THE LESSON OF BEAUNE UNIVERSITY.
Twenty miles south of Dijon, France, an American university, which gives thoroughly adequate instruction in all the recognized courses given in most colleges, has sprung up almost overnight. Beaune University, lately called into existence by and for the American Expeditionary Forces, already boasts one of the finest educational plants in the world. Within a space of time measured not merely by months but by weeks, army engineers have succeeded in converting army stores and supplies into a vast collegiate equipment including laboratories, gymnasium, class and demonstration rooms, as well as vocational work-rooms of many sorts, all in a surprisingly short space of time. Although semi-permanent in character, this equipment is amazingly complete. Barring the 60,000 text-books and 40,000 books which comprise the Library, nothing has been sent from this side of the water. Without aid from home, except in this one regard, these Americans in a foreign country have produced from the resources at hand a complete ready-made university, whose 10,000 students have 200 study courses to choose from, and whose instructors number 500 thoroughly qualifed men, all of them trained teachers, some of them America's best.
If such a rapid and mature educational growth as Beaune University can be produced and made to function by a group of Americans in a foreign country, 3,000 miles away, as it were, from their base, surely those interested in or connected with American universities are given food for much valuable thought Perhaps the same interest, the same initiative and creative energy which called Beaune University so miraculously into being, could perform equally great deeds, if employed in connection with many of the older educational institutions at home. At least the creation of Beaune, involving as it must have done untold adaptability and the meeting of new educational problems in manifold new ways, augurs well for the future development of many widely separated American schools and colleges, when those who have created and attended Beaune University return. But may not American educators and scholars profit by their example, even before their return?
Aside from all this, there is one crowning advantage which it seems that the building of Beaune University by direct action of the United States War Department should aid in translating into practical fact. This advantage would be Federal supervision of education, with a view to its general improvement. We are far from advocating state subsidies or aids to institutions of learning, or paternalism or active central control or domination of educational development in any form. We are not hankering to take orders from any federal "School-master-General," But at the same time it is a significant fact that certain Republican Senators are already advocating the formation of a new national department, under a Secretary of Education, with a seat in the cabinet. If the affairs of private schools and non-land-grant colleges were left strictly alone, such a department might prove a very good thing.