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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/402

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By Professor J. J. STEVENSON,


THE pessimism with which some recent writers regard the university outlook in our country is, unfortunately, not wholly unreasonable. Yet the conditions, far though they be from the ideal, are not such as to make one despondent. The rapid development of our country has brought difficulties to colleges and universities as it did to business enterprises. The business world recognized the difficulties and overcame them at the cost of complete change in methods. Let the business common sense, which has made the United States preeminent in commerce, be applied to university matters and it will give us equal preeminence in education. It is necessary to recognize the conditions frankly, to cast aside injurious makeshifts and to adjust the methods to the new surroundings and the new demands. For the surroundings and the demands are new. Within the last thirty years, the relations between the teaching and the corporate boards have undergone a serious transformation; the relations of college professors to the community, as well as to their students, have been revolutionized; the manner and the matter of the professor's work in many departments bear no resemblance to those of thirty years ago. The extent and nature of these changes are known in but slight degree to those in the corporate boards of colleges and universities; the community is wholly ignorant of them. Let us understand them.

At the close of the Civil War, American colleges were comparatively small. Their trustees, for the most part, were alumni or professional men familiar with college work, as it then existed, and personally acquainted with the professors with whom they were in sympathy and for whose benefit they held their place. But, within a generation, the small colleges have become large, many of them have expanded into true universities with numerous departments, hundreds of instructors and thousands of students; while the financial interests, expanding more rapidly than the institutions, have attained a magnitude in some cases as great as that of New York's finances fifty years ago. No trustee in a large college to-day can know much of college work as such, can be acquainted with the faculties, can do much more than bear his share of the business responsibility. Vast sums of money needed for expansion, even for continued existence, are sought from men, who, having