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Although the Report on Teachers' Advancement contains valuable suggestions, a study of the document as a whole gives a strong sense of disappointment. Appointed in the midst of the Walsh-Sweezy furore, the Student Council's committee was asked to investigate, besides "the relation of teaching and research as bases for choice and advancement of faculty members," such important topics as the social sciences trend and the worth of making departmental budgets more flexible.
The committee, however, decided to concentrate its efforts on "teaching and research," simply side-stepping the other questions. Budgetary problems and the trend to social sciences are closely related, for History, Government, and Economics in particular, and English to some degree, are Harvard's most crowded fields and promise to continue their growth. In these departments, too, the twin specter exists of a large group of young instructors eager to advance and of limited, permanent top faculty positions filled in large measure with young men. Further, as the report itself points out, University financial statements reveal that a "frozen" budget may be expected for some years, thus destroying the hope of increasing the number of permanent positions.
It seems clear, therefore, that any report on the advancement of teachers that fails to take into account the financial and departmental problems outlined above, all of which the committee recognizes "may well be" studied in another investigation, is altogether inadequate.
As for the recommendation of a Student Committee on Curriculum, perhaps it is most charitable to reserve comment until this proposal is put into comprehensible form. As it stands, it appears entirely vague, unworkable, and unrepresentative. No mention is made of how the students who are to gather undergraduate opinion will be chosen. Apparently they are to be picked with the advice of departmental chairmen, yet undergraduates will have the right of final decision. Does this mean another convention? In addition, these students are "to be chosen first on the basis of intellectual ability; this would assure no warping of judgment as a result of poor grades." But the committee cannot seriously believe that a man, with his fingers upon a Magna or Summa, will be impartial to his department.
Not all the report is on a similar indefinite plane. The suggestions for ad hoc committees to fill some of the permanent positions, and for the University to give its young men a clear understanding of what part research plays in promotion and just what constitutes research are extremely valuable. Yet, for the most part the latest product of the Student Council is inadequate.
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