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THE REACTION OF GRADUATE WORK ON THE
OTHER WORK OF THE UNIVERSITY 1
A fundamental difficulty in the discussion of this topic lies, of course, in the absence of fixed conditions, and of anything but a varying terminology to describe them. The term
university” is altogether a shifting concept, even when it is legitimately applied to those institutions which, like the members of this Association and others in the community, do actual university work. The relationship of the college to the university in America, is still, and perhaps always will be, wholly indeterminate except as a general proposition, for those of us—and they are a majority of the whole—who, in the evolution of a system of the higher education have developed the newer university by accretion about the nucleus of the older college, under the dictates of expediency as determined by environment, have perforce evolved the former and retained the latter in positions widely divergent. In some few of our American institutions, university work from the beginning has developed synchronously with the work of the college. In one case at least the general condition of development has been reversed and the college at a subsequent time has been added to the university.
The relation of graduate work to the other work of the composite American university is dependent upon the place which it relatively occupies with regard to the whole: whether, on the one hand, it is a side issue, an accidental growth that has been allowed to develop without far-reaching thought, either of its own perfect fruition, or of its ultimate effect upon the parent stem; or whether, on the other hand, it has been recognizably an articulated part of the whole, a scion carefully
A paper read before the Association of American Universities at San Francisco, California, March 15, 1906.
set, not only to develop itself thru its coherence with the earlier stock, but with a thought to infuse the latter with more energetic life as the result of its presence. Both of these conditions have existed in the development of graduate instruction in America. In some cases, to use another figure, graduate work has seemed to have been viewed very much as a byproduct that has appeared in the process of more extended educational production, natural, doubtless, to the time and place, but to a certain extent unwelcome and embarrassing. In these instances, for reasons that have varied with the fundamental conditions present, it has been accepted with toleration and has ever been allowed to increase, but it has not been conspicuously encouraged. In some of our institutions, partly as a consequence of such an attitude toward it, graduate work still .concessively occupies a relatively small and insignificant place in the program of studies, with the necessary accompaniment of a small body of instructors to direct such work and a small body of students to pursue it.
In others of our institutions, however, graduate work even in its beginnings has been recognized in its true aspect as a significant sign of the times, as the inevitable concomitant of more enlightened cultural conditions in the community, and these institutions have not only readily accepted it as part of an order changing, but by every means in their power have furthered it as a welcome expansion of educational opportunity. These institutions, by their attitude of approval, have given to graduate work an undoubted prestige in their body politic. With the development of the work that in many cases has naturally and logically resulted, there has been a necessary increase in the corps of instruction, and students have been attracted thru the advantages offered by the better equipment.
The relation of graduate work to the other work of a given institution and the consequent reaction that will be exerted by the one upon the other will depend upon the conditions enumerated and others coexistent with them. It will depend upon the place which each has been accorded in the whole, and it will depend upon the attitude which the two have ultimately acquired in relation to each other. It will depend upon whether the one is rigidly superimposed upon the other, as is the case in some institutions, or whether the two are carefully articulated, as is the case in others. It will depend upon the relative amount of graduate work actually accomplished; upon the size of the body of instructors who conduct it in relation to the entire corps of instruction in the university, and upon the number of students who pursue it in relation to the entire student body. It will depend, too, to no small extent, upon the constitution of the body of graduate students; upon whether its members are sordid and self-seeking, and, consequently, in a measure aloof, as we have been told in some cases they are, or whether, as in other cases they appear to be, they are a sympathetic and patriotic part of the whole, who, even more than the rest, because of a maturer and better appreciation of opportunities and purpose, are eagerly and enthusiastically bent upon enkindling their torches with the common fire.
At Columbia University the conditions of relationship between graduate and undergraduate work have been in action long enough to permit, along definite lines, a fairly accurate estimate of results in this particular environment. The amount, too, of graduate work, from the standpoint of the number of courses of instruction given, the size of the body of instructors giving them and the student body taking them, is relatively so large and important that an influence is inevitably at hand, if at all, and should plainly be discernible.
Historically, the development at Columbia has been the gradual growth of graduate work about the pre-existent and coexisting college. There has been at no time a forcible expansion of such work, and except in a single case of the gift of an endowment for the specific purpose of teaching a remote, but important, subject—the Chinese language and literature it has only been supplied because it has been demanded by intending students. The demand for graduate instruction has naturally arisen and the provision of increased opportunity for it has paved the way for more.
Graduate work at Columbia is intimately articulated with undergraduate work along lines that are constantly broadening. In the academic year 1904-05, to cite the last complete statistics at hand, in a net total of 4981 students in the whole corporation inclusive of students in the Summer Session of 1904, but not of students in extension courses, there were enrolled under the three non-professional graduate faculties, Philosophy, Political Science, and Pure Science — the Philosophische. Fakultät of the German universities—782 students, a great majority of whom were candidates for the degree of Master of Arts or Doctor of Philosophy, or both. These were students who, to quote a late presidential report, were “ devoting themselves to pure scholarship and methods of investigation, with no professional end in view, unless it be teaching or public service in some capacity.” This total of 782, however, does not include 136 college graduates studying under the professional faculties of law, medicine, and applied science, who are also candidates for the degree of A. M. or Ph. D.2
The three faculties enumerated are per se, and in the sense of this paper, the graduate schools of the University, altho. since 1903 the Law School has also been a graduate school. Graduate students as candidates for the professional degrees are also widely distributed thruout the University. This same year, 45 per cent. of the enrollment in the Medical School, 14.8 per cent. of that in Fine Arts, and 13 per cent of that in the Schools of Applied Science, were made up of the holders. of degrees. There were actually in residence during this year under the corporation proper 1378 students who had already been graduated from a college or scientific school, or a European institution of equal rank, or 47 per cent. of the entire body.
The total number of students enrolled under the corporation proper in 1904-05 was 2935; of these 782, as has been stated, or 26.6 per cent. of the whole, 559 of them men and 223 women, were the students doing the actual graduate work of the University under its non-professional faculties. The degrees or their equivalents already held by these students were: widely distributed, in that 219 different institutions, 176 domestic, and 43 foreign, were represented by their graduates.
For us, at Columbia, the development of the graduate work of the university has meant the development of the college
Columbia University, Annual reports, 1905, p. 203.
It has brought with it a notable expansion of the program of study in which the undergraduate student has been fully allowed to share; it has furnished him with a stimulus and an added incentive; it has widened his horizon by his contact with students of a superior culture and a broader outlook; and it has in very many cases induced him to pursue further a predilection which the ordinary opportunities of the college curriculum would never have brought into existence.
The influence of graduate work upon undergraduate work is most directly and unequivocally exerted at Columbia in those courses of instruction which, altho primarily graduate, under the arrangement of the program of study are open alike to graduates and to properly qualified undergraduates, from the nature of the case, regularly and usually members of the two upper classes of the college. There are offered in this way during the present academic year, under 195 individual instructors, no less than 300 courses, open both to graduates and as electives to such undergraduates as are qualified to pursue them. Under the conditions that prevail at Columbia the influence that is exerted in these courses is only in the rarest instances reciprocal. In the great majority of cases, and overwhelmingly, it is exerted from above downward. It is the graduate work which gives, and the undergraduate work which, as inevitably, takes as a result of the contact.
The opening of courses primarily graduate to undergraduate students and wholly apart from the fact as to whether the undergraduate is in a large number or a small number in such courses, is to elevate the character of the instruction. The effect upon the undergraduate student of the presence of graduate students in these courses—some of which, with the development of the college curriculum, must still have been offered as electives in the absence of the graduate instruction—is to stimulate him to increased effort by bringing him into intimate contact, in the classroom and outside of it, with fellow students who, in the main, are maturer and of greater experience, and who are characteristically far more serious and eager in the pursuit of knowledge of setting him, in short, a pace which he would not always have taken of his own initiative. The