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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/501

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PRIVILEGES must be justified by occasion. The close of an academic service of twenty-five years is the justification; the privilege assumed is an indulgence in the use of the imperious pronoun, first person singular—a considerable liberty of expression, as it substitutes conviction for argument. In extenuation I plead that I am not speaking for myself, but, under the warrant of sympathy, for an unorganized, probably unorganizable, group, scattered geographically, exposed to varied intellectual climates, united by a community of interests, reacting similarly to common factors in experience. The only singularity is a persistent concern for my professional class—a profitless solicitude for their welfare.

Looking backward I distinguish overlapping periods of development in the higher education, of divergent tendency; nor is this a gray haired retrospect. Things move quickly in a country where each generation undertakes to make precedents, and an imitative subserviency follows the flag of heralded success. I began my career under the impulse of a quickened interest in intellectual callings, for which at the time the Johns Hopkins University was the progressive sponsor. The spirit of the movement was the emphasis upon the personality and training of those who were and were to be intellectual leaders. I found myself in an intensely alert democracy of learning. The feeling was in the air that notable men were there doing notable work; prophets were honored in their own land, the honor often echoed from abroad. My most salient impression of President Gilman was and remains that of a man with keen joy and pride in the discovery of unusual men, in facilitating their emergence, in proclaiming their achievements. Rank counted for little and quality for much.

The ambitious colleges were changing to universities, sometimes prematurely with flourishes on paper unsupported by performance; generally with a sincerity of spirit and policy. Men of my academic generation felt themselves part of this progressive movement. They gained a foothold, and, as a rule, rapid advancement. They were called upon to occupy responsible if elastic chairs, the bright prospects offsetting the shortcomings of the moment. The Ph.D.'s of the 80's and early 90's felt themselves a welcome part of the university with whose fortunes they linked their own, were themselves contributors to its growth with a reasonable singleness of purpose and sensible community of endeavor. Quite naturally their engrossment in establishing their positions kept them away from intimate concern with general