Popular Science Monthly/Volume 9/August 1876/American Colleges Versus American Science
By F. W. CLARKE, S. B.,
PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI.
AMERICA, when compared with other first-class nations, occupies a low position in science. For every research published in our country, at least fifty appear elsewhere. England, France, Germany, Austria, Russia, Italy, and Sweden, outrank its as producers of knowledge. Our original investigators in any department of learning may almost be counted on the fingers. Fifteen or twenty chemists and physicists, as many mathematicians and astronomers, and a somewhat larger number of zoologists, entomologists, botanists, and geologists, would fill out our meagre catalogue. Among these few discoverers a comparatively small proportion are of high rank. There may be in the United States, all told, twenty men of really notable scientific standing, although there is no one to compare in actual achievements with Sir William Thomson, Helmholtz, or Regnault. In geology we make a pretty fair showing, perhaps, because of the great facilities for research offered by our surveys and exploring expeditions. The newness of our country has also been of advantage to our zoologists, who have not failed to improve their opportunities. But in chemistry and physics, the two sciences most intimately connected with our greater industries, we have accomplished very little.
Several causes have combined to bring about this state of affairs. There is native ability enough in America to carry on work of the highest order, but inducements and opportunities have been lacking. The labor of developing new regions, of building up commerce, manufactures, and agriculture, of constructing railroads, bridges, and telegraphs, has diverted public attention from matters apparently of a more abstract and less immediately practical character. Material necessities have taken a natural precedence of intellectual wants. Now, having laid our foundations, we begin to think seriously about the future superstructure.
But apart from all these drawbacks to American scientific growth, there is yet another of almost equal magnitude. This is to be found in the system (or rather lack of system) which has shaped our higher education. Our country is dotted over with a multitude of so-called colleges and universities, which have sprung up, not in response to any well-defined necessity, not under the developing influence of broad and clear ideas, generous culture, and wise motives, but because of personal ambition, sectarian jealousy, or petty local pride. States have conferred charters almost indiscriminately, without reason or forethought. Any body of trustees, no matter how ignorant or how foolish, has had but to ask for university powers, and the request has been granted. Incapacity on their part, or injudiciousness in their plans, has seemed to offer no impediments. This policy may be democratic, but it certainly is not wise. Its chief result must invariably be to degrade the standard of education. A college or university charter should be issued only with extreme care, and to fully responsible persons. It ought to demand compliance with certain rigid conditions, and should be forfeited whenever the institution holding it falls below the proper standards. But the mischief has been done, and science has suffered. Let us see how.
In order that science may flourish in any community, several things are needful. There must be a general appreciation of its true value to the world, a clear understanding by men of culture as to the best means for its promotion, facilities for both study and research, and suitable inducements to attract intellectual labor. No matter how able and enthusiastic an investigator may be, he can do little without apparatus or specimens, encouragement, and the means of support. Indeed, the last-named, or bread-and-butter element, is a very important feature of the problem. The human brain is a marketable commodity, at the service of the best-paying master. Payment may come partly in the shape of fame, but something of a decidedly material nature is demanded also. A man may love science devotedly, and yet be starved into adopting some more lucrative profession.
Suppose, now, that a young man of culture, genius, and enthusiasm, wishes to devote his life to science. He has received the necessary training in his favorite branch, and simply asks for an opportunity to apply his attainments both to bodily support and to the extension of human knowledge. At the very start the chances are against him. Many such men are annually driven by necessity out of the field of science, and forced to seek a maintenance in trade, manufactures, or some other department of industry. That a great deal of valuable talent is thus wasted, and turned into channels unsuited to its development, there can be no doubt. That so much good work has been done in a society where so much is lost, speaks well for the human intellect, and shows that real ability is commoner than the majority of people suppose. If seed never fell by the wayside, but only in fruitful places, our views of human nature would soon undergo a wonderful change.
But in the case of our particular novice, employment is at last secured as "Professor of Natural Science" in an average American college. In fact, scarcely any other career would be open to him. Now, how many of the requisites for success are likely to be at his command?
To begin with, he encounters a board of trustees among whom not one has the remotest idea of what science is, or what is essential to its growth. He is called upon by these gentlemen to "teach" chemistry, physics, astronomy, botany, zoölogy, mineralogy, geology, physiology, and perhaps Paley's evidences on top of all. For study and research he has neither time, books, nor apparatus. For study, indeed, he is not supposed to need any time; and if he should press this necessity upon his employers, he would probably be told that he ought to know his lessons before attempting to teach. His students come to him miserably prepared, caring little for what he considers important, and regarding his instruction as so much of an impediment between them and their degrees. And for all this he may receive less than a thousand dollars a year, and that with a feeling of precariousness and uncertainty. At last one of three things happens: he is either called to a chair in some respectable institution, gives up teaching altogether for another less annoying occupation, or else, his enthusiasm quenched and his aspirations gone, settles down into a dreary rut, to rust out the remainder of his days.
This picture may seem exaggerated, and yet it is wholly within bounds. Many men have been ground through the mill of an unendowed country college professorship, and know how hard and thankless were the tasks assigned for them to do. In such a position the true man of science can very rarely find either appreciation, encouragement, facilities, or pecuniary reward. Discouragement of the most wearing kind will, in nine cases out of ten, be his lot.
The American college system, then, is clearly an impediment in the way of American science. It acts adversely in several modes, and these I purpose tracing.
There are to-day in America over five hundred institutions claiming the name of college or university. Of these more than forty are in the single State of Ohio. Some are exclusively for male students, others receive only young ladies, the majority are arranged for the coeducation of the sexes. Every religious sect, or fragment of a sect, is represented: Baptists, Free-will Baptists, Seventh-day Baptists, Presbyterians, United Presbyterians, Cumberland Presbyterians, Episcopalians, both High-Church and Low-Church, Methodists of divers complexions, Adventists, Swedenborgians, Friends, Unitarians, and Universalists: all control special institutions, equipped and endowed with due reference to the perpetuation of sound faith, and, incidentally, to the encouragement of what is supposed to be learning. Among Catholics, who now control seventy-four colleges, the intersectarian character is strongly marked, and institutions are recognized as especially Jesuit, or Franciscan, or Benedictine, or managed by the Christian Brothers, or by the Congregation of the Sacred Heart.
Now, there are several ways by which this sectarianism in education works mischief to science. The very fact that a college has been established for theological purposes, or for ecclesiastical aggrandizement, is adverse to good scientific research. Even though the teacher of science may not be directly hindered, the studies which are of especial value to theological students will be given undue prominence. In fact, nearly every American college emphasizes the classics and literary studies, and looks upon natural science as something of minor importance, often as a dangerous accessory, which must be tolerated, but not encouraged. A college catalogue which now lies open before me, after announcing that full provision has been made in its course for the inculcation of religion and morality, asserts that "scientific culture is of value only in so far as it is based on a true conception of God, and our relation to him." Such a statement as this, viewed from the standpoint of any particular sect, will usually be found to mean more than the mere words indicate.
But the great injury to science is done by the unnecessary subdivision of forces. Forty institutions spring up where only one is needed, and nearly all of them are necessarily weaklings. Libraries, cabinets, apparatus, buildings, and faculties, are foolishly duplicated. Each college lives in a continual struggle for existence, doing inferior work, and paying miserable salaries to an inadequate corps of teachers. If there were such things as Presbyterian mathematics, Baptist chemistry, Episcopalian classics, and Methodist geology, such a scattering of educational forces would be pardonable; but, as matters really stand, it is a nuisance for which no valid excuse can be found. Here there seems to be a real conflict, not between religion and science, but between the injudiciousness of religious people and the requirements of scientific research. Where one good laboratory should exist, we have forty small and inferior sets of apparatus, each fit only for elementary instruction, and wholly unsuited to purposes of investigation. Thus the very institutions which we should naturally expect to advance science have been made by sectarian spirit incapable of yielding solid results. Other branches of learning suffer also, only science is most impeded of all. The classics, mathematics, philosophy, or literature, demand few appliances. Give the professors a fair library, perhaps some maps or charts, and a recitation or lecture room apiece, and all is provided for. But science, to be properly taught, demands much more. There must be not only laboratories and apparatus, but material and specimens; and these all cost much money. No wonder, then, that a poor institution cramps its scientific teachers, and offers meagre opportunities for the prosecution of their best and most valuable work.
Going a step beyond this curtailment of material means, we shall find that the division of forces again operates contrary to science in the selection of professors. In the first place, poverty compels a college to demand more work from a professor than any man can well do. A teacher who is called upon to instruct elementary students in half a dozen distinct branches cannot accomplish much real work in any one. Every branch of science is vigorously growing, and can be properly taught only by one who has the time to keep abreast of its growth. A large majority of American college professors are now incompetent, because the policy of college management keeps them so. Let us glance at a few of the professorships which some country colleges have established. Here, for example, is McCorkle College, situated in Eastern Ohio, whose ministerial president is "Professor of Hebrew, Natural, Mental, and Moral Science." Surely this gentleman, if his professions are honest, must be the most learned scholar in the world. His "moral science" would, of course, prevent him from undertaking any work which he was incompetent to do. We cannot suspect a "reverend" of hypocrisy in such a matter as this. In Maryland, New Windsor College contrives to neutralize scientific heterodoxy with a "Professor of Abstruse Science and Religious Instructor." Such a teacher can easily take time by the forelock, and inoculate the minds of his young charges with a proper disrespect for the awful notions of Darwin, Tyndall, Huxley, Draper, and company. Another Maryland college, St. John's, rejoices in a "Professor of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Geology, and Lecturer on Zoölogy and Botany." Penn College, in Iowa, has a "Professor of Natural Science and Political Economy;" and Eminence College, Kentucky, a "Professor of Biblical Literature, Mental Philosophy, and Chemistry." Even in New York State there is Hobart College, with its "Professor of Civil Engineering and Chemistry, and acting-Professor of Mathematics and Modern Languages." Professorships like these are by no means rare; they are the rule rather than the exception. A very large majority of our so-called "institutions of learning" employ Jacks-of-all-trades to do the work of instruction, and how well that work is likely to be done we can easily imagine; indeed, it is difficult to understand how a conscientious man can undertake such tasks. Every teacher who is competent to teach at all must know that he is unable to cover so much ground, and should refuse to be a party to such fraudulent teaching. Fraudulent is not too strong a word to use in this connection. An institution which receives money from its students in payment for an education such as it cannot give, is certainly guilty of fraud. These frauds are the natural outgrowth of improperly-granted charters, incompetent or ignorant boards of trustees, and reckless sectarian pride. Every denomination seems to be imbued with the characteristic American anxiety for display, and the establishment of a new college is a convenient piece of clap-trap to resort to. Surely the advancement of religion ought not to render necessary such sacrifices of true principle! If false pretensions are to be thus directly encouraged by the churches, what can we expect from the people at large?
The smaller colleges, however, are not the only ones to blame in this matter of professorships. They are perforce compelled to employ smatterers, because of their inability to pay the proper number of specialists. But institutions of considerable wealth often injure science in their selection of teachers by introducing false issues into the question. Every year professors are chosen, not on account of scientific ability, but for reasons of a theological or sectarian character. If two men, one a Baptist, and the other a Unitarian, were candidates for the same professorship in a Baptist university, the former, even if very much inferior to his rival, would almost certainly be elected. There may be exceptions to this general rule, but they are very rare. Even at Princeton issues of this sort are frequently raised, and the ablest candidates have been rejected on purely dogmatic grounds. Theological soundness in such an institution far outranks scientific ability. If Laplace had lived in America, no college would have tolerated him for an instant. Almost any decayed minister, seeking an asylum, would have beaten him in the race for a professorship. Not many years ago, the ablest chemist America has ever produced was a candidate for the chair of chemistry in a very prominent Eastern college. He did not believe in the Trinity, and for that reason alone failed of an election. The immorality of such a system is manifest. When success or failure is made to depend upon a mere profession of belief, a direct premium is put upon hypocrisy. Incompetent men are not unlikely to be unscrupulous also. Science cannot really flourish in America until, in this respect, the colleges mend their ways. Men must be chosen professors because of their fitness to teach specified subjects, and not on account of their notions, real or professed, concerning abstract theological dogmas. Moral character ought, of course, to be considered; but mere speculative belief, never.
Another objectionable result of college scattering is the under-payment of professors. Even our best universities have shortcomings in this respect. A teacher upon small salary is naturally somewhat unsettled in his mind, is apt to be looking about for better employment, and is liable to feel a constantly diminishing interest in his work. Stability of place and freedom from pecuniary anxiety are very important to an investigator; and just these requisites few American colleges are able to supply. A large salary is not absolutely necessary to a scholar, but a certain means of comfortable subsistence is. At present, when wholly inadequate payment is offered, there is scarcely any inducement to attract a young man into the scientific life. A professorship or tutorship may be accepted for a year or two, perhaps, just as a stepping-stone to something more lucrative, but how rarely is the teacher's vocation taken up as a career! Almost every other important occupation yields surer rewards, and a fairer prospect of attaining to a competency. A young lawyer, doctor, or merchant, if careful and industrious, may reasonably look forward to possessing at some time a home of his own, with the means of sustaining and properly educating his children; The young devotee of science, however, has rarely any such possibilities before him. His labor is as arduous as, and demands even more talent than, that of the attorney or physician, but the recompense is vastly less. If, as he ought, he gives his leisure moments to the advancement of learning, he will find his salary insufficient for the maintenance of a family. In order really to live, he must constantly be doing outside work. He will thus struggle along, year after year, in constant danger of being discharged or supplanted, and, in his old age, weary and broken down, will find himself little more than a pauper. Is it strange, then, that the best intellectual talent of America is repelled from professorial positions, and attracted into other fields of labor? Can science be expected to flourish under such a system? We pay mere popular lecturers well enough; and surely the real workers, who create science, ought to be fairly recompensed also. But we can hope for little improvement until the number of colleges is reduced, and the means of those remaining suitably enlarged. Science must offer careers to men of ability, with the rewards which capacity, skill, and faithful industry, always ought to receive.
But, after tracing all the effects produced by the division of educational forces, we shall still find other points in which our college system is prejudicial to science. Glance over the curriculum laid down in almost any college catalogue, and see how the scientific instruction is arranged. In nearly every instance there will be found an enormous disproportion between linguistic studies and science. As a rule, over one-half of a student's time for four years is assigned to language; the remaining half being divided between mathematics, English literature, history, philosophy, and "natural science." Chemistry, for example, is generally taught through a single term (one-third or one-half, as the case may be) of the junior year. Thus a study, extremely important both practically and as a means of culture, is pursued by a student for perhaps three hours a week during one-eighth or one-twelfth of his college course. In some institutions, undoubtedly, more time is given to chemistry; but such cases are comparatively rare. A youth will enter college with at least a year's preparation in Greek, and then will follow that study for the greater part of his four years' course; but the science from whose applications he derives direct benefit every day of his life is crowded out into an obscure corner of the curriculum, and made to seem of little value. Physics is treated like chemistry; while geology, botany, zoölogy, and astronomy, are pushed even closer to the wall.
Now, what effect has this unfair distribution of studies produced upon American science? Plainly, a very bad effect. Our scientific men must be recruited mainly from among the ranks of our college graduates, and hence the latter ought to be imbued with something of the scientific spirit. That spirit is not likely to be very strongly aroused by the present policy of make-believe teaching. In fact, an enthusiasm for science is dampened rather than encouraged in the majority of American universities. The student sees men of fair training employed to teach the classics, while the work in scientific branches is done by wholly-untrained or imperfectly-trained instructors. Frequently it happens that Latin and Greek are taught by separate professors, while a single teacher is called upon to cover all science outside of mathematics. It is easy to see what effect such a state of affairs is liable to produce upon the mind of an average pupil. He becomes accustomed to regard the sciences as comparatively unimportant. He learns almost nothing of their true relations to life, and the little which he does happen to pick up is gleaned from a few superficial lectures and two or three trivial text-books. If he fails in these studies at examination, the failure counts practically nothing against him upon graduating. In short, the college deliberately carries out a policy of scientific smattering, and the student is influenced about as might be expected. He graduates in complete ignorance both of the methods and of the aims of science, having learned only a few disconnected facts concerning the great world about him.
Very many American colleges, however, now provide what claim to be "scientific courses," running for four years parallel with those in classics, and leading to bachelor of science degrees. This fact illustrates only a sham deference to the public demand for less Latin and Greek, and amounts to very little in favor of science. A striking case in point is furnished by McCorkle College, the learned president of which we have already referred to. Let us analyze the course laid down in the catalogue. There are three terms per annum for four years, or twelve terms in all, and in the regular classical course the studies run as follows: Latin is taught during ten terms; Greek, through eight terms; mathematics, five; history, four; Hebrew, three; natural philosophy, two; chemistry, two; geology and astronomy, one each; other studies, mainly philosophical but none scientific, seven. The modern languages seem to be omitted altogether! Then, following the schedule from which this abstract was made, comes the announcement that "the scientific department will embrace all the above course except the classics." Could a more contemptible sham be invented? Would it be possible to do more in the way of belittling science? The total omission of scientific studies would be more honest and more truly in the spirit of science. And yet this institution is empowered to grant degrees, and has the same legal authority as Harvard, Yale, or Cornell. This is, to be sure, an extreme case, but it is not much worse than a host of others. As a general rule, the "scientific course" in a Western college is the classical course, plus a little mathematics, and with French and German substituted for Latin and Greek. Less preparation on the part of the student is required to enter it, and every applicant is given to understand that it does not rank quite equally with its older rival. In both courses the natural sciences are similarly arranged, so that the graduated bachelor of science knows really no more chemistry, physics, botany, zoölogy, geology, or astronomy, than the supposably less scientific bachelor of arts. In fact, the great majority of so-called "scientific courses" are mere makeshifts, intended to accommodate those students who are too dull, or too imperfectly prepared for taking the more thoroughly-equipped line of study in the classics. Here, again, American colleges oppose the development of the scientific spirit, and hinder seriously the growth of American science.
It would be possible to multiply indefinitely these illustrations of weakness on the part of our college system. Institution after institution might be cited in which not science only, but all culture, is at the lowest possible ebb. Just the bare facts concerning some Western and Southern colleges would, if published here, seem like incredible exaggerations or distortions of the truth. I have beside me college catalogues which are positively grotesque in their absurdities; no satire could do justice to them. One institution in particular, situated in Tennessee, has fairly reached the point at which the sublime and the ridiculous meet. In respect to science, even some of our oldest and best universities are open to criticism. Some apply theological tests in the election of professors, and in a mild way act toward modern science as some of the Spanish universities once acted toward the discoveries of Newton. Many others make lower standards for scientific than for classical students, seemingly upon the idea that a bachelor of science is expected to know less than a bachelor of arts. Perhaps the scientific spirit is now best represented in this country by the Sheffield Scientific School at New Haven. Here the policy of the institution seems to have been entirely shaped and guided by the Faculty rather than by the trustees. The Lawrence Scientific School did stand higher before the abolition of its special laboratory, and approximated closely to the German idea; but of late its Connecticut rival has passed it in the race. As a university, taken for all in all, Harvard is probably far ahead of Yale, but in training scientific students the latter can at present claim superiority. The Columbia College School of Mines is also a good institution, but it errs in the direction of over-thoroughness. The students have so much routine and detail work to do that no time is left for originality. The instructors, too, are overworked, so that they can accomplish little in the way of research, and they are, moreover, in many cases, underpaid. This latter evil the trustees can and should remedy. It also occurs at Cornell University, and has lost to that institution the services of several valuable men. These points are mentioned now, not hypercritically, but because they serve to illustrate certain discouragements which our scientific men have to encounter.
Now, having recognized some of the weaknesses in our American mode of conducting the work of higher education, we may reasonably ask how they are to be remedied. How shall reform be brought about, and by whom?
It is quite evident that improvement must come partly from within and partly from without. The internal management of each college must modify itself for the better, and its efforts should be strengthened and encouraged by exterior influences. From the latter, however, we have most to hope. As long as our colleges are controlled by men who do not appreciate thoroughness in scientific culture, we can expect but little from within. An incompetent Faculty is not likely to become suddenly conscientious and resign, neither are average boards of trustees prone to confess their incapacity. External pressure must be brought to bear both upon trustees and upon professors before they can be made fully to realize the responsibilities resting upon them. This pressure may come, partly from public sentiment, and partly, though later, through legislation.
But how shall public sentiment be properly shaped and made available for service? How is its natural though slow growth to be fostered and directed? Mainly by the efforts, organized and individual, of scientific men. Personally, every worker in science should strive to awaken in the community about him a comprehension of the value and the purposes of his particular branch. In other words, the real investigators ought to do more toward popularizing their discoveries, instead of leaving the task to amateurs or charlatans. At present, unfortunately, too many able scientific men depreciate popular work and hold aloof from it. They do nothing themselves to interest the general public, and then lament the fact that the public does not become interested. Yet just here is where the beginning must be made. With a wider public interest in science will come a deeper public appreciation, and this will develop the tendencies necessary for the improvement of our colleges and schools. Until the people see and recognize the difference between true investigators and mere collectors of specimens, between original workers and text-book amateurs, little real progress can be made.
Organized effort is also needed. Just as lawyers or physicians band themselves together, so also men of science should combine for mutual self-protection against quackery. A man who had never been admitted to the bar could scarcely be chosen to a law professorship, neither could any one but a regular graduate be elected to teach in a respectable medical school. Why should not organization among chemists, geologists, or naturalists, produce in the long-run a similar state of affairs? Such an effective organization it might be difficult to bring about, and still something could be done. Even a very little improvement would be better than no improvement at all. Local scientific societies might do good in two ways: 1. By preventing, or at least opposing, bad appointments in colleges; 2. By furnishing the means for popular lectures and field-excursions. They could also, perhaps, do something toward breaking up the present vicious and absurd mode of teaching science by mere text-book recitations, and so help forward the adoption of correct methods. An attempt to teach drawing or music by lectures only, would be universally recognized as nonsensical; the same system of instruction applied to any one of the natural sciences is equally ridiculous. Nature must be studied at first hand to be properly understood.
Through legislation also something may be accomplished. This something may be very little, but a good many littles taken together aggregate much. Just as a single dollar may be the beginning of a great fortune, so one apparently trifling measure can become the starting-point of a sweeping reform. The first step to take in this direction is to prevent the issue of more charters. Inflation is as bad in education as it is in finance. No State which already contains more than one fair college or university should permit another to be established. Let the millionaires who wish to help learning give their money to institutions already in existence, or else not give at all. No benefaction is better than a mischievous benefaction. It is not long since Massachusetts lost a splendid opportunity to inaugurate the policy here recommended. The Methodist denomination of that State were discussing the foundation of a new educational institution in or near Boston. Harvard University at once made a very liberal offer; namely, that if the Methodists chose to establish merely a theological school, and to place the same in Cambridge, it would give them rent free the use of a lot of land for their building, and would permit their students to have access to the great library, and to attend, without expense, fifty courses of lectures. This magnificent offer was foolishly declined, and the Methodists founded, only four miles away, the Boston University—a school for which there was no real demand, and which signified merely sectarian folly. If at that time the Massachusetts Legislature had refused to grant a charter, a good move would have been made. The money bequeathed by Isaac Rich might perhaps have gone to the Wesleyan University at Middletown, making that comparatively weak institution really strong. As it was, the Methodist denomination, with more zeal than discretion, divided its forces in New England, started a college within half a dozen miles of at least three others, and contributed heavily toward the perpetuation of the present vicious policy. Tufts College is another wealthy institution close to Harvard, doing little save to adorn a high hill with brick and mortar, and wholly unable to compete with its great rival. All over the country there are to be found similar examples of what is at once multiplication of means and division of forces. Galesburg, Illinois, has two colleges: one Presbyterian, the other Universalist. Nashville rejoices in four: one Methodist Episcopal, another Methodist Episcopal South, a third for colored people, and the fourth vaguely described as "non-sectarian." This senseless scattering of appliances ought never to have been permitted. The true policy is, to establish great central universities, around which as nuclei the theological schools may cluster. A plan of consolidation among existing colleges would be difficult to carry out, but to some such plan we must eventually look for reform.
Perhaps at some future time it may also become possible to regulate colleges by law, and to compel them to maintain certain standards of scholarship. If a few institutions which are now doing sham work should be summarily deprived of their charters, and so rendered unable to confer degrees, much good would result. No Legislature, however, could as yet be induced to take such a step, even supposing it to be perfectly legal. A policy of this kind must follow after the awakening of public sentiment. But the principle that every institution of learning ought to be what it pretends to be, is unquestionable. No kind of fraud is more objectionable than fraud in education.
As a matter of course, legislation upon the college problem would have to be different in different States. Neither Rhode Island nor New Hampshire need act at all upon the question; but Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, ought to move vigorously. In these and other Western States, especially the States which sustain universities at public expense, a healthy and judicious system of taxation might be desirable. If every college controlled by a private corporation was energetically taxed, the weaklings would soon be either suppressed entirely or forced to consolidate with other stronger institutions. Ohio alone has at least a dozen colleges which taxation would affect in this way. At present, they are public nuisances; united, they might become a source of public good.