Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/513

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507
THE ADMINISTRATIVE PERIL IN EDUCATION

tocracy—or to avoid prejudice, let us say isocracy—obtains among the judges of a bench, each presumably qualified to serve, each with like status with the others, yet exercising to the full the qualities of his personality. It is about as appropriate to subject the decisions of a faculty to review by an external board, as it is apt to be constituted, as it would be to have the decisions of the bench reviewed (or influenced, as a suspicious journalism implies is the case) by non-commissioned captains of industry. If the members of the faculty are not qualified to decide educational measures, and to do so broadly, not with a narrow professionalism but with due regard to diversified, at times conflicting, public interests, then there is something seriously wrong about their training or the manner of their election or the influences to which their judgments are exposed. If such incapacity is inherent in the academic character, the appointment of a board of guardians is defensible. Yet initiative is paramount. The more expert judgment is always needed to see what is wanted, to frame policies, to make platforms, to raise issues; to decide whether this or that is wanted may often be referred with advantage to a wider constituency. To secure a double or a multiple basis of judgment on many-sided issues is a proper function of boards of trustees, corporations and alumni. The usual statement that educational questions are decided by the faculty and financial ones by the board is absolutely specious and is not borne out by practise. There is a group of plainly financial and a group of plainly educational questions; but most questions partake of both aspects. Instead of "hedging," the fact should be frankly met. Old-world precedents—and in favored cases our own usage—abundantly show that and how this may be done. Under the prevailing system the professors neither individually nor collectively settle the important directions in which matters are to move. They await the pleasure or fear the displeasure of the president and deans; and if they move, it is too apt to be with an eye to the man higher up, just as the president is tempted to urge not what his untrammeled judgment approves but what he considers will be approved by the board. The professor does not stand face to face with determinative issues; there is not a considerable body of men thinking of the university as a whole, not a sufficiently corporate sense of their being a whole; the system does not encourage it, distinctly discourages it. The referendum is there but is not unrestricted; it is beset with implications of accountability to another, rather with an independent responsibility. The scope of questions and policies included in the referendum is curtailed. The faculty is at times entrusted with the details of a plan on the general desirability of which it has not been consulted; it receives commissions, conducts a second-table order of deliberation, which makes a sorry feast. All of which is bad for the faculty, as duly set forth; and bad for the university as is also coming to be realized.