One of the most popular legends about Andrew Carnegie was that he never wholly gave anything,--always half a church organ or half a college library. A large part of this tradition is likely to disappear if the plan of the Carnegle Foundation announced yesterday is put into effect. Here instead of providing half a college, the Foundation is planning to give money to an arrangement putting six small colleges together and making one University in the Maritime Provinces of Canada.
At present these six colleges,--Dalhousie, King's. Acadia, St. Francis Xavier, New Brunswick and Mt. Allison,--are hard pressed to keep their means up to their standards. According to Dr. Sills of Bowdoin they are doing identically the same work and effectually "dissipating their energies, sacrificing the chief opportunity for contributing to the life of the Dominion."
The suggested plan would give an adaptation of the English collegiate organization. Each college would main-chapel, and so in; but the advanced work, honor courses, and the expensive laboratory establishment would be in a central university controlled by a joint board and supported in part by the provinces. This arrangement makes possible the foundation of a strong well established university of the first-class, while it sacrifices little or none of the advantages of the small colleges. The smaller institution does not lose its identify in the least, but the widening of its horizon by the new organization, gives it the otherwise impossible opportunities and privileges of a university.
Through some such means the salvation of American college education may be found. The danger of overcrowding, the tendency to "swamp" all of our great universities, which President Nielsen of Smith points out as one of the most alarming characteristics of education today, might be obviated by adopting this proposed Candian plan with a diametrically opposite object. The small colleges formed about the central university base would give the small-group, dormitory life which Stephen Leacock spoke of as the first prerequisite of a successful university, and for higher education there would still be the vast resources of the large plant. An an experiment, whether copied elsewhere or not, the Carnegle plan will be watched with interest by educators all over America.