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COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES OF THE UNITED STATES.
I-Brief Discussion of the System of Higher Education: Number of Institutions; Tendency of
III-Distribution of Students in Degree Courses from 1836-87 to 18389–93.
V.-Grounds, Buildings, and Apparatus.
VIII.-Organization of a Number of Leading Universities.
IX.-Reorganization of Columbia College.
X-Brief Description of New Institutions. XI.-New Buildings during 1889-90.
I. BRIEF DISCUSSION OF THE SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION.
Number of institutions.-The number of colleges and universities from which this Office has received reports for the year under consideration is 415. The number is constantly increasing; a condition not to be regretted, provided the institutions do work for which they are prepared and equipped and not attempt to give courses of study for the successful prosecution of which they lack both the necessary appliances and finances. As is well known higher education is not and can not be self-supporting and needs considerable aid from outside sources, either in the form of endowment funds or annual gifts or appropriations for current expenses. Notwithstanding this fact it often happens that no sooner is an institution established whose real work ought to be secondary instruction. than it organizes a college of commerce, so-called normal, collegiate and graduate departments, and calls itself a university, even if it has no endowment and relies almost entirely for support upon the tuition fees received from the students.
It is frequently the case that some of the smaller institutions of the country advertise graduate or university courses of study, when, in fact, they often have not a sufficient number of professors and instructors to carry on properly the undergraduate work of the institution. In order to make a success of graduate work-work which renders necessary considerable independent research-it is desirable, if not absolutely necessary, for the student to have, at his or her command, large and well-equipped laboratories and libraries such as are far beyond the means of our smaller institutions. Such work ought, therefore, to be left to those institutions that are well endowed enough to provide the appliances which are indispensable for the successful prosecution of the work. The discussions of the relations of institutions to scholastic work and requirements have been intensified and extended by the action of the Harvard faculty in its attempt to shorten the time necessary for the acquisition of the A. B. degree.1
Increase in number of institutions.-The age of the institutions for higher education in the United States is inconsiderable when compared with that of European institutions. The first of our colleges, Harvard, was founded in 1638 under circumstances which are familiar. From that time on new institutions were gradually established until now the number exceeds four hundred. This large increase in the number of institutions is due to the munificence of wealthy people who wish to promote the advancement of knowledge, to religious zeal, and to the formation and settlement of new States. The large majority of the
1 For the discussion of this subject, see p. 799.
people settling the new States are people of moderate means, who wish to give their children a good education, but who are frequently not able to spend the sum necessary to send them to an institution at a considerable distance from their homes. The desire for an institution of their own naturally follows, and the attempt to establish one succeeds in the larger number of cases. In most of these attempts the object is accomplished through the aid of some one of the religious denominations by whom the controlling power is retained. The rivalry existing among the several churches frequently causes the establishment of weak colleges in places where more good would be effected by devoting the money thus used to the enlargement and better equipment of some existing institution.
General character of colleges and universities.-Speaking of the general character of the universities and colleges of the United States the Hon. James Bryce, M. P., in The American Commonwealth, says: "Out of this enormous total of degree-granting bodies very few answer to the modern conception of a university. If we define a university as a place where teaching of a high order, teaching which puts a man abreast of the fullest and most exact knowledge of the time, is given in a range of subjects covering all the great departments of intellectual life, not more than twelve and possibly only eight or nine of the American institutions would fall within the definition. Of these nearly all are to be found in the Atlantic States. Next below them come some thirty or forty foundations which are scarcely entitled to the name of universities, some because their range of instruction is still limited to the traditional literary and scientific course, such as it stood thirty years ago; others because, while professing to teach a great variety of subjects, they teach them in an imperfect way, having neither a sufficiently large staff of highly trained professors, nor an adequate provision of laboratories, libraries, and other external appliances. The older New England colleges are good types of the former group. Their instruction is sound and thorough as far as it goes, well calculated to fit a man for the profession of law or divinity; but it omits many branches of learning and science which have grown to importance within the last fifty years. There are also some Western colleges which deserve to be placed in the same category. Most of the Western State universities belong to the other group of this second class, that of institutions which aim at covering more ground than they are as yet able to cover. They have an ambitious programme, but neither the state of preparation of their students nor the strength of the teaching staff enables them to do justice to the promise which the programme holds out. They are true universities rather in aspiration than in fact.
Below these, again, there is a third and much larger class of colleges, let us say three hundred,' which are for most intents and purposes schools. They differ from the gymnasia of Germany, the lycées of France, the grammar schools of England and high schools of Scotland, not only in the fact that they give degrees to those who have satisfactorily passed through their prescribed course or courses, but in permitting greater personal freedom to the students than boys would be allowed in those countries. They are universities or colleges as respects some of their arrangements, but schools in respect of the educational results attained. These three hundred may be further divided into two subclasses, distinguished from one another partly by their revenues, partly by the character of the population they serve, partly by the personal gifts of the president, as the head of the establishment is usually called, and of the teachers. Some seventy or eighty, though comparatively small, are strong by the zeal and capacity of their teachers, and while not attempting to teach everything, teach the subjects which they do undertake with increasing thoroughness. The remainder would do better to renounce the privilege of granting degrees, and be content to do school work according to school methods."
System and methods of instruction.-About thirty or thirty-five years ago nearly all the colleges and universities of the country prescribed a regular four years' course of study. The course consisted of classics and mathematics followed by the elements of mental and moral philosophy, and at its completion the degree of A. B. was conferred upon the students. The system of a prescribed inflexible course has been abolished by the greater part of all the institutions. and considerable latitude in the matter of choice of studies is allowed. The adoption of the elective system, as it is called, was due to the demand for instruction in scientific studies, in addition to those of the old time curriculum.
Provision for a choice of studies has been made in two different ways, viz, by offering to students the choice of separate and distinct courses of study, and by
The figures here used were taken from the Report of the Commissioner of Education for 1885-86, when the total number of colleges and universities was 345.
offering electives in a course of study. This latter plan was in vogue to a limited extent in Harvard University as early as 1843-44. The following extract from the catalogue for that year will show the arrangement at that time: "The laws of the University allow, after the freshman year, to the parents or guardians of undergraduates a selection in respect of certain specified studies. This selection must be made known to the faculty on or before the first day of June, in each year. If no notice of such selection be received, in respect of any student, the faculty themselves proceed to assign to such student the elective studies they deem it best for him to pursue. No student is allowed to select or have assigned to him more elective studies than will occupy, with the required studies in recitation and lectures, every week twenty-one hours." At the date specified all the work of the freshman year and a comparatively large part of the work of the sophomore, junior, and senior years remained as required studies. The amount of "required" work has been gradually reduced, and the "elective" increased, until at the present time the only required studies in Harvard are in the freshman year: Rhetoric and composition (three times a week), chemistry, (lectures, Thursday, first half year), and German or French for those who do not present both of these languages for admission (three times a week); in the sophomore and junior years the prescribed work consists of themes and forensics; in the senior year no studies are prescribed.
The action of Harvard in offering electives to students was naturally followed by other institutions. These either offered similar privileges or formed new courses of study from which the student could take his choice. It may be well to note the fact that down to the present time none of the institutions allow as much freedom in this respect as Harvard. In many instances election is not allowed until the beginning of the junior year, while in some cases, especially in those institutions that are not well endowed, the prescribed courses are still adhered to. This action is very often a matter not of choice but of necessity, for an elective system can be maintained only by institutions where the teaching staff is able to do justice to a wide range of subjects.
Union College, N. Y., and scientific education.-Union College, Schenectady, N. Y., claims to have been the first college to provide a scientific course of study. The essential features of this syster as originated by Dr. Nott and now so generally adopted, was the substitution of the modern languages and an increased amount of mathematical and physical science in place of the Greek and Roman classics. A scientific course of study was offered by Union in 1833. This course, in 1838-39, was as follows:
The studies of the freshman year, as given above, are the same as were pursued at that time by students in the classical course. It will be seen that in the above course of study neither ancient nor modern languages were pursued after the freshman year. This was changed shortly afterwards, for, in the catalogue
for 1842 we find that Latin (Tacitus and Juvenal) was studied in the first and second terms of the sophomore class and German during the second term of the junior class. French was first offered as an extra study in 1843. and was made a required study during the second term of the junior class in 1850.
From 1838 to 1853 the requirements for admission and the studies of the freshman year of the classical course were identical with those of the scientific course, and election between the two courses was made at the beginning of the sophomore year. In 1854 the scientific course was remodeled, with the result that ancient languages disappeared entirely from it. The requirements for admission, which were necessarily modified, demanded that the candidate "be thoroughly prepared in English grammar and the other usual elementary studies, and be quite familiar with practical arithmetic.
From what has here been said, it will be seen that a student can at the present time pursue almost any studies above what is generally required for admission to college during a period of four years, and at the completion thereof receive his degree. Through the adoption of the elective system it naturally follows that a degree given by one college does not necessarily mean the same thing as the same degree given by another college. In fact, some institutions frequently confer the same degree upon students who pursued widely different courses of study. Harvard, for instance, offers for 1890-91 219 full courses of instruction, of which 18.2 courses must, and 25.2 courses may be taken to obtain the A. B. degree. From this total number of courses it will be seen that a large number of combinations, each leading to the A. B. degree, could be made.
Degrees. The fact that no fixed value is attached to the degrees in this country causes considerable confusion, especially among foreigners. Respecting the significance of the degrees given in this country, Professor Bryce, in the American Commonwealth, says: "As regards the worth of the degrees given, there is, of course, the greatest possible difference between those of the better and those of the lower institutions; nor is this difference merely one between the few great universities and the mass of small colleges or Western State universities, for among the smaller colleges there are some which maintain as high a standard of thoroughness as the greatest. The degrees of the two hundred colleges to which I have referred as belonging to the lower group of the third class have no assignable value, except that of indicating that a youth has been made to work during four years at subjects above the elementary. Those of institutions belonging to the higher group and the two other classes represent, on an aver age, as much knowledge and mental discipline as the poll or pass degrees of Cambridge or Oxford-possibly rather less than the pass degrees of the Scottish universities. Between the highest American degrees and the honor degress of Oxford and Cambridge it is hard to make any comparison."
The number of different kinds of degrees conferred by American, colleges and universities is constantly increasing and is very often the cause of considerable confusion. Thus, for instance, we find that the degree of Ph. B. (bachelor of philosophy) is given by one institution at the completion of a course of study for which in another institution the degree of B. S. (bachelor of science) is conferred.
Value of the Ph. D. degree.-For some time past many of the leading colleges and universities and a few scientific associations of the United States have attempted, by resolutions and by example, to restore its original value to the degree of Ph. D. In Germany this degree is the reward purely of scholarship, which must be shown by examinations and other tests; but in this country the value of the degree has been greatly impaired by the fact that many of the colleges confer it as an honorary doctorate. To such an extent has this custom spread that the American Philological Association, at a meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, July, 1881, adopted the following resolution:
Whereas many colleges in the United States have in recent years conferred the degree of doctor of philosophy, not by examination, but honoris causa: Be it
Resolved, That this association deprecates the removal of this degree from the class to which it belongs (namely, B. D., LL. B., M. D., and Ph. D., degrees conferred after examination), and its transfer to the class of honorary degrees.
This resolution was concurred in by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at its meeting, held in Cincinnati, August, 1881.
The following table, compiled from the annual reports of the Bureau from 1873 to 1890, shows the number of honorary Ph. D. degrees conferred and the number of institutions so conferring the degree:
1 See p. 756.
From this table it would appear that the protest from the above-named societies had a temporary effect, as both the number of honorary Ph. D. degrees conferred and the number of colleges conferring the degree was considerably less in 1882 than in 1881; but, though the number of such degrees conferred in succeeding years fluctuates considerably, there does not seem to be any tendency to abolish the custom, as will be seen by looking at the last year of the above table. During this year both the number of degrees conferred and the number of schools conferring them exceeded the numbers of any previous years. The custom is opposed by many colleges. President Pepper, in his annual report to the board of trustees of Colby University in 1887, says:
The faculty desire respectfully through this report to express to the board their conviction that the degree of Ph. D. should never be conferred as an honorary degree, but only, as is now the custom in the best colleges and universities, on those who by completing courses of study prescribed by the faculty under conditions also prescribed, shall merit the degree. It seems to the faculty that Colby, in consistency with its past history, should do nothing to lower, but everything to maintain or raise, the value of the symbols of scholarship."
That this recommendation was adopted is shown in the report of President Small for 1890, which contains the following statement:
"The faculty wish to express their gratification that the trustees voted at their last annual meeting to adopt the recommendation made in 1887 by Dr. Pepper, with reference to the degree of doctor of philosophy. * **The ground upon which the faculty based their support of Dr. Pepper's recommendation was that the degree referred to had a distinct meaning abroad, and that the leading universities of this country had attempted to reserve it for the same use in the United States. The degree is intended not as a distinction for men who have shown marked ability, or performed conspicuous service, but it is now used as a certification that, in addition to college instruction, the person upon whom it is conferred has had at least three years of university training in the processes of original investigation, and has proved his right to recognition as a 'master workman' by university examination and the publication of some results of original research." He also says: "It is also manifestly improper for an institution to grant that degree when it makes no pretension of furnishing the training which qualifies for it."
The sentiment here expressed by Dr. Small seems to be shared by the authorities of Rock Hill College, in the catalogue of which the following appears:
"Application is sometimes made to the college for the degree of doctor of philosophy. This of all degrees ought to be the reward of high merit, whether for work actually done in the field of philosophy or for an examination rigidly gone through before a faculty of philosophy. It is not within the scope of a faculty of science or a faculty of arts to pass upon this degree. It can be legitimately conferred only by a university having a school and faculty of philosophy. Proceeding from any other source it is valueless and misleading."
If this sentiment was shared by a large number of the institutions which confer the Ph. D. as an honorary degree the evil would be rapidly diminished, but so long as a few of our leading universities persist in this custom it is not to be supposed that the smaller colleges will drop it.
Many of those who receive this degree for work done at some of the leading institutions make it a practice to write after the degree either the name or an abbreviation of the name of the institution by which the degree was conferred. If this practice were more generally followed by people who earn the degree it might have some effect upon those colleges who do not provide courses of study leading thereto.
II. SUMMARY OF STATISTICS.
The following table gives a summary by States of some of the more important statistics of universities and colleges for the year 1889-90: