“Leadership in War and Peace: Texas A&M in the Life of Earl Rudder”
Wednesday, 26 September 2012 • 7-8 p.m.
Memorial Student Center, Room 2400
The lecture is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.
Thomas M. Hatfield is Dean Emeritus of Continuing Education and Director of the Military History Institute in the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin where he lectures on World War II. As an internationally recognized scholar of the war, in 1989 Dr. Hatfield co-founded UT Austin’s esteemed Normandy Scholar Program, an undergraduate program focused on the war.
Hatfield’s biography of James Earl Rudder –– Rudder: From Leader to Legend –– published by the Texas A&M University Press in 2011, is a study in the development and manifestation of human character. The book traces Rudder from childhood through his extraordinary career as a renowned citizen-soldier, ending with his death in 1970 while president of Texas A&M University.
Hatfield lays bare the deprivation of Rudder’s early life, the strengths of family and community ties, the academic and financial challenges of college, job struggles during the Great Depression, his storied exploits in the 1941-45 war, and his remarkable postwar achievements in the public service. While applauding Rudder’s accomplishments, Hatfield reveals his foibles and confirms the depth of his humane spirit. Rudder was, Hatfield concludes, “a humanistic leader in war and peace.”
Dr. Hatfield’s book, Rudder: From Leader to Legend (Texas A&M University Press, 2011), will be available for purchase outside of room 2400 in the MSC from 6-8:30 p.m. on 26 September 2012.
The reputation of James Earl Rudder rests largely on the leadership he demonstrated as a battlefield commander during World War II and for the reforms he later championed as president of Texas A&M University. Less understood is that he was a humanist in the fashion of Christian realism, exceptionally intuitive and perceptive of others and their daily conditions, firmly believing in a transcendent Supreme Being who brings order into the world and depends on fallible humans to do his bidding.
Although not formally schooled in the humanities, Rudder was highly verbal and acquired humanistic qualities by observing and listening sympathetically to people, regardless of their station in life. Alert to those in need, Rudder personified the Good Samaritan, a worthy example for teaching humane values. Building on the habits of self-scrutiny and appraisals elicited from others, he emphasized self-improvement, high standards and preparation for the future. He was not materialistic and made public service the primary purpose of his career.
This lecture will describe how the talents and tendencies indicated above contributed to Rudder’s successes in the major challenges of his life: the ordeal of the war, the disorder and corruption of the Texas General Land Office, and the waning of Texas A&M. His associates would say, they “knew of no one who had worn the mantles of leadership and of humility so well at the same time”; and that “He was fair-minded and honorable. He could be trusted and we all believed in him. He was a man you would die for.” (Hatfield)
The “World War II and its Global Legacies” Initiative is a two-year program sponsored by the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research focusing on World War II, its history and consequences, as well as its global impact on international law, national memory and identity, and the humanities. To that end, the Glasscock Center will host lectures, conferences, workshops and film screenings to help students, faculty, and the general public better understand the events and implications of the conflict. World War II and its outcomes continue to shape our lives today, particularly through global efforts aimed at recognizing and supporting human rights. Given its past and military traditions, Texas A&M University is an ideal institution to host this initiative, and in the future, to assume a leading, permanent role nationally and internationally in fostering the study and teaching of World War II and its Global Legacies.
During the first year of 2012-2013, the Initiative will focus on “World War II in Context: Conflicts, Moral Dimensions, and Trials of History.” In year two (2013-2014), the focus will be “The Legacies of World War II: Genocide and the Globalization of Human Rights.”