Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/514

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The crux of the matter is here reached. Is there or is there not a clash of interests? Do academic needs demand distinctive provisions, distinctive in end and distinctive in means? Are there or are there not economic, political, administrative, individual interests, external sources of pressure, irrelevant or undiscriminating judgments or motives, that conflict with academic purposes? Does the current system of university government impose such restraints and force the organism to an unwholesome existence, weakening the vitality of its expressions, distorting the ends of its being? Here the case, which I have made my case, stands or falls. The statement must be limited to conviction not unsupported by argument. If I am wrong in my primary contention, my plea is vain.

In further illustration of the view that such divergence is real and disastrous, I approach the disagreeable but unavoidable part of my task. I wish it were possible always to speak of the presidency and the professorship and forget the president and the professor; for these objective fictions are really the subjects of discussion. It is also true that in large measure the office shapes the man; yet personality persists despite the difficulty of recognizing in the glorified presidential butterfly the humble professorial worm. The unwise authority and false responsibility of the presidential office invites the incumbent to attempt impossible tasks; invites him to adopt irrelevant standards; to obscure issues by looking many ways and seeing none clearly; to lose the clear-cut distinctions that regulate well-adjusted views and wholesome leadership. A despondent colleague insists that the only type of man safely to be entrusted with the prerogatives of the presidency is one whose principles would require him to decline the office. The dismal problem of salary shows the situation at its worst. (Let me assure the reader that I shall not expose the futility of the professor's financial manipulations to the kindly scorn of an affluent public; it is so magnanimously conceded that he is grievously underpaid, that there is still hope that the grief may assume a pragmatic form.) It is the chaotic adjustment, the introduction of the methods of the auction-room and the stock-market that have totally obscured the fact that there are principles at stake. What is wrong to the core is the attempt to translate academic service into dollars by an esoteric procedure which only presidents understand and will not reveal. It is possible to recognize the sublimity of Don Quixote's courage in his grotesque ventures, or of Chanticleer's confidence in his relation to the solar system, though disturbed by a humiliating mischance; but the administrative alchemy seems only ridiculous; while the waving of the magic wand of "merit" is irritating because so specious and so futile.

Principles are as clear as practise is muddy. More significant for wise adjustment is what a man is paid for, than what he is paid. Salary represents an adjustment of resources to needs, to the composite