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The following paragraphs are clipped from the Independents review of President Robinson's annual report:
"The subject of elective studies, in its various bearings, is discussed with ability by the President. He recognizes very distinctly some of the evils of what may be regarded as the new departure in our higher seats of learning. When indiscriminate choices are prompted, as in not a few cases they are, by the love of ease, or by some freak of fancy, it is easy to say what will be the effect on the intellectual life and growth of the student who makes such choices. But, where an institution is situated, as Brown University is, in the midst of a mechanical, manufacturing and commercial community, where there are scores of young men to whom a mere literary training is a matter of secondary consideration, it must make provision for the education of such men. What they want is instruction in science, and to be taught how to make the most of the numerous applications of science to industrial pursuits. 'If the colleges are to educate these men, liberty must be given for a much larger amount of attention to science than to literature, and for selections among the sciences themselves.' The university aims to meet the emergencies of the present time. Hence the excellent facilities furnished by its well-appointed chemical and physical laboratories - facilities which will be greatly increased when there shall have been paid into its treasury - and it is confidently expected that this will soon be done - the munificent 'Wilson bequest' of one hundred thousand dollars to be appropriated to the building up of the department of the physical sciences."
"President Robinson is careful not to make the elective system a hobby. It is a serious question, 'To what extent shall the system of electives be carried?' It is with him a matter of grave inquiry 'whether to exchange so widely, as so many seem disposed to do, the long-established methods of our American Colleges for foreign university methods - as, for example, to make all college studies elective - does not presuppose and require an extent and degree of previous training not yet possible to be attained in our preparatory schools; whether its effect with a large class of students would not be, in fact already is, to give to their education a degree of extension quite out of proportion to its intention - an effect was very reverse of what the method is claimed to produce; and whether the expenditures on the part of our colleges and universities in supplying the requisite number of professors for an all-elective system would not be entirely in excess of the value of the services that could be rendered, and of the benefits that could be conferred."
"This question, what, if anything, will the university do in the matter of the education of women, is receiving the very careful consideration of the Corporation. Heretofore, it may be said that the matter has never seriously been discussed. Now it has had a hearing, and a respectful hearing. Thus much may be said: there is not now, and for some time to come - perhaps never - will there be an endorsement of such a plan of the co-education of the sexes as prevails in some of the colleges. Probably, certificates of successful examination of young women in the studies required for admission into the university will be given to applicants on the payment of a stipulated fee. Such successful applicants may be permitted to attend certain courses of lectures, and to perform laboratory work under prescribed conditions. Special encouragement will be given to parties desiring to furnish funds for the establishment of an 'Annex,' similar to the Harvard 'Annex,' in which young women may pursue courses of study, differing, in some respects, from that prescribed for the young men, and, as may be thought, better adapted to their necessities. Such persons, if found worthy, will be entitled to receive the honors of the University. Brown University, which has always been conservative, is not unmindful of the demands of the spirit of the age, and will, in the end, be sure to adapt herself to the spirit"
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