Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/333

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
329
ACADEMIC ASPECTS OF ADMINISTRATION

quent result that there is imposed on the faculty by direct command of the board tedious and humiliating reexaminations of a situation already properly disposed of by suitable committees. The formal statement that educational matters shall be in the hands of the faculty is for the most part evasive or ineffective. Since most matters have both aspects—financial and educational—and since the faculty can not or does not determine what measures it prefers to consider, its influence in these directions varies from a conceded control so long as no opposition is evidenced, to something merely nominal.

Such externalism of government more than any single influence has brought about the growth of another peculiarly American institution—the university president. I need not enlarge upon the heroic proportions which this majestic figure has assumed among us. It has led a professor, sympathetic with the present plea, to say that the American university has a Brobdignagian president and a Liliputian faculty. Professor Stratton regards the organization as derived from that of a colonial corporation—the financial control reserved by an absentee board in the home country, and the president representing the governor sent to the colony to direct its concerns. This historical setting may invest the organization with some interest, but it can not divest it of its dangers, nor does it account for its continuance and emphasis. Let me cite from the article to which I refer: In a country that politically is most jealous of democratic rights, "university government has assumed a form that we might have expected to see in a land accustomed to kings. European universities have a constitution that might have come from some American political theorist; American universities are as though founded and fostered in the bourne of aristocracy." "The American university president holds a place unique in the history of higher education. He is a ruler responsible to no one whom he governs, and he holds for an indefinite term the powers of academic life and death." "The polity that we might call monarchic is thus not only frequent in the new-world colleges, but it is stripping away the few lorn shreds of popular control which still remain among them."

The state of mind that has entrenched this unsuitable form of government so securely may readily be analyzed. The factors contributory to the result are several and diverse. There is a peculiarly democratic distrust of the man who knows. To call a man an expert is almost sufficient ground for a suit for libel. Conversely there is the glorification of the man who does, without too close examination of the merit of what he does and how he does it. Our captains shall be captains of industry. Business acumen in the popular mythology is Jupiter and Mars and Vulcan compositely, and properly lords it over the affairs of Athena and even of Venus. The Olympian council comfortably settled in revolving chairs in the lofty seclusion of a skyscraper summons