Page images
PDF
EPUB

8. Advocacy by the leading clergymen of the country.
9. Advocacy of the public school men and women in the country.
10. Support of various women's organizations of the land.
11. Warm support at different times of the Senate as a body.

This array of advocates would seem enough to enact any law that had an element of merit in it.

This support is based upon the following facts:

Notwithstanding the galaxy of American higher educational institutions, its colleges, universities, and technical institutions, many of which stand very high educationally, the country does not have a university in the true sense.

In every American institution, however good, the chief work, the mass of students, the large proportion of teaching force, the major use of laboratories, etc., are devoted to undergraduate work, to college rather than university work. We have no single institution devoted to the sort of work chiefly done by the Berlin University.

What we must have in Washington is an institution to multiply, to develop scholarship; not to teach learners, but to produce research workers; not so much to disseminate knowledge already known, but to cultivate the power to find what is yet unknown.

Such an institution will not interfere with nor supersede the hundreds of institutions already existing, but it will supplement them, as it will indeed depend upon them for its supply of students seeking the rank of special experts. Instead of weakening the existent university or college, like the multiplied collective strand, it gains all its strength from a combination of all, without weakening any one. Such an institution will not compete by duplicating, simply because entrance here will not be allowed to anyone who has not, in at least some line, reached the rank of a degree from the standardized institutions. This instead of crippling the existent university, will be a spur to improve its work and maintain its standard. While it will largely depend for material upon the hundreds of institutions of higher learning, it will in turn substantially assist them by returning to them at divers time the best trained investigators in the world to fill up their teaching force. This institution will hold a relation to the people of the States that is not now known by any institution in the country. It will be looked upon by our citizens with that sense of ownership with which we look upon our national capital. It will be in a unique sense our university, and will develop the sense of pride and support not now felt by any institution. It will thus be sought by all our ambitious men as they pass from university to the more specialized field of expert investigation. Graduate, as well as professor, who may be desired for some special nork now and then, will look toward it. It will thus divert the flow of American students from Berlin, Paris, Oxford, Jena, and Vienna to Washington,

Not only this, but it will most certainly become the most metropolitan institution, patronized by the largest groups of European students as well as students from all other progressive countries in the world. The records of immigration to America for the past 50 years are conclusive of this statement. There is no doubt that the reflex influence of such an institution, in which these advanced thinkers of the world will be submerged in an atmosphere of freedom and self-government, is beyond our comprehension. In these days of armament, when the fear of war is causing all nations insanely to impoverish themselves in building up a defensive foundation, it would not be chimerical to say that a national university filled with the investigators from the warlike countries would be a surer defense than battleships. For such an institution will further and complete our university affiliations begun by President Harper, by which exchanges are made between university professors. We can send a professor for a year to each of the great national universities in Europe in exchange for one from each university there. Such an amicable association between the great thinkers of this and European countries would insure a better understanding of each.

There can not be serious doubt of the effect of such a national university upon scholarship in our own country. Washington long ago had come to be one of the greatest scientific centers of the earth. Here are assembled the most remarkable collections in the way of scientific material known to the scientific world. Here the various departments of scientific investigation, headed by the world's best experts, aided by a group of trained workers, with separate laboratories and experimental facilities, run up into the hundred. Here also are domiciled almost a score of associations devoted to the investiga

28865—No. 1-14

tions of truth in various spheres. These make Washington attractive to the scholar of all countries. Many of the societies that are not domiciled here hold their annual meeting at the Capital.

If anyone should doubt the wisdom of the establishment of such an institution, upon the ground that we do not need it, or upon the ground of expense, or of corrupt control, or upon any other ground, a complete answer is--the Smithsonian Institution. This institution, established in 1846 with a $500,000 bequest, has proved itself to be one of the most successful in the advancement of knowledge. To-day it is well housed in buildings worth at least as much as the original gift, and it has accumulated collections of books and manuscripts by the simple method of Government exchange, with slight cost to anyone of an amount beyond the original gift. Besides this, here, under such men as Henry Baird, Powell, Newcomb, Goode, Langley, and others, have grown up these rare agencies of advancement in useful knowledge. Here was where telegraphy was perfected and then turned over to the Government. Research on the lines of climate, meteorology, etc., was conducted by these leaders of science and was finally allowed to grow, under governmental agencies, into the present Weather Bureau. Under the direction of Prof. Baird, investigations of life in the sea, with special relation to fish, purely in a scientific interest, grew into the Government Fish Commission, now so important as an agency under experts attempting to find the secret that will enable the race to multiply and thus supply needed food from the wastes of ocean waters. Other important governmental agencies had their beginnings here. The Congressional Library, America's greatest collection of books, rare and otherwise, housed in the world's most beautiful building, was started in the same way by the same institution.

In view of such results flowing from this single establishment, well may we ask, What is the possibility of a national university under a similar manage. ment, with means multiplied and a field unlimited? Even to-day there exists in the Capital the university, only awaiting organization, housing, and research students. Probably in no one place in the world is there such a rare and numerous aggregation of material for laboratory use as in Washington. LOcated in various parts of the city are museums, bureaus, observatories, exchanges, laboratories, etc., any one of which is not to be found in equal richness of material in any place in the country. The Agricultural Department alone is a good example. Here in one department of investigation are found : (a) The Weather Bureau, with almost a score of experts at work; (b) the Bureau of Animal Industry, with over a dozen experts; (c) the Bureau of Plant Industry, with nearly 40 experts; (d) the Forest Service, with about 30 experts; (e) the Bureau of Chemistry, with at least 35 experts; (f) the Bureau of Soils, with 7 experts; (g) the Bureau of Entomology, with more than a dozen experts; (h) the Bureau of Biological Survey, with a half dozen experts; besides experts-from 6 to 15-in charge of separate Bureaus of Accounts and Disbursements, Publications, Statistics, Library, Experiment Stations, and Public Roads. This last is the youngest of dozens of research foundations here in the Capital which fitly represent the scientific operations of the Government. There is scarcely a single field of expert investigation that is not well worked here, and by the world's greatest experts, and with the highest results. The annual reports of these various bureaus, that number in the hundreds, would make a library. The monetary value represented will reach at least $40,000,000. To operate them requires about $5,000,000 a year. The experts employed, and those elsewhere affiliated with the work here, will number into the hundreds.

The new discoveries announced from time to time are world-wide in import, and some of them revolutionize scientific knowledge. Air navigation will be solved by governmental investigation. The Panama Canal was made possible by governmental engineering skill. Yellow fever was annihilated by a Government expert. Probably more useful applications of scientific knowledge have been perfected in Washington than in any other place in the world.

Those who yearn for the establishment of a national university are moved by the easy possibility of utilizing these unequaled resources for stimulating wide-awake students of research to new fields of discovery. Not to disseminate knowledge already known, but to aid in finding knowledge not yet known--that is the function of a national university. The various State, denominational, and independent institutions are to supply the graduate students and the Government must open to them these rich fields-laboratories. museums, observatories, etc.—for further investigation and discovery.

Scholarships may be supplied representing from $500 to $2,500 annually. These can be employed by the student, so cooperating with the Government that the student can work part time and investigate part time, as is done in some cities where college and vocation are affiliated. In this way the civil service can be raised and at the same time ambitious learners can continue the work of discovery. It will mean economy and efficiency in Government service and employment and education of research men and women. It would be difficult to estimate the possibilities of such an establishment. This is not chimerical, but most rational. It but awaits the shaping hand.

Congress should at once authorize the President to appoint a board of control with power to select sites. To be effective it should make an ample appropriation. The university organization need not be difficult, but it must attempt to be representative without losing efficiency. There is no need to fear political control, since such an aggregation of scholarship as is contemplated would elevate it above even the hint of party bias. Indeed, such an association of men, of the type, for example, of President Wilson, would be proof against cheap political influence, and would be most salutary in elevating the political tone of the Capital. It would at once appeal to men of great means, which would make it easy for the small contribution of Gen. Washington to be increased into the hundred million figure.

I doubt not that in a brief time such an institution would be the most intellectual center in the world. It would surpass the universities of Paris and Berlin in every phase. If limited to graduate work, whether it granted degrees or not (probably not), and taking its material from the more than 400 institutions of higher learning (pot duplicating their work but supplementing it) it will be the culmination of a structure with its supports in every institution in the various States, all of which will look to it as their own goal; and it will easily become a center of research unlike anything known to man.

This possibility has awakened the intellectual interests of our country. It is the explanation of the enthusiastic support of the National Education Association, the Association of State University Presidents, various philosophic and scientific associations, the clergy of the country, the committee of 400 representing the best thought and action in America, and the support of the Senate and House committees, and at three different times by favorable action of the Senate as a body. Political indifference, party jealousy and fear, together with unwillingness to inaugurate movement that must be perpetual, are the explanation of no definite action by Congress. It would seem time for successful action by the Sixty-third Congress.

Mr. PLATT. But I can not see how you can have a national university without granting degrees of some kind.

Mr. Fess. Well, but the difficulty there, Mr. Platt, is that you immediately put the desire for the title in the mind of the research student instead of the desire to get the truth, and you would come into competition at once with the various universities of the country.

Mr. PLATT. How many universities in the country are there where research work is done? I suppose Harvard, Yale, and Chicago are the only places.

Mr. Fess. Well, they do research work, but it is undergraduate. In other words, it is not unkind to say that we do not have a purely research university in the country. I mean to say that our greatest universities devote most attention to undergraduates.

Mr. PLATT. That is, research and nothing else?
Mr. Fess. Yes, sir.

Mr. Platt. In England, Oxford University is nothing but an examining board, and so is Cambridge. There are a lot of colleges grouped together, and the men prepare in the colleges to take the examination in the university, and degrees are granted.

Mr. Fess. I believe the real purpose of this research center should not be found in the securing of a degree. I think you are going to defeat the very thing you want if you do that. This must be for the

pursuit of knowledge for the pure love of securing it, for the advancement of original research.

Mr. RUPLEY. Now, take Gorgas's work in the Panama Canal. Where did he carry on his research work?

Mr. Fess. He did it as a member of the Army when in various parts of the country. He has been a student all his life.

Mr. RUPLEY. He was in Cuba?
Mr. Fess. Yes, sir.

Mr. Platt. There is a great deal of research work that can not be carried on here. For instance, take the station for the study of marine life at Dry Tortugas and the Woods Hole Laboratory in Massachusetts and such institutions as those.

Mr. Fess. That is in connection with the Smithsonian Institution. Mr. PLATT. More or less, of course, but it is a separate institution. Mr. FESS. Yes. Mr. Platt. It seems to me that it might be a great advantage to Washington to have a degree-granting body which would recognize the work done anywhere by scientists.

Mr. Fess. Well, that could come as a later consideration. The one goal here is advancement of knowledge in the interest of civilization.

In this most beautiful capital of the greatest Nation, with the galaxy of great buildings housing such treasures of art and science with its many associations representing great learning, the one most significant item of world meanings, the crown of it all is lacking. Somewhere within this center must be located the national university. Should Virginia see fit to recede a portion of the District ceded back to her in 1846 and allow the Nation to surmount the open space across the Potomac facing the Capital with a group of buildings to administer in the interest of the advancement of knowledge, it would seem ideal to me.

How about the expense? First this richest Nation of the world can well afford to support it out of its Treasury. If it would make good the $25,000, the gift of the Father of the Country, for the purpose, it would materialize now not less than $4,000,000. If the Nation would be willing to add to this first gift such gifts as may be offered by benefactors, the endownment can be placed easily in the $100,000,000 mark. It would appear that the time is here for us to act, and materialize the dream of Gen. Washington, so ardently urged by his successors, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. Adams, Jackson, and others.

It would seem that Virginia especially would gladly second such steps as would appear necessary to carry into effect the hopes of so many of her early statesmen.

The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, it is now 12 o'clock. This is a very interesting subject, indeed. Suppose we meet again to-morrow and continue this hearing.

Mr. Fess. That will be satisfactory to me.

(Thereupon, the committee adjourned until to-morrow morning, Tuesday, February 3, 1914, at 10.30 o'clock a. m.)

Х

HEARINGS

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

!!, * , HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

SIXTY-THIRD CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

ON

H. R. 11749

* A BILL TO CREATE A NATIONAL UNIVERSITY AT THE

SEAT OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

No. 2

ADDITIONAL STATEMENT OF

HON. S. D. FESS

A REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE STATE OF OHIO

FEBRUARY 13, 1914

WASHINGTON
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFIOE

1914

« PreviousContinue »