Royce Morgan's father had been president of Wellford College and it was assumed that the son would succeed the father. Royce was groomed for the role but he side-stepped everyone's expectations (including Carole Prentice's whose life he occupied for nine lusty years) for fear that his future would be too complacent. He married Priscilla London, an artistic type, in New York and they had one son, Lot. However, an event during the war somehow changed his outlook though his return to Buchanan, Illinois was supposedly for the benefit of their son. But Morgan remains reluctant to confirm his own decision and at Wollford he becomes, instead, Dean of Studies while a homosexual charlatan from the advertising world is imported as President. The story hereafter is concerned with President Mooney's unethical schemes for increasing Wellford's ""national visibility"" despite efforts in some quarters favorable to Morgan, to dislodge him. Throughout Royce's position is one of consistent fence-straddling. Years later, after Mooney's disgrace, Morgan accedes to the vacancy. In the meantime his wife has left him (to write a cryptic novel) and Carole Prentice, who has been twice widowed and then disastrously linked with Mooney, kills herself. Still, Morgan's last state is no more definite than the first. This is a determinedly ""clever"" portrait of destructive prudence and of the waywardness of Academe. But it is overintellectualized to the point of tediousness.