Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/519

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513
THE ADMINISTRATIVE PERIL IX EDUCATION

retirement of the calmer, sober claims of sound education! So far as youth and the frontier is the excuse, it no longer obtains. We are of age; nor is it so much a matter of age as of tradition. It is the survival of an unwholesome tradition into a state of affairs in which it becomes a hindrance and not a help, that constitutes the administrative peril.

A retrospect suggests the prospect and foreshadows it. I find some difficulty in attaining the degree of despondency which the outlook demands. There are many signs of a reaction against the system; while, as I have repeatedly noted, the spirit of the academic relations has steadily improved, and will, I am confident, lead in the directions of the reforms so urgently desired. The ability, earnestness, and eagerness to cooperate, on the part of governing boards, is itself a sufficient assurance. They are becoming sensitive to their externalism, and recognize the unwisdom of snapshot judgments of momentous issues, concerning the pros and cons of which they are increasingly reluctant to accept the president's view as representative. The retrospective contrast is indeed amazing. It falls just beyond my experience to have members of the faculty addressed by a member of the board as "You men whom we hire." It is within my experience to have professors summoned inquisitorially before a committee of the board to give an account of themselves, the interview conducted by the chairman with his feet on the table, and displaying a salivary agility that needs no further description. Such reminiscences carry no sting; they are merely amusing because now so impossible. The} r are instructive as showing how quickly the products of a world-culture follow upon the receding frontier. It lies in the power of governing boards to restore the academic prerogative. A movement in this direction would lie in accord with the tendency in public affairs to correct national weaknesses and to revise cruder codes of procedure.

Returning some years ago from a prolonged sojourn abroad, I was on the watch for the first convincing incident that would reflect the American trait. Emerging from the attentions of the customs officials, who lost no time in showing me my place in their scheme of existence, I was accosted at the gates of liberty by a foreign urchin with the breezy offer: "Carry your bags, Boss?"—in his own land it would have been "Signor." I recognized the title as the proper address for the returning American citizen. But now the boss, political, industrial, or educational, is no longer in such high repute as to make the term an unquestioned compliment. Methods are coming to be scrutinized, policies challenged, rights and wrongs as well as successes considered, and ethical and social as well as economical balance-sheets demanded. All this makes for a refinement in the adjustment of means to ends which is sympathetic with my plea. It is natural that the men of affairs chosen for posts of honor, so many of them of the high-principled classes