Governor Furcolo presented a proposal to increase the size of classes in American colleges, made recently by Seymour E. Harris '20, Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy, to President Eisenhower Sunday. He urged that a Presidential Commission study the plan.
After a three year Ford Foundation study on the economics of higher education, Harris has recommended that the nation-wide student-faculty ratio be increased from the present 13:1 to 20:1. Such a rise would reduce the costs of higher education by $1.5 billion a year within 10 years, he said.
Urges Fewer Courses
"Repeated experiments show that the greatest educational gains come either in a large lecture with a top professor, or in very small seminar-type classes," Harris maintained. He called classes of between 25 and 75 students "worthless," and suggested that those with "small educational value" be dropped.
Harris noted, however, that certain courses, such as the classics or theoretical physics, which attract only a small number of students, have a "definite educational value." These courses could be given in alternate years, he suggested.
To compensate for the smaller number of courses, Harris called upon the colleges to reduce course requirements, so that students might pursue more independent study in their individual fields of interest.
In addition to a Presidential Commission, Furcolo will also ask the New England Conference of Governors for its support in persuading colleges and accrediting groups to accept the proposals. Press secretary Wilton Vaugh '20, said yesterday. Harris is an advisor to the conference.
"No one wants to do anything that might impair the quality of education," Furcolo declared Sunday.