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Institutionalizing In Loco Parentis after Gott v. Berea College (1913)


by Christopher P. Loss — 2014

Background/Context: The institutionalization of in loco parentis in the wake of Gott v. Berea College (1913) marked a major turning point in the evolution of student management theory and practice. Focusing on the crucial decade of the 1920s, when American higher education first became a mass enterprise, this study explores the interaction of ideas and institutions by retracing the constitutive relationship between in loco parentis and the development of student services and programs targeted to keeping students in school.

Purpose/Objective: Scholars have tended to think of in loco parentis as primarily a tool of social control used to discipline misbehaving students. This study offers a different interpretation by taking seriously the doctrine’s basic terms—namely, administrators’ and faculties’ role as “parents” and students’ role as “children”—and by highlighting the enduring institutional transformations created in the 1920s to help reduce student attrition.

Research Design: This study offers a historical analysis of the changing meanings and widening jurisdiction of in loco parentis during the 1920s.

Conclusions/Recommendations: This study finds that changes in the legal definition of in loco parentis following Gott v. Berea College (1913) triggered a revolution in student services that helped lay the foundation for the creation of the modern undergraduate experience and for the education of the whole student.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 12, 2014, p. 1-16
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17689, Date Accessed: 10/20/2017 4:51:30 AM

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About the Author
  • Christopher Loss
    Vanderbilt University
    E-mail Author
    CHRISTOPHER P. LOSS is an associate professor of higher education at Vanderbilt University. He is author of Between Citizens and the State: The Politics of American Higher Education in the 20th Century (Princeton University Press, 2012), winner of the 2013 AERA Outstanding Book Award. He has published essays and articles in the Journal of Military History, the Journal of the History of Psychology, and the Journal of American History, among others. In 2012–2013, Loss was a visiting scholar at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is at work on a new book titled Front and Center: Academic Expertise and Its Challengers in the Post-1945 United States.
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