to the university, for the sight of the Arena because he believed the popularity of the basketball team of 1967 would raise the necessary funds to build the arena.


[1] Wingling, LaDale C. “About LaDale C. Wingling.” LaDale C. Winling. Accessed November 01, 2018.

[2] Winling, LaDale C. Building the Ivory Tower: Universities and Metropolitan Development in the Twentieth Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018. Page 5.

[3] Ibid, 1.

[4] Ibid, 13.

[5] Ibid, 17.

[6] Ibid, 8.

[7] Ibid, 15.

[8] Ibid, 16.

[9] Ibid, 18.

[10] Ibid,  33.

[11] Ibid, 32.

[12] Ibid, 77.

[13] Ibid, 45.

[14] Wills, Matthew. “Origin’s of the Confederate Lost Cause.” JSTOR Daily. July 15, 2015. Accessed November 12, 2018.

[15] Winling, LaDale C. Building the Ivory Tower: Universities and Metropolitan Development in the Twentieth Century. Ibid, 64.

[16] Ibid, 72. Sweatt v. Painter desegregated the Law school of the University of Texas. Since there was no separate option for graduate or professional school, equal or otherwise, Texas was failing the standard set by Plessy v. Ferguson. Sweatt, a postal worker volunteered to apply to the law school, and was not accepted due to his skin color.In June of 1950, The U.S Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Heman Sweatt.

[17] Ibid, 77.

[18] Ibid, 79. The Manhattan Project was the World War II operation that was designed to create nuclear weapons to deploy on the Japanese to end the war in the pacific without the need of an on land invasion, the U.S would use these atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid, 170.

[21] Ibid, 150.

[22] Ibid, 153.

[23] Ibid, 182.

[24] Ibid, 154.

[25] Schweikart, Larry. Voices of UD. Dayton, OH: University of Dayton, 2000. page 1.

[26] Winling, LaDale C. Buildingof the Ivory Tower: Universities and Metropolitan Development in the Twentieth Century. page 162.

[27] Ibid,163.

[28] Schweikart, Larry. Voices of UD. page 50.

[29] Uhlman, Todd. “”Tonight, We Just Built the UD Arena!”: The Social History of a Building, a University, a City, and a Nation in the Late 1960s.” Accessed December 12, 2018. History _Draft 7_-1.compressed.pdf. page 16, pdf.

[30] Schweikart, Larry. Voices of UD. page 61.

[31] Uhlman, “Tonight, We Just Built the UD Arena!”, page 16. 

[32] The White Flight is a term used to describe the 1950s mass migration of white Americans to areas outside of urban centers. Many moved away from urban centers to ensure their children would not have to go to school with predominantly African American children located in urban areas.

[33] Uhlman, “Tonight, We Just Built the UD Arena!”, page 24.

[34] “Research Guides: University of Dayton: 1944-present.” 1944-present – University of Dayton – Research Guides at University of Dayton. Accessed October 16, 2018.

[35]  Uhlman, “Tonight, We Just Built the UD Arena!”, page 25.

[36] “Over 60 Years of Research Excellence for the Nation and the World.” University of Dayton : University of Dayton, Ohio. November 07, 2018. Accessed December 13, 2018.

[37] Uhlman, “Tonight, We Just Built the UD Arena!”, page 16. page 25. 

[38] Uhlman, “Tonight, We Just Built the UD Arena!”, page 2.