Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 84.djvu/457

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


TEE SMALL COLLEGE 453

widening breach between president and faculty in our college. Socially the best of feeling exists. Officially there is a lack of understanding between the teaching and administrative ends of the institution.

The fact that the president is not himself a teacher tends to widen this breach between his faculty and himself. However much pressure might be brought to bear upon an executive by a commercialistic board, it is hard to believe that any man who had himself occupied a chair of instruction could, as president, forget to take account of the dangers that beset the scholastic ideals of the college at every turn. Nobody who ha9 not served for some years as a college teacher can have any adequate realization of these dangers. Only the teacher knows the strength of the pressure that is brought to bear day after day, month after month, and year after year, for the scaling down of the passing standard, the destruction of effective discipline, the currying of favor by the intro- duction of " snap " courses, and the virtual abrogation of all rules in favor of successful athletes. Athletics indeed is the most frequent ex- cuse urged in extenuation of the breaking down of an effective standard of work, and the statement that a boy is " representing the college " is apparently regarded by president, trustees and public at large as ample warrant for excusing him from any decent pretence of work and pre- senting him with an A or B grade merely as a compliment to his prow- ess as college " representative." Athletics is not the only occasion, how- ever, for the manifestation of this spirit, and more than one professor has found himself in serious difficulty because of his failure to show a delicate sense of diplomacy in discriminating among the students who have failed in his department. Those who have trained themselves to see these things from the angle of the business office understand that such matters must be settled with due regard for the commercial rating of the student's family. " The boy's people are wealthy, and have always been friendly to the college" is regarded as valid excuse for undue leniency on such occasions. Against such insidiously demoralizing in- fluences as these the more conscientious and discerning of the faculty struggle as best they can, and the fruit of their effort is seen in the fact that during the past half decade there has been a stiffening of class-room standards throughout the college. Yet the condition is still far from what it ought to be, and it is no exaggeration to say that such improve- ment as has come has been brought about in spite of the president and not because of him. While acutely anxious to safeguard our popularity he has apparently been unaware of the fact that standards of college work also need safeguarding, and that to this end eternal vigilance is necessary. Had he ever been a college teacher, it would have been im- possible for him to overlook this very obvious fact. It is to his ignorance of the college, as seen from the teacher's side, that we must attribute his failure in this respect. Before becoming a college president he was a minister, as were the presidents of most of the colleges of our state. Out

�� �