Date Available


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Year of Publication


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. John R. Thelin


Between 1900 and 1930, who determined the balance of power between higher education and the state when conflicts arose? This study presents an untold story of how courts settled disputes that stemmed from public officials’ attempts to rein in spending and influence among colleges in their states. These disputes followed what Frank Blackmar in 1890 referred to as a “wild experiment” with higher education’s growth and planning. Colleges desired to expand, acquire additional funding, and function as independently as possible, while public officials and legislatures sought to exercise influence and power over those colleges. This laid the groundwork for conflict and a power struggle. In the absence of coordinating boards, accrediting agencies, and a host of regulations that we are accustomed to today, courts regulated the balance of power between states and colleges. Many of the cases covered in this study have not been discussed in a scholarly setting. This study evaluates twenty-four legal cases to add another chapter to the early twentieth century history of higher education—one that highlights conflict and power struggles that helped shape the relationships between colleges and states during the decades that followed.