Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/671

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663
THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

It is now possible to make a fairly definite statement regarding the enforced resignation of Professor Ross from Leland Stanford Junior University and the subsequent events. Professors are reappointed annually at Stanford, and Professor Ross received his appointment last year somewhat late and after a warning. He attributed this to Mrs. Stanford's disapproval of his economic teachings, and presented his resignation, to take effect at the end of the present academic year. The resignation was accepted on November 14 and Professor Ross published in the daily papers a statement attributing the trouble to Mrs. Stanford's dissatisfaction with his economic views, especially on coolie emigration and municipal ownership. Owing to this publication, Professor Ross's connection with the university was terminated. President Jordan has stated that he was not dismissed on account of his views on Oriental immigration, or on any economic question, but because, in the judgment of the university authorities, he was not the proper man for the place he held. Unfortunately, the affair did not terminate with the retirement of Professor Ross. On the morning after its announcement, Professor Howard, of the Department of History, lectured to his students on the subject, blaming more or less directly the university authorities for their attitude. After an interval of two months, Professor Howard was asked to apologize or resign. He resigned; and as a protest Professor Hudson, of the Department of English, and Professor Little, of the Department of Mathematics, also resigned. These being, in brief, the facts of the case, there has been much private and public discussion as to whether academic freedom has been infringed by the authorities of Stanford University. Thus a committee of the San Francisco alumni has prepared a report upholding the action of the university, while, with substantially the same evidence before it, a committee of three economists has published a pamphlet, supporting Professor Ross in his claim that he has been unjustly treated. It is not true, as has been alleged, that President Jordan acted against his will, under the authority of Mrs. Stanford. The question reduces itself to the more general one as to whether university authorities must retain a professor when his methods are regarded as harmful to the institution.

 

Professor Ross evidently has the qualities of the reformer rather than of the judicial expert. His stump speeches and illustrated pamphlet supporting free silver in the campaign of 1896 injured the university, and his published writings and his lectures before his classes are extreme in their rhetorical opposition to the wealth and conditions that made Stanford University possible. Thus, if we glance through his articles, we find them strewn with statements such as 'the lawlessness, the insolence and the rapacity of private interests'; "Under the ascendency of the rich and leisured, property becomes more sacred than person, moral standards vary with pecuniary status, and it is felt that 'God will think twice before he damns a person of quality.'" The question is not as to the truth or falsehood of Professor Ross's views, nor as to the desirability of having reformers and even fanatics in the land; it is whether the university, to its own injury, should lend them its authority, whether the professor should have not only the right to investigate and communicate his re-