"Our professors should have a smaller number of recitations to hear and lectures to deliver. Then they could have more time for personal investigation and individual thought." - Advocate.
WE all know that that part of the income of the College which is available for running expenses, and for salaries of tutors and professors in unendowed chairs, is smaller than it should be. It is this smallness of means which makes a liberal and liberal-minded treatment of professors almost an impossibility, and which has forced the government of the University to adopt what we have called the "Commercial Policy."
This policy, on business principles, is, no doubt, right enough. Whether it is just, we do not say. Practically it is making our market of the necessities of a poor man, and saying, "This is all we'll give. Take it, or leave it," - and he, thinking this half-loaf better than no bread, accepts; and allows us to say with pride, "You see, men are glad to come here, even when we don't pay anything worth mentioning."
The plan is like that of a horse-car company with its horses, which gives the brutes the minimum of oats and the maximum of work, and has, by long experience, learned to keep the unhappy animals nicely balanced on a knife edge, between death from starvation and prostration from overwork.
An examination of the elective pamphlet shows that the principal professors have from 8 to 13 hours a week of recitations or lectures. This does not look very large, but it must be remembered that much additional work is entailed in the preparation of work, that the marking system and the examination system as at present used require much extra labor, and that if the instructor has a taste for "one-hours" he may have five or six hundred blue books to examine every year. Some have more than this.
Now, with such a prospect as this before them, what possibility can there be of getting men of recognized position and ability here for a small salary? The older men here stay from habit, or, it may be, from liking; the younger, because they can't do better. It is to be noticed, too, that there are almost no men of extraordinary promise among the younger instructors. All those who have any reputation or any great abilities, with few exceptions, are of the older professors. Now, good men would come here if the work were in proportion to the pay, even if the wages were small, because then they would have time and opportunity, though probably not encouragement (if some floating stories we have recently heard be true) to pursue their studies or scientific researches, and thus extend their fame and better their positions. But it is not to be supposed that a man worth anything will come here at any price, to be tied down year after year to such machine-work as the shovelling of facts into the sieve-form minds of a hundred and fifty ordinary boys, and the examination of eight hundred or so blue books per annum.
We know that to many, to point out facts means either approving or condemning them. We therefore wish it distinctly understood that while we mention these facts because they are matters of importance to our University, we would also have it understood that we know they arise from causes at present unavoidable. Some day we hope it will be possible to pursue a different, and what we cannot help calling, a more liberal-minded plan.