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member of the governing board, while some of the state universities of the West have made the president invariably a full member of the board of regents. As the American institutions have grown, the function of the president has become more and more important to their prosperity and progress. In early times the president was the principal teacher. Down to the early part of the nineteenth century he was almost invariably a minister. In most of the larger institutions the president no longer teaches, and in many he is a layman. Common experience during the last fifty years teaches with certainty that the efficiency of any corporation-financial, manufacturing, or commercial-depends on its having one responsible head who has knowledge of all its concerns, and gives guidance and inspiration in all its principal activities. A university corporation cannot be an exception to this rule for securing efficiency. Again, the experience of the last fifty years teaches clearly that in all fields of human activity it is the trained expert who must invent and give direction. The president of a university must be either an expert himself in educational administration, or he must be a man who thoroly understands how to utilize expert service. And thirdly, experience proves that long service gives accumulating value to well-selected officials; so that universities which give their presidents an honorable tenure, and get from them long service, will be likely to win great advantages over those which do not.
“ The American universities are obviously divisible into two groups, the endowed and the state-supported, altho the endowed may sometimes receive aid from government, and the state-supported may possess some endowments. This difference in respect to the sources of their income, however, affects the policies and tendencies of the two groups much less than might be imagined. At present the leading endowed institutions are richer, and have larger annual budgets, than the leading state-supported institutions, but, of course, this comparative condition may any year be reversed. It would be hard to prove that any important difference in discipline, educational policy, or scholarly ambition and aim, corresponds with or accompanies this division by sources of income. On the whole. the policies and aims of the two groups are extraordinarily similar. The division is not a strict geographical one.
Most of the strong state universities are west of the Alleghenies, but in that vast region strong endowed institutions have also arisen, while in the South both groups exist side by side. California supports the state university of largest annual budget, and is also the seat of one of the richest of American endowed universities. The state universities are all young-Michigan not yet seventy years old, Wisconsin not yet sixty, and Illinois, Minnesota, and California not yet forty. Their future is very bright; but not brighter than that of the leading endowed institutions. The two sorts of university will both serve the country greatly, maintaining a fine rivalry in scholarship and in serviceableness, making common cause in promoting national intelligence, righteousness, and efficiency, and illustrating the best results of the American passion for education. If, then, the American colleges and universities are strikingly similar, in spite of local and unessential differences, it is because they express and illustrate the fundamental convictions, beliefs, and aspirations of the American people."
CHARLES W. ELIOT HARVARD UNIVERSITY
THE EXCESSIVE EXPANSION OF THE COURSE
OF STUDY IN AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES
I wish to consider briefly what I believe to be a certain evil condition of the courses of study in American universities. I believe that we offer too wide a range of undergraduate courses, and that this is done at the expense on the one hand of the quality of our collegiate work, and on the other hand at the expense of graduate and research work. I believe that without violent change the evil may be in a considerable measure remedied.
The chief factor in determining from decade to decade the actual course of study in American universities has been, as I think, the pressure of new subjects for recognition. This pressure changed the curriculum of seventy-five years ago with its slender list of subjects into the curriculum of forty and twenty-five years ago, whose aim was to compress a bit of each sort of learning into a four years' course. When this became impossible, two courses of study were made and then three. The ground must be covered. No one student could cover the ground, but the catalog must do so.
The same pressure, growing always greater, caused the socalled all-round course of study to blow up from within, leaving its débris in many new and strange forms of educational practice. It has happened more than once that the old course of study has blown up in the hands of a faculty whose members believed in its ideal and who were simply trying to re-arrange the details.
Finally, the same pressure which has caused the multiplication of departments has caused the multiplication of specialties within departments. Science has developed such and such new fields of learning. They demand recognition. They are recognized at such and such institutions.
We must recog
nize them here. We must cover the ground. No student can cover the ground, but the university must do so.
If a university were rich enough to cover the whole ground of learning with first-rate introductory courses on the freshman-sophomore level, and then to cover the whole ground again on the junior-senior level with a vast array of electives, and finally to support research in a correspondingly adequate measure, we might say let it be so; let this limitlessly rich university do by itself what it is really the business of all the universities and learned societies combined to do. It is fine to imagine an institution where every science and every art might be studied upon every level, with no lack of money or of men, or of leisure for the men who do productive work. It is not surprising that this splendid conception, which must be the ideal of the university world as a whole, should be more or less consciously the ideal of particular universities. But in point of fact, the whole university world is not at present rich enough for the full realization of this ideal. And when a single university, even the richest, attempts to do everything on every level, the inevitable failure of the undertaking is sure to appear in some way.
The failure does appear very generally in two well-known ways—first, in the cheapening of the elementary collegiate work; and second, in the restriction of productive research work. It is said that in the American university there is a necessary internal conflict between the collegiate interests and the university interests. My judgment is that in the larger American universities generally, the greatest enemy of both these interests is the excessive expansion of the course of study.
There are obviously two ways of cutting down the amount of work which the university shall offer. We may cut down the number of departments or we may cut down the number of courses offered by the several departments.
The first of these methods is radical. It is a grave matter to abolish a university department. Not really more grave, I think, than the establishment of a new department whose justification may be doubtful, but for many and obvious reasons a procedure which university authorities must hesitate to adopt. Nevertheless, even such radical pruning may be justified. It
can become a question between cutting off some large limbs and the languishing of the whole tree. I shall not be surprised if within the next generation the pressure of circumstances should force the universities to the adoption in a considerable degree of this extreme form of selection.
Meanwhile, we have at hand a much gentler and yet scarcely less efficient method of selection if the departments will cut down the amount and range of work offered by them. Let me put this method of reorganizing and concentrating the course of study in the form of definite proposals.
Let there be in each principal university department: 1. A fundamental elementary course. 2. A very strictly limited amount of undergraduate work beyond the introductory course. 3. All the rest of the work offered by the department strictly graduate or research work.
1. The fundamental course—It should be a problem of maximum importance to make this course as good as college work can be made. There is the problem of determining what to do,—what things out of the whole field to select which shall represent typically the present state of learning in the field and that on a level appropriate for the younger college students. There is the problem of finding men whose training and whose personal good temper and whose educational tact fit them to introduce young people to a great department of learning. Wherever possible, the head of the department should take part in this work.
It is in this work, as we know, that the small colleges have the chief advantage of their smallness and where they have the best chance of doing better work than the great university can do. I believe, however, that the university has great countervailing advantages. Above all things, it must have, on the average, professors who are stronger and in closer touch with the most recent learning. I believe, therefore, that in spite of the great numbers and the many sections, it is possible for the university to develop elementary courses which shall be better than are ordinarily possible in the small college. I wish to remark here that to plan and achieve such a course is of itself productive original work of a high order, as truly as the writing of a monograph.