William Beveridge, Director of LSE from 1919 to 1937, uttered those words in 1930, when the university was a mere 35 years old.
Fast forward to the present. It’s been 85 years since Beveridge’s speech and 120 years since the university first opened its doors. But the adventure hasn’t stopped, thanks to the colourful cast of characters populating LSE’s past (and present).
From Kennedys to Rockefellers, winners of the Nobel Prize to musicians, a wide variety of individuals have called the university their stomping ground.
The Fabian Society: In 1895, George Bernard Shaw, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, and Graham Wallas established the university. Members of the Fabian Society, the country’s oldest political think tank, LSE’s founders envisioned “a School of Economics” that would promote a fairer society by studying the causes of poverty and inequality. For Nobel laureate George Bernard Shaw, the connection to the school bled into his work. In his 1913 play Pygmalion, the central character Eliza Doolittle enrols in bookkeeping and shorthand classes to enhance her business acumen. Today, LSE is home to the Fabian Society archives.
John F Kennedy: The 35th president of the United States is one of a number of world leaders the university counts among its former students. However, although Kennedy did enrol as a General Course student in 1935, he never began his studies due to illness and the school paid back his fees as he returned to the U.S. LSE was however responsible for the introduction of Kennedy to American billionaire David Rockefeller, a student at the university between 1937 and 1938.
Mick Jagger: The Rolling Stones’ lead vocalist was a finance and accounting student at LSE in the early 1960s, but dropped out to pursue his career in music. During his time at LSE, he was just getting started with the band, going to classes during the week and playing gigs on the weekends. He admits while at the time it was a “totally stupid decision,” he didn’t particularly like the academic life. Mick Jagger has since been knighted for his contribution to popular music.
Malcom X: Just ten days before his assassination, Malcom X addressed a full house in the Old Theatre after receiving an invitation from the Africa Society. The Beaver covered the speech and reported on Malcom X’s “brilliant rhetoric.” Tim Gospill, editor of The Beaver at the time, noted Malcom X was “quite intimidating” and possessed considerable charisma.
Angelina Jolie: This past February, LSE welcomed UNHCR Special Envoy and actress Angelina Jolie and First Secretary of State William Hague to campus to launch the Centre for Women, Peace, and Security. The centre will undertake research on women in conflict areas and promote policy solutions to end sexual violence in conflict. Jolie and Hague are co-founders of the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI).