Stanford GSB in Times of War

World War II

In Dean Hugh Jackson’s article from the November 1942 Alumni Bulletin, he introduces a few special programs that were established by the school to help in the war effort.

We Adjust to War

Our universities, like every other type of business and civic organization, have been obliged to adjust to war conditions. Business school men are practically all in the age group covered by the Selective Service Act, and our students and alumni are rapidly going either into military service or into strictly war industries. Our job is to train men and women for business leadership, and that sort of leadership is also needed both in government and in the armed forces. This is a war in which ample equipment is more important than large numbers of men, and trained minds are essential to the planning for and production of large quantities of airplanes, ships, tanks, and other essential war materials.

Stanford GSB has endeavored to fit its program into these changing needs. Special work has been offered for seniors in the university, whereby these men may make an undergraduate major in business. A special continuous four-quarter course of graduate study, intended specifically to prepare men for production work in essential war industries, was instituted a year ago. This leads to the degree of Industrial Administrator (IA). The course is not a condensation of the regular two-year program of the school, but is, rather, intensive training for the immediate need of the nation. It trains especially in factory management, industrial cost accounting budgeting, procurement, worker selection and training, time and motion studies, and financial and industrial problems of war.

As of January 1, 1942, the school established secretarial training courses — shorthand, type writing, office practice and administration and secretarial accounting. More than one hundred upper-class students, chiefly girls, are at present enrolled for this special work, which has as its goal the training of young women for positions in war industries, in the military service, and the like.

After more than a year of negotiations the War Department established an Advanced Unit, Quartermaster-Corps-R.O.T.C. in Stanford Graduate School of Business as of September 28, 1942. Fifty carefully selected college graduates have been assigned to the school. Upon the successful completion of six continuous quarters of work these men will receive their MBA degrees and will also be commissioned second lieutenants in the Quartermaster Corps. We are very glad to have this part in training qualified army officers for the service of the nation.

Still other developments are in the offing. During the continuance of this world-wide war the whole program of the school will be to make the greatest contribution possible to the war effort. In thus doing, we take our places alongside other institutions, groups and individuals in putting country first, and in helping restore to the world sanity, peace, and individual opportunity.

From School to the Army

Letters from Men in the Service

The following excerpts are taken from letters written to his father by Everett H. Breed, MBA ‘40, while serving on convoy duty in the North Atlantic in the capacity of a Naval lieutenant (j.g.).

I don’t remember when I last wrote to you — it might have been a week ago or it might have been a month or more. Your imagination can’t conceive the time spent in work by our ships. I only wish that a few of the advocates of 40-hour weeks, war or no war, could be with us — we’d pin their ears back!
It is the rule rather than the exception for us to work for two or three days straight, with an hour or two for a catnap each 24 — and that is no exaggeration. Then with a day’s interim in which we all sleep 12 to 14 hours and start all over again. So if my letters to you have been brief and few, attempt to understand the circumstances, which are becoming more severe as the days get longer and the weather slightly better.
Also, I am more than happy to be here to write you as a few moments arise — three of my closest friends and messmates at Boston will never write letters again.
They are the only ones that I have had news of. In answer to your inquiries regarding our relaxation — we take what we can anytime it is possible. There is no such thing as organized recreational facilities or entertainment. Ours is a work ship — we have the motto of “Service for the Service” and live up to it. I have spent as long as 10 days without even getting out of my clothes — and it wasn’t because I was lazy. Two-hour naps wherever and whenever possible was the order of the day for us who had the responsibility for getting the jobs done…
I can see by your letters that you still don’t quite comprehend the distance and other elements that enter into the picture of our separation. If people would cast aside their preconceived notions, especially those with regard to their past experiences with transportation, etc., and attempt to imagine the factors involved in the communication lines from their place to mine, I’m sure their thoughts would give you many clues as to lack of timely delivery of letters, etc. For instance: it is wartime now, not peace, and absolute secrecy of ship movements and locations must be maintained; sometimes ships scheduled to come our way will at the last minute be rerouted due to the, possibility that their sailings or routes or destinations might have been compromised, or due to intelligence reports that make such changes necessary. It is often possible that interceptions occur — in fact, the intervals in Betty’s letters lead me to believe that several will never reach me. You can rest assured that the powers that be do their very best in getting the mails through, but that is not always the easiest thing.
I certainly envy all of you the fun of bringing up my little boy, Larry. Most reactions to separations of father and children are, “Poor little fella, he’s got no Daddy!”; but this is a bit reversed — poor Daddy, he ain’t got no little fella! I hardly think that Larry is suffering any disability or neglect from not having his Daddy around, but his Daddy is suffering something terrible from not having his little Larry around. But then, maybe Larry will have a little fellow to enjoy someday just because his Daddy could stand to suffer the experiences of war …
Personal affairs have no place in this war except insofar as they affect morale. The mails, for instance, go through only because they are a morale-building factor, not because it is anyone’s inalienable right to receive and send letters. We must all of us be conscientious in developing the correct frame of mind. We must realize that at the present time we are fighting the greatest struggle of our whole existence, and that to do so successfully must take our whole and every effort — there is no space for personal affairs except a minimum that is necessary because man is an emotional creature. December 7th is a cleavage of the old desirable peace ways from the new, undesirable war ways, but to return to the desirable ways we must pursue the undesirable to their full conclusion — and that means the whole nation. Personal affairs will be taken up and lived in their rightful place of importance when this is over, but right now the place of personal affairs is very low on the scale.
In the May issue of the Reader’s Digest there is an article on page 26 which I would like to point out for all at home to read. It is an illustration of the attitude that all must develop: that merely doing a little in the spare time to help some Red Cross, etc. is not all-out effort. No one who has any spunk should go on living in the usual manner, letting those who happen to be single and physically fit, or who happen to have a patriotic emotion give up their entire life in this effort. (I hesitate to use the word “patriotism,” because that is too hackneyed an expression, failing to give the full depth of meaning to the emotional response of some who volunteer for direct war effort.) This war is fought by ALL, not just by us out here. Let everyone organize his own time and use his own imagination to fit himself into some direct effort to win this war… Perhaps by circulating a few of these thoughts from one who feels desperately what he is thinking and writing, you can start a flow of effort not yet started. As you by now appreciate, this is not merely for our own consumption, but is written with the expectation that you will do something about it.

The following are excerpts from letters received from business school men in the service. Names and locations have been deleted, but each paragraph is a quotation from the letter of one man each in a different branch of the service.

  • We are enjoying the vicissitudes of mud, rain and cold in dear old Texas at present… it is dawn and the trucks are again rolling so I must be a huslin’. The Army is not such a bad life as some civilians and I fear some soldiers, seem to think. If you try to fight the Army, it can be pretty tough, but if you cooperate you have little trouble. I like the Air Force and am proud to belong to it.
  • I have tried all my biz school knowledge and psych. aspects to make an impression on the top sergeant but so far it has been in vain.
  • I am stationed at… and attached to the Classification Section. Here all the selectees are tested, interviewed classified and assigned to various arms and services of the Army. I am at present interviewing, and I find the work very interesting.
  • All magazines and papers in the States are full of growls on meat and sugar rationing, etc. Well, we are not rationed on those items thus far, but on the other hand we simply can’t obtain a lot of things that all you people take for granted. Milk is a prayer, any kind of a cool refreshing drink is unheard of and fruit is touch and go… We are anchored now off the hottest little hole in this part of the world, in my opinion of course. Some of the boys tell me that I have a lot to look forward to, but I feel if you can live through this you can live through anything…
  • The people here look like that bunch that came to California from the dust bowl. Their faces are all drawn from squinting into the sun and dust for years, their skin looks like a cross between No. 1 prize leather and No. 3 mild plate steel-cold drawn. Trucks roar through the town with mufflers wide open kicking up dust which settles on you like glue. I frankly do not see why anyone would want a place like this, much less live here by choice, but some do.
  • It gives me quite a thrill, even after almost two months to come into the Post at sunrise as it is now when I arrive for breakfast. The flag has just been raised and over the entire post is heard the roar of motors of the big bombers as they are warmed up and take off on their day’s mission. I am glad to be doing my share small as it is, in the most important movement of our time… The discipline, the training, and the association with thousands of other men with the same purpose, are experiences which I would not have missed.

Vietnam War

A change in the draft law in 1968 took away draft deferments for graduate students. Several Stanford MBAs were drafted before finishing. In 1968, 27 students dropped out of the program to enter the service. Several others elected to enlist during the summer to avoid being drafted during the academic year.

On December 29, 1968, Dean Arjay Miller delivered a speech to the annual combined luncheon of the American Finance Association and the American Economic Association at the Pick-Congress Hotel in Chicago. In his speech he tells of the Vietnam War’s effects on America, American business and Stanford GSB.

On May 4, 1970, Stanford GSB students voted 3 to 1 to conduct a three-day non-coercive “strike” to protest the extension of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. The resolution that they adopted read, in part:

“A non-coercive strike is defined as encouragement by this body of students, faculty and administration, and staff to absent themselves from classes and operations individually and voluntarily. An informational picket line outside the building will be established, but entry to the building and to classes will not be impeded or hindered in any way. Classes that meet will not be disrupted in any way.”

The main purpose of the non-coercive strike was to express concern over the extension of the war, and by this protest and related “peace-directed” activities, have some effect on changing the President’s Southeast Asia war policy.

The drug culture of the Vietnam Era also seeped into student life at Stanford GSB. A study on marijuana usage at the school in 1968 was documented in an article in the May 13, 1968 edition of the Reporter. The following statistics were created from questionnaires filled out by 65 percent of the student body. The study found that over 30 percent of the students in 1968 had tried marijuana at least once (32 percent of users reported having their first experience during the 1967-68 school year), and 23 percent of non-users indicated a desire to try marijuana. Of the users 15 percent reported also having used hashish and 7 percent had used LSD. The student body appeared to reflect the society and times of the late sixties.

Iran Hostage Crisis

Stanford GSB alumnus Richard Morefield, Sloan ‘74 and consul general of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, was held hostage during the historically significant time of the Iranian takeover of the embassy. After a failed rescue attempt in 1980, Morefield was moved from the embassy to various places including a maximum-security prison and several apartment houses. Throughout the ordeal Morefield said his captors attempted to compromise his self-respect. “They were not allowing me to be with people from my section… trying to strip me of my identity as a diplomat, which is important to me,” he said. “The thing that they couldn’t understand and I think they still do not understand was that… we were willing to deny them that option. We were going to cope.”

Operation Desert Shield

Instead of reporting for duty to the Class of ‘92 Captain John Hurley spent six months in Saudi Arabia and Iraq as a battalion fire direction officer for the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. The Princeton ROTC graduate was winding up four years’ active military service and preparing to enter Stanford GSB when Operation Desert Shield began. The Army had already cut orders for his release, and Hurley had to volunteer three times before he was allowed to rejoin his unit.

Why did he do it? “There are a lot of reasons,” he said, “but the main one is that I couldn’t have enjoyed Stanford knowing that the guys I trained with were in combat without me.” During the war in the Persian Gulf 20 current MBA students were on reserve status. By the beginning of hostilities none had been activated for the Gulf Crisis. However, Doug Stone, a student in the Sloan Program, was later ordered to active duty.