Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/502

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

policies and problems of management. Faculties were small and informal; the calls of committees not oppressive; problems of adjustment relatively simple; rival interests were not yet disturbing. It was not a golden age; nor is its color-scheme in memory due to the mellowing of years. There was an abundance of homelier metal; and the process of refinement was uncertain and tedious. Yet there was an orchestral harmony—a sense of being considered and of playing a part—that can not be referred to an insensibility to discord, or to a blissful ignorance of standards and possibilities.

The period of transition came with a rush and was hurried to its consummation. Everything grew, enlarged, expanded—grounds, buildings, plans, facilities, positions, students and duties—most of all students and duties, least of all salaries. Some of the maturer members of the guild felt the change as delayed growing pains. The adjustment involved difficulties and a stern disregard for hesitation, a brusque treatment of opposition. Size was truly a complication that must be fairly met. Competition without and rivalry within became conspicuous; the perspective of things changed notably. Administration became imperative. Correlation was urgently demanded and unflinchingly enforced. Standards and ideals were changing; whether for good or ill was far more uncertain. The success of measures became more momentous than the manner of securing them. Interests of an academic type were confronted with interests of a measurably different temper, and with the assertion of authority. Pressure from the outside, from legislatures in state universities, from alumni and the public in all, became differently insistent; dissensions complicated issues. The administration which under older conditions had stood between the board and the professor's security, came to carry the external pressure to the academic career. The professor was diverted by manifold cares beyond the class-room or laboratory or study; and found that his availability for the purpose of organization directly affected his influence, his value, preferment, his status. Academic peace became as obsolete as the cloister; privileges of one order were sacrificed for advantages of another that quite too commonly failed to appear.

And now I may find relief in the use of the present tense. It is of the actual situation and of the recent past that I speak, and that without reticence. This is not a testamentary nor yet an elegiac occasion, and by the same token not an apologetic one. I have indicated the conditions under which certain convictions have matured, slowly and confidently—convictions that carry a vital message of caution, of distrust. The one paramount danger, the most comprehensively unfavorable factor affecting ominously the prospects of the higher education—and the lower not less so,[1] though differently—is the undue dominance of ad-

  1. The danger of externalism—the theme of the present discourse—to the public school-system is looked upon by Mr. J. F Munroe ("New Demands in