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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/520

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

responsive to the higher standards, should become sensitive to the autocracy in educational administration and look upon it with distrust. They understand, if they do not embrace, the cause of academic insurgency. They may be few in number, even exceptional; they are growing in influence. But the professor must not look passively for relief from without; he must find it within his guild. The clouds of promise though small are visible above the horizon. Protests are growing and are no longer received as dangerous or pardonable idiosyncrasies. The class of men from which presidents are recruited shows a considerable group alert to the evils of the system which they are called upon to administer. Programs of reform have been proposed: advisory bodies to offset presidential autocracy and make the position representative; the election of the president by the faculty together with the determination by the faculty of the powers which he is to exercise; the abolition of the office altogether. Speaking some years ago in a conciliatory mood, I favored the gradual elimination by reformatory measures of the most serious administrative evils, and trusted to the spirit thus awakened to carry the movement to a fitting consummation. I confess that the logic of the abolitionist position is growing upon me. It seems in so many ways disturbing to have a commanding figure in the academic horizon; the foolish and increasing pomp and circumstance of each presidential inaugural deepens the impression. Yet I still believe that the presidential office, shorn of its unwise and unsafe authority, of its aloofness in salary and lime-light conspicuousness, of the prerogatives which it has assumed because unclaimed (or, in the vernacular, because not securely nailed down), could be adjusted to accomplish all the essential desiderata. I believe this mainly because I believe that the position thus reconstructed would attract a different type of man—one who would desire to be no more and no less than an academic leader serving by the warrant of election and of constitutional support by the body which he serves. Clashes of policy must be avoided by the fusion of interests, not by the imposition of an external authority. The rectification of the greatest loss constitutes the restoration of the greatest gain. The independence of the academic career as embodied in the status of the professor remains the noeud vital of the educational system. Untoward conditions affect the intellectual economy unfavorably from its lowest to its highest ramifications. The blight of the blossoms is often caused by the impoverished soil at the roots. It is at the upper levels of fruition where growth is most sensitive to climatic influences that the hazard is greatest. In acknowledging the honorary degree which Harvard University conferred upon William James to make him yet more distinctively her own, he offered in return the concentrated expression of his academic experience. "The university most worthy of rational admiration is that one in which your lonely thinker can feel himself least lonely, most positively furthered, and