Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/67

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UNIVERSITY REFORMS

ness, bigotry and the like. It does not take any special knowledge of the study of mental disorders to recognize some of the chief defectsin the present system of organization of our universities which tend seriously to upset the mental balance of teachers and students. A hysterical sentimentalism unfortunately associated with the spread of the "college spirit," has become very intolerant of criticism and when placed upon the defensive immediately resents any suggestion of proposed change in a curriculum "which was quite good enough for our fathers." Generally speaking, conservative Princetonians are amused when the incident is mentioned of that loyal son of Harvard who having found his passage taken on the S. S. Yale waited over one entire day in New York in order to return to Boston by the S. S. Harvard. One has to go to New Haven, Cambridge or Baltimore, however, to find those who appreciate the concealed humor in the speech of the Princeton alumnus who openly advocated making the attempt to keep Princeton ideals uninfluenced by outsiders and the faculty composed of Princeton men! One of the greatest dangers threatening the development of American universities is the tendency shown to sacrifice individual development in the attempt to advance the interests of a single institution. In European universities, particularly those in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and northern Italy, when two candidates are proposed for election to a professorship, the call is generally given to the outsider. This custom supplies an excellent corrective inhibiting the development of those fixed ideas existing in all communities where the teaching authority is the lex populi. An excellent estimate may generally be formed of the professional standing of a teacher by the number of "calls" he receives from other institutions.

Unfortunately in faculties where complete harmony exists the dangers of the growth of the spirit of mutual admiration becomes a menace to healthy mental activity. The objectionable spirit of partisanship is frequently more marked in the professional schools (theology, medicine, law) than it is in the academic departments of the universities. Eternal vigilance is the price to be paid for intellectual as well as political liberty. The method generally adopted in a university of electing a board of trustees entirely recruited from its own alumni without any representatives from other institutions is unfortunate, because the members will almost certainly be guided by a sentimental interest in the affairs of a single institution, rather than by an intelligent appreciation of the intellectual needs of the entire country. The effect, even indirectly, upon the teaching and student body of the selection of a board whose members are chosen because they are supposed to represent the spirit of a single college instead of the broader and more general interests of the national life is narrowing.

If we wish to determine the physical conditions essential to the