The following article by Charles F. Thwing, President Emeritus of Western Reserve University, summarizing the academic year 1929-30 is reprinted from the New York Times in the news service bulletin of the National Student Federation of America.
The college year now closing has not, like most preceding years, been distinguished by a single interest or by a few controlling movements. The vastness of the increase of students noted in former surveys has ceased; the number has become fairly well stabilized. The problems created by the great war have subsided. The year of 1929-30 represents events and movements of which only a few have primary, and many secondary value.
The most important group of the minor questions relates to the students themselves. New methods of selecting students have come into use. Without lessening the worth of examinations for admission, there has arisen an increase in the appreciation of the personal character of the students themselves. Conferences between applicants for the freshman class and the dean or other officer have become more constant and searching. Some colleges are asking graduates to offer testimony regarding the availability of candidates. The colleges, too, are giving increased heed to the health of students, especially in respect to what is called mental health. No less than twenty-two institutions have established special facilities for getting and for evaluating this important knowledge and for giving much-needed guardianship to those who are or may become ill.
This individuality or attention is continued far within the entrance gates. Colleges are realizing that the current mass-education often proves to be no education at all. The individualistic emphasis results, as both cause and effect, in harder intellectual work on the part of students. Students are really becoming true to their name. With this increase of individual faithfulness, it is clear that there runs also a deepened confidence in the worth of all the processes of the human mind. The methods and conclusions which we call rational make a stronger appeal. These methods and conclusions, to which many factors contribute, seem also to give a certain world-mindedness to the whole student body. As a result a greater number of students are going to foreign universities and a large number of foreign students are coming to the American.
Colleges are realizing, moreover, that the education which they give is not confined to their own campuses or to their formally enrolled students. For they are arranging and supervising studies for their graduates. They are taking the lead, too, in that enlarging movement known as adult education. They are seeking, like the University of Wisconsin, to associate themselves in leadership and cooperation with all the educative and semi-educative movements of the State.
The infractions of what is called "academic freedom" have proved to be less numerous and less alarming than in many former years. It is recognized more fully that a professor's chair is a condition of limitations, as well as a place of understanding and a means of teaching. In fact the rights and the duties of academic freedom have become better discriminated. These essential rights and duties, moreover, belong quite as much, it is recognized, to the executive office as to the professorial chair. The dismissal of the president of the University of Michigan is notorious, and as unfortunate, even if unavoidable, as it is notorious. Investigations, too, made by the Governor and his associates of Missouri of the conduct of the president of its university bear memories of not dissimilar investigations made of the conduct of his professorial associates. These and other unique instances prove the importance of a more general understanding and of a deeper appreciation on the part of all university officers of the conditions which belong to their great officers.
Large Financial Gain
The single and most significant part of academic history, however, in 1929-1930 relates to finance. In this immense and diverse field the most important section is the increase of current income. The increase of current income finds its largest element, as a point of application, in the salaries of teachers. Those salaries continue to rise at a rate not unlike that which obtained between 1913 and 1925 which was 100 percent. The income of the American college is normally derived from three sources: first, the fees of students; second, the income from endowment; third, annual contributions made by graduates, supporters and other friends. The fees of students have continued to rise. Perhaps the most outstanding instance is the increase of the tuition fee of Massachusetts Institute of Technology from $400--a high level--to $500. Accompanying the announcement of this increase is made the statement that the annual cost of educating each student at "tech" is no less than $850. There are, in the United States, between 400 and 500 colleges which are called "small." Urgent as are the demands for endowment for large colleges the year has made evident that even more urgent is the demand of the 400 small colleges. For these colleges are giving education to more than 500,00 students, or about one-half of the whole number enrolled in all institutions. At the present time about $500,000,00 each year is devoted to the support of American colleges and universities.
Not the most spectacular, as is the financial history of the year, but more constructive for the long future, is the adoption of a change in the dormitory plans and life in two great institutions, Harvard and Yale. The least honorable page in the history of the American college is that which relates to the life of men students in dormitories. It is a record of poor housekeeping, of a lack of life's amenities, of a dearth of comforts, of want of care for health and of a graver want in nursing in sickness. The beginning of an end of such a history has been made in the current year. The author of the revolution is Edward S. Harkness of New York. As wise as he is generous, he has given in separate sums and under somewhat diverse conditions about 25,000,000 to his alma mater, Yale, and to Harvard for the building and for the furnishing of proper dormitories. Through his munificence Harvard is already building houses each worthy to be made a home. The movement historically is a transfer of the social conditions obtained in women's colleges from the first years at Vassar, to the colleges for men.
The most important event in the ever-vital history of athletics has been the report of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, entitled "American College Athletics." The report is of a historic and outstanding significance to college sport. It is the most comprehensive gathering of facts ever made, and it is the the most formative in its suggestions for the restoration of athletics to their proper field and function.
Business Methods at M. I. T.
The year, however, has provided at least one unique attempt at the solution of the difficulties belonging to the great office of president. This endeavor is to be credited to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The institute, which has had great presidents, has, in choosing a new president, Compton, asked the retiring president, Stratton, to become chairman of the executive committee and of the corporation. This chairmanship has its analogy in a method of the control of banks and other great corporations. The division of duties and of rights between these two offices has not yet been made; but all interested in college administration will follow with high anticipation this new method for adding efficiency and giving richer personal inspiration to great academic and constructive leadership.