Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/185

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
179
THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY.

But so far as I am aware this is a danger rather than a fact. It should also be remembered that the university professor has responsibilities as well as rights. He should realize that views radically opposed to the sentiment of the community are not proper subjects for undergraduate teaching or for exploitation in the newspapers. On the other hand, there should be of course no inquisition in regard to a professor's private beliefs; there should be as little interference as possible with his graduate teaching and none with the presentation of his work or theories to experts in his own field.

 

The university is its men and their work. But certain externals are necessary or at least usual—buildings and equipment, a president and trustees. One of the notable services of the Johns Hopkins was to show that a great university can be lodged in humble quarters. I almost regret the erection of more expensive buildings and the present removal and rebuilding of the university. Yet it is certainly for the interests of the community as a whole that the exterior presence of the university should represent its dignity and influence. As the loving devotion and art of the community were once lavished on its cathedral, so they should now go toward making the university stately and beautiful. The university, with its affiliated libraries, museums, hospitals, art galleries, theaters and parks, should be the chief pride of the community; and the money that is needed should come freely. We do not, however, want imitation parthenons and pantheons; architects should be found who can plan the buildings that are best adapted to their uses.

The best scientific work has usually been done with modest equipment and inexpensive apparatus—it depends chiefly on the man. But as science becomes more exact and complex, there is undoubtedly increasing need of large expenditures. A million dollars or ten million dollars should not be grudged, if this sum is needed for an astronomical observatory or for an experimental farm. The investment is sure on the average, and likely in each individual instance to pay large interest to the public by actual decrease in the cost of production or distribution. But in any case the community can afford to contribute for ideal ends an amount that is insignificant when compared with its total expenditures. Books required by the worker should always be at hand, but it does not seem necessary for each university to maintain a museum of a million volumes. We should have two or three such collections in the country, but it is more economical to move books or even men, than to store and care for books that are used but once in a century. Museums and art galleries can also be limited in size without serious loss. Each should maintain certain typical exhibits and have in addition some well developed special departments. In general it