Until Doctor Gallup's enumerators reach Cambridge we shall have to remain unhappily ignorant of the relative strength at Harvard of the "tender-minded" and the "tough minded." But this we do know now: however receptive the class of '39 may be to President Conant's Baccalaureate advice "Neglect the tumult of the moment," however complacent they may become in the face of wars and panics and clashing ideologies, there is still enough energy left in them for just a little tumult. Harvard's seniors are still interested in Harvard, and they are willing to disturb the mellow mood of returning alumni in order to explain that there are other changes at Harvard besides the House system, and that they are not all to the good.
While more attention is daily being paid to the student's physical comfort, less fruitful concern seems to center on his intellectual stimulation. A tutorial system is provided but the best tutors receive little recognition for their proficiency in this work; additional neophytes are added as section men for the ever growing social science courses, but the men on whom the real teaching burden rests are fired; this year ten assistant professors have been released. Harvard's administrators have provided a tentative and incomplete blueprint for a new educational structure but have failed to conserve the vital energies which alone can give it usefulness.
For the second successive year the Phi Beta Kappa Society at its final meeting has worried about the state of Harvard education. Last June they merely felt "vital concern for the high academic standards at Harvard" and so thanked the Committee of Eight Prominent Faculty Members for their report on the famous Walsh-Sweezy case. This year the P. B. K.'s brief comment has lengthened into a closely reasoned indictment of University Hall to which the following paragraph is introductory:
"Believing that the primary end of a liberal college is the education of its students, and that the core of a good education is a competent and experienced staff of teachers, the Harvard Chapter of P. B. K. questions strongly whether the recent termination of the appointments of ten assistant professors can be reconciled with that end."
It cannot. Especially when one of the men released is a scholar of the calibre of Theodore Spencer who has just been accorded the unprecedented honor of being the first American ever called to a permanent English Lectureship at Cambridge University. And others of equal promise are being relieved of the important burdens which they bear in their departments.
The worst thing about the situation is that it seems to represent the fruit of what Mr. Conant once called his "basic policy." Just what the basis of this policy is we are not quite sure. If it is solicitude for the tribulations of young faculty men which has led him to accept the Committee of Eight's suggestion that the rank of assistant professor be eliminated, did the President have to move with speed that was never anticipated by that Committee? If budgetary difficulties complicate the situation, why does he not adopt the Committee's suggestions for a more flexible budget and why does he not take the alumni into his confidence and make an active campaign for additional funds instead of quietly constricting Harvard's facilities to meet a declining interest rate? The graduating class brings to the alumni the consciousness that the answers to these questions will reveal the measure of Harvard's usefulness to its students.