Ten Years of University Extension

TEN years ago University Extension was in the thoughts of all, and on the lips of many. Whenever and wherever educators met together, there was always curiosity to hear about the aim and scope and method of the movement. Propagandists who could write informedly, and critics, too, found a ready market for their new wares. In swift succession articles by friends or foes appeared in the Atlantic, the Review of Reviews, Harper’s Magazine, the Forum, the Popular Science Monthly, and the Outlook, before it was the Outlook.

Some friends thought the millennium was dawning; the civic salvation of democracy seemed to many close at hand. Enemies, not many, were sure that the new tale was silly, and that the new story-tellers were mad, at least “ northnorthwest.” None were indifferent, or could be. Mr. George William Curtis, long past the age when men are wont to form snap judgments or express them, came from consideration of the English work, then past its fifteenth birthday, with the conviction that the “ development of this movement and its extraordinary success are the most significant facts in the modern history of education.” And Miss Repplier, from the isolated watch tower of instinctive aversion, called down that the movement merely represented “ the second-rate at secondhand.” Out of the expansive and expanding circle of Chautauqua, Bishop Vincent, a second John Baptist, paid homage to the larger movement in the generous phrase, “ Chautauqua is little else than a University Extension agency.” And Professor George Herbert Palmer, anxious lest the vested interests of higher education should suffer hurt, wrote with spirit to the Atlantic : “ Any movement which seeks to withdraw a professor’s attention from these things [his university duties, various and exacting], and induces him to put his soul elsewhere, inflicts on the community a serious damage. No amount of intellectual stimulus furnished to little companies here and there can atone for the loss that must fall on education when college teachers pledge themselves to do serious work in other places than in their own libraries and lecture rooms.”

Beforehand, as usual, sometimes to rashness, in estimating movements in which the world takes instant interest, Mr. W. T. Stead, with an eye on either side the ocean, announced with calm assurance, “ University Extension is the university on wheels.” East and West, North and South, universities and colleges took him at his word, and prepared to put themselves on wheels. Many encouraged their best lecturers to go around the corner and speak to any who would listen. Some announced extramural courses with intramural credits in their annual catalogue, oftener in a special circular. One or two, at least on paper, organized distinct departments for itinerant teaching. Between the Alleghanies and the Rockies here and there a " monohippic” college, eager to emerge from unprofitable obscurity, hitched its tiny wagon to " the university on wheels,” confident of at least securing, free of charge, a little advertising. Even when the faculty was no larger than the faculty “ at present consisting of Mrs. Johnson and myself,” which Mr. Bryce had found awhile before in the Far West, the hope was entertained, and solemnly divulged, that at least one member of the faculty could be spared to the distant village panting for enlightenment. There was a glamour about the very thought of itinerant lecturing. Bespectacled pedants long since detached from life, scornful cynics with gall and wormwood in their hearts, and fine, true scholars, loving as well as learned, eager to distribute knowledge as well as to produce it, — no Leonardos they, — dreamed of flying trips each week to distant centres, of audiences breaking out into tumultuous applause as Cæsar once again was killed in the Senate House or x was raised with proud success to the nth power. Everybody seemed about to go to school again. Moulton’s prediction of “ university education for the whole nation, organized upon itinerant lines,” was coming swiftly to fulfillment.

To doubt that a university can be put on wheels was a discredit. To hint that there is a time element and a place element in university teaching, which cannot be packed into either the bulkiest gripsack or most capacious memory pouch, was to invite derision. To ask, however modestly, for proof of the adaptability of the new movement to American conditions was to evoke pity. With thousands pleading for enlightenment, it was, the propagandist intimated, no time to reason why. It was time to move.

Nor slacked the messenger his pace ;
He showed the sign, he named the place,
And, pressing forward like the wind,
Left clamor and surprise behind.”

Some good people, inclined to sympathize, gave the movement a half-hearted support, because they did not wholly trust the universities. They were glad enough to get the best the universities can give; they feared that they might have to take the worst as well. For the life of them, they could see no reason to let loose the pedantry — inherent, they supposed, in university research, and usually attached to university teaching — which sets the extraction of a Greek root before the extraction of the root of sin ; which by precept and example would fain persuade that man’s chief end is to write a monograph on the inseparable prefix in early Anglo-Saxon, and enjoy it forever. They could see no profit to our democracy — and some said so — in scattering throughout its villages the atrocious pharisaism which despises the commonplace ; robs service of its spontaneity ; parts men from their kind, and sets them up along the great hallway of life, unlighted candles, “ to whom there has come no fire of devotion, who stand in awe and reverence before no wisdom greater than their own, who are proud and selfish, who do not know what it is to obey.” If the new movement was to have the support of commonplace folk, whom the Lord must love for the reason Lincoln gave ; if it was to help

“ Country folk who live beneath
The shadow of the steeple ;
The parson and the parson’s wife,
And mostly married people, ”

it must give bond at the start to send out lecturers able to uplift as well as inform, able to energize as well as mobilize facts and interpret them in terms of life. And while the bond was preparing, democracy was reticent and shy, and stingy with its sympathy.

Among all the doubts of those early days there was one honest doubt that could not be dismissed without an answer, and, unhappily, could not be disproved without experience. When Professor Palmer inquired where University Extension was to find lecturers, he asked a pertinent and puzzling question. It was easier for the Englishman to make reply. In the slender development of popular education in England, not all the teachers trained at Oxford and Cambridge could find employment. The supply far exceeded the demand. There was a large and anxious surplus of professional teachers seeking employment, and more than willing, on any terms they could secure, to do itinerant teaching. The central secretaries found all the teachers they desired, without ravaging any university faculty. Here was another situation. Long before the nineties popular education was robust. The university, the college, the secondary school, the little red schoolhouse, all were prosperous ; all had more students than they well could teach, all had fewer expert teachers than they could use. The demand for teachers far exceeded the supply. Western university and college presidents came East each spring, to lie in wait for postgraduate students newly doctored in Baltimore or Germany, with the regularity of Western missionary bishops seeking “ stoff ” at Eastern theological seminaries for missionary enterprise. If to the scarcity of good teachers was to be added the rivalry of University Extension societies seeking lecturers and competing for the best, university education would suffer irreparable hurt; a certain good would be imperiled for the sake of an uncertain benefit. With this serious danger in mind, Professor Palmer deprecated the widespread interest in the new subject, and predicted that the wisest guidance would probably not lead the movement to any long success.

Almost ten years have passed since Professor Palmer asked his leading question, expressed his honest doubt, made his grave prediction. It is now time, perhaps, to ask another question, — Has his question yet received its answer, can his doubt be dissipated, has his prediction been fulfilled? Were one inclined to beg the question, he could point out that since Professor Palmer has recently shared with Professor Griggs the extension platform of the Boston Twentieth Century Club, he has answered his own query ; for no one who knows Professor Palmer even casually or by reputation would ever entertain the fear that he has given a “ half-hearted service ” to Harvard because for eight Saturdays in succession, last winter, he put his soul elsewhere, into lectures on The Nature of Goodness, in Tremont Temple. The question is too important to dismiss by begging it. Moreover, the problem is even more complicated than Professor Palmer could have thought when he wrote his article for the Atlantic. No one, indeed, imagined that, to succeed, the itinerant teacher must possess the best qualities of the resident teacher, and other qualities besides. He must be saturated with his subject, know how to teach it, and, in addition, have a gift too seldom found in universities, — the gift of pleasing and effective public speech. He must be not scientific merely, but artistic too. He must be not teacher simply, imparting information and extracting it from students ; he must be preacher also, driving home his message by the blows of oratory, overcoming inertia the university knows naught of, — the inertia of men and women worn and jaded by a day’s routine, — creating interest where no interest is, leading souls from “ the lowlands of vulgarity ” high up

“the mount where guile
Dissolves in fire that burns the dross away. ”

For great success, there must be added to the teacher’s ordinary equipment such lucidity as the audience observes in Professor Woodrow Wilson’s lecturing, such variety as one finds in the lectures of Dr. Sykes, such attention to detail as Professor Moulton always gives, and such spiritual passion as burns in every lecture by Professor Griggs.

To find such men was not to compete with the university ever seeking for the best. Another type was wanted, a man with a finer artistic sense well trained. Far from being helped by facility of expression, variety, elocution, spiritual passion, the scholarship of the candidate for university teaching is almost always called in question when he has these other qualities that ordinary folk outside universities value. Only recently is the university tearing down the ideal of the “ Professor” in Balzac’s story, so wanting in imagination that in his young wife’s tears he saw only “ mucus, chloride of sodium, and a little sulphate of chalk.” Darwin is still the ideal in scientific teaching, without Darwin’s late lament that in scientific research he had lost his æsthetic sense. University Extension went in search of men who combine with the university professor’s knowledge the novelist’s versatility, the actor’s elocution, the poet’s imagination, the preacher’s fervor. The standard it uplifted is higher than the university standard. The goods it desired no university wants in toto. The competition was and is only in exceptional instances, which are each year growing fewer.

Professor Palmer was correct in his conviction that the lecturer is the crux of the situation. In the early nineties all other problems receded into insignificance. There was much talk at first about the class. One of the pioneer lecturers usually suggested to his audience, at the start, that if they had to choose between the lecture and the class that followed, they would better “ cut the lecture.” But those days are past. The University of Chicago has developed the class work independently, though lecturers still direct discussion after lectures. The occasional lecturer in the occasional centre has a class before and after, too. But oftener the class is somewhat disappointing. The lecturer tarries a few moments after the lecture ; pleads plaintively for questions, which, when they come, are sometimes suggestive, but sometimes, not infrequently, inconsequential. It is the rash lecturer indeed who essays the rôle of university cross - examiner, for his listeners never stay again for class.

“ They light me once, they hurry by,
And never come again.”

There was a time when many lecturers agreed with Professor Moulton that the written exercise is “ the strength of the system.” The writer, then lecturing on American history, in a paper read before the University Extension Congress at the World’s Fair in 1893, predicted that, in the long run, University Extension as an educational movement will be judged largely by the character of the paper work. “ Lecturers have,” as Professor Robert Ellis Thompson says, “ tried all the arts of persuasion and sarcasm.” American audiences will not write papers, though they will, as the University of Chicago has proved, follow correspondence courses without lectures. Time was when courses of study covering long periods were mapped out, and students were urged to prepare at stated intervals for examinations, and for the certificates and diplomas that followed. Now, though much reading is done, as librarians and booksellers testify, especially in schools and where independent students’ clubs exist, one hears little about examinations. American audiences will not be examined.

There was a time when many expected, and all hoped, that Lord Brougham’s vision of mechanics, after ten hours’ hard work with eyes and ears and hands, spending their evenings listening to lectures or preparing for examinations, would become an actuality, when more factory workers besides the newly appointed successor to Max Müller at Oxford, Dr. Joseph Wright, would divide the dinner hour between the dinner pail and Greek historians. Spinners, weavers, mill hands, in great numbers, have listened to long lectures on Bach and Beethoven. One workingman — no Giotto, possibly, discovered among the hill shepherds, and yet a worthy man — has found University Extension the way into Harvard. Negroes have come in hundreds to hear Hudson Shaw lecture on English history. A negro waiter in a hotel at Salem, New Jersey, has heard every lecture of the many given there these ten years past, and has read a goodly portion of the literature suggested. Even anarchists and other longhaired folk have crowded Touro Hall to hear views on politics and history, which they would better have accepted to their civic profit. And yet it remains a truth which no one acquainted with the work would dispute, that University Extension has not become distinctively the means of elevating so-called workingmen.1

These failures, these half successes, — call them what you will, — are only incidental, after all. They do not affect the central problem. University Extension is not a system ; it is a man. It is, as Phillips Brooks was wont to say of preaching, truth coming through personality. Syllabus, class, written exercise, examination, certificate, diploma, — important, as you count them, or, as I count them, only relatively important, — are the variables ; the constant is the lecturer himself. Given the man, the method is not hard to find ; nay, it is found already. The man will make, does make, his methods ; using those already in existence, but using them in his own way. To find the lecturer has been the problem all these ten years past. It is the problem still, not wholly solved, but ever being solved at those head centres where the work has been directed with intelligence, skill, enthusiasm, and great sacrifice.

In many sections the problem has not been vigorously attacked. New England has shown but little interest. President Butler of Colby College writes that nothing has been done in Maine. The only lecturer in New Hampshire was imported. Vermont makes no report. Massachusetts has had more interest in “ University Participation,” to use the happy phrase of Professor A. B. Hart. The good work of the Twentieth Century Club, the Old South lec-

tures, and Pilgrimages, valuable as they are, are not typical. Brown University did something in the earlier years in Rhode Island, but never found her man. Connecticut from the first has looked to Philadelphia for inspiration and coöperation. Some of her best lecturers have been loans made by the American Society. For six years past New Haven has had a University Extension centre, with which, last October, Yale University combined to initiate a series of ten fourlecture courses, for which almost a thousand season tickets, at three dollars each, were sold. Yale furnished most of the lecturers ; Philadelphia one of the most popular. Valuable as the experiment is, it can scarcely make a contribution to the solution of the larger problem. A university professor lecturing four times in his own university lecture hall to townsfolk coming up to the university is not University Extension ; it is University Participation, — nothing else.

To estimate the New York work aright is far from easy. An early start was made. In 1887—88 Dr. E. W. Bemis gave a typical course in Buffalo. Ever and anon Mr. Melvil Dewey preached the new crusade, until in 1891 the state legislature made an appropriation of $10,000 to the “ paper ” University of the State of New York with which to make University Extension one of its five main departments. There was a fine burst of enthusiasm ; great expectations were excited. Syllabi were published, and lecturers placed in the field. Then appeared the inevitable difficulties. The peculiar gifts required of the lecturer, the long distances, the unexpected strain of meeting a new set of students every night, the dependence on resident teachers already spent by intramural teaching, the inability to test or to train candidates for the new work, soon overcrowed the New York spirit. The reaction came swiftly. An easier way of extending higher education was sought. Since 1892 effort has been concentrated on traveling libraries and traveling pictures, study clubs and public libraries, and other agencies that can thrive measurably, at least, without the presence of the living teacher, and good results have been achieved. Faith has not been lost, however, in the real University Extension, and Mr. Melvil Dewey writes, “ We have no doubt that the time is not far distant when more advanced work can and will be done.” In the presence of the central problem of the lecturer, New York still stands anxious and perplexed, but not hopeless.

New Jersey has never been ambitious. Contiguous to Pennsylvania, she has looked to Philadelphia for her lecturers. A number of New Jersey centres of the American Society have long since passed the experimental stage, and have recently formed a federation. Rutgers College has an Extension Department, and from the first Professor Louis Bevier and other members of the faculty have given lectures in neighboring towns and villages. But without a special staff of lecturers the work is not likely to outgrow its small dimensions.

Before the nineties, the late Professor H. B. Adams, who introduced the American people to the University Extension movement, and has written the latest word about it in a comprehensive monograph in press for the United States Bureau of Education, was trying some University Extension experiments in Baltimore and Washington, with the aid of graduate students from his seminar in history at the Johns Hopkins University. Altogether, in and about Baltimore much fragmentary work was done. But graduate students have neither time nor maturity to work out a problem requiring unlimited time and character well seasoned. Now and then a lecturer has pushed farther south, but to little purpose.

In the “ Westmost West ” University Extension took root immediately. The University of California, first in the field, outlined a plan to make University Extension endemic on the Pacific coast, — a plan which has been followed in the main for almost ten years. Only members of the academic staff were employed until the generosity of Mrs. Phœbe Hearst and others provided lecture courses by distinguished foreigners. The rapid increase of resident students and the policy of free lectures have robbed the overworked instructors of both the opportunity and to some extent the incentive to extramural lecturing. The work has lagged for want of lecturers; for reliance cannot long be placed in resident teachers. The new president is making plans for reaching remote regions, but none are worth the making which add outside lecturing to inside teaching, already so exacting that from many a university faculty one neurasthenic each year is graduated or dismissed. In her earlier days, the Leland Stanford Jr. University, under pressure from communities, and because there were on her staff brilliant lecturers like the president, Griggs, Ross, Barnes, Howard, and Hudson, carried on the work in San Francisco, San José, Oakland, Sacramento, Los Angeles, and other cities. But Griggs has gone, and Ross and Barnes and Howard, and interest has long since waned.

Here and there in the Middle West there was a little flutter of excitement. In the autumn of 1891 the Chicago Society for University Extension was formed, to draw lecturers from the whole Middle West, but it soon came to grief. Topeka and Kansas City had a little try at the fascinating experiment, but their centres went the way of the centres of the Chicago Society. The University of Minnesota became weary before the movement grew at all in that section.

Much was naturally expected of Wisconsin. Her Farmers’ Institutes were already famous. The late Mr. Warner, visiting the state a year or two before, had found, as he wrote Harper’s Magazine, “ a more intimate connection of the university with the life of the people than exists elsewhere.” President Chamberlin, addressing the public school teachers in December, 1890, and Professor H. B. Adams, a month later, speaking before the State Historical Society, called attention to the unique opportunity offered to Wisconsin. The next year 78 cities and towns filed with the State University requests for lectures, and 47 courses were given. In the summer of 1892 an Extension Department was organized, but for want of financial support was allowed to languish. The professors, always overworked by the multiplying interests of a university whose student roster has risen in ten years from 1097 to 2619, have done all they could to meet the situation. Considering the circumstances, much indeed has been achieved ; and yet a great opportunity has not been made the most of for want of a special staff, or of the state appropriation which would secure it, and which the legislature would even yet do well to make.

But there are two places, Philadelphia and Chicago, where the problem is being solved; where indeed, to those who understand the special difficulties, the special discouragements, the lack at first of special experience, and at all times of sufficient funds, the problem seems to have been already solved. In both places some lecturers have been found, others made. Some are products of the movement; others are university teachers, preferring itinerant teaching at a time when no harm follows to universities, because the supply of trained teachers is no longer, as ten years ago, inadequate to the demand. In both places the work has steadily developed ; at first extensively, more recently intensively. It was perhaps to be expected that Chicago, with characteristic enthusiasm for pork and poetry alike, would give a cordial welcome to the democratic movement in education, and at any cost command success. It was confidently expected by the few who understand the buried life of Philadelphia, conservative only when new things have a suspicious look, that “ this vast amorphous city which broods over its children with a perpetual home nurture ” would do more, — deserve success, and make the movement help on the city’s highest purpose.

The first of a long line of English representatives of University Extension, Professor Richard G. Moulton, came to Philadelphia in 1890, — pleased all, inspired many, profoundly impressed some. Professor H. B. Adams, always at the right moment where the initial movement had most need of him, arrested the attention of Philadelphia’s most fastidious by an address a few months later before the Contemporary Club. Dr. William Pepper, — Philadelphia’s nineteenth-century Franklin, — so universal was his genius, seized upon the strategic point of the situation, secured funds with which to make a five years’ trial, and the American Society was organized, with Dr. Pepper as its first president. The energetic secretary, Mr. George Henderson, at once packed off to England, and came back informed as to ways and means. With the election of Professor Edmund J. James to the presidency in 1891, there was made available for the movement a wider knowledge of pedagogical theory and a special capacity for educational organization. With characteristic acumen the new president discovered the strategic point. He foresaw that unless the lecturer could be found or developed, University Extension would go the way Professor Palmer predicted, — to feebleness, and then to forgetfulness. In pursuance of a distinct purpose, English lecturers were brought over sometimes, as in the case of Moulton and of Shaw, as ideals worthy to keep a lofty standard before American lecturers and audiences alike. A policy of publicity and promotion was adopted, in order to attract the notice of university teachers better suited to itinerant than to resident teaching, and young men of special fitness pursuing graduate studies at home or abroad. An “ organ ” lent important aid the first few years. A seminar was established for the training of young candidates, and by slow degrees men were brought together to give themselves entirely to lecturing. Some reliance was placed on university and college teachers. Many university professors at first shared in the work. Some of them failed outright. A few won some success. But not one, as experience proved, could divide himself equally between resident and non-resident teaching without giving to one or the other the “ half - hearted servise ” Professor Palmer deprecated. Long since the society discovered what was from the first expected : that the chief reliance must be placed on staff lecturers giving a whole - hearted service to University Extension. Of those pioneer lecturers, Devine, who gave up bright prospects in academic work for University Extension, and Rolfe, who left a college chair, and others, not one but believes now as devoutly as at the first in University Extension. The later staff lecturers, like Lavell, who enjoys a reputation for simple and forceful speaking ; Surette, who combines knowledge of music, enthusiasm for u common-sense ” music study, and lecturing ability to an unusual degree ; Sykes, who follows the method of resident teaching, emphasizing it by the artist’s touch of variety and humor with real success; and Griggs, who adds to high thinking a spiritual intensity that makes him the most popular University Extension lecturer indigenous to America, — all of them believe in the cause they represent; give up sleep and comfort for it, and would make any other sacrifice the work requires. These and others are the replies in breathing, living, energetic flesh to Professor Palmer’s queries as to the possibility of finding lecturers.

But it ought not to be forgotten that they have been found or developed, because at the central office, from the first, there have been administrators believing in the possibility of solving the hard problem, a board of directors scarcely changed in ten years past, who have furnished money, and induced their friends to furnish it, for the successful conduct of an experiment always under criticism, its failure in some quarters year by year confidently expected.

When Professor James, in 1895, removed to Chicago, and Dr. Devine, the secretary of the society, the largeness of whose contribution, as lecturer, secretary, and director of the summer meeting which flourished for some years in Philadelphia, to the work’s success only those comprehend who have been acquainted from the first with the details, was called to the secretaryship of the Charity Organization Society of New York, Mr. Charles A. Brinley, of the board of directors, was chosen for the presidency, and Mr. John Nolen, assistant secretary, succeeded Dr. Devine. These five years past, the emphasis has been laid upon deepening rather than widening the work of a society which had already compelled the whole land to recognize the need and potentiality of the new movement. Local centres have been strengthened; student work has been developed; lecturers have been given all possible conditions for effectiveness ; and now, at the end of ten years, the society has these results to show : — The average number of persons each year attending the 954 courses (given, hy the way, in 236 centres in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, District of Columbia) is a little more than 18,000. The total course attendance for ten years amounts to 180,755, equivalent to an aggregate attendance of 1,084,530. The attendance has been larger this year than ever before ; the average for each lecture being 239, of whom 62 per cent remained for the after class. The total cost of the society’s work for ten years has been $275,000, of which $183,000 has been earned, and $92,000 given. There has been an additional expense for local outlays, falling upon the local centres, of about $55,000, making a total expense of some $330,000. Of this amount, $238,000 has been paid by the people who have heard the lectures ; $22,000 by members of the General Society, contributing $5 each ; and $70,000 by guarantors and those making special contributions.

The University of Chicago, too, has made a large contribution to the success of the movement. President Harper, seeing life whole and as it is, serving “ the god of things as they are,” at the start dismissed all criticism as to superficiality, and struck at the heart of the problem, hy making University Extension, with its three departments, one of the four great divisions of the university. Realizing as clearly as the officers of the American Society that everything turns on the lecturer, he gathered about him a band of specialists in University Extension organization and teaching. Mr. George Henderson was called from Philadelphia to direct the University Extension Division, which these five years past has been under the direction of Professor Edmund J. James. Professor Moulton, whose power of eloquent exposition gives him here, as years ago it gave him in England, a position of preëminence, was induced to take the position he still holds on the lecture staff. Mr. T. J. Lawrence, another wellknown English lecturer, was here the first year. Dr. Charles Zeublin and Dr. E. E. Sparks have made for themselves such positions as are occupied by Dr. Sykes and Mr. Surette in the East. Mr. Henry W. Rolfe, too, equally expert in resident and itinerant teaching, has been among the later lecturers, even carrying the standard to the Sandwich Islands, where he lectured for a while a year or two ago.

During the eight years past, since the university was opened, 995 courses have been given in 162 centres, with a total attendance on courses of 204,038, on lectures of 1,224,228. This year past, in the Lecture-Study Department, where the usual University Extension work is done, the average attendance on lectures has been 234, of whom 102, or 43 per cent, have remained for the class. But in addition there have been the same year 881 students in the Class-Study Department, including many public school teachers and other extramural students in and near Chicago, and in the Correspondence-Study Department 678 students writing such papers as they would be required to write in residence. The cost to the university of maintaining the Lecture - Study Department has been $205,000, of which $143,000 has been reimbursed by lecturers’ fees ; of the Class-Study Department, which has been self-supporting, $44,000 ; of the Correspondence-Study Department, which also has maintained itself, $44,500. Altogether some $293,500 has been expended by the university on the Extension Department, of which $231,500 has been contributed by those profiting from it.

Adding together some of these statistics, a stupendous fact in American education emerges. In the last decade of the nineteenth century almost 2000 courses of six lectures each, and sometimes twelve, aggregating about 125,000 lectures in literature, history, civics, economics, finance, science, sociology, philosophy, ethics, religion, music, and art, were given in 398 centres, with a total attendance on courses of almost or quite 300,000, with an aggregate attendance on lectures of about 2,500,000, at a cost to the two head centres of §480,000, of which amount $326,000, or 68 per cent, has been paid by the audiences hearing the lectures. If statistics were offered about other societies and institutions that have carried on the work with more or less success, the figures would be larger still. Keeping in mind the important circumstance that the last two years have been, for both the American Society and the University of Chicago, the most successful in their history in all the more important aspects of the work, and that in both Philadelphia and Chicago larger plans for the future are now being made with more confidence than ever in the past, is it not time for all the fair-minded to assume that University Extension is no longer an experiment, but a permanent fact in our educational life, a permanent factor in our educational progress ? Is it conceivable that mere enthusiasm could have brought the results which these statistics represent ? Is it credible that clear-eyed and successful business men, like the “ backers ” of the American Society in Philadelphia, could be fooled, year after year, to support a losing cause ? Nay, more. Could communities, which have for ten years past had University Extension lectures as regularly as the winter solstice, be induced to contribute the respectable sum of $326,000 for lectures, which, even at their worst, are never less than serious ? The American people cannot be fooled for ten years in succession, and enter upon their eleventh year with eagerness to be fooled again. They have found in University Extension something worth their while, and therefore they support it no longer grudgingly.

What that Something is, it may not, even yet, be easy to determine. A name more accurate might possibly have been chosen. Certainly, such a phrase as “ Educational Extension ” or “Cultural Extension ” would have invited less immediate criticism. And yet, neither of these terms would have been more definitive than the name the movement bears. For, protest as one may against a term which has seemed to some pretentious, at its best University Extension offers essentially the very utility the university offers. But there is this difference : University Extension never presents its utility in a pharisaical or pedantic spirit ; for democracy abominates pedantry, and takes down pharisaism at every opportunity. There is yet another difference. The university lecture may be presented never so inartistically ; the students come again because they must, and not because they will. The University Extension lecture must be a work of art; else the audience will exercise unerringly the freedom they possess of “ cutting.” Many observers who have heard lectures in both university halls and University Extension halls believe the average University Extension lecture is a more artistic and effective piece of work than the average university lecture.

But even if some still object to Professor Moulton’s definition of ten years ago, that “ University Extension is university education for the whole nation, organized on itinerant lines,” in the light of ten years’ history all will agree with M. Berenger, speaking last summer at the Paris Exposition : “ University Extension is the effort to develop in human life, in all classes of society, ideas and sentiments of liberal culture,— of religion, of art, of aspiration.” For this new movement to democratize all learning and all culture has touched every class. It has stimulated much of the new interest everywhere apparent in every sort of education. Our universities owe it a great debt; it has helped them, Dr. Albert Shaw and other keen observers think, “ to get rid of a part of their superfluous pedantry, and a little bit of their pharisaism.” Public school teachers, broken on the wheel of drudgery, have by thousands been uplifted and sent back to duty with morning faces and with morning hearts. A new link has been forged in the chain a-making, and some time to bind together all our higher and our lower agencies for education. Cultured people in small communities cut off — to use an electric term — from the reinforce of intellectual centres have been directed, encouraged, inspired. Libraries have been loaned from the head centres, or established permanently, or reëstablished, in many a town and village. Literary clubs are multiplying on all hands. World gossip is taking the place of village gossip. Dante and Milton and the Lake Poets are kept in stock in many a store which had a trade before for none but Marie Corelli and the Smart Set and the Black Cat.

In our greater cities more evident results have come, these ten years past. But for University Extension, the free lecture system of New York would, of course, never have been thought of. Says the Philadelphia Press in its editorial columns : “ University Extension has not only succeeded in doing more than any one agency in revolutionizing the reading habits of Philadelphia, but it has created a solid, organized group of audiences, habituated to study, anxious to learn, interested in the intellectual development not only of themselves, but of the city, which constitutes a constituency and clientele such as does not exist in any other American city, and which is to-day one of the most useful agencies for promoting the solidarity of the intellectual life of Philadelphia.” Its influence in Chicago, where all things contribute to make the work in all respects the extension of university teaching, is quite as great; and, in addition, there, as Professor H. B. Adams wrote, “ in no small degree, by the aid of University Extension, with its superior pedagogical methods and its marked adaptations to local needs, has Dr. Harper built up his academic resources and a great federal university.”

No city is so great, no village so insignificant, but that University Extension has created in it new ideals in literature and life, and stimulated many a soul to clearer thinking and to saner living. Now at last America understands that education knows no age limit, that liberal studies ought to last as long as life itself. Never can this truth which University Extension has demonstrated be forgotten. Whether the proclamation of this new gospel and its establishment forever and forever be university work or not, it has been, it is worth doing. It has been, it is being done, because, without hurt to any university, lecturers have been found, and Professor Palmer’s question has been answered.

Lyman P. Powell.

  1. The writer, one of many interested in University Extension from the start, has never cared to see the movement allocated to the need of any class to the exclusion of all other classes. The ideal of the American Society seems to him to be correct: “ University Extension is meant for those for whom religion is intended ; for those for whom life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is intended. It is meant to help the ignorant who desire knowledge, — that they may learn wisely ; to reveal to the half-educated the insufficiency of their knowledge ; to rouse intellectual sluggards; to stimulate those who are in the right way ; to bring questioning to the hearts of the selfsatisfied. There is no class for which University Extension is not intended nor to which it has not ministered. There have been courses — not a few, but many — to audiences made up entirely of the very poor ; of the poor ; of the poor and of those who are not rich ; of these and of the well to do ; of the ignorant but eager ; of the cultivated but not learned ; of teachers ; we might almost say — having in mind the summer meetings — of scholars; finally, of people of all conditions who have some leisure for study or reading, and look to the lecturers for suggestions and leading.”