"The real political function of our universities," says Mr. Glenn Frank in an article on the part of state universities in politics in the May Century Magazine, "is the training of a race of unofficial statesmen." While the knowledge of state government and its functions resides in the universities, the power to rule remains in the hands of practical politicians. Mr. Frank proposes "to drive knowledge and power abreast" by bringing learning into closer touch with the current of public life.
The difficulty with this solution is that the state legislatures at once proceed to penalize the university for meddling in politics. If a professor at a state university ventures to point out that a political policy is misguided, the university suffers. In Wisconsin, in 1912, as a retort to criticism by professors of economics, the legislature crippled the university by drastic cuts in its appropriation. Recently, Governor Ferguson of Texas, in one of her first official acts, eliminated several enemies of her husband in the state university by cutting out the departments of which they were the heads.
And yet, as Mr. Frank says, "a state must contrive to harness both the power of the government and the knowledge of the university, if it is to achieve 'the good life' for its citizens." The state university as a leader, can do much by training "unofficial statesmen", but the people who are the flesh and fibre of the state, can do much more by electing to public office men whose ears are open to the voice of learning.