Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/329

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THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

of the whole university, and for adjusting differences and conflicts touching educational interests between the different departments, a university council is a most feasible expedient. Only be it understood that such a council should be no sinecure, or body designed to assume a show of responsibility while actually having little power to check intrigues, to judge intelligently and righteously, and to act with something more than a mere shadow of influence or authority.

Most important of all the improvements for which we might have a fair measure of hope, if something like the suggested changes could be inaugurated and fairly and thoroughly tested in the administration of our greater and older universities, would be the improvement in a good understanding and in reciprocal confidence and in effective cooperation, between the board of teachers and the board of business management, between the professors and the trustees. In the lack of knowledge, of confidence and of cooperation, most of the embarrassments, difficulties, failures, and scandals connected with the present system of university administration in this country undoubtedly arise. And perhaps in the majority of these cases they arise from or center about the action of the president. It will be noticed that the scheme tentatively proposed in this article does not necessarily call for any president. And, indeed, we may boldly ask ourselves. Why should there be any president, if by this title we mean to cover the office of any one man combining within himself, even apparently, all the functions belonging to this name in the days—and, if you please, even now—of the small denominational college? A figure-head to represent the university at home or abroad on occasions of peculiar import and corresponding grandeur can easily be appointed, either with a three-years' tenure or for each special occasion.

Doubtless many difficult problems will arise and await a speedy or more remote solution, in the way of any institution which attempts to inaugurate the needed changes. Doubtless, too, the particular character of the changes enacted would wisely vary in different cases. In the cases of universities under state control, every thing could scarcely be arranged in the same way as in the cases of the private institutions. Doubtless, again, the effect of change upon the alumni and the public at large would have to be seriously taken into the account. But neither the public, nor the alumni, nor the trustees, and perhaps not even the presidents of these institutions, realize how deep is the dissatisfaction with the existing system, how urgent, if not loud, is the call for a somewhat radical change. At any rate, it is high time that the problems afforded by this system should be frankly and boldly faced; high time that the disadvantages should be announced, if not at once corrected.