Roosevelt House is pleased to present a special panel discussion on Ellen Schrecker’s new book The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s, co-presented by the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions.

Deeply researched and powerfully written, The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s delivers a sweeping account of the dissent that took place at colleges and universities over civil rights and the Vietnam War—with a unique focus on the complex roles played by professors and students, and the ongoing impact those battles have had on higher education.

As recent Roosevelt House guest the author Nancy MacLean put it: “In this monumental and gripping work, Schrecker shows that to understand the challenges facing higher education today we must grasp the nettle of the 1960s. The Lost Promise provides peerless illumination of the era that so shaped our own. It should be read by everyone in—or concerned about—the state of our embattled colleges and universities.”

And according to Noam Chomsky, “Ellen Schrecker’s careful and enlightening account of the universities in the ‘long sixties’ unravels many of the complexities of these turbulent years and their dramatic impact on American society and culture.”


Robert Cohen is a professor of history and social studies in NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. His scholarship focuses on politics, higher education, and social protest in 20thcentury America. His books include Rebellion in Black and White: Southern Student Activism in the 1960s, co-edited with David J. Snyder, and Freedoms’ Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s.

William A. Herbert is a Distinguished Lecturer and Executive Director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College. He is also a Faculty Associate at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. His recent scholarship includes book chapters on faculty and graduate assistant unionization, public sector labor history, and geoprivacy in digital cities. Bill is the 2021 recipient of the John E. Gould Medal from the American Geographical Society.

Paul Lauter is Allan K. and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor Emeritus of Literature at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He has served as President of the American Studies Association and is General Editor of the groundbreaking Heath Anthology of American Literature. In the 1960s, Lauter served as Peace Education Secretary and Director of Peace Studies for the American Friends Service Committee and executive director of the U.S. Servicemen’s Fund. In 1964 and 1965, he worked in freedom schools in Mississippi, then in Roosevelt University’s Upward Bound program, and in 1967 he became director of the first community school project in the nation, at Adams-Morgan in Washington, D.C. He was also active in the SUNY faculty and staff union, serving as statewide vice-president for academics and chapter president, among other positions.

Ellen Schrecker is a retired professor of history at Yeshiva University who has written extensively about higher education and the Cold War. A former editor of the American Association of University Professors’ magazine, Academe, she is the author of No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities; The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents; Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America; Cold War Triumphalism: Exposing the Misuse of History After the Fall of Communism; and The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University.

To join the program via Zoom, please click here.

Ellen Schrecker — The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s | Posted on December 6th, 2021 | Book Discussions, Public Programs