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Mr. Conant, in the eyes of undergraduates, has placed too much emphasis on scholarship, as such. His approach is too scientific, designed for graduate schools more than for an undergraduate college. His desire to raise scholastic standards should be supported, his research is necessary if the University is to live up to its name as the greatest institution of higher learning in the United States; but the balance has been thrown off between these two and the humbler but more important tasks of teaching and inspiring all students of varying degrees of brilliance.
Mr. Conant, in his Tercentenary address, spoke of the necessity of "pruning knowledge", that is throwing out irrevalent material keeping only the essentials, crossing inter-departmental barriers, and getting a broader, general view of the world today. The President has planned new "roving professors", unattached to nay Department, to carry out this pruning. This plan is to be applauded and backed as being one which will tend to counteract the emphasis placed on research and scholarship.
The men who will be chosen to fill these new roving professorships of necessity must be broadminded and open-minded; they must be capable of the critical digestion of great funds of knowledge. All important, they must be practical, must be able to turn out a finished, pruned product which will be useful and inspiring to the non-scholastic world. The type for this job is the great personality, the ideal teacher, the man who will be able to inspire the non-scholar group of undergraduates.
The research teacher will not be able to do this job; at least only the very rare exception will be able to do it. Mr. Conant himself would be capable of the job; one or two others now on the faculty stand out as definite potential candidates. But as a general rule the combination research-teacher is only an ideal in the eyes of undergraduates. Excellent teachers who are not research men will have to be kept on the faculty; excellent research men, who are not teachers, are just as necessary. Meantime, Mr. Conant has demanded that all his faculty turn to research; he has unfortunately scared many so that they plunge into it madly; their time is not carefully budgeted between this research and their teaching, and to top it all they are over-worked.
A balance must be set up here between the scholar and the teacher: faculty members must be made aware of their position to the College, their chances for advancement; their duties must be defined and outlined more carefully.
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