Unlike its national counterpart, the "State of the College" report that the President of Harvard University issues each January rarely divulges any startling new proposals. Throughout its century-old heritage, the Annual Report has, more often than not, been a summary of the past year's activity, and a rather broad outline of plans for the future. This year's report by President Conant is no exception.
Of greatest local importance, perhaps, is Mr. Conant's avowed opposition to such legislature as the proposed Barnes Bill, now resting somewhere in the devious channels of the Massachusetts State House. Although just about all educators in the Commonwealth presumably are strongly opposed to an act that would put every professor under almost as vigilant government gaze as an employee at Oak Ridge, Mr. Conant has been the first to express his denunciation in definite, well-publicized terms. He ably points out that being an asset to some government department and being a valuable member of a university faculty are far from one and the same thing. Nor should the "armed truce" atmosphere in the world today load to panic-stricken curtailments of freedom, academic or otherwise.
As far as Harvard College itself is concerned, Mr. Conant definitely outlines a program for a genuine "back to normalcy," at least as far as enrollment figures are concerned. And for this there is good reason. For only thus can the House Plan operate in the manner in which it was intended; only thus can Harvard "combine the variety of educational offerings possible only in a university with many of the social advantages of a small college." If the University were to keep on at its jam-packed 12,000 man level, the new lecture halls, dormitories, and laboratories that would soon be needed would involve immense capital expenditures. And all the various faculties would have to be enlarged, teaching methods in some of the graduate schools might even have to be revised. So a return to the size for which it was built seems about the only course left for the University to take-but not until veterans are no longer a factor, of course.
Looking to the future with an eye more towards something new, Mr. Conant repeats his proposal for a Graduate House, asks a ten million dollar fund to support General Education, and points out that the pressing financial needs of the graduate schools must soon be relieved. Looking backward, Mr. Conant points with pride to the University's fine teaching record in the Humanities; to the Society of Fellows; the new, improved library system; and the magnificent but generally ignored art collections in the Fogg Museum.
On the whole the President's report is a calm, rational, long-range approach to the University and its manifold problems. And that is all that it should be; that is what good leadership should always be doing in times of stress which may induce short-sightedness in the less able.