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Letter from Lawrence H. Fuchs, Dean of Faculty at Brandeis University, to Senator Lister Hill, May 24, 1961

Brandeis University and more than 150 other academic institutions strongly objected to the loyalty oath required for student loans under the National Defense Education Act. The Brandeis faculty dean protested to Senator Lister Hill of Alabama that farmers and businesses received federal aid without proving their loyalty, and he decried the oath’s violation of civil liberties.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Letter from Lawrence H. Fuchs, Dean of Faculty at Brandeis University, to Senator Lister Hill, May 24, 1961

The National Defense Education Act

The Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite, spurred Congress to pass the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) of 1958. Perceiving an urgent need to train Americans in science, technology, languages, and other essential skills for Cold War defense, Congress committed the federal government to an active role in education by providing seed money to states for curriculum development and student loans. The NDEA included a mandatory loyalty oath that evoked widespread protest; Congress renewed the act without the oath in 1964.