ACADEMIC AND INDUSTRIAL EFFICIENCY
The Carnegie Foundation is certainly doing what it can to disturb the somnambulance which is supposed to characterize academic circles. It promises length of service pensions to professors and then decides not to pay them; its trustees pass resolutions and quite different action is announced in the annual report; it tells universities to do this, that and the other, if they want its pensions. There was recently published a report informing us that most of the medical schools in the country should be suppressed, and we now have a bulletin telling us how universities should introduce the industrial efficiency which the author optimistically assumes to characterize our manufacturing concerns.
This publication, like others from the same source, is really interesting. It is an advantage for academic problems to be discussed from all sides and that complete publicity should be given to financial management. It is, however undesirable for an institution having largesses to bestow to assume powers either inquisitorial or dictatorial. In the present case it is fair to state that the president of the foundation says that ne refrains from discussing the merits of the report made and published under its direction.
The author, Mr. M. L. Cooke, is an engineer who specializes in the organization and management of industrial establishments. He takes himself and his methods so seriously that it is difficult to treat them with the consideration which they may deserve. It is evident from the principle of the "cost per unit hour" that a university in which a thousand-dollar instructor is teaching a hundred students is five hundred times as efficient as one in which a five-thousand-dollar professor is proposing a problem for research to a single man; but it is not clear how one can deduce from this principle that "there is a distinct disadvantage to undergraduate students to be near research work." But perhaps this is because research work does not set an example of efficiency, the universities not yet having adopted Mr. Cooke's plan of a "general research board" and "a director of research," "to pass on the expediency of undertaking any given project, and to keep constant track of the progress of work and of its cost."
Mr. Cooke commends one professor who told him "that if at a lecture the students began to get drowsy, he gave them a little more air," but it is not clear that the cost per unit hour would have been increased if the air had been let in sooner. This particular professor is also highly praised for keeping his lecture-room extraordinarily neat; but it appears elsewhere in the report that under these circumstances he required four assistants to help in the preparation of a lecture.
We are told by Mr. Cooke that only at one university "was there anything to impress me with the snap and vigor of the business administration." If the tables in the report are correct, this university pays its teachers less than Harvard, but spends more than twice as much in its administration, namely, $258,456.12 a year, about half what it pays its teachers. This university, the combined cost of whose administration and teaching is greater than at Harvard, has about half as many scientific men of distinction on its faculty. Indeed, in one case at least Mr. Cooke's observation is not bad, for he naively says: "At those schools where there were the largest