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IN THE EARLY TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY MANY U.S. CITIZENS ARE AWARE OF a few great U.S. universities that happen to be located in the South. Some of these institutions have been around for more than two centuries, and all of them have contributed to shaping U.S. higher education as it exists today. But in doing so, they did not simply copy northern models. They sought inspiration whenever and wherever a promising opportunity arose. In early 1881, for example, Charles Forster Smith of Spartanburg, South Carolina, wrote from the University of Leipzig to his friend and student James Hampton Kirkland back home that Germany "is a glorious place to study in." Kirkland would find there "an intellectual life of which you never dreamed." Smith continued, "It is a considerable leap from Yale or Harvard to a German University; from a college like our Southern institution, it is a change almost beyond conception." (1) Of course, one might interpret this statement as a concession that the South was sadly lagging behind in providing academic opportunities of the highest order. After all, even though Smith, as well as some of his students, would subsequently prove their scholarly and administrative worth in the U.S. South (and elsewhere), he constructed higher education in hierarchical terms. Smith, however, not only observed that southern institutions fared less well than northern and the then highly praised German-speaking universities. He also expressed a determination and ambition to ameliorate the situation. In this, he did not lag behind his northern fellow countrymen. Rather than treating southern academia as an isolated subtopic and measuring it by northern standards, we should study the men and women who spent their lives making the most of the educational opportunities and possibilities in the New South.