Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/196

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192
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY?
By Dr. STEWART PATON
PRINCETON, N. J.

WHAT is the difference between the college and the university? There is no blinking the fact that many of the students, most of the alumni, as well as a large proportion of the members of the faculties and administrative boards, including presidents, have very nebulous views in regard to the fundamental distinction that exists between these two classes of institutions. The successful administration of a college or university depends upon the recognition of the existence of a vital principle which distinguishes the functions of one from those of the other. Many colleges during the last thirty years have assumed the title of "university," having first given a promissory note to the public expressing their intention some day to make good their claim to the title. Thinking people have already begun to express doubts as to the satisfactory fulfilment in many cases of such a promise made before the conditions and, responsibilities of the trust had been fully understood by either faculties or trustees.

The time has now come for a clear understanding of the nature of the difference which distinguishes the university from the college. The evils of the laissez-faire policy of administration which to-day prevails in the councils of our universities have at last aroused more than one faculty and not a few trustees to a realization of the fact that while a ship at sea without chart or compass may, if the fates are propitious, be brought safely into port, the mere accomplishment of such a difficult task does not increase our sense of confidence in those responsible for providing for the safety of the voyagers. A trustee of one of our eastern universities has recently affirmed that the greatest need of these institutions is not money, but the services of men who have just and definite ideas of the essential characteristics of a university. If our higher institutions of learning are ever to keep pace with the intellectual progress of the nation (the question of actual leadership can not yet be considered), there is immediate need of a statement emphasizing the distinction existing between university and college, in order that such an institution may develop a healthy independent existence.

What is a university? There are two ways of attempting to answer this question. First there is the method usually employed of approaching the subject by indicating the lines of historical development; or we may try, and this is the object for which this paper was written, to define this institution in terms which will indicate the relations it should present to the development of human thought and