Being Lucky

Being Lucky

Reminiscences and Reflections
Herman B Wells
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/25/2012
Format: Paperback 49 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00613-4
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In this absorbing autobiography, Herman B Wells, the legendary former president of Indiana University, recalls his small-town boyhood, the strong influence of his parents, his pioneering work with Indiana banks during the Great Depression, and his connection with IU, which began as a student when the still provincial school had fewer than 3,000 students. At the end of his 25-year tenure as president, IU was a university with an international reputation and a student body that would soon exceed 30,000. Both lighthearted and serious, Wells’s reflections describe in welcome detail how he approached the job, his observations on administration, his thoughts on academic freedom and tenure, his approach to student and alumni relations, and his views on the role of the university as a cultural center. Being Lucky is a nourishing brew of the memories, advice, wit, and wisdom of a remarkable man.

Author Bio

Herman B Wells (1902–2000) served Indiana University in a variety of capacities, most notably as its 11th president and as chancellor, and was pivotal in IU’s development into a world-class institution of higher learning.


“Herman Wells recalls his formative boyhood years in a small Indiana town, gives his views on how to run a university, and describes some of his national and international service. The profoundly serious is mixed with the lighthearted in the reflections of this astute visionary.”

“Both lighthearted and serious, Wells’s reflections describe in welcome detail his approach to his presidency at Indiana University and other aspects of his life. Being Lucky is a nourishing brew of the memories, advice, wit, and wisdom of a remarkable man.”

“A tribute to a great university and to a man with foresight who also had the courage to act on his convictions.”
 — Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette

“Much more than the title might suggest [this is] a heart-warming account of a young boy and his parents determined that a son should have a college education, a classic and detailed account of his widening involvement with every aspect of higher education, and a stirring story of a wise administrator. [Wells’s] life is an astonishing success story. . . . He was not just lucky, he was careful and courageous. ”
 — Journal of Higher Education

“Being Lucky is as entertaining as it is informative. Wells' biographer, James H. Capshew, called it 'a manual of higher education management.'. . . Reading Wells' fascinating autobiography shows why it is no wonder that Indiana University is so proud of the great man and honors his accomplishments. ”

“An honest report by a most successful educator [and] a tribute to a great university and to a man with foresight who also had the courage to act on his convictions. ”
 — The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette

“Wells’s humor, wit, and humanity pervade every chapter. ”
 — Indiana Magazine of History

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Table of Contents

To Begin...
Preparation for the Presidency
1. Growing Up in Jamestown and the County Seat
2. Widening Horizons
3. What It Was Really Like
4. Country Bank Failures
5. Reopening, Reconstruction, and Reform
6. Apprenticeship in Academic Administration
7. The Fate of a Noncandidate
The Presidency
8. A Few Observations on Collegial Administration
9. How to Succeed without Really Trying
10. Money, Money, But Never Enough
11. The Private Sector: Indiana University Foundation
12. Academic Freedom and Tenure
13. To Make Room for the Future
14. Student and Alumni Relationships
15. Culture to the Crossroads
16. The University Looks Abroad
17. Academic Ferment
National And International Service
18. A Trip and a New Awareness
19. A Glorious Experience in the Springtime of My Career
20. With Clay in Occupied Germany
21. One World or None
22. An Unusual Mission to the U.S.S.R.
23. Education and World Affairs
24. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
25. The American Council on Education and an Introduction to International Associations
26. The Educational Policies Commission
27. The Roots of PBS
28. Trying to Do One’s Share
29. With My Hat on the Back of My Head
Beyond the Presidency
30. The Summing Up
31. The University Chancellor
32. Epilogue
A. Chronology
B. Traditional Rite at Freshman Convocation
C. Time on Wells
D. Taking the Arts to the People
E. Telegrams from General Lucius Clay
F. Current Directors, Indiana University Foundation
G. Indiana University 150th Birthday Fund Subscriptions
H. Message to the University Community, November 1, 1968
I. Indiana University Technical-Assistance Projects
J. Special Commissions and Committees
K. "All’s Wells That Ends Well"