MARCH 20, 1950
HYDE PARK, Sunday—During my visit last week to the University of Louisville, I spoke with Mr. H. F. Willkie, vice president of the Seagram corporation, about the foreign students brought over for training under the auspices of his company. The program has many educational values; but I also learned that Mr. Willkie's company made alcohol for the government during the war, and it is probably from the war point of view that other governments are so much interested in sending their bright young men to study in the Seagram laboratories. I can not help wishing that all over the world we might get rid of this horrible overhanging fear of war and let our men and women get their education frankly for industrial and professional purposes which are in no way connected with war!
Mr. Willkie, who is genuinely interested in education, is convinced that the success of his organization is due to the fact that he remembers he is dealing with people and believes that you must think of them as human beings, with all the aspirations, hopes and ambitions of human beings. With this in mind, he has a policy that anyone who is interested in educating himself, even after he is employed, can do so and be helped by the company. The University of Louisville cooperates by giving some courses right in the company's buildings, at a center provided for this purpose. These courses are given at 4:30 when the day's work is finished. For other courses, students must go to the university. If they get A grades, the organization pays their educational expenses in full. If they make only B grades, 75 percent is reimbursed; for C grades, only 50 percent. No one gets paid anything for failure!
This is certainly designed to be an incentive to the young man who is genuinely interested in becoming more useful to any employer. I am surprised that both the educational and international aspects of this plan have not been incorporated into other industries. The heads of industries are the very people who cry out against the government doing everything, but here is an example of intelligent industrial stimulation to young people's ambition. While I have no doubt there are similar programs, they have not been drawn to my attention in other places.
I flew home Thursday morning and was lucky enough to get into Newark ahead of the predicted snowstorm. In the evening I went to the National Book Award dinner and was honored to be among the people to receive a citation in the non-fiction field, for my book, "This I Remember." I particularly enjoyed Senator Paul Douglas' speech, and though I was a little troubled at starting so late for Hyde Park I felt amply repaid for having stayed to hear it.
We did not reach Hyde Park until almost 2 a.m. Friday, but I wanted to be sure to be here in time for the ceremonies at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library Friday morning, when the archivist opened 85 percent of my husband's papers for use by writers and students. The screening has been done in cooperation with Judge Samuel Rosenman and Miss Grace Tully.
The ceremonies were simple but, I thought, interesting. Dr. Waldo Gifford Leland, who has been connected with the library since the beginning, recounted its history in a condensed form which made it interesting to us all. Mr. Jess Larson, administrator of general services, was present also, and many other interested and learned people. The entire party came over to my cottage for a buffet lunch afterward.