Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/390
3§6 POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY
not a few instances, dominating even the financial affairs. The argu- ments justifying this evolution are plausible. Experience shows that in every organization, left to itself, some one man, through native force, gains control. University trustees should not permit this matter to adjust itself as the one, thus gaining control, might be swayed by wrong motives or might be ill-balanced — in either case injury would come. Far better for the trustees to select some man of all-around fitness and to recognize him as the responsible head. Acting on this principle, trustees appoint as responsible president one who from their standpoint possesses the necessary qualifications and make him prac- tically attorney in fact for the board, giving him free hand in all de- partments of the work.
Advantages of the American Plan
That this procedure is good appears at once by comparison of con- ditions prior to the civil war with those at this time. In the earlier days, when the autocratic system existed only in germ, the resources of colleges and universities were small and increased slowly. Build- ings, for the most part, were uninviting and students were few. The faculties, in most cases, were small but made up of strong men, faith- ful teachers, fruitful investigators. Salaries were modest, but the social conditions were equally modest, and the professor's position made up in honor what it lacked in pecuniary reward. The equipment, even in what are now great universities, was insignificant; a professor desiring to make investigations in physics or chemistry, either pur- chased or manufactured the necessary apparatus, while another, pur- suing special studies in any branch of literature, spent his savings in gathering material. Too often the college provided rooms for teach- ing, the instructor provided the rest. Yet it must be conceded that the colleges did admirable work. They imparted not a great deal of knowledge, for the courses were very narrow, but there was a system in the training which sharpened many a dull intellect and made the already sharp intellect keener. The purpose confessedly was not to impart knowledge, but to train the intellect, to fit the man for pro- fessional study.
All was changed after the civil war. The material needs of the country demanded opportunity for a new type of training, adapted to the needs of men with wholly different aims. This required chiefly the imparting of knowledge with intellectual training as subordinate; not cultural studies, but studies in applied knowledge. Technical or semi-technical schools were established, and wealthy business men, on their own initiative, gave vast sums for such schools. To retain their place, the universities quickly developed along the same lines,