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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/187

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THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY.

anomalous position. Yet it is evident that this unique phase of development has not only kept the university in advance of popular appreciation, but has also tended to maintain the stability of society. At a time when large fortunes and monopolistic corporations are needed for the material development of the country, the generous gifts of a few men of great wealth have done much to allay popular clamor. It seems likely, however, that in the end the people will control monopolies and the universities supported by the profits of monopolies. There is no more reason for depending on the generosity or caprice of millionaires for our universities than for our ships of war. It has always seemed to me a curious perversion that elementary education, chiefly useful to the individual, should be free and supported by the state, whereas higher education, chiefly for the benefit of the state, should be a charge to the student and depend on private charity. I believe that the state universities are more nearly in the line of evolution than the private corporations, but there is every reason to hope that the latter will remain sufficiently plastic to adapt themselves to conditions that are likely to prevail. Even at present I think it would be desirable for our boards of trustees to be gradually increased in size, until they become large corporations, consisting of those who are most actively interested in the work of the university.

However it may be to-day, it does not seem likely that the money question will be the most troublesome one of the future. The people of this country spend $200,000,000 annually for sugar. The same quantity of sugar a hundred years ago would have cost five times as much, $1,000,000,000; the reduction in cost has been due to the applications of science in chemistry, agriculture and transportation. The saving on the cost of sugar for a single country in a year or two would pay for all the higher education and scientific investigation from the establishment of the University of Salerno to the present day. This is a statement easily understood by every voter and legislator; when it is once grasped the question for our universities will not be how to get money, but how to spend it judiciously. I also believe that the people of this country are not only good business men, but are idealists beyond others, and that patriotism and civic pride will lead them to increase the wealth of their universities as rapidly as it can be wisely used.

With the passing of the money question, I look forward to the passing of the president and the board of trustees. Democracy, as I understand it, does not mean that we shall not have leaders, but that we shall follow leaders because we recognize them as such. Our absentee and quasi-hereditary boards of trustees, and our presidents, ranging from King Log to King Stork, have on the whole administered their trusts in accordance with common sense and the opinion of the well-informed.