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Mr. Edward S. Harkness has made another great contribution toward starting a new chapter in the life of the American small college. What Woodrow Wilson, as a university president, dreamed of for Princeton, President Lowell, with the aid of the unexpected proffer from Mr. Harkness, has made a reality at Harvard; and President Angell has now, by virtue of the continuing generosity of this son of Yale, the opportunity of reviving in his institution "the social advantages of the small Yale College of "the earlier generation amid the intellectual advantages of the great modern university".
Plans for the organization of small colleges within the large in these two universities will doubtless vary, but both recognize the validity of the claims which the small colleges have made in the face of the stupendous growth of universities. As the president of a small college in the Middle West has recently written, until within a few years most boys, many girls and perhaps half the parents were for the large institutions because it was thought that the greater educational opportunities lay with the greater facilities of library and laboratory, under more highly paid and, it was assumed, better teachers, and in the midst of a larger and more stimulating student body. But "the pendulum is swinging heavily the other way." That each of these great universities is beginning to make many colleges of its one large college is the highest testimony to the value of the old American type.
It will doubtless be some time before such colleges, thus created, can have differentiated characteristics and personalities such as the colleges in the great English universities have grown into. But even if they have no class distinctiveness, and it is to be hoped that they will not have, they will be distinguished in their nature and by the men who have gone out from them.
Before the identity of the donor of the great gift which made possible the establishment of the "inner college" at Harvard was publicly known, it was suggested by the Times that while the fortunate youths who were to benefit by this provision could not as the students at one of the Oxford colleges are required to do--pray for the founder by name, he would have his reward both in what is accomplished at Harvard and in what is suggested for adoption elsewhere. It was added that this precedent would no doubt lead to a great addition to the list of small colleges in the university of America. The prophecy is only beginning to come true.
Meanwhile, the importance of keeping the small college that maintains liberal learning apart from great universities is emphasized by this fresh recognition of it. But it must be kept abreast of the university-college type in its teaching authority and its physical equipment. This must remain America's unique and supreme contribution to higher education. --The New York Times.
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