Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/560

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556
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE AMERICAN COLLEGE, AS IT LOOKS FROM THE INSIDE
By Professor CHARLES HART HANDSCHIN

MIAMI UNIVERSITY

THE future of higher education in America depends upon the position we shall grant to the college and university professor. The growing conception that the faculty—not buildings, nor advertisements, nor pyrotechnic display—but the faculty, makes the school is bound eventually to be accepted.

But before a faculty can make a school, it must be a real collegium, a corporation of teachers, besides whom everything and every one in the school is insignificant, their wards excepted, who, however, are wards.

On the other hand, it is all very well for professors to talk about being the big part of the show, bigger than the students, the equipment and the administration. We believe they should be, but we do not believe they should be, unless they are. A weak faculty can not direct the course of a school nor wisely elect additional members to their own body.

To qualify to do this, there must be, first, thorough scholarship—not $800 to $2,000-a-year scholarship, but $2,500 to $5,000-a-year learning. A mercenary view, you say. Granted. But it is the only one that has any weight with the majority of your good constituency. In our day a professor, as well as any other man, is respected according to the salary he can command. Gainsay it who can.

But you say, "Where does the college professor's idealism come in?" Why, it doesn't come in; it's gone, and you drove it out of the back door. You have respected him as he has been able to have a fine house, and all talk of his working for the love of learning—and poverty—is fol-de-rol. $2,500 to $5,000-a-year scholarship it must be, or be held in disdain by the butcher, the baker and the candlestick-maker, and any one else who can "sport" a "machine" and dress his women folk in the latest creations.

But beyond scholarship the faculty needs a sense of dignity as a body. Professors, as a rule, nowadays, are not overburdened with personal dignity. In our democratic rage to level all classes downward, we have levelled the college professor from his one-time dignified manner and station to the niveau of the untrained and unfinished student and the unmannered and illiterate townsman. Your professor slaps his darky laborer on the back with the manner of a pal, he addresses his students as "fellows," he puts his feet upon the table in his class-