Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/403

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accumulated wealth, desire to leave the world better than they found it. Such men, in many cases, hesitate to entrust the disposition of their gifts wholly to others and each year finds them in increasing numbers upon corporate boards of colleges and universities—sometimes because they have contributed, sometimes because it is hoped that they will contribute.

These patrons, if not college graduates, labor under a disadvantage in that they are unacquainted with the nature of the work for which colleges have been founded; even if they be college graduates they are at an almost equal disadvantage, as absorption in business or professional pursuits has prevented them from keeping track of the changes which have come about since their graduation. As a rule, their new responsibility does not tend to create or to renew acquaintance with college work; the trustees' duties usually begin and end with labors on committees, so that naturally enough the business affairs with which they have to do become for them the all-important work of the institution. And this conception is strengthened by thoughtless assertions of men who ought to know better. Only recently this community was informed that the millionaires make the universities. With such flattery ringing in their ears, one is not surprised that some trustees forget the object for which the university exists and think of professors, when they think of them at all, as merely employees of the corporation, whose personality and opinions are as unimportant as those of a bank clerk.

Unacquainted with the faculty, unfamiliar with the extent and even character of the work done by individual professors, the trustees depend for knowledge of the educational affairs upon reports by the college or university president, for in rare instances only have faculties, as such, representatives in the board. Unfortunately, very few of our college presidents have taken a preliminary course to qualify them for the position. Indeed, it must be confessed that ability to superintend educational work has not been regarded in all cases as the essential prerequisite; in some cases that appears to have been thought less important than a supposed ability to collect money. But at the best no one man is able now to understand all the phases of university or even college work, as many college presidents already recognize; but were he able and willing, he has little opportunity to make his trustees comprehend them. Discussion of purely business matters occupies so much attention during board meetings that discussion of other matters must be deferred and the president's report is printed that it may be read at leisure. The best of presidents becomes weakened by the overwhelming importance of the financial side and comes to look upon increasing numbers as the sure proof of success. He soon finds himself between the upper millstone of the trustees and the nether millstone of the faculty, the former insisting upon numbers, the latter upon a high