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CHANCELLOR'S ADDRESS Members of Convocation: In the absence of the Chancellor, and upon the invitation of the Vice Chancellor, the agreeable duty devolves upon me to greet you on behalf of the Regents of the University. This is your convocation. It would be superfluous to repeat formal words of welcome to your own. The University Convocation is a continuous body, although not decorated with a formal charter. The personality of its constituents is continually changing, but its perpetuity is guaranteed by more than parchment authority. Its records of speech for 40 years hold priceless treasures. They embody unity in variety, a unity not of lifeless unanimity or slavish concurrence in details, methods and nonessentials—a virile variety of treatment of topics from differing viewpoints. If those utterances could be edited for condensation only, they would make a most valuable textbook in pedagogy, and a comprehensive history in school and college development. In all these the purposes of the founders were faithfully and consistently observed.
When the University Convocation of the State of New York was organized in the year 1863 its purpose, among others, was declared to be to secure an interchange of opinions on the best methods of instruction in the colleges and academies, and as a consequence to advance the standard of education throughout the State. In the year 1879 a further declaration of the purpose of the convocation was made, which shows that in those 16 years conceptions of educational work had broadened, demanding a larger field for discussion and effort. By ordinance of the Board of Regents the previous declaration of 1863 was extended so as to include the consideration of literature, science and art, and to advance their standards in this State. The program prepared for this occasion is a logical outgrowth of that enlarged declaration. It is but a step from the domain of science, with all that it includes and implies, to the field of industrial and commercial activities. In no partizan spirit therefore, and with a full recognition of all the good there is in the old, as contrasted with, or rather supplemented by the new education, it is proposed to take up this year and consider exclusively, for the first time in the history of the convocation, the relations of academic training to the business, industrial and commercial world.
There are obvious reasons why these subjects and kindred ones have not heretofore been given larger prominence here. The manifold educational problems, consequent upon the marvelous growth of the schools of all grades in the State within the last half century, questions of school organization, methods of instruction, the training and qualification of teachers, pioneer work—all, at first, left little room for the treatment of many other topics. Added to these the problems of higher education in college and university, so fully and ably treated in convocation year after year, it is no wonder that many other themes awaited later consideration.
And now, when the times are ripe for a somewhat different line of discussion appropriate to this occasion, there could not be, I think, a more fitting period for a new departure than now at the beginning of a new era, marked by the unification of educational work in the Empire State. Nevertheless we are reminded by recalling some occasional discussions within the past 10 years, that the topics now presented are by no means entirely new. Although delayed, they have not been entirely ignored. Just now there is a demand for a more specific recognition of industrial and commercial interests in academic instruction.
It is not my purpose to enter upon the discussion of the topics which are to come before you. It may be helpful if I shall state some facts of history, and remind you what has been done in this State and by the State in this regard. First as to
Commercial schools Early instruction in these was limited to arithmetic, penmanship, and a primitive kind of bookkeeping. The initiative was in the private business schools. From the earliest one, known as Dolbear's Commercial College, founded in New York city in 1833, according to the records of the National Bureau of Education, to the Bryant & Stratton schools located in eight cities of this State and also in other states about the year 1853; the Eastman Commercial College at Poughkeepsie in 1859, and Packer's Commercial College in Brooklyn; there was then what has been called the “golden age” of the business coilege. Afterwards there sprang up similar institutions of varying degrees of merit and usefulness. These being entirely private and proprietary, were not subject to inspection and outside supervision. They were advertised as business colleges, but when the law of 1892 sought to restrict their use of that term, the proprietors as a rule dropped it. From 1896 to the present time a system of registration has been in use in this State. This was brought about through a conference between a committee of the National Convention of Business Educators and the Regents of the University. The standing indicated by registration is determined by inspection of the schools. This is done by a competent inspector, to whom much credit is due. At the outset it was ascertained that there were in the State 73 business schools. Of these 41 applied for registration the first year. Those showing proper equipment and at least six competent instructors and satisfactory work, are entitled to full registration; others giving evidence that they will in a reasonable time fulfil those conditions, are registered provisionally. During the past year the number of students in the registered business schools was 14,091. These schools are growing constantly in the number of students and in the scope and character of instruction. Advanced subjects have been added since the first registration, including commercial geography and the history of commerce, making the courses much stronger in educational value.
These statements relate to private schools not in any way receiving financial aid from the State. Of the schools in the University having courses in commercial education there are, exclusive of colleges and universities, 45 in all. Of these 34 are high schools, and 11 others are of academic grade. One of them has a five years course; only one a three years course; the other 43 a full four years course. Their work, both in scope and quality, is fully up to the standards prescribed. In .addition to these there are 74 other academic and high schools that took at least five of the business subjects at the last regular examination, and it is expected that most of these will in a short time develop full four year courses. A most encouraging feature is that in addition to the public secondary schools already mentioned, 421 other secondary schools took examinations in from one to four of the commercial subjects, exclusive of elementary bookkeeping. Of the 799 high schools and academies, business education has been systematically established in 540 of them. These facts raise serious questions and suggest obstacles. How shall room be found in the academic courses without overcrowding? What shall be displaced if that occurs? I notice with pleasure that we are to have a discussion on how to fit industrial training into our courses of study. I am sure we shall all watch with eagerness for answer to that question.
Another matter kindred to the general subject of commercial education and an outgrowth of it, is the education leading to the new degree of C. P. A., certified public accountant. The number of persons attaining that distinction by actual and thorough examination in this State is 316—a worthy and most useful profession.
Education in the trades and other industries Assuming that this ground is covered mainly by the engineering courses in the colleges and in the professional schools, I call your attention briefly to what has been done in them in this State. It is well known that the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute established in 1824, was the pioneer school in theoretic and practical science, and that it was organized in 1849 upon the basis of a general polytechnic institute. Its course includes the recognized branches of engineering and its last catalogue records 375 students.
Cornell University records a class of 376 in civil engineering, and 1039 in mechanical engineering.
Columbia University, New York University, Syracuse University, Clarkson Memorial School, The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, Union University and Manhattan College have departments of engineering. The total number of students in these courses in the higher institutions in the State of New York for the year 1905, equals 1640. Alfred University has a successful plant and a large class in clay-working and ceramics.
Academic education in agriculture is comparatively recent. The College of Agriculture in Cornell University, founded on the land grant act of 1862, was an early move in that direction. As set forth in the statement of that institution it provides for a system of education that “ shall have direct and definite relations with the daily work of persons who must earn their own living in the arts and industries.” It has an experimental farm, with full equipment for agricultural and horticultural work, a department of entomology, a chemical department and an agricultural library. The students in this work in Cornell number 184.
Beyond this academic work in the interest of agriculture, the State aims to impart information to its citizens by means of bulletins from its Agricultural Experiment Station, and from a similar department at Cornell. The State Entomologist engages largely in the investigation of insects injuriously affecting various fruits and agricultural crops, and in the dissemination of information by means of bulletins and reports. The State Botanist also attends to matters in his department that relate to agriculture in any way.
Without extended comment upon these statements and statistics relating to commercial, industrial and agricultural interests, we are justified, I think, in saying, first, that the business school and the commercial courses have earned full recognition as most iniportant agencies. The day of discussion of their utility has passed. The old apprenticeship system in business, as in law and medicine, has been modified. The labors of the student and clerk in the office have been lightened and brightened by the instruction and guidance of the living teacher.
In respect to agriculture, the mother of all cultivated growths for the sustenance of mankind, many things beneficial can be taught in the schools. I need not enumerate them.
The results of academic training in the trades and industries are not yet largely manifest. It is a broad field and may include the whole domain of physical science. There is nothing in the material world reachable by the hand or conceivable by the inind of man, that does not or may not contribute either in matter or natural forces to the arts, trades and industries. As the field of research and discovery seems unlimited, so the factors that contribute to the constructive. industries are equally boundless. To receive academic instruction in such things seems like groping in the dark unknown by infant hands. Nevertheless, with strong hands to guide satisfactory results may come.
The achievements of discovery and invention in this young century appeal to our admiration and quicken the imagination. Whence do all these come? Are they fruits of inspiration more than of earth? It may not be an unwarrantable stretch of fancy in view of the amazing discoveries in science throwing light upon old mysteries in nature, to conceive with all reverence and humility that such wonderful things may not be so much the achievements of unaided human genius as the unconscious obedience of man to the primal decree, “ Let there be light.”
I am impelled to call your attention again to the character of the addresses, papers and discussions of former years in convocation. They furnish examples worthy to be followed. They were upon the broad lines of sound scholarship. They tolerated no onesided development, nor the substitution of glitter for solid acquirement. I do not apprehend that speech and work here, now or hereafter, will be upon any lower plane. Expansion of work into new fields should not mean the abandonment of the old. Extension of boundaries should not imply or involve the destruction of cherished and established landmarks. There is ample room for consideration and recognition of both the old and the new education, each for its special ends and aims.