University Benefits From a Legend Who Dropped Out

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He dropped out of the University of Texas at Austin in 1935 as a junior, because of what he called “awful grades,” to pursue a career in the news business, and what a career Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. had. But though he became a broadcasting legend, he never abandoned his Longhorn roots, as evident in his last will and testament now on file at Manhattan Surrogate’s Court.

The will bequeaths Mr. Cronkite’s personal papers to the university, a process that started before his death on July 17 but will now end with the release of materials he had held onto at his office and homes in Manhattan and on Martha’s Vineyard.

After becoming a news anchor, Mr. Cronkite returned often to campus as a lecturer and lent his rich and trusted baritone to the university as the narrator of ads that are still used at athletic events and to promote Longhorn accomplishments.

In college, Mr. Cronkite cut his journalistic teeth at The Daily Texan, the student paper, chasing interviews with the likes of Gertrude Stein while developing a fondness for pipe-smoking.

With Mr. Cronkite’s blessing, archivists at the university’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History had already collected nearly 300 linear feet of material consisting of papers and records that were owned by CBS, in its role as Mr. Cronkite’s employer, as well as some of his personal papers that he had forwarded to them for safekeeping. Among the treasures: a reporter’s notebook from his tour of Vietnam in 1968, when he soured on the war.

With the 24-page will filed late this summer after Mr. Cronkite’s death at age 92, the transfer of the rights to the personal papers and memorabilia became official. In May, the university hopes to an unveil an exhibit about Mr. Cronkite, according to Don Carleton, the executive director of the Briscoe Center.

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