"The administration of a great University must endeavor to find methods of counteracting the centrifugal forces which tend to separate our faculties into an ever-increasing number of subdivisions."
So spoke Harvard's President Conant recently, as he pointed out one of the major defects of modern education. Other institution of higher learning have been conscious of the same need for a greater unity, but none to date, with the exception of Bryn Mawr which last week joined together all the sciences under one main department, have advanced so ambitious and well-conceived a plan as that now being pushed by Dr. Conant.
As the initial step to eliminate the artificial barriers created by the current system of numerous departments, Dr. Conant advocates a corps of "roving" professors unrestricted by departmental limits and petty duties. "Such professors without portfolio," he says, "would have o be recruited from scholars who had already proven their worth not only as productive thinkers but as stimulating personalities." Though Harvard by no means intends to de-emphasize the research which it must be the duty of every higher institution to promote, she nevertheless seems to be edging away from the professor who delves into research to the disadvantage of the student. "Stimulating personalities" will be stressed for this group, and inspiring teaching, it is expected, will be the result.
Just how far this plan can be advanced, it is not easy to predict. There are few people in any college who could do justice to the requirements needed for such a position, and yet the suggestion is pointed toward a most desirable ideal. It is truly refreshing to see an objective attempt to engage professors with inspiring personalities who would not hibernate in research and who tend to break down the sharp lines between departments.
Harvard's new plan, when put into action deserves close watching by all universities who wish to move ahead into new and more productive fields. Michigan Daily.