Charles William Eliot.

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William Bennett Munro

Harvard University

Cambridge, Maes

H. E. M.

FOR 1908

$L. Wi. ^arrte Hectares

were founded in 1906 through the generosity of Mr.
Norman Wait Harris of Chicago, and are to be given
annually. The purpose of the lecture foundation is,
as expressed by the donor, "to stimulate scientific
research of the highest type and to bring the results
of such research before the students and friends of
Northwestern University, and through them to the
world. By the term ' scientific research ' is meant
scholarly investigation into any department of human
thought or effort without limitation to research in the
so-called natural sciences, but with a desire that such
investigation should be extended to cover the whole
field of human knowledge."







Published November, iqdS













THE principal governing board of an Ameri-
can university is most commonly called the
trustees or the regents. In endowed institu-
tions the members of the board usually serve
for life ; but in State and city institutions they
ordinarily serve for a limited term of years,
being reeligible term after term. The number
of members in such boards varies very much,
.being sometimes as small as seven or nine,
and often as large as twenty to forty, and
even larger. The endowed institutions have a
decided advantage over the institutions sup-
ported by taxation, in that they can select
comparatively young men as trustees, and get
from them a long service; and they are also
free, as regards the choice of trustees, from
the political, commercial, or class influences


which sometimes control the choice of trus-
tees or regents in institutions maintained from
public revenues. In the American State and
city universities and colleges the objectionable
political influences have diminished with time ;
but class influences such as that exerted by
farmers as a class, or trade-unionists as a class,
are still apt to prove potent.

The kind of man needed in the governing
board of a university is the highly educated,
public-spirited, business or professional man,
who takes a strong interest in educational and
social problems, and believes in the higher
education as the source of enlightenment and
progress for all stages of education, and for
all the industrial and social interests of the
community. He should also be a man who has
been successful in his own calling, and com-
mands the confidence of all who know him.
The faculty he will most need is good judg-
ment; for he will often be called upon to de-
cide on matters which lie beyond the scope of
his own experience, and about which he must,
therefore, get his facts through others, and


his opinions through a process of comparison
and judicious shifting.

The best number of members for a univer-
sity's principal governing board is seven; be-
cause that number of men can sit round a small
table, talk with each other informally without
waste of words or any display or pretence,
provide an adequate diversity of points of view
and modes of dealing with the subject in hand,
and yet be prompt and efficient in the despatch
of business. In a board of seven the different
professions and callings can be sufficiently

In State institutions it has been the practice
to put into the governing board of the State
university a considerable number of ex-officio
members ; as, for instance, the Governor, the
Chief Justice, and the Secretary of the State
Board of Agriculture, following in this re-
spect the early example of Harvard College,
whose first governing board, established in
1642, contained the Governor and Deputy
Governor, the Magistrates of the Jurisdiction,
together with the teaching elders of the six


next adjoining towns. In an infant colony or
state this method is a natural one ; but in an
adult community, ex-officio members are ordi-
narily undesirable, because they are inevitably
men fully occupied with other affairs, who
were selected for skill in those other affairs,
and not because of their fitness to govern
a university. If, however, the trustees are a
numerous board, meeting but seldom, and in-
trusting the real work to a few selected mem-
bers, the ex-officio members may be as good
figure-heads as the community can supply.

It might be supposed that the ordinary life-
service on boards of trustees of endowed insti-
tutions would result in boards composed of
old men; but this undesirable result will not
occur i pains be taken to fill each successive
vacancy in the board from a generation younger
than that to which most of the surviving
members belong. There is a natural tendency
in any such cooptative board to fill a vacancy
by electing some contemporary of the remain-
ing members; but this tendency should inva-
riably be resisted.


The average length of service of members
of such boards is by no means so long as is
usually supposed. A few men serve for long
terms; a few others serve for short terms;
but the main body of members, during fifty
or a hundred years, will have a length of
service which can fairly be called moderate.
Thus between 1792 and 1893 thirty-seven
men served as Fellows in Harvard's principal
governing board, called the President and
Fellows of Harvard College; and the aver-
age term of service of these thirty-seven men
was eleven and seven-tenths years. It should
be said, however, first, that to serve on this
board has always been considered a high
honor in Massachusetts; and secondly, that
the service is decidedly exacting, claiming the
entire attention of the members during about
four morning hours once a fortnight, except
during the summer vacation, and entailing a
variety of work on committees in addition.

When a board of trustees is large, and the
residences of its members are scattered over
a wide area, the meetings of the board are sure


to be infrequent, and its business has to be
delegated to an executive or prudential com-
mittee. The board itself then becomes a sort
of confirming or consenting board, and in some
cases a court of appeal, its real work from
week to week being done by a small commit-
tee which can easily come together for consul-
tation and action. Any board for which a
membership of national range is desired will
turn out to be of this nature, as, for example,
the regents of the Smithsonian Institution and
the trustees of the Carnegie Foundation. It
is a curious and interesting fact that the uni-
versity with the most fortunate organization
in the country is the oldest university, its
principal governing board, the President and
Fellows of Harvard College, consisting of
seven men, who still act under the Charter
of 1650, in which no line or word has ever
been changed.

The functions of the board of trustees or
regents of an American university are of fun-
damental importance. They relate to the man-


agement of the property both "real and per-
sonal ; to the distribution of the annual income
of the university among the different depart-
ments of instruction and research ; to the ap-
pointment of all officers and teachers in the
university ; to salaries and retiring allowances ;
and to the enactment of the rules or statutes
under which the regular work of the univer-
sity proceeds. The board also passes finally on
all the educational policies of the university ;
but in this function it ordinarily follows the
advice of the university faculties, or of com-
mittees to which faculties have delegated their
authority on certain subjects.

In the endowed institutions the care of the
property of the university takes much of the
time of the trustees. A salaried treasurer is
responsible for all administrative details, and
for the suggestion of new investments and
changes of investments. He needs the aid of
a small finance committee; and consequently,
in the choice of trustees, attention should be
given to providing the treasurer with a small
number of competent and easily accessible


advisers. Experienced boards follow a few
plain rules with regard to their investments.
The first rule is to use an adequate variety of
sound investments, such as mortgages, busi-
ness notes, especially notes of corporations,
railroad stocks and bonds, bonds of public-
utilities companies, such as street railways,
telegraph and telephone companies, and light,
heat, and power companies, real estate trust
stocks, and real estate. Some endowed uni-
versities have profited greatly by real estate
investments in rapidly growing towns and
cities; but others have found urban real estate
investments to be not only troublesome but
insecure, and fluctuating as to the amount of
their income. The insecurity results from the
sudden and unforeseen migrations of popula-
tion and trades which have occurred in many
American cities. As to agricultural holdings,
they are in most communities too insecure for
university investments, as English Cambridge
and Oxford learnt to their dismay in the last
third of the nineteenth century. Under the
tax laws of some States, mortgages, which


were formerly a favorite form of investment
for universities, as for other trusts, have ceased
to be desirable. A conservative board inevit-
ably tends to make local investments, because
local investments can be more easily investi-
gated at the beginning, and watched as the
years go by. Nevertheless, a prudent board of
university trustees will endeavor to keep the
range of its investments wide; so that the
university may not suffer deeply when some
one section of the country becomes unpros-
perous, or some one industry ceases to be
profitable. Railroad stocks and bonds have
been favorite university investments of late
years, partly on account of their convenience
and easy negotiability, but partly also because
their ultimate security rests on the success of
an immense variety of industries and pro-
ductive activities all over the country. It is a
striking fact that university investments in
our days, with the exception of real estate
and mortgages, are made chiefly in forms of
property which had no existence seventy years


University trustees naturally prefer that
funds given them for specific objects should
not be invested in specified securities, but
should be merged with the general invest-
ments of the institution, the average income
on the general investments being credited to
each separate fund and applied to its specific
object. In this way the mass of the general
investments insures the capital of each fund
and the perpetual accomplishment of its spe-
cific object. The benefactor who does not pre-
fer this method has either a speculative turn
as regards investments, or a remarkable confi-
dence in his own judgment concerning to-day's
investments, combined with a willingness to
trust for the perpetuity of his endowment
to the sagacity the trustees will exhibit from
generation to generation in reinvesting his
fund. Since, however, benefactors appear from
time to time who prefer the chances of higher
income for their funds and of profits on
changes of the funds' securities to a more
moderate but assured income, the trustees
must be prepared to accept gifts which are


to be specially invested. The trustees may
also have reasons of their own for temporarily
holding a gift in the particular securities in
which it was turned over to them. The se-
curities may not be salable at the moment on
advantageous terms, and yet be good enough
to hold for the object of the gift.

Next to the exercise of good judgment in
making sound investments of the university
property, comes the discretion of the trustees
in expending the university income. There
are certain fundamental questions concerning
university expenditure which the trustees, or
some committee acting for the trustees, must
settle. What proportion of the university
income shall be devoted to salaries, and
what proportion to expenses, such as light,
heat, cleaning, maintenance of buildings, ser-
vices and wages, apparatus, and the care of
grounds? The large part of a university's
income which must go to other objects than
salaries is often a disagreeable surprise for
inexperienced trustees. Of late years this pro-
portion devoted to general expenses has been


increasing, on account of the increased pro-
vision of apparatus and other supplies, and
the rising cost of the maintenance of build-
ings and of the mechanical equipment. The
establishment of a wise scale of salaries is
another very important duty of the board of
trustees. Since the physical surroundings and
social conditions of the American universities
differ greatly, widely different scales of sala-
ries exist in them, and these differences seem
likely to be permanent. Each institution,
therefore, must study out for itself that scale
of salaries which best suits its special needs
and circumstances, and this study and the
responsibility for ultimate action belong to
the board of trustees.

The general features of a good scale of
salaries are as follows: The salary of an an-
nual appointee at the start should be low,
about the amount needed by a young unmar-
ried man for comfortable support in the uni-
versity's city or village. When, after a few
years, this young man receives an appoint-
ment without limit of time, a somewhat higher


salary should be given him, with a small ad-
vance each year for, say, three years. If this
instructor so commends himself that the uni-
versity desires his further service, he should
receive, as assistant professor, a salary which
will enable him to support a wife and two or
three children comfortably, but without lux-
ury or costly pleasures. It is well to have the
appointment of assistant professor given for a
fixed term of years, as, for example, five. If,
at the end of his first term as assistant pro-
fessor, a second appointment with the same
title be given, a moderate advance of salary
should accompany the second appointment.
By the time the end of a second term as assist-
ant professor is reached, the candidate for
further employment in the university will be
approaching forty years of age, and is ready
for a full professorship. On promotion to this
life-office, another advance of salary should
be given, so that the salary of the full pro-
fessor may easily be four times the sum which
the young man received at his first annual
appointment. The salary of a full professor


should then rise by moderate steps say once
in five years until the maximum is reached,
the maximum being ordinarily attained be-
tween fifty and fifty-five years of age, unless
in the cases of men who demonstrate their
fitness for a professorship earlier in life, and
have the chance to fill some vacancy or new
post. This scale of salaries is arranged for
persons who begin at the bottom, and rise
through all the stages to the top of university
employ. When men of ability, proved else-
where, are taken into the university's service,
a position on the scale must be assigned to
them by the trustees, who will naturally be
guided by the extent of their experience and
services elsewhere, their desirableness, and
the inducements other than salary which are
likely to influence them. To fix this scale of
salaries, and to modify it from time to time,
according to changing social conditions, and
the general scale of living in the community
which surrounds the university, is one of the
most important duties of trustees, and one of
the most difficult.


In a large university there will always be
.numerous administrative officers besides the
teachers. The salaries of these administrative
officers can be, for the most part, assimilated
according to their age and academic stand-
ing to those of teachers ; but in general the
administrative posts in a university are less
attractive than the teaching posts, because
they do not offer the satisfaction of literary
or scientific attainment, the long, uninter-
rupted vacations which teachers enjoy, or the
pleasure of intimate, helpful intercourse with
a stream of young men of high intellectual
ambition. Accordingly, salaries for able and
altruistic young men ought to be somewhat
higher in administrative posts than they are
for men of corresponding age and merit in
teaching posts.

A prudent and far-seeing board of trustees
will make sure that a system of retiring
allowances or pensions is provided for all the
teachers and administrative officers that they
employ. This provision is needed to attract
the right sort of man to university work, to


make promotion more rapid than it would
otherwise be, and to keep the university staff
fresh and efficient. It is not an extravagant
or luxurious provision, but a true economy.
So far as the endowed universities are con-
cerned, the Carnegie Foundation has in large
measure relieved trustees of this function.

In the endowed institutions which depend in
part on tuition-fees, the trustees have a diffi-
cult function in determining what tuition-fees
may safely be charged, without reducing the
number of students, or impairing their quality
by excluding the able and ambitious sons of
families whose income is small. Experience
has taught that well-conducted universities,
in which a moderate number of scholarships
and fellowships are accessible to promising
young men, and a variety of remunerative
employments can be offered to students for a
part of their time, can be successfully main-
tained, and, indeed, rapidly enlarged, although
they charge considerable tuition-fees, and are
all the time in competition with universi-
ties which charge nothing, or but little, for


tuition. To accomplish this end, however,
requires prudence and good judgment on the
part of the trustees, together with a broad
outlook on the general conditions of Ameri-
can society.

Every university board of trustees has to
study carefully the means of enlarging the
resources of the university. An endowed uni-
versity needs a stream of new gifts, in order
to enable it to maintain its old departments,
and provide the new ones which the social
and industrial changes in the community at
large make desirable, or, indeed, indispen-
sable. The most effectual means of procuring
new gifts is to demonstrate that all previous
gifts have been used with consideration for
the givers' wishes, with safety as regards the
permanence of the trusts, and with discretion
as regards their steady usefulness. The win-
ning of new endowments depends on wide-
spread confidence in the wisdom and success
with which the trustees have used their exist-
ing endowments. To this end any experienced
and successful board of trustees will make the


most complete publication possible of their
annual accounts and of the state of their pro-
perty. They will also secure in some way the
public announcement of the pressing needs
of the university in the immediate future.

In a State university the function of the
board of trustees or regents in this respect is
similar to, but not identical with, that in an
endowed. There is the same need of the ut-
most publicity with regard to all the financial
doings of the board and the condition of the
property ; but their attention needs to be di-
rected chiefly to convincing the people of the
State, and particularly the members of the le-
gislature, first, of the usefulness of their uni-
versity; secondly, of its merits and defects
in comparison with the universities of other
States ; and thirdly, of its urgent needs. As in
the case of the endowed institutions, the trus-
tees or regents will need to use all means of
spreading among educated people throughout
the State a knowledge, not only of the actual
condition of the university, but of its potency
and promise. If the industries of the State are


developed in any particular direction, as, for
example, towards mining, or agriculture, or
forestry, or manufacturing, the university trus-
tees will naturally endeavor to serve conspicu-
ously the special industry of the State; be-
cause a popular interest in the university thus
aroused can be depended on to promote en-
largements in many other directions. The ex-
perience of such universities as those of Michi-
gan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri,
Kansas, and California, illustrates amply all
phases of this important function of university
trustees in increasing university resources.

It is the duty of the trustees of a college or
university to promote in every possible way
the interests of the municipality in which the
institution is situated. As a rule, whatever
helps the college or university will help the
municipality, and whatever improves the muni-
cipality as a place of residence will help the
college or university. It has been abundantly
proved that the presence of exempted institu-
tions in any municipality is a clear advantage
to that municipality, especially if the institu-


tions maintain open grounds and erect inter-
esting buildings. Indeed, exempted areas, if
they possess natural or artificial beauty, and
are kept in good order, are always a pecuniary
advantage to a municipality, whether they
belong to the town or city, or to exempted in-
stitutions within its limits. Since, however,
it is the duty of university trustees to see to it
that safe and convenient lodgings are acces-
sible to their students, and that wholesome
food can be obtained at low prices, it is pos-
sible for trustees, who attend to their duties
in these respects, to interfere somewhat with
the business of those residents of the muni-
cipality who let rooms to students, or feed
them. University trustees may reasonably re-
gard it as their duty also to see to it that all
the supplies which students need, such as
books, stationery, clothing, and furniture, are
brought within the reach of students at moder-
ate prices through the agency of a cooperative
society ; and if such a society be established
with the assistance of the trustees, it will
interfere somewhat with the business of local


dealers in such supplies. A due regard to the
welfare of the students and the institution
makes it impossible for careful and judicious
trustees to leave the prices of the things which
all students rich and poor alike must buy
to be determined by competition between
private persons only, particularly at an insti-
tution at which the number of students is
increasing with some rapidity. Unless a uni-
versity be willing to take its students only
from well-to-do families, it must see to it that
lodgings, food, fuel, and indispensable sup-
plies are accessible to students at moderate
prices. Moreover, halls of chambers and large
dining-halls increase not only the enjoyments
of student-life, but also its ethical and demo-
cratic influences. To overcome this inevitable
difficulty in its relations to the municipality
in which it is situated, a college or university
should be careful to offer facilities and grati-
fications to the residents of the place, such as
interesting lectures open to the public, and
museums of art, history, and archaeology, to
keep the view of its grounds open from the


outside, and to give the use of its halls and
grounds to the town or city on festival occa-
sions, A college or university may also reason-
ably contribute to the construction of good
roads on the borders of its estate, and of any
sewers of which it makes large use.

It is an imperative duty of university trus-
tees to take all possible measures for pro-
moting the health and bodily vigor of the

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Online LibraryCharles William EliotUniversity administration → online text (page 1 of 13)