On one side of the ledger, restricted funds can be positive drawbacks to Harvard, either because they support projects which actually embarrass the University, or because the ends to which they are devoted are as useless as iron rhinoceri. On the other hand, mobile funds are necessary if Harvard is to play its part in educational and scientific progress. Under this second category comes a final point, that unrestricted grants are needed for an integration of higher learning.
As every History 1 student knows after the final lecture, history is like a pendulum swinging from one extreme to the other. At one time, the Scholastics tried unit. In modern times we have swung too far in the other direction, for learning is now concentrated in small, widely-separated, ultra-specialized fields. Subjects which have natural connections, e.g., government and history, have been unnaturally separated into water-tight compartments. And because all communication has been cut off between him and his neighbors, each specialist has become less efficient and less productive. Obviously, it is necessary to start in the other direction, to bridge the space between these isolated worlds in the universe of learning.
In a modern university like Harvard, this division is perpetuated by restricted endowments, which make specific appropriations to specific departments. All work must be carried on within the bounds thus created; there can be coordination or overlapping. Fluid funds are the solution. They would make possible research projects which need the cooperation of several fields. An excellent example is the Cabot Foundation for research in plant breeding, which gives Harvard a free hand and thus permits expenditure in several departments, including the Forest, Arnold Arboretum, and the Biological Laboratory. Moreover, unrestricted funds can support scholars, like the proposed University Professors, whose horizon is not limited to a single department, who can extend their activities over a number.
This is not a direct message to undergraduates. But it is necessary for them, as well as for the donors of today, to realize the value of fluid funds if the University is to accomplish its best work. Only if Harvard authorities are given a free hand to water those fields which they regard as most fertile can the produce be maximized.