The presidents of two small colleges rarely attract so much notice as have President Meiklejohn of Amherst and President Atwood of Clark During the last weeks. The former has stood, in the popular mind, for progress in education, liberal views, innovations that promise well for the scholastic welfare of Amherst. Under his regime Amherst's prestige, among colleges of reputable scholarship, has risen materially. In other respects, too, the general opinion of Amherst has raised it to the first rank among institutions of its size. The "morale" of the undergraduate body is said to be unusually fine; President Meiklejohn has its unanimous support and that of most of the younger graduates and the present faculty. Yet the trustees are said to be considering his removal.
The situation at Clark is directly the reverse. President Atwood has been accused of destroying the undergraduate morale, of slighting the other departments to the advantage of his own subject, Geography, and in general of exerting a reactionary and negative influence on his college. He has roused the antagonism of prominent members of his faculty, as their recent formal protest showed; the Commencement Exercises revealed the antipathy of the students; and his unfortunate act of stopping the Scott Nearing talk a year ago roused the disfavor of fair-minded people throughout the country. Yet there are no indications that his term is to be ended.
Newspaper rumors, scattered accusations, and student prejudices are not altogether trustworthy. It is entirely possible that the threatened removal of President Meiklejohn is a false alarm, and the Senior delegation to New York a wild-goose chase. It is likewise possible that President Atwood has been misjudged and wrongly maligned. But the cases suggest a parallel. The undergraduates at both colleges are supported by the younger graduates and the most respected members of the faculty. The alumni who have been longer away from college, along with the majority of trustees, seem to be joined in opposition. The issue in each case is liberalism, and the older men are the reactionaries. There is nothing novel in this alignment, but it is a lesson for the trustees. If progress is to be made, men like Meiklejohn must be encouraged, and men like the reputed Atwood must be condemned. For once the undergraduate view appears to be the right view.