Pointing out the increasing tendency of the University to provide members of the faculty with leisure and laboratory facilities for research Joseph Lee '83, member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, commended this stand in a recent letter to the Alumni Bulletin.
After mentioning that four men turned down positions in the psychology section of the Department of Philosophy last year because of heavy teaching burdens and poor laboratory facilities. Lee emphasized that this was the correct and admirable attitude for the men to take. He declared
Lee referred to the days when one of the well known professors was burdened with correcting sophomore and junior compositions, and said that present conditions were far from that.
The letter follows in full:
To the Editor of the Bulletin:
Last year four men refused appointments in the psychological section of the Philosophy Department of Harvard almost entirely because of the too heavy teaching burden and too little laboratory facilities. Only one of them mentioned the matter of salary.
What these men wanted was a chance to do their work. That is also what the world wants of them and it is what every university must want. To use a man who has it in him to enlarge the sphere of human understanding for work that someone else could do as well is the most expensive kind of waste. Every teacher in a college ought to have, so far as possible, the sort of tools he needs, including laboratories, and not too great a teaching lead. On the latter point there will be, it is true some difficulty in making the adjustment. One man, primarily a teacher, should probably devote all his time to teaching. Such a man's inspiration comes to him as he speaks. Another's greatest service is research, another's writing, another's to commune with the universe. One does his best work lying on a mountain in the sun, another perhaps when he is shaving. I do not mean that the university should supply mountains and shaving materials, but that every teacher should have the time and opportunity not only to do his work but to seek the sources of his strength, and should even when necessary be forced to do so. He should have, so far as possible, the amount and sort of teaching that is good for him--not necessarily what he wants but what an experienced trainer would prescribe, neither too much nor too little, but just enough to keep him fit. It is true no dean or president is or ever will be endowed with the superhuman insight to prescribe precisely the desired stimulus, but that should be the aim.
I have been much struck, as an Overseer, with the degree to which the Harvard Corporation is alive to the value of the sort of economy in professors that I have indicated. By increasing laboratory facilities not only in psychology but so notably in the departments of chemistry and of biology, by providing clerical assistance in various departments and funds for publication by decreasing the teaching lead of members of the faculty who have shown a special gift of authorship by the increase in salaries, with the resulting decrease in worry and in the output of pot boilers, and in other ways it has so far as funds permit released the powers of its teaching force Surely Harvard has come a long was since the days when as noted by Henry James in his life of President Eliot, sophomore and junior compositions were corrected by Professor ( "Stubby" ) Child. Joseph Lee '83. Boston