1959-Tulane Portrait (Video)



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  • [Inaudible]
  • - We're going to paint a portrait, but not on canvas.
  • Our subject is much too big for that.
  • We're going to use these gadgets for a constantly changing
  • portrait of many voices, many rooms,
  • and some rather unbelievable pieces of machinery.
  • Our subject is very large.
  • It is a university.
  • We will attempt a portrait of Tulane.
  • [instrumental music]
  • My name is Howard K. Smith.
  • I'm an alumnus of Tulane,
  • the College of Arts and Sciences, 1936.
  • I'll play the part of narrator for the film.
  • All right, how do we begin?
  • How do you get a university to sit still for its portrait?
  • [Howard] What do you say, Ed?
  • - Well, I think that's just the point.
  • The university doesn't stand still.
  • It's geared to the times, more than most people realize.
  • The university is a street
  • leading from the past to the future,
  • and there are a lot of doors along the way.
  • Now, I think our film should
  • open as many of those doors as possible,
  • give a glimpse of the activity, scope, and the intensity.
  • Now, I suggest we open with a wide shot of the campus...
  • - [Howard] The university is rather deceptive
  • in this respect.
  • It doesn't suggest frenzied activity.
  • Except at class change time,
  • you will find only a few
  • strolling figures in a serene landscape bounded by solid,
  • quiet, stone buildings.
  • ♪♪
  • And yet--
  • at this precise moment of time in the life of the university,
  • a man's blood
  • is being circulated through his body
  • by this heart-lung machine,
  • which pumps and oxygenates the blood while his heart lies
  • still under the probe of delicate instruments.
  • [machine pumping, background chatter]
  • Two floors over his head in Tulane's medical school,
  • the needles of an encephalograph machine record
  • the electrical impulses from the brain of a monkey.
  • External stimuli such as this...
  • [man snaps fingers]
  • record like this...
  • [machine needles reacting]
  • In the basement of this building,
  • students are gathered
  • in the bullpen to listen to a diagnosis being advanced...
  • - On the basis of present findings...
  • by my diagnosis is peptic ulcer.
  • - Why do you think peptic ulcer?
  • - Well, the patient has classic symptoms...
  • [audio trails off]
  • [projector running]
  • - [Howard] These men are medical students
  • watching motion pictures of a state prison volunteer.
  • He is exhibiting the symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • These symptoms will wear off in an hour or so.
  • They have been artificially induced
  • to help throw some light on one of the many problems
  • of mental illness.
  • [projector running]
  • In the Law Building, a different drama is being played.
  • Moot court is in session.
  • - [Law Student] Now Miss Evans..
  • have you ever seen this object before?
  • - I object!
  • - [Inaudible]
  • - The court will admit the evidence.
  • - [Howard] Directly across Tulane's campus,
  • a student works with the language of the abstract.
  • [chalk on blackboard]
  • This is modern mathematics,
  • a new language to fit the new sciences.
  • The mathematics of the new world of Columbus' time, updated.
  • [missile launching]
  • The mathematics of the new world of today.
  • The space age.
  • The age of the computer,
  • electronic answers to abstract queries.
  • [computer sounds]
  • These are some of the sights and sounds of a university.
  • Here are others.
  • A pile driver is sinking pilings into the delta mud to support
  • new residence halls, a power plant, a student union.
  • [banging sound]
  • These are the sounds that books make...
  • [flipping pages]
  • The quiet sounds of study.
  • [book opening]
  • The sounds of business...
  • [typing]
  • engineering...
  • - [inaudible]
  • - [Howard] architecture...
  • and art.
  • This is the inaudible sound of clay being shaped...
  • the whirr of the potter's wheel...
  • the creak of a turntable
  • [wheel turning]
  • These scenes are taking place in the Fine Arts School
  • of Newcomb College,
  • the Women's College within Tulane University.
  • The sound of voices outside a classroom...
  • [muffled voices]
  • mixed with other sounds.
  • [arrows shooting]
  • [music playing]
  • The sound made by trees...
  • [leaves rustling]
  • and a cafeteria preparing to serve 2000 lunches.
  • [cart rolling, glass clinking]
  • These are the sounds of a language lab...
  • - [inaudible voices]
  • - [Howard] a Texan studying Spanish...
  • a boy from Alabama learning French...
  • a girl from Pakistan studying English.
  • - [inaudible voices]
  • - [Howard] These are the sounds of recreation
  • [Students playing]
  • [Hitting volleyball]
  • [Bat hitting baseball]
  • [Racket hitting tennis ball]
  • [Diving into pool, splash]
  • Those were the sounds of a university.
  • Now here are some of the silences...
  • The silence of the empty rooms.
  • The first room is empty
  • because the biology class is studying the fungus pollution
  • of a river in upstate Louisiana.
  • This room is dark because geology students
  • are collecting field specimens in Mississippi.
  • This is a silent room, but far from empty.
  • It is one of the rooms used to store
  • the remnants of a lost civilization.
  • These are Mayan ruins,
  • uncovered by Tulane archeologists in Yucatan.
  • [light switch]
  • - How does it strike you?
  • - Well, fine as far as it goes.
  • But so far,
  • all we know is that
  • there are a lot of separate activities
  • making up the concept of a university.
  • But what about this particular university?
  • What about Tulane?
  • What are the forces that shaped it,
  • that caused it to be what it is?
  • I think we need some background-- some history.
  • - [Howard] Of all the forces that shaped Tulane,
  • this is undoubtedly the strongest.
  • The Mississippi River, the highway at the door.
  • Second to this is the Gulf and the open sea beyond,
  • gateway to the influences and cultures of Latin America.
  • In addition,
  • the ocean gateway symbolizes the cultural heritage of Europe,
  • particularly of France and Spain, whose colonial flags
  • both flew over New Orleans.
  • The influences brought
  • to bear on New Orleans by way of the river and the Gulf
  • account for the distinct tradition of architecture...
  • law...
  • [Gavel hitting]
  • music...
  • [dance music]
  • and cuisine...
  • [boat engine]
  • still very much alive in the new South,
  • the industrial South.
  • The product of a university is shaped by the demands
  • of the economy, the culture, and the environment.
  • The earliest demand in the mid-19th century,
  • when the university began
  • as the Medical College of Louisiana...
  • was for an answer to the plagues that swept the southern
  • United States from the jungles of Central and South America.
  • Typhoid...
  • Malaria... and Yellow Jack.
  • Tulane researchers suspected the mosquito
  • as a carrier of Yellow Fever some years before the Army
  • Medical Commission under Walter Reed was sent to Cuba.
  • Tulane's medical school has always occupied
  • a leading position in the fields
  • of tropical medicine and public health.
  • [streetcar moving]
  • Tulane is a city university...
  • but with a difference as you think of the subway
  • universities of New York and Chicago.
  • Tulane has managed to retain a comparative smallness,
  • which permits it to be a place where people know each other,
  • share common interests both on campus and off.
  • These are the tangible impressions of Tulane.
  • Highly selective in its requirements for admission...
  • small classes...
  • and wide academic freedom...
  • a sense of responsibility and leadership in the South...
  • as evidenced by the development of the graduate school
  • and the important part it plays in raising
  • the educational standards of the region.
  • [projector running]
  • - Those are some of the things
  • I think we have to put in the film.
  • The essence of Tulane.
  • Otherwise, we're just doing a portrait of "a" university.
  • [Paul] What do you think, Howard? You're a Tulane alumnus.
  • - Well, I agree with you.
  • I think we want to show
  • the special quality of Tulane-- the outstanding features
  • that make this university distinctive.
  • I think we may have
  • missed the significance of some of the earlier scenes.
  • Let's go back to that footage on the law school.
  • [Film projector turns on]
  • [Howard] An entering law student
  • can receive a degree in either common or civil law.
  • Whichever he chooses, he will study both,
  • giving him a unique advantage when he enters practice.
  • For while the United States, with the exception of Louisiana,
  • operates under the English or common law, South America
  • and Europe are ruled by the old Roman or Civil law.
  • Tulane's courses comparing these two
  • great systems are considered the finest in the hemisphere.
  • The importance of Tulane in the hemisphere is pointed
  • up, too, by the Middle American Research Institute.
  • We barely touched on the cultural significance
  • of this program when we looked at the Yucatan excavations.
  • Archeology is only a part of the program.
  • The social inter-relationships and the influences
  • in our neighboring countries account
  • for the most serious study by the Institute.
  • Tulane's interest in Tropical Medicine has resulted
  • in many administrative practices and techniques being adopted
  • by the Latin American countries.
  • Tulane's geographic location in the hemisphere accounts
  • for the growing influence of the Architectural school
  • in tropical and subtropical design.
  • [projector winding down]
  • We showed these scenes of Newcomb College,
  • but we could give more of the real story here.
  • [Film projector turns on]
  • [Howard] Newcomb has the atmosphere and the advantages of
  • a compact women's college...
  • combined with the larger facilities
  • offered by a university...
  • such as these...
  • [Page flip]
  • and, naturally, these...
  • [Bird chirping]
  • Then take these scenes of the medical school.
  • We showed heart surgery,
  • but we should point out that many of the techniques
  • of heart and vascular surgery began here at Tulane...
  • that Tulane research in heart diseases, vascular diseases,
  • and mental illness
  • has placed it in the first rank
  • of the country's medical schools.
  • [medical equipment sounds]
  • These are some of the individual
  • things about Tulane-- the medical school,
  • the law school, Newcomb,
  • the graduate school, and so on that make it distinctive.
  • [Howard] Then, of course, today there's an increasing interest
  • in education.
  • - Yes, we're even beginning to consider it
  • in terms of national survival.
  • - Right, but it's more than a race for scientists.
  • I think everybody is aware of that by now.
  • Though, of course, the race for scientists
  • did put the national spotlight on the problems
  • confronting private universities.
  • They need more facilities, more room.
  • As man's scope of interest increases-- from microbiology
  • to astronautics, the universities must increase also.
  • A physics lab has to be
  • three times as big today as it was ten years ago.
  • Just compare an optical microscope sitting on a bench
  • with the room filling electron microscope.
  • The universities have to take on more students, more teachers,
  • and they have to produce more teachers.
  • The universities need the understanding
  • and the solid support of the people,
  • and the people need the universities,
  • especially the good private universities of high standards
  • and independent influence
  • if we are to strengthen our concept of civilized man.
  • ♪♪