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HARVARD: WHY AND WHITHER?

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

President Conant's address last night revolved about two poles: Harvard's present and the excuse for the existence of privately-endowed institutions of learning, and Harvard's future, which promises to be a brilliant one if the long-range plans of the President reach fulfillment.

In these days of inflated governmental functions the privately-endowed, and of course administered, university is definitely on the defensive. It's excuse for existence, it would seem, is the superiority of most organizations managed by private initiative. A board of trustees, with its continuity of ideals and policies, is obviously better fitted to deal with the complexities of education than a preoccupied and constantly shifting legislature. The independence that goes with private endowment has enabled this university and others of its kind to experiment in fields where the publicly-owned college would hesitate to venture. Harvard's pioneer work with such additions to the educational scheme as the House plan, the Tutorial system, and national scholarships, can best be undertaken by privately-endowed institutions.

President Conant has mapped out a rosy future for Harvard in general and his own regime in particular. By means of national scholarships the hand of Harvard is going to reach out across the United States and pull out the plums of the American intellect. As a concrete example of progress toward this end, next year these scholarships are to be extended to ten states, where six are now on the program.

The greater flexibility between the College in the middle and the secondary schools and graduate schools at each end of which President Conant speaks, will be helped no end by the three-year college course which Harvard is to try next. Flexibility within Harvard itself will be aided by President Conant's frank recognition that the Tutorial system is not appropriate for all students. If it is not adaptable to laboratory sciences, it is just as little fitted to a large group of students who lack the intellectual appetite to do significant work under Tutorial guidance.

Recognizing the need of the times for simplicity and integration, President Conant intends to shake the departmental trees until many of the vestigial courses fall out. Not only will courses be reduced in number, but the material taught within them will be condensed. This admittance of the value of concentrated effort should result in such long-needed reforms as the reorganization of concentration in the field of history. The dangers of over-departmentalization are as old as they are poignant, but President Conant's allusion to the strings attached by budgetary allocations does much to clarify the situation.

President Conant is not blindly optimistic about Harvard's future. The uncertainty of modern conditions, both economic and political, out all long-range planning on the knees of the gods and the populace. To President Conant, as to all educators, the teachers' oath bill rang out like a fire-bell in the night. Still, as he said, Harvard's three-hundredth anniversary is the ideal time to show the contributions of such an institution to the public welfare.

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