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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/254

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

A CIVIC INVESTMENT
By President P. R. KOLBE

MUNICIPAL UNIVERSITY OF AKRON

IN these modern days of municipal extravagance, of crowded city budgets, and of frantic legislative attempts to control undue rates of taxation in our centers of population, any new source of expenditure is almost pre-fated to encounter the shrug of suspicion—the stony stare of hostility. Even the propagandists of municipal ownership demand their pound of flesh—the new venture must pay for itself in hard cash.

What claim then has higher education upon the purse strings of the city taxpayer? "Support a college with city money?" grunts the rich manufacturer, "Not by a long shot; what this town needs is more paved streets, not Greek and Latin students." Did it ever occur to you that to the average business man all college graduates are "Greek and Latin students"? Many expressions have become so formalized that they are inevitable—they slip from the lips as naturally as "the sunny south" or "the great metropolis" or any other of the thousand and one substitutes which our jaded minds employ in the place of real ideas. So it is with education. All students learn "Greek and Latin," all education is "impractical." Ten to one the man who uses these terms has not been inside an institution of higher learning for years—probably never. If salvation itself were at stake he could not name half a dozen subjects taught in the modern college—"Latin and Greek" he would tell you "Ah, er—yes, Latin and Greek and—well—I really can't say, but anyhow it's all quite impractical!" He doubtless has inherited this idea as he did his politics and religion, but in both of the latter, he has kept more or less abreast of the times. In the case of higher education, though, he has never given the matter sufficient independent thought nor investigation to modify his grandfather's viewpoint, and even the most partisan supporters of education must confess that that old gentleman would perhaps have been right, had he called the education of his day "impractical." In the course of the next few years, I believe, the leaven of the "new education," the actual preparation for life, will have worked itself in to the very center of the lump—will have educated not only its students directly, but working through them, will have inspired a wholesome respect in all the people for the practical efficiency which many of our best colleges are imparting to their charges—all of which brings me back to my real subject, the municipal university.

The municipal university represents one of the newest, the most