Shall the University Become a Business Corporation


TO-DAY, in the United States, two radically different plans for the support and conduct of higher institutions of learning are in process of development: the one that of the private university, the other the university supported and controlled by the state. The first finds its notable examples mainly amongst the older universities of the East, the second in the universities of the Central and Western states. While these last are younger, their growth has been rapid, not only in the number of their instructors and students, but in facilities and in income. A table which follows contains in condensed form certain data concerning these two groups of universities which show how nearly comparable, so far as material considerations measure equality, these two groups of institutions have become.2

The comparison shows that in the six older universities of the Eastern States 1938 teachers are dealing with 18,498 students, at an annual cost of a little more than $5,000,000, while in the six Western state universities a somewhat smaller number of teachers is dealing with a student body larger by 2000, at a cost of a little more than $4,000,000. The first student group includes but few women, the second a considerable proportion of women. In number of instructors, in number of students, and in amount of annual income the second group is rapidly gaining on the first.

While these two systems of institutions are growing in America contemporaneously, they rarely are able to live side by side. In the Eastern States, where the older universities have for a century and more supplied the demands of higher education, no great state institutions have grown up. In the central West, on the other hand, where the state universities were founded just as the railroads were built, to supply not a present but a future want, there are few strong and growing private universities. In fact, there are in almost every Western state private colleges and universities whose development has been practically stopped, and which must in the end become feeders to the great state universities.

There are a few notable exceptions to this rule, all of them notable because they are exceptions; as for example, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and Leland Stanford University. The first two are in the suburbs of Chicago. The reason that they have flourished is not far to seek. They are situated at the seat of the greatest social and industrial centre in America. They occupy an exceptional strategic situation for a great university or for a great school.

As one looks back at the rise of the great Western universities and realizes the wisdom and the far-sightedness displayed by their founders, he is surprised that they should have estimated at such low value the matter of strategic position. In nearly all cases these institutions have been placed in small and isolated villages; rarely have they been founded in connection with the centres of the social, commercial, and industrial life of the various states. The reasoning appears to have been the same as that which governed the location of the state capitals, which were put at the most inconvenient possible points, usually near the geographic centre of the state, without regard to the commercial centre toward which all lines of transportation lead. This was done upon the theory that the innocent lawmakers must be defended from contact with the wicked people of the cities. In the same way it was believed that the student must be protected from the temptations and the distractions which the nearness of a great city might give. Both these assumptions are fallacious, and the history of the past forty years has proved their unwisdom. The legislature in the isolated town is more difficult to reach for the great body of people than if the capital were at the centre of trade and industry; but the great body of the people is honest and well-meaning, and it would be well to make access to it easy. On the other hand, I have never discovered that the wicked were deterred by considerations of travel or by the inconvenience of railroad connections. My observation has led me to believe that they generally have free passes, while the righteous have to pay fare. As a citizen of the states of Missouri and Massachusetts I have watched both plans with some care. The two states have about the same population. The one has as its capital a small city, inaccessible to the main body of citizens, the other has as its capital its oldest and greatest community, whither two thirds of the population of the state can come in an hour’s ride. The result is that one legislature works under the eye of those who can pay the expenses of lobbyists to go and watch it, while the other works under the eye of the great body of citizens of the state. In this fact alone lies the chief difference between legislation in Missouri and in Massachusetts. What would have been the difference in the history of England if Parliament had sat these last hundred years at Nottingham instead of at London ?



Name. Date of Founding. Number in Instructing Staff. Number of Students 1904. Annual Budget 1904. Annual Cost to University per Student. Annual Cost to Student.
Harvard 1636 525 5,143 $1,572,540 1 $306 $150
Columbia 1754 551 5,017 1,438,638 270 $150 to $250
Yale 1716 343 3,138 800,000 255 100 “ 150
Pennsylvania 1791 325 2,838 685,000 241 150 “ 200
Princeton 1756 109 1,374 460,863 335 150 “ 160
Brown 1764 85 988 180,000 192 150
Total 1,938 18,498 $5,137,041

1 Omitting $875,575 in special gifts.


Name. Date of Founding. Number in Instructing Staff. Number of Students 1904. Annual Budget 1904. Annual Cost to University per Student. Annual Cost to Student.
Michigan 1837 292 4,136 $746,000 $180 $10 to $45
Illinois 1868 402 3,594 800,000 223 free
Wisconsin 1848 227 3,342 700,000 209 free
Minnesota 1868 290 3,895 497,000 1 128 20 to 100
California 1868 283 3,400 945,000 279 free
Nebraska 1869 193 2,513 419,750 167 free
Total 1,687 20,880 $4,107,750


Name. Date of Founding. Number in Instructing Staff. Number of Students 1904. Annual Budget 1904. Annual Cost to University per Student. Annual Cost to Student.
Berlin 1807 504 13,782 $880,500 $64 small fees
Leipsic 1409 216 4,253 716,000 170 “ “
Paris 1100 420 12,985 934,000 72 “ “
Vienna 1384 431 6,205 464,000 76 “ “
Bonn 1818 177 2,970 361,000 123 “ “
Edinburgh 1583 205 2,971 469,000 158 $10 to $20 a course
Total 1,953 43,166 $3,824,500

The same considerations hold good with respect to the student life and the institution which deals with it. When you isolate an institution in a remote town you may, indeed, separate from the student life certain temptations and certain distractions; but you also separate from it the opportunities for that larger knowledge of men and of affairs, that wider contact with human nature and with the world, that riper development of art and of science which one sees at its best in the communities where great masses of men are brought together. I have noticed, too, that nearly all institutions which make a specialty of the virtue of isolation have a city just near enough to make communication easy for those who wish to be tempted. The great state universities of the middle West have succeeded, not because of their isolation, but in spite of it, and no one can say how different might have been their history or how much more powerful might be their position in the future had the larger policy been adopted. What would have been to-day the University of Illinois had it been founded in the suburbs of Chicago? Who can estimate the influence and the power of the University of Missouri had its seat been fixed fifty years ago at St. Louis instead of at the end of a branch road in the centre of the state? No private university can flourish to-day in any of these great central states except by seizing the opportunities which the state universities refused and by making their seats at the centres of industry and of population. The only possible chance for success for a new university in an isolated point lies in the possession of an enormous foundation, such as that which was given by Leland Stanford, by which an institution was founded out-of-hand and with free tuition. But even here the limitations of environment will place a practical limit to what endowment may effect.

These two systems of universities rest upon fundamentally different views as to the support of higher education. The one assumes that this support will come by the free gift of citizens of the commonwealth, the other assumes that the support of higher education no less than that of elementary education is the duty of the state. The one system appeals to the generosity of the individual citizen, the other appeals to the sense of responsibility and the patriotism of the whole mass of citizens. The one establishes a set of higher institutions which may or may not be in harmony with the elementary schools of the municipality or of the state; the other establishes a set of institutions which are an integral part of that system, and its crown. The one furnishes a system of instruction in which tuition fees are high and tending constantly to grow higher, the other furnishes a system of instruction practically free. The one had its origin in essentially aristocratic distinctions, whatever may be its present form of development, the other is essentially democratic in both its inception and its development. Will these two systems — different in ideal, different in inception, different in development, not necessarily antagonistic but contrasted — continue to flourish, if not side by side, at least in contiguous sections of the country ?

As far as one can see into the future, both of these systems will continue to live and to flourish, but with few exceptions they will flourish in different sections, not side by side. No one can doubt to-day that the state university is gaining as a centre of influence in intellectual and national life. There can be no question that it is to be the seat of university education for the greater part of the whole country, including the Central, Western, and Southern states. The private university which seeks to gain power and influence in this region should set itself seriously to the problem of supplementing, not paralleling, the work of the state university. It should ask itself earnestly the question, What is the logical function of the privately endowed university in a commonwealth where higher education is supplied by the state ? So far as I have been able to see, little attention has been paid to this question, which nevertheless deserves serious and careful consideration.

No one interested in education can repress a thrill of exultation as he looks forward to the future of the great state universities. They were started at a fortunate intellectual epoch. Their foundation stones were laid when the battle for scientific freedom and scientific teaching had just been won. They were dedicated by the pioneers who founded them in a spirit of intellectual and spiritual freedom. They are essentially and in the broadest and simplest way democratic, and the logical outgrowth of a democratic system of public schools. It is to this real democracy, to the fact that they were founded, not by a few men or by a single man, but by the whole people of the state, that they owe their greatest fortune, and no one looking into the future can doubt that they are to be amongst the most influential, the richest, and most democratic universities of our land, vying with the oldest and most famous institutions of our Eastern States in a rivalry which we may well hope to see the noble rivalry of the scholar rather than a rivalry of riches, of buildings, and of numbers.

Wide apart as are these two systems of universities, they are singularly alike in the form and method of administration, and singularly unlike in this respect to the universities of other lands, for example to those of Germany and of Scotland. This difference in administration is strongly reflected in the data of the table itself, in which six foreign universities are compared with the two groups of American universities.3 To state the comparison briefly, the table shows that in our six older American institutions some 1950 teachers are dealing with 18,500 students at an annual cost of $5,100,000, or at the rate of $277 a student a year; while in the six foreign universities almost exactly the same number ot teachers deal with 43,000 students at a cost ot only $3,800,000, or at the rate of $89 a student a year. Harvard University expends (including gifts for special purposes) a larger sum annually in dealing with 5000 students than the universities of Berlin and Paris together expend in dealing with the instruction of 26,500 students.4 Princeton University, whose work is almost wholly that of an undergraduate college without the expensive schools of law or medicine, expends as much in teaching its 1400 students as the University of Vienna spends on its 6000. It goes without saying that a part of this somewhat startling difference is due to lack of strict comparability in the data, and part to the small pay of foreign professors. But a very large part is due to the difference in administrative ideals.

The American university, whether supported by private gift or by the state, is conducted under an administrative system which approximates closer and closer as time goes on to that of a business corporation. The administrative power is lodged in a small body of trustees or regents, who are not members of the university community. Their chief point of contact with the university (that

is, with its teachers, students, and alumni) is through the president, whose power is often autocratic.

In other countries, as in Germany for example, the university, so far as its internal control and administration is concerned, is a free association of teachers and scholars. Its chief executive officer is elected by the faculty itself from their own number. The question of the choice or the dismissal of professors is not brought before any outside body. The faculty and students together form a self-governing democracy, and an officer with the autocratic power of an American college president would seem to them intolerable. It is an interesting fact that in Germany, a country which is politically governed by an autocrat, the representative institution of learning is a republic, while in America, where we pride ourselves on our democracy, our representative educational institution is administered upon autocratic, not upon democratic lines.

For the sake of clearness let us sketch briefly the two systems of administration. The European university must always be considered from two standpoints, first that of a state establishment, second as a self-governing body of scholars. As a state institution the university is under the control of the ministry, which furnishes the budget, keeps account of the finances, and conducts the routine business connected with the financial side of the institution. As an institution of learning, however, its fundamental idea is freedom : freedom of teaching, freedom of learning. The teacher has a freedom which no officer or student may invade; the student, on the other hand, has a freedom of learning which no teacher and no officer may invade. The faculty elect their own officers. When a new member of the faculty is to be elected he is nominated by the faculty, and freedom of teaching is guaranteed to him in the noble words of the German constitution: “Die Wissenschaft und ihre Lehre sind frei;” Science and its teaching are free. And that freedom is sometimes carried to a length which we in this country would consider impossible. For example, it is not an unknown thing for a university professor to stand in his place in the national parliament and attack the educational policy and the educational appropriations of the ministry. How long would a professor in a state university hold his place if as a member of the state legislature he opposed the appropriations to his own university?

A similar freedom of learning is offered to the student. He may choose not only what he will study, but also when and how he will study; and most important of all, he may have his choice, even in the same university, of the professors under whom he will study a given subject. There is no more interesting sight at the beginning of the semesters in the German university than the “lecture tasting” for ten days, when the students try this professor and that, to see whom they prefer. And the fact that the students’ fees go to the professors, not to the institution, brings about in Germany a competition between men rather than between institutions.

That this freedom, whether on the part of the professors or the students, has its dangers no one can deny, least of all the German. He frankly admits that there is no theory, however absurd, which cannot find its advocate amongst German professors. He will as frankly admit that the student freedom carries with it great dangers to the student himself.

His reply is that all freedom carries with it its dangers, its sacrifices, its losses, but that only in freedom is to be found the self-control and steadfastness of character which the student must somewhere find. The abuses of this freedom and the losses which come from it are the price paid, in his judgment, for this power and this self-control.

Sir Conan Doyle defends the attitude of the Scotch university in similar words:

“The university is a great unsympathetic machine taking in a stream of rawboned, cartilaginous youths at one end, and turning them out at the other as learned divines, astute lawyers, and skillful medical men. Of every thousand of the raw material about six hundred emerge at the other side. The remainder are taken in the process.

“The merits and faults of the Scotch system are alike evident. Left entirely to his own devices in a far from moral city, many a lad falls at the very starting point of his life’s road never to rise again. Many become idlers or take to drink, while others, after wasting time and money they could ill afford, leave the college with nothing learned save vice. On the other hand, those whose manliness and good sense keep them straight have gone through a training which tests them for life. They have been tried and not found wanting. They have learned selfreliance, confidence, and in a word have become men of the world, while their confrères in England are still magnified schoolboys.”

In comparison with this administration, whose watchword is freedom, the American university has tended more and more to conform in its administration to the methods of the business corporation. In the organization of a railroad the government consists of a president and a small board of directors, who choose officers, promote or dismiss them, and determine the absolute policy of the corporation. The administration of the university has assumed practically the same type. The board of trustees, even in our older colleges and universities, is chosen almost entirely from business men and on the basis of business experience. It is no longer considered necessary that the president should be a scholar. The board of trustees, with the president as its chief executive officer, passes upon the entire policy and administration of the institution. It appoints professors, promotes them, or dismisses them, it engages them to carry out specific pieces of work at specified times, as a business corporation employs its officials; the tenure of office of the professor is at the will of the corporation, as is the tenure of office of a business employee. Under this arrangement the powers of the president are enormously increased, and the action of the corporation is in nearly all cases his action. He possesses an autocratic power which would not for a moment be tolerated in an European institution. From him the same administrative system reaches down through the institution. Professors employ their assistants for specific duties at specified times; students are required to undertake specific work in a prescribed way and at a fixed time. A large share of the energy of the organization is given to ascertaining whether the work has been done at such times and in such way as the regulations prescribe. Reaching from the corporation and the president down to the student just admitted, the administration is one which partakes in its nature and in its operation of the methods and oftentimes of the spirit of the business corporation. It has the compactness and the directness of responsibility which the business organization carries with it. Its machinery is complete in prescribing for each officer and for each student his specific duty, and in bringing to bear upon him the power of the organization if he fails to carry out the implied contract under which he is employed or the implied conditions under which he is admitted. The watchword is no longer freedom, but accountability to the administration.

It is worth while to note some of the consequences of this administrative attitude upon the life and upon the work of those who make up the university. One of the most direct consequences is that the professor in the American university is charged not only with the work of a scholar, but with a large amount of routine administrative work as well. Just as the railroad official is under the pressure of his superior officers, — a pressure which he can equalize only by a similar exercise of authority upon those beneath him, — so the professor is under the pressure of the administrative system in which he works. It is fair to say that much of the difference in productive scholarship between German and American universities is due to the fact that so large a share of the energy of the American professors is by our administrative system devoted to the work of detail, not to the work of scholarship.

A part of this burden is the load which the professor carries in the effort required to take through a given course and to graduate a number of men who are indifferent or below the average capacity. America is among the few civilized nations which undertake in their higher institutions of learning to graduate whole classes of men who are indifferent to the scholar’s life and to the scholarly spirit. The burden which this entails is a far greater one than most men realize. It is not too much to say that from six to twelve per cent of the entire school year is devoted to examinations whose main purpose is to spur on the laggard and the indifferent.

Furthermore, while our machinery of administration holds the student to certain forms of responsibility, these have little to do with cultivating the taste, still less the thirst of the scholar. Success for the student means adaptation to the machinery and consequent graduation; success for the institution means the same thing, but this success has little to do with scholarship. The temptations of the student life are as great as in the Scotch or in the German university, while the tendencies which make toward good scholarship, and the prestige which goes with it are wanting. Our administration puts us somewhere between the freedom of the German university and the tutelage of Oxford and Cambridge, lacking the inspiration of the one and the individual oversight of the other.

The administrative development of the university along the lines of a corporation has had, also, a marked influence in increasing the tendency toward self-centredness on the part of our educational institutions, and in diminishing at the same time the importance and the influence of the individual teacher. Here, as in all our American life, organization has tended toward team play. The very fixity of our administrative system has brought it to pass that the great teacher is used with far less effect than in the more individualistic régime of the European institutions. There a great scholar attracts men from all parts of the country, and the administration of the university makes it easy for him to come in contact with large numbers of students. A man chooses his college in America, not for the sake of the great teacher, but because the college has a name, or has certain associations, or perchance is well known in athletics. All these considerations tend toward local pride, not toward a wider tolerance and a more sincere appreciation of truth.

They are evidences of a more complete machinery, but not necessarily of a deeper scholarship or a larger intellectual life or a better training for citizenship.

To sum up the difference between the administrative systems of European and American universities, the essential contrasts between the two seem to be these: the one is democratic, the other autocratic; in the one the tendencies are toward individualistic power and influence, in the other the tendencies are toward centralized power; the one has for its watchword freedom, — freedom for the teacher, freedom for the student, — the other has for its watchword responsibility to the administration; one invites students to study, the other organizes them for graduation.

In this brief sketch I do not mean to be understood as painting in terms too glowing the tendencies of the foreign institutions, or as wishing in any way to conceal their faults and their shortcomings, which are evident enough. I am speaking not of details, but of certain broad tendencies in the foreign institutions and in ours.

Indeed the faults of administration in foreign institutions are not far to seek. For example, in a Prussian university when a professor is to be appointed, three names are nominated by the faculty, of whom one is to be chosen by the ministry. Under the law the ministry is not limited to the nominees of the faculty, and during the last seventy years in about one case out of three it has gone outside of the faculty nominations, a proceeding which has always brought bitter complaint. On the part of the faculty, disregard for their recommendation is usually assigned to distrust of their scholarly standing or to personal or political tendencies. On the other hand the ministry has not hesitated to say, in overruling the wishes of the faculty, that its members have been influenced by personal considerations in their choice, not by considerations of the highest useful ness of the man to be chosen. That politi cal considerations do enter in many cases seems certain. The professor of political economy who teaches protection is fairly sure to get promotion faster than his colleague who sticks to free trade.

Moreover, complete intellectual freedom is impossible where political freedom is limited. It is not without significance that the great historians in Germany in the last half century are historians of the past, not of modern days. No historian in Germany would treat of the Hohenzollerns with the freedom with which our historians treat of the civil war.

There is a catch phrase in Germany that a professor may say anything he wishes about religion, but he must be careful about politics. To-day certain reactionary tendencies threaten academic freedom even in religious investigation. A strong effort is making in Prussia to compel the professors of theology to adapt their teaching to the creed and policy of the state church. On this field a battle royal is to be fought in the near future, but no one who has watched the development of German intellectual freedom can doubt its issue.

Notwithstanding these evident defects, the system as a whole — the university as a republic of scholars — has worked well. It has resulted, in the main, in the choice of the right men for the right places, which is the real object of university administration. The personal tendencies of the faculty have been held in check by the fact that their nominations must stand the scrutiny of the ministry, and on the other hand, the absolutism of the ministry has been restrained by the necessity of taking into consideration the judgment of the faculty. No system has yet been devised by which the prejudices of human nature can be eliminated. There is much to be said for a system under which a professor has so strong a place that he may teach what he will and no authority may remove him or humiliate him. And on the whole, it may be fairly reckoned that a system in which the administration rests partly on the teacher and partly on the outside administrative officer contains influences which are calculated to correct the faults of each.

It is not my purpose in making this comparison to urge the adoption in our American universities of the foreign system. Let us learn all we may from our neighbors, as the Japanese show us so well how to do, but let us grow our own tree. My wish is rather to call attention to the tendencies of the system under which we are developing. If our organization and administration is the better, by all means let us follow it; but let us see clearly whither it leads us, and let us ask ourselves frankly the question whether a centralized administration modeled on the lines of a business corporation is the one best adapted to the development of an institution of learning.

Would the American university — whether a private or a state institution — be bettered if its administration were turned over to the faculty instead of being vested, as now, in a board of trustees who do not pretend to be experts in educational methods? Would it be a step forward, for example, to intrust to the faculty the election of the president and of the professors, and to put into their hands the settlement of the larger questions of policy and of expenditure ? Ought the university freedom to be extended through the faculty to the student body so as to diminish the pressure of the organization and to enlarge the sphere of freedom both for professor and student ? Can scholarship of a high order be developed under pressure? Are we educating our youth away from democratic ideals, not toward them, by the form and tendency of our university administration ?

These are fundamental questions. They take hold in the end of the causes which affect our national life and of the threads of influence which reach most directly our youth.

I think it may be said with certainty that a radical change of this sort would work harm, not only at the beginning, but in the outcome. Administration of experts by experts is seldom a success. Perhaps no type of man has been developed who is a wiser councilor than the business man of large sympathy and of real interest in intellectual problems, although such men are almost as difficult to find as are great teachers.

American college professors are as intelligent and high-minded a body of men as any country can point to. As a rule, however, the professor does not have the experience of give and take which the business man must learn. In his own subject in his own university, he is supreme.

No rising privat-docent, as in Germany, attracts his students from him. Competition under our system is between institutions, not between men. Further, the organization of the faculties is not such as to furnish any large initiative in education. Conservatism has an undue advantage when a question of policy or of appointment is to be determined by the votes of an hundred men.

To throw into our faculties as now organized the settlement of such questions would seem to open the door for the entrance of a system of academic politics which would be demoralizing. Local tendencies would probably be exaggerated, and the inbreeding, which is so noticeable a feature of all our institutions, might be increased.

Further, it can hardly be maintained that the sense of responsibility of American youth is over-developed, and one would hesitate to weaken this by a larger freedom from responsibility unless he felt absolutely sure that the conditions of such freedom lent themselves to the upbuilding of self-control, of simplicity of character, and of scholarly spirit.

In fact, any such comparison of our universities with the foreign institutions brings us sharply back to the realization of the fact that the two are not comparable. We are not in a position to try the experiment of the free scholastic life until the body of students entering the university has received a training more thorough and better adapted to arouse the scholar’s interest than that which the ordinary college student has.

And yet any serious student of education must realize that this is no answer to the queries which I have just stated. The question is not whether we can change this or that detail of university life, but it is rather this: our present tendency is toward a close organization, toward a limited freedom, toward team play, which carries through to graduation great masses of men, toward a centralized government. Would it be wise to counteract these tendencies by influences in the administration which shall make toward individualistic scholarship, larger freedom, less pressure in the organization, opportunity for professors and students to deal with the larger questions of university life, coöperation between the faculty and the administrative board in the government ?

I believe thoroughly that these questions are real ones and important ones, and that the sooner we have them clearly and definitely before our eyes the better it will be for university development in this country. However important it may be to have a man of affairs at the head of university administration, it seems to me clear that, the first requisites are a scholarly spirit and scholarly sympathy. However we may admit that team work is a part of the régime of the day, it is surely true that the use of the principle is very different in an institution of learning from that which obtains in a manufactory. The professional coach in athletics may have his uses, but he has been a source of widespread demoralization in the schools and colleges. And yet he is no more objectionable than the professional coach in the college studies, through whose system whole regiments of graduates “win out” by a team play which means little intellectual discipline and less contact with scholarship and with scholars. Moreover, the system tends to make coaches of our professors.

In the settlement of the larger questions of administration—the choice of president and of professors, the fixing of greater questions of policy — may not some council composed of trustees and faculty jointly share the responsibility to advantage? Whatever may be said in favor of the sound judgment of the welltrained business man, I cannot doubt that he would be a wiser councilor for education if he could hear first hand the views of devoted, intelligent scholars. On the other hand, will not the scholar profit equally by such contact, and is there any surer way to widen his horizon and to give him the experience which ripens judgment than to offer him a share in the responsibility of settling these larger questions, while relieving him at the same time of part of the pressure of the daily routine? In a word, recognition of scholarship in the choice of a president, an adjustment of duties which shall relieve the pressure upon the professor and student, a better contact between the governing body and the teaching body, with a common responsibility in the settlement of the larger questions, seem to me distinct and practical steps in the direction of development which the university administration ought to study.

For one must not forget in considering the administration of a university that there are to every form of administration two sides: the mechanical and the spiritual. The mechanical part of administration is that which provides the machinery necessary to carry out a given enterprise. The other side of administration, the spiritual side, consists in getting out of men the best there is in them. For a set of perfect men any administrative system would suffice. Good administration consists in taking men as they are, with their prejudices, their faults, their virtues, and in getting out of them the highest results of which they are capable.

Now, our attention has been given of late years, in American university life, increasingly to the mechanical side of administration, and the machinery has been made to approximate more and more closely, both in its form and in its choice of executive officers, to the practice of the business corporation. Its very closeness and compactness of organization are in some respects its chief faults. That which is mechanical is always simpler than that which is living. To-day we need, in my judgment, to concern ourselves in the university with the spiritual side of administration.

It has been my purpose rather to state questions than to argue them; not to propose a substitute for our present administration of the university, but rather to point out certain tendencies in it. To inquire whether, if the republic be the ideal system of administration, it is not also a good one for the scholar, and to ask, at least in these days when events move so rapidly, whether the administration of the university as it is now organized tends toward the development of a larger type of professor and a finer order of students; to ask whether we are developing the mechanical side of the administration at the expense of the spiritual side.

For after all, we can never too often remind ourselves that the first purpose of the university is not to further industrial development or to increase the wealth of a state, but that it is the development of the intellectual and spiritual life. This development can take place only in the air of freedom, however evident are the dangers which freedom brings with it. Wealth, power, the niceties of life, may all grow in an atmosphere of limited or of artificial freedom, but only in the air of real freedom can be grown that spirit and that intelligence which shall minister to those things which are spiritual and to those things which are eternal.

  1. An address before the University of Michigan.
  2. See next page.
  3. The figures of this table are suggestive. The data for foreign institutions are not, in every particular, comparable with those of American institutions, but they are as nearly so as it is possible to make them. For example, the student lists of foreign universities contain a certain proportion of special students (Hospitanten) who may be taking a single subject. On the other hand a very considerable percentage of the numbers credited to American universities are the students of the Summer School (failure to count its students is not one of the sins of the American university). Again, the German university does not show on either side of its ledger the students’ fees, for the reason that these go to the professor and not to the university. These fees are, however, small in their aggregate.
  4. The official pay of the foreign professor at first glance seems absurdly small in comparison with the pay in American institutions. In Prussia, for example, a full professor receives by law $1000 (in Berlin $1200) the first year, to be increased $100 a year every fourth year for twenty years. In addition he receives an allowance for house rent. This is, however, only the fixed part of his income. The honorarium which he receives from the fees of his students will vary greatly, depending on the subject taught and the attractive power of the teacher. Incomes of $5000 a year, and even larger sums, are received in the larger universities by certain well-known men. Taking into account the fact that the foreign professor has a life place, that his widow and minor children receive pensions, he is better off financially, and is far more free from the anxieties which come with modest income, than is his American brother whose nominal pay is higher.