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The Trustees of Columbia University have for two generations past done everything which the means at their disposal would permit to advance the academic career and to sustain it on a constantly higher level of opportunity and satisfaction. To strengthen the academic career and to make it still more attractive to young men and young women of good ability and fine ambition, means doing three distinct things, as well as doing them quickly and well.
First, entrance upon the academic career must be made far more inviting than it now is. When a youth, fresh from the stimulus of the laboratory of a great man of science or from the seminar of a distinguished philosopher, historian, economist or man of letters, now weighs the choice of his future career, he must be ready, unless already economically independent, to fact the fact that, at the outset of his academic service if that be chosen, and probably for some years to come, perhaps as many as ten or fifteen, he must postpone marriage, turn aside from the temptation to travel, live in extremely modest circumstances and content himself with half the stipend of a junior clerk who has gone straight from the elementary school or from the high school to a business house. To speak bluntly, this is a preposterous situation. The youth who has devoted seven or eight years, first to college and then to university study, and who is judged competent and of promise to enter the academic career, should not be faced with any such conditions. A first task, therefore, is to raise sharply the compensation of those who choose the academic career when they first enter upon it, so that the limitations now put upon them and the embarrassments to which they are now subject may be as few as possible.
In the second place, the academic career should carry with it a freedom which is as large as possible. The scholar more than any other man should be a self-determining person. He should be free to choose what he wishes to do and the way he wishes to do it, and he should be given quickly and without constant appeal all those assistances, equipments and apparatus which are needful to his work....
In the third place, the academic career should offer to the scholar and man of science who has passed his period of probation and definitely established himself in reputation and in service, an emolument greatly in excess of that which is now usual for him. Even with the best that can be done in this regard, the scholar will still fall far short in his scale of compensation of that which is due him because of the quality of his work in society and because of its vital importance.
Given these three important conditions together with established protection for old age or unexpected disability, and the academic career will not only attract an increasing number of ambitious, cultivated and splendid youth, but one of the heaviest of burdens will be lifted from the backs of faithful and devoted men and women who now literally stagger under what they are called upon to bear.... --From the Annual report of the President of Columbia.
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