Standing six feet two-and-a-half inches tall, barely 40 years old, Lawrence Kimpton seemed the natural successor to Robert Hutchins, who had passed 50 by the time he resigned. With his PhD in philosophy and teaching experience at an elite junior college, Kimpton seemed likely to carry on the Hutchins traditions with little change, even if his philosophy drew more from Kant than from Aristotle. Kimpton grew up in Kansas City and attended college at Stanford. After completing his doctorate at Cornell in 1935, he took a job teaching English, German, and philosophy at Deep Springs College in California. Deep Springs was an experimental school with about 20 students and the same number of teachers situated on an isolated 250-square-mile ranch with 1,000 head of cattle. Students studied in tutorials and small discussion groups and worked half of each day on the ranch. Kimpton became dean and director of the college, which involved rounding up steers and catching rustlers as well as more routine educational duties.
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