Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/269

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265
THE NEXT COLLEGE PRESIDENT

THE NEXT COLLEGE PRESIDENT
By a NEAR-PROFESSOR

IT was in the autumn of 1911 that the press gave wide publicity to a meeting of college presidents, deans and professors convened in honor of the installation of the chancellor of a metropolitan university. At the dinner that closed the ceremonies one of the speakers, himself the president of another great university, assured the audience that being a university president was great fun since among other perquisites of the position was that of being able to dine on college professors.

The press reports of the dinner were read by a near-professor as he sat in his modest study in a distant college town. The phrase used by the distinguished university president seemed strangely familiar, and turning to a package of notes in his desk he found among them the record of a conversation with a former colleague and read in the words of his friend, "Sometimes the board of trustees eats the president, sometimes the president eats the board of trustees, but both always eat the faculty."

It was indeed passing strange, the near-professor pondered, to find such unanimity of opinion between a great university president and a humble college professor as to the part in the educational system played by the college faculty, and henceforth he felt his own course was clear; if the high cost of living restricted his own daily menu, he could at least serve the cause of education by cheerfully recognizing his place and becoming the baked meats for the table of his academic superior.

But before consciously laying his head on the president's dinner platter, it seemed wise to the near-professor to turn again to his bulky package of notes. They were the accumulations of several years and they represented the reports of presidents of colleges in nearly every state in the union, anonymous articles by college professors that had appeared in all of the leading reviews of the country, anonymous letters on educational organization written to the press and turned over to him by a journalist brother, memoranda of conversation that he had had with professors from other colleges when they were separated by the Atlantic from their academic dinner tables, descriptions of the organization of education in nearly every country in Europe, private letters from personal friends whose official heads had yielded a Barmecide feast to various college presidents, and fragments from his own observation and experience.

As he examined the mass of material he was conscious of a secret