1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Harvard University

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HARVARD UNIVERSITY (see 13.38). — The history of Harvard University, after 1909, when Abbott Lawrence Lowell succeeded Charles William Eliot as president, continued to be one of change and growth to meet new needs and opportunities.

Buildings. — Three residence halls for freshmen — Gore, Standish and Smith — accommodating about 450 men, built near the Charles river at a cost of approximately $2,500,000, were opened in 1914; and in 1919-20 a number of other dormitories, originally erected by private enterprise, were purchased by the university, thus largely increasing the residence halls under its control. Two new chemical laboratories, the Walcott Gibbs and the Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, Jun., Memorial, were opened in 1913-4, and proved a welcome addition to the university's equipment for teaching and research; and in the following year an addition to the Peabody Museum was first occupied, thus completing the university's museum buildings as originally planned by Louis Agassiz in 1859. A building for the music department and the Cruft high-tension laboratory were also opened in 1914-5. In 1915 the Widener Library was first available. This building was erected by his mother, in memory of Harry Elkins Widener, of the class of 1907, who lost his life in the “Titanic”; it is probably the most successful as it is the largest of college library buildings. The Germanic Museum, intended to exhibit the evidences of Germanic civilization in the widest sense, was completed and opened in 1921. Improvements have been made in athletic fields, gymnasia, etc.

Endowments. — The period under consideration was the most remarkable in the history of the university for the rapid increase of funds. In spite of the World War, graduates and friends gave approximately $17,000,000 in the decade from 1909 to 1919. Approximately $5,000,000 of this was for buildings and immediate use; $12,000,000 for permanent endowment. With the close of the war the alumni revived a project, started before the war but suspended, to secure additional endowment, and organized in the summer of 1919 a committee of graduates for the purpose. Up to June 30 something over $13,780,000 had been subscribed, of which over $8,500,000 had at that time been paid into the treasury. The total productive endowment of Harvard University then approximated $48,000,000.

The College. — In 1910-1 a new plan of admission to Harvard College was put into operation, which endeavours to test the intellectual condition of the applicant for admission and to establish a closer cooperation with preparatory and high school authorities; experience has shown that the plan in fact does secure closer articulation, especially with public schools, and that it provides the college with a better grade of student. In 1920 over 40% of the freshmen class entered from public schools. In its essential features the “new plan” has been adopted by at least six other important colleges. The free elective system, which furnished little or no direction to a student's choice of studies, was modified in 1910 so as to require each student to choose enough courses in some one field of knowledge to enable him actually to gain considerable knowledge of that subject; and also to distribute a certain number of courses among other fundamental subjects, so that a more systematic and well-rounded education might be secured. At the same time the “degree with distinction” was established for high attainment in general, coupled with distinguished success in the subject to which the student has given most attention. Ordinarily the candidate is obliged to pass a special examination near the end of his senior year to obtain this degree. Beginning with 1916 general final examinations on the student's field of concentration were introduced in the departments of history, government and economics for all students, whether candidates for distinction or not, and this plan is about to be extended to most departments. Experience has shown that such an examination for the degree encourages the student to think of his chief subject as a whole, and to read independently in his field; it gives an opportunity to test the student's capacity at the end of his course; and it has resulted in increased interest on the part of the students and in a higher grade of scholarship.

Engineering School. — In 1915-6, after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had decided to move from Boston to Cambridge, all instruction in engineering was virtually transferred to it under a coöperative agreement entered upon between the Institute and Harvard. Since there was some doubt, however, as to whether such coöperation was allowed under the terms of the large Gordon McKay bequest which was given to Harvard University to further applied science, application was made by the university authorities to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts for a judgment in the matter. The decision of the Court in 1917 made it necessary to abandon the coöperative plan, and Harvard University again established a school of Engineering Sciences, which, in spite of conditions caused by the war, made a successful beginning, and in 1920-1 had 24 instructors and 214 students.

The Graduate Schools. — The period under review has also been marked by constant developments in the graduate schools of the university.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences had steadily grown in numbers until checked by the war, and by 1920 was rapidly recovering its losses. The students in this school mostly prepare for careers as teachers and scholars; and in spite of the economic disadvantages under which the profession of teaching labours, it is impossible to meet all the requests coming to the school for teachers and research workers. The preparation which the Graduate School of Business Administration is giving young men for the scientific management of business has won wide appreciation and is causing large resort to the school 442 in 1920-1. In the Law School a postgraduate year of study has been established, leading to the degree of S.J.D., which is intended especially for men who wish to prepare themselves for teaching law and for research in jurisprudence. In 191921 the number both of faculty and students largely increased. In the Medical School new departments of pharmacology, of tropical medicine and industrial medicine have been established. Affiliation with hospitals, many of which are now grouped near the school, and changes in the faculty have secured the largest and strongest organization for teaching of medicine and for medical research in the United States. New degrees of Master of Theological Science (S.T.M.) and Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) have been established for those who wish to continue their studies after obtaining the ordinary degree, and the ordinary degree itself (S.T.B.) is now given on the basis of a general examination at the end of the student's three-year course.

University Extension. Since 1909 Harvard University has united with Boston University, Boston College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Simmons College, Tufts College, Wellesley College, and the Museum of Fine Arts in offering courses in university extension. These courses are given ordinarily in Boston to a considerable number of students each winter (1,785 in 1920-1).

World War Services. — Ten thousand Harvard graduates and students entered the army or navy of the United States during the conflict; of these 70% received commissions. No complete records exist of those who engaged in non-military service, but it may safely be said that over half the Harvard men of every age took an active part during the war. The Roll of Honour contains 372 names of men who gave their lives.

Preparation for the possible entrance of the United States into the war began early at the university, and large numbers of students and graduates attended the successive Plattsburg camps. Beginning with 1915, courses in military training were given regularly in the college. In Feb. 1916 the Harvard regiment was formed by undergraduates and trained by regular and volunteer officers; the next year the Reserve Officers' Training Corps came into existence, and early in 1917 President Lowell, through the French embassy, arranged for the visit of six wounded French officers to train the students. In the summer of 1917 the Government sent a picked group of 550 newly commissioned officers to study under these French officers at Harvard. After the United States entered the war intensive military training was begun and the academic work of the year correspondingly abbreviated. Large numbers of the teaching force entered the service both abroad and in the United States, while the student body quickly shrank to those who either because under age or physically defective were unfit for military service. During the autumn of 1918, when the Government established the Students' Army Training Corps at the university, training was furnished for the army, the navy and the marine corps to some 1,989 students. The equipment of the university in electrical engineering led to the establishment in May 1917 of a Radio school, which, originally planned for a few hundred, rapidly grew until it contained about 5,000 men. Special quarters were erected on open ground and the Cambridge Common was occupied by temporary dormitories. The university also provided quarters for the Officer Material school, which trained ensigns for the navy. As early as 1915 the generosity of a group of graduates made it possible to send out the first Harvard medical unit to assist the Allies. Successive units followed, until in 1917 a Harvard unit under Dr. Hugh Cabot joined the English forces for the duration of the war.

The number of students in 1920-1 was as follows: —


College 2,532
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 532
Special students 77
Engineering School 214
Graduate School of Business Administration    442
Architecture 66
Bussey Institution 15
Divinity School 53
Law School 944
Graduate School of Education 121
Medical School 439
Dental School 232
Summer schools of 1920 2,077
School of Public Health 31
       (330 deducted for duplication)
    Total 7,445


In 1908-9 the corresponding total was 5,250. The number of officers of instruction and administration in 1920-1 was 891; in 1908-9, 743. The total number of volumes and pamphlets in the university library in 1920 was over 2,000,000. The number of students at Radcliffe College (for women) in 1920-1 was 652.

(C. H. M.)