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Free college in Oak Lawn Park started by SMU professor, hippies

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: July 17, 2018

There was once a place you could attend a class on astrology, a legal seminar held by an attorney, and a discussion of electronic music led by a composer — all in one night. For free.

It was called Dallas’ Free University, an open-air series of classes and discussions held in Oak Lawn Park.

Why Oak Lawn Park?

At the time, Oak Lawn Park had a mixed reputation. One Newsreader called the park a hippie haven. That was not a compliment. Another reader saw the park as an important gathering place for young people interested in free expression.

This tension was one reason Oak Lawn Park was chosen to be the spot for Free University.

The idea for the makeshift free college started when Henry Lanz, a Southern Methodist University biology professor, drove by the park with his friends and thought, “Those kids look bored.”

The solution to that boredom? Classes on everything from yoga to psychology to population dynamics and ecology. In the summer of 1970, The News covered the formation and development of this university as it unfolded.  READ MORE