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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/186

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

would be in the interest of economy and efficiency if there were more division of labor and cooperation among our universities than has hitherto obtained. It is not necessary for every university to have a complete equipment in every department.

The main ends of the university are the same in all lands, but our American presidents and boards of trustees are indigenous products which can scarcely be regarded as essential. They are the natural outcome of the denominational college, and have developed in line with methods of business organization that have proved themselves highly efficient. Given a small and compact group of men who represent a certain policy, but whose chief duty it is to elect an absolute dictator, who in turn appoints minor dictators, and the result is an economical and powerful machine. In politics, in business and in education, this form of despotism has prevailed, and has on the whole justified itself by the results. But it appears to be only a passing phase in educational development.

The college president has enjoyed a rapid evolution in the course of a single generation. Thirty or forty years ago he was a clergyman, as a matter of course; later he was likely to be selected for business qualifications; now he is a member of the faculty who unites executive ability with high scholarship. We seem to have made a further advance at Columbia by the election of a president who is at the outset an educational expert. He alone does not begin as an amateur and can devote himself to his work while cultivating his scholarship. But the demands now made on the university president are so diverse and exorbitant that even when he gives up both teaching and research they can scarcely be met. He can not be in loco parentis for 5,000 students; select and control 400 officers; coordinate the conflicting demands of incommensurable schools and departments; arrange diverse curricula in accordance with changing needs; superintend buildings and grounds; manage an estate of $10,000,000 and secure the additional funds always needed; be a public orator and monthly contributor to magazines; attend bicentennials, sesquicentennials and semi-sesquicentennials; occupy positions of honor and trust whenever called upon by the community or nation, and all the rest. It has become necessary to delegate part of these duties to deans and other officers, and it seems probable that the office of president should be divided and filled by two men of different type: one an educational expert, in charge of the internal administration; the other a man of prominence and weight in the community, in charge of external affairs.

The president and trustees as they now exist have their chief justification in financial conditions. We know that the lack of money is the root of all evil. Our private educational corporations, dependent on the generosity of millionaires, are in a remarkable and almost