|THE STATUS OF AMERICAN COLLEGE PROFESSORS ONCE MORE.|
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY.
ABOUT a year ago, the writer discussed some matters bearing upon the condition of college instructors in America. A restatement of some parts of that discussion is necessary, as events occurring during the interval have tended to divert attention from the more important issues.
An impression seems to prevail that the Carnegie foundation has rendered unnecessary further discussion of the salary question. But the provisions of that trust, perhaps intentionally, are such as to provoke further discussion, for the salary accorded to emeritus professors is to be in direct relation to that received prior to retirement. As the payments will be only to men of sixty-five years and upward, they will affect at best only a few years at the close of a long period of service, and in all probability, they will be of personal interest to a very small proportion of the whole number of college instructors.
The writer has been criticized for laying stress on the matter of salary and for thus introducing a mercenary feature which is degrading to the profession. But education is no longer in charge of ecclesiastics pledged to lifelong celibacy, and theoretically at least, to lifelong poverty. The notion that teachers should be indifferent to pecuniary matters is a survival, which still holds in the minds of some youthful students and occasionally gains control of a college trustee, but it has never found favor among tradesmen. While it is true that no man should become a college instructor merely to gain a livelihood, it is equally true that the matter of income should not be ignored, for in our day one is hardly to be commended for choosing a profession in which poverty or the observance of the strictest economy must be his lot through life—provided always that he is fit for anything else. And this is what makes the question of salary so important from the standpoint of the college. Statistics show that in the leading eastern institutions and in the leading state universities the average salary of professors is about 2,000 dollars; but this is the salary of a full professor and is the maximum which most men may hope to receive after years of service. Such being the case one must recognize the danger to which colleges are exposed especially on the side of pure science, which for educational purposes is the more important.