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AT last some one, seeking to immortalize himself in the old, old way of founding a college to be called by his name, has chosen a new method of doing this, which, if well carried out, will prove of great value, not only on account of its intrinsic advantages, but also from the impetus which it will give to the advancement of higher education in America. A short account of his plan was given in the Nation of January 28, from which the present outline is taken.
In 1867 John Hopkins, of Baltimore, put in the hands of a corporation of twelve gentlemen from that city, a sum which was afterwards increased by his bequests to the amount of three and a half millions, for the foundation of a University, giving at the same time almost as much more to build a hospital beside it, so that the Medical School will have especial advantages. The only conditions imposed were that his name should be adopted, and that certain scholarships should be established; as his choice of trustees had been very careful, he felt safe in leaving everything else to their charge.
Their aim is at once to put the new institution in a higher grade than any other college in the country, and, to effect this, they intend only to offer such instruction as does not usually come within the limits of an undergraduate's course. The chief object is, not to enable boys to forestall the regular work of a professional school in order that they may begin their practice at an early age, but to promote learning by encouraging young graduates to continue their studies. By offering large salaries and the prospect of having students who are intelligent and eager to learn, they hope to attract professors of the highest scholarship, who will be obliged to keep up and give evidence of their learning by publishing from time to time essays on subjects included in their special departments.
It must be very trying to the government of a University like Harvard, that has already been attempting with its limited means to advance the standard of education, to see a large sum given to found a new college. The older Universities would, on many accounts, be far more able to furnish post-graduate instruction of a high grade, for their corporations are more experienced, their reputation is sufficient to attract professors and students, and they have a large body of undergraduates who would spur on the resident graduates to make good progress. Still, competent judges think that "Hopkins University" will make good use of its opportunities.
In a new country the demand for labor is always great enough to draw men away from the pursuits of learning; but now that the supply, at least in the older States, has grown equal to the demand, America must be prepared to take a foremost place in the highest intellectual work of the world. Until within a few years, no attempts have been made to furnish instruction to graduates, not so much because our Universities were unwilling or unable to do so, as because there were few young men who desired it; however, at Harvard, at any rate, the number of resident graduates is steadily increasing, for at present we have more than forty, not including, I think, those who avail themselves of our laboratories, museums, and libraries. Harvard, therefore, can well be proud of her record in past and present; but if "Hopkins" is well managed, she will have a dangerous rival in the future, and it will behoove her to make all the effort she can to retain her present high position.
The increasing demand for University and Evening lectures, which has already been uttered in the columns of the Magenta, shows that there is an increase in the number of those who are trying to reap all the advantages of a collegiate education, and, with greater encouragement and better facilities for instruction, the number of resident graduates would also be greatly increased. To many minds, the fact that they are obliged to study is a great obstacle to any enthusiasm in learning, and they would accomplish more if greater opportunities for voluntary instruction were offered. To be sure, many electives are taken as extras, but to do this faithfully requires six or eight hours a week of extra work, which is too much for many students. Besides, it is due to our best instructors to give them a position where they will no longer be troubled by marks and examinations, and where they can teach students who chose their electives, not because they were "soft," or because marks were high, or because there was nothing else to take, but with an earnest desire to do their work thoroughly and faithfully. Our professors have written books and essays of great value, but, under the present system, they have little leisure for this, and their enthusiasm must be almost extinguished after hearing a stupid recitation, or giving deductions for a series of "deads." Cannot some Hopkins be found to aid Harvard in completing that work which she has already so nobly begun?
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