NEW BLOOD TEST
It was the Government Department that got the cruellest blow when the axe fell on ten assistant professors last June. For a long time it limped along painfully, its staff pared to the bone, trying to handle one of the biggest enrollments in the College. Lately it has been getting back on its feet, but Professor Holcombe, head of the Department, still has his heart set on another permanent appointee, and he deserves one. Accordingly, he has picked up his wheel of fortune; around and around she goes, and where she will stop, nobody knows. But the needle is quivering in the direction of Professor Merriam of the University of Chicago.
Professor Merriam, 66 years old, is a big name in Government. Since 1911 he has been a full professor at Chicago; over 20 years ago he wrote the books that made him an authority. But as a prime example of a "Big Name" professor, he would not share the tutoring burden of the Department. The undeniable lustre of his name would only cover up, not cure, the aches and pains of the Department.
Often the name of Max Lerner has been suggested, and just as often turned down. The explanation has been that as a journalist he lacks teaching experience. But this is no longer true. For the past two years he has taught at Williams, and has also done a good job at the Harvard Summer School. There is no doubt about his ability as an original thinker; the two books "It Is Later Than You Think" and "Ideas Are Weapons" are no mean achievement for a man of his comparatively few years. He could be a very active tutor, and would certainly be a stimulating one. It is the "middle group," assistant and associate professors, that has to do most of the teaching at Harvard; this is the group from which the future Merriams and Holcombes will be recruited. It is there, and only there, that a new man will be really effective. The Department should not lightly throw away its slowly returning vigor. Younger men, teachers, brilliant writers, and progressive researchers should fill its vacant posts.