Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/286

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price. The net result is to strain the financial resources of the institution almost to bursting, and at the same time to lay the foundation for such an increase of fixed charges as to bar all possibility of a more liberal scale of salaries.

In all this the college professor is apt to congratulate himself upon the wisdom of the serpent. The argument of numbers, he will tell you confidentially, is to impress the imagination of legislatures and millionaires, and when a comfortable establishment has been secured, of course all will be changed. But, apart from the fact that the wisdom of the serpent is not the scholar's special brand, and sits not well upon him, if every increase of resources is to be paralleled by a corresponding increase of liabilities, in the form, say, of new departments to maintain, it must be said that the college is playing a losing game. In the meantime there are few, at least of the better institutions, which could not be financially independent on the strength of their present foundation, if only they would have the courage to curtail their product in favor of a better grade of goods. If standards were raised to approximate those used elsewhere, if college education were presented as a privilege, to be reserved for those who will work for it, if the college would determine for itself what it can profitably offer and what the student can profitably take, instead of aiming at a department-store assortment of electives, it would improve its own dignity, increase its real usefulness, and at the same time be able to make a more liberal provision for its faculty.

Inflation of attendance is, however, only part of a general program of extravagance and improvidence. The popular theory of academic finance is the theory of the deficit. Nowhere else is it considered a mark of economic wisdom to spend beyond your income. In the college it is held to be a necessary condition of health and "life." And for the necessities of "life" it is assumed that the Lord will, and will thus be compelled to, provide. At the same time the furnishings of life have acquired a larger importance. It is no longer a matter of Mark Hopkins and a log, but of the log and Mark Hopkins. Remembering that the chief factor in teaching is the personal intelligence of the teacher, it must be said that the salaries of instruction, as compared with the other expenses of maintenance, cut a surprisingly small figure in the budget.

Here again, however, the college professor is largely responsible. Some allowance must be made for the necessary equipment for instruction in science. Yet even here, and perhaps specially liere, it is true that too much emphasis is laid on the laboratory and too little upon the man. It is apt to be forgotten that many of the greatest scientific achievements have required only very crude instruments, and that, after all, the aim of science, as of philosophy, is, in the words of Hegel,