C.S. Boucher: The Isolationist Intellectual

During the “Duration,” UNL was under the command of chancellor C.S. Boucher, an academic man with little interest in war. He, in fact, advised students to stay in school and stay out of the war effort altogether. Neutrality was the path of choice to Boucher, and he was not alone: nearly 80% of the United States population at the time was against World War II, after seeing the devastation and pointlessness of World War I. However, after the U.S. joined the Allied powers, Boucher was forced to recognize the effect it would have on the university. He responded by sending out publications detailing his programs for UNL during and after the war, which mostly emphasized that students should remain in school for as long as possible, as the country needed all skill types during critical times. Boucher built his programs around President Roosevelt’s quote, “The message I would emphasize to you this year is that America will always need men and women with college training. Government and industry shall need men and women of broad understanding and special aptitudes to serve as leaders of the generation which much manage the postwar world. We must, therefore, redouble our efforts during these critical times to make our schools and colleges render ever more efficient service and support of our cherished democratic institutions.” Boucher had repeated conflicts with his own faculty and students for his dislike of the military. The fact that a few of his own staff invited the military to house cadets on campus, in love library, only further isolated Boucher, and by the end of 1945 he had virtually retired, surrendering the vast majority of his power to Dean Thompson, who led the university from 1945 to 1946, when Ruben Gustavson arrived.