Abraham Flexner

Abraham Flexner conceived and developed the idea that found expression as the Institute for Advanced Study, serving as its founding Director from 1930 to 1939. A prominent figure in American education reform, Flexner had a profound impact on many areas of American education, especially medical education, where his influence can be seen even today in the training of medical professionals, the culture of the physician, and the relationship between medical research and practice.

There was no turning back, once word leaked out that the Institute was looking for a home. . . . Veblen found the combination of the Bamberger fortune and the depressed land prices of the 1930s a potent mix. “There is no educational institution in the United States which has not in the beginning made the mistake of acquiring too little rather than too much land,” he wrote to Flexner.

Is it not a curious fact that in a world steeped in irrational hatreds which threaten civilization itself, men and women—old and young—detach themselves wholly or partly from the angry current of daily life to devote themselves to the cultivation of...