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held to account at every meeting ; and the other is,
to prepare questions to which every individual, what-
ever the number in the class may be, shall be required
to return written answers on the spot. Either of
these expedients exacts, as a condition of its possi-
bility, an increase in the strength of the staff of in-
struction ; the first, because each squad must have its
own examiner ; and the second, because the examina-
tion of thirty or forty written papers after each hour
of class instruction, involves a labor of a magnitude
and kind too heavy to be reasonably imposed upon
the head of a department, and which cannot be so
imposed without seriously interfering with his higher

It is a wise policy, therefore, to provide the pro-
fessor with one or more young assistants, competent
to hold oral examinations of small sections, or to pass
upon the quality of written performances prepared
under the direction of the chief. It is this policy
which has been under experiment in our College for
the past several years, with results constantly and
increasingly satisfactory.

Moreover while thus greatly adding to the effi-
ciency of our system of instruction, we have been
enabled by the same means to afford to a number of
promising young men desirous of prosecuting studies

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in various departments of letters and science beyond
the limits of the undergraduate course, the oppor-
tunity to continue their connection with the College in
the Graduate Department, and thus to qualify them-
selves for pursuing a literary, scholastic, or scientific
career, which may be creditable both to them and to
the College. There are among our graduates every
year a number who are only deterred from the prose-
cution of advanced studies for two or three additional
years, by the consideration of expense. For these
the stipend attached to the Fellowship, though mod-
est, is sufficient to remove the difficulty ; and it is
always possible, therefore, to fill the places of those
who retire, from the ranks of new candidates, who
are moreover usually among the choice scholars of
their several classes.

The question is sometimes asked whether it is pos-
sible that young men recently from the ranks of
undergraduates in college can be properly qualified to
figure as teachers of others only two or three years
behind them in age and scholastic experience. The
reply is that, in some respects, they are better quali-
fied for this duty than even the learned and mature
men who stand at the head of the several depart-
ments. For the very reason that they are of recent
emergence from undergraduate life, they can place
themselves more nearly at the standpoint of the
student, can see more clearly the nature of his diffi-
culties, and show him with better effect how to sur-
mount them. This point is very happily presented
by the Faculty of Yale College in a report on the
course of instruction in that institution made nearly
fifty years ago. "There is wanted, on the one

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hand," say the reporters, " the experience of those
who have been long resident at the institution, and
on the other, the fresh and minute information of
those who. having more recently mingled with the
students, have a distinct recollection of their peculiar
feelings, prejudices, and habits of thinking. At the
head of each great division of science, it is necessary
that there should be a professor, to superintend
the department, to arrange the plan of instruction, to
regulate the mode of conducting it, and to teach the
more important and difficult parts of the subject.
But students in a college who have just entered on
the first elements of science, are not principally occu-
pied with the more abstruse and disputable points.
Their attention ought not to be solely or mainly
directed to the latest discoveries. They have first to
learn the principles which have been in a course of
investigation through successive ages and have now
become simplified and settled. Before arriving at
regions hitherto unexplored they must pass over the
intervening cultivated ground. The professor at the
head of a department, may therefore, be greatly aided,
in some parts of the course of instruction, by those
who are not so deeply versed as himself, in all the
intricacies of the science. Indeed, we doubt whether
elementary principles are always taught to the best
advantage by those whose researches have carried them
so far beyond these simpler truths that they come
back to them with reluctance and distaste. Would
Sir Isaac Newton have excelled all others of his day
in teaching the common rules of Arithmetic ? Young
men have often the most ardor in communicating
familiar principles, and in removing those lighter

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difficulties of the pupil which, not long since, were
found lying across their own path." No argument
could apparently be more convincing in favor of the
system which we have recently adopted there.

Prize Fellowships and Scholarships. — By resolu-
tions of the trustees adopted April 3, 1871, there
were established two prize Fellowships of the value
of five hundred dollars per annum each, to be awarded
to the most meritorious students in the graduating
class of each year, in letters and science, as ascertained
by competitive examination, and to be held for the
term of three years from the date of appointment.
At the same time were established twelve prize
scholarships, later increased to fourteen, of the value
of one hundred dollars each, to be awarded to the
most meritorious undergraduate students, for superior
proficiency in different branches of study, also to be
ascertained by competitive examination. Under
these resolutions there have been appointed up to
the present time, nineteen prize Fellows, the awards
in some years having failed, either from the non-ap-
pearance of candidates or from the unsatisfactory
performances of competitors ; but in the cases in
which appointments have been made, the subsequent
career of the Fellows appointed has been such as to
justify in an eminent degree the wisdom of the
policy. In the year 1883, the Faculty of the College,
for reasons then assigned, petitioned the Trustees to
discontinue the practice of awarding these Fellow-
ships by competitive examination, and to authorize
nominations to the same to be made directly by the
Faculty themselves, subject to confirmation by the
Trustees. To this proposition the Trustees acceded.

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In the meantime the prize scholarships have con-
tinued to be awarded to undergraduates by competi-
tive examination as before. It appears now, at
length, that this system does not work advantage-
ously. It was designed and hoped that it might
prove a stimulus to emulation and so to elevate the
general standard of attainment in all branches of
study in the College. This anticipation has not been
realized ; and the manner in which the legitimate
operation of the proposed test has been practically
neutralized, though easy of explanation, need not be
enlarged upon here. The subject is mentioned for
the purpose of recommending an inquiry by a com-
mittee of the trustees as to the expediency of discon-
tinuing the award of prize scholarships according to
the present method, and of adopting some plan for
the application of the sum now annually devoted to
that purpose in some way more likely to be eflfectual
in accomplishing the objects aimed at in this appro-

The Graduate Department, — The history of Col-
umbia College naturally divides itself into three dis-
tinct periods, characterized severally by the extent of
the educational operations carried on during their
continuance. The first, which was much the most
extended in duration, occupied about a century after
the foundation of the College in 1 754. The course
of instruction during this period was confined mainly
to the studies called par eminence disciplinary, viz. :
Latin, Greek, and the Pure Mathematics. The only
subject additional to these which was continuously
provided for from the beginning was Moral Phi-
losophy. The elements of the Physics and Chemistry

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were taught to- a limited extent, and a little Natural
History was embraced in the prospectus, but was
taught hardly more than in name.

It is true that, very early in the history of the College,
there was opened by the corporation a School of
Medicine, which was also revived after the Revolution
and maintained a feeble existence down to 1810 ; but
the total number of its graduates was not so much as
one annually, although it must be recorded to its
credit, that the name of one of these was Valentine
Mott. A chair of Law was also created near the
close of the last century, which was filled by a very
eminent man, but the School of Law which began
with him ended with him also. Notwithstanding,
however, these occasional, and on the whole abortive,
attempts to enlarge the scope of its educational op-
erations during this centurial period, the institution
remained practically, throughout its continuance, in
the strictest sense a School of the Liberal Arts.
This may therefore be distinguished as its gymnasial

The dawn of the second period in this history
appeared in 1855, in the adoption of a resolution to
appoint a committee to inquire into the actual con-
dition and the past history of the scheme of instruc-
tion in the College, and to report such measures as
might seem to them to be best adapted to increase
its efficiency. The committee appointed under this
resolution went into a very wide range of inquiry,
involving an examination of all the professors in the
College, and answers to written questions addressed
to eminent educators all over the Union, the body of
evidence thus gathered having been published after-

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wards in a volume of 750 pages. The result was the
adoption, in addition to the academic course, which
was to be maintained as heretofore, of a scheme em-
bracing a number of so-called university courses, to
be conducted in some instances by non-resident pro-
fessors, or professors belonging to other institutions.
The scheme as a whole was too advanced for the
popular appreciation, and it hence proved education-
ally and financially a failure ; but one outgrowth of it
survived, and achieved a signal success, of which we
have an enduring and visible evidence to-day in the
existence and celebrity of our present Law School.
With the opening of this Law School, in i858, com-
menced the second era in the history of our College,
w^hich may be called the period of Professional
Schools. Two years after the commencement of
operations in the Law School, negotiatons were
opened with the College of Physicians and Surgeons,
the institution which, early in the century, had sup-
planted and practically extinguished the original
Medical School of Columbia College, by which that
institution became, for educational purposes, a branch
of the College, an alliance which continues to exist.
In 1864 the doors were first opened of the Columbia
College School of Mines, of which, as the name im-
plies, the original intent was to prepare a class of men
to meet a demand then beginning to be lively, com-
petent to direct the great mining industries of the
interior and the western coast of this continent. The
success of this school led early to an enlargement of
the plan of its operations, and this tendency to ex-
pansion has continued to produce its effect until, from
a single school, the School of Mines has developed to

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a cluster of seven schools, embracing Mining Engineer-
ing, Civil Engineering, Metallurgy, Practical Geology,
Analytic and Applied Chemistry, Architecture, and
Sanitary Engineering.

The third era in the history of our College, as yet
the briefest of all, but destined to impress its distinc-
tive character upon all future years, may be styled
the period of University instruction. This dates
only from the year 1880. In that year it was first
publicly announced that advanced instruction would
be given in a large variety of subjects of knowledge,
embracing the Classics, the Mathematics, Astronomy,
Chemistry, Geology, Mineralogy, History and Politi-
cal Science, Philosophy, the English language and
literature, and the language and literature of French,
German, Spanish, and Italian. In the same year was
established the School of Political Science, which,
though having some affinities with the School of Law,
is not a professional school. Its subjects belong
rather to what, in a German university, is known as
the Philosophical Faculty, by which is meant, in that
country, the Faculty which teaches all subjects non-
professional. The subjects taught in the first year of
the School of Political Science are all of them to be
found among the electives of the Senior year in the
undergraduate department. Those of the remainder
of the course in this school may properly be classed
among the studies of the graduate department.

The Graduate Department, although destined
doubtless, in coming years, to overshadow all the
rest, is not expected to be of rapid growth. In its
first year it numbered but six students. The number
for the current (its sixth) year is twenty. Its steady

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growth in the future may be confidently predicted
from the fact that, in each succeeding graduating
class, there is an every year increasing number of
individuals who express a desire to go on to higher
attainments, although all do not actually persevere,
for the lack of means ; and further, for the reason
that there are, at this moment, and there have been
at any time for many years past, some hundreds of
graduates of American colleges pursuing studies in
German universities, for the reason that they have
imagined that equal advantages could not be found
nearer home. In past years it has seemed to be an
impression almost universally prevailing among the
young men graduating from American colleges with
aspirations for making a career in a learned or scien-
tific profession, or in the educational field, that a
residence of one or more years at a German university
was indispensable to any thing like signal success.
Among the instructors of our own College, for exam-
ple, there are no fewer than nineteen who have had
that experience. But with the large opportunities
now offered on this side of the Atlantic, at such insti-
tutions, for example, as Harvard University, Yale
College, the College of New Jersey, Johns Hopkins
University, and Columbia College, this false impres-
sion is destined soon to disappear ; and though, for
some particular purposes, there will long be an advan-
tage in study abroad, this will not be the case for that
principal class of graduate students whose aim is to
improve themselves in literary, historical, or philolog-
ical studies, or the exact sciences. This is apparent
from the increasing numbers of resident graduates
whose names we see recorded in the annual catalogues

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of some of the institutions above named. Thus we
find twenty-three at the University of Michigan, forty-
one at Yale College, fifty-eight at Princeton, and
sixty-four at Harvard University. Our own number
this year is but twenty, but the colleges above named
had no more so soon after these graduate courses
were opened.

At our School of Mines there have been graduates
in small numbers studying for higher degrees ever
since its foundation. In that school the liberal policy
was adopted immediately after the graduation of its
first class, of allowing graduates to receive instruction
in the school free of charge for tuition. This policy
had the advantageous effect of inducing many of
the most gifted of our graduates to devote sufficient
time to study before going into the actual practice
of a laborious profession, to perfect themselves in
the sciences, and so to assure to themselves higher
success in life and to their school a more honorable
reputation in the world. When, in 1880, the Gradu-
ate Department was opened, and a tariff of tuition
fees was announced to be paid by students who might
attend it, it was felt that consistency required that
the graduates of the School of Mines should be sub-
jected to the same rules as to this matter as those of
the School of Arts. Hence the resolution was
rescinded which granted free tuition to the former
class of graduates.

It is the view of the undersigned, partly formed,
it is admitted, in the light of experience, that it would
have been more advisable to have secured the desired
consistency rather by making tuition free to graduates
of the School of Arts than by abolishing the privilege

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of free tuition which for the fifteen years preceding
had been enjoyed by those of the School of Mines,
without prejudice to any one and to their own great
advantage. For the opening of the Graduate De-
partment has not involved any additional expense to
the corporation, not even so much as a single dollar.
And as the growth of this department is certain to
enhance so largely the reputation enjoyed by the
College as an educational institution of a high order,
it is quite worth while to forego the small amount
which the tuition fees which these students will add to
the general revenues of the College, at least till such
time as the throng shall be so great as to give to
this question an importance which it is far from
possessing to-day* The undersigned, therefore,
respectfully recommends that, henceforth and until
further order, tuition shall be given to all graduates
of this College, in any of its Schools, entirely free of

Free Public Lectures. — For several years past there
have been given at the College evening lectures,
weekly or more fi-equently during a great part of the
academic year, to which citizens in limited numbers
have been invited, and which have been generally
well attended. The lecturers have been professors
of the College or School of Mines, or members of
some of the scientific associations connected with the
institution, or gentlemen of distinction invited by them.
These have not been publicly announced, because the
lecture-rooms in which they have been held have not
had sufficient seating capacity to accommodate a large
audience. "*

More recendy, however, the lecture-rooms of the

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Law School, which will hold about three hundred
persons each without crowding, and perhaps a hun-
dred more by introducing movable seats and taking
advantage of standing room, have been made avail-
able for a series of lectures given by day at a conven-
ient hour on Saturday mornings, and notice has been
given of them in advance in the papers of the day, but
without any effort to draw public attention by adver-
tising displays. To guard against overcrowding, it was
thought advisable to issue tickets of admission, and the
precaution proved a wise one ; for applications for such
tickets were received in numbers two or three times in
excess of the accommodations, and the interest rather
increased than diminished during the progress of the
course. The first six lectures were by Prof. Boyesen,
on modern foreign literature, including sketches of the
works of contemporaneous writers of France, Germany,
Scandinavia, and Russia, and not only of the works,
but of the writers themselves, with most of whom the
lecturer has had the advantage of being personally ac-
quainted. The subject of the lecturer who succeeded
Prof. Boyesen — Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler — was
one which, though of great philosophical and prac-
tical interest, was supposed to be likely to attract
rather the thoughtful few than the curious many ; it
was " Paedagogy ; or, the Science of Education." The
result was, however, very different and very singularly
so ; for the demand for tickets rose in a few days to the
extraordinary number of two thousand. After the first
of these lectures had been given, moreover, letters to
the number of two hundred were received by the lee
turer, asking information as to the bibliography of the
subject and instructions for reading. In the physical

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impossibility of replying to all these inquirers in writ-
ing, Dn Butler prepared lists of the books on the sub-
ject most easily to be procured and distributed them
among the audience at the lecture next following. It
was the design that this course of lectures should ex-
tend like the preceding to six in number, but the
near approach of the final examination caused a post-
ponement of the continuation until after the resump-
tion of exercises in the autumn.

Large numbers of the gentlemen and ladies who
were present at all these literary entertainments ex-
pressed very warmly their hope that they might be
made a permanent part of our plan of educational op-
erations, regarding them as not only a valuable means
of diffusing knowledge among the people as well as
among the students, but also as certain to increase in
an eminent degree the interest taken in the institution
itself and the appreciation of its usefulness by the sur-
rounding community. There would be no difficulty in
finding among the members of our several Faculties
lecturers enough to keep up these exercises throughout
the year. But if this is attempted, as it is greatly to
be desired it should be, there would be a difficulty in
meeting the reasonable expectations of the public for
want of a hall of sufficient dimensions to receive the
audiences which these interesting literary exercises
would attract. Perhaps such a hall might be pro-
vided by the removal of the partition-wall which di-
vides at present the two large lecture-rooms of the
Law School and replacing it by some kind of sliding
or folding doors. Should this be found impracticable,
there would still remain the possibility of using some
one of the large assembly halls in the lower part of the

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city, though the adoption of that expedient would en-
tail an annual expense of some two or three thousand
dollars. An offset to that expense might of course be
secured by charging an admission fee, but this would
give a mercenary character to the undertaking which
it is desirable to avoid. During the progress of the
recent experiment, it has been a subject of pride to all
connected with the College that we have been making
a free contribution to the entertainment and the in-
struction of the public, and that our efforts have been
so largely and so gratifyingly appreciated.

7%^ Library. — ^The report of the Chief Librarian
hereunto annexed shows the present condition of the
library, and states in such detail the nature and the
amount of the work accomplished in it during the year
as to make it unnecessary to do more in this place than
to refer to it. The evidence continues to accumulate
of the steadily increasing usefulness of the library as an
auxiliary to every department of instruction in the Col-
lege or in its associated schools. The total number of
books upon the shelves is at present over seventy-one
thousand, which will be increased to about eighty thou-
sand on the receipt of the books of the New York Acad-
emy of Science, offered and accepted as a permanent
deposit during the last year, but as yet not delivered.
They will be received some time in August next.

A valuable addition to the library has been made
during the past year by the deposit here of the colossal
and unique compilation of documents relating to the
great Civil War, made by Mr. Thomas S. Townsend,
and known as " Townsend's Rebellion Record." In
this are embraced excerpts from the leading journals of
New York and other principal cities of the Union, com-

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prehending every article, small or great, relating to the
war, its causes, its history, or its consequences, which has
made its appearance through any of those channels
from i860 down to the present time, the whole filling
nearly one hundred ponderous folio volumes. In a de-
scriptive notice of this work it is said that " The Record
comprises every thing — not merely down to the end of

Online LibraryColumbia UniversityAnnual reports of the President and Treasurer ... with accompanying documents → online text (page 4 of 55)