William Rainey Harper.

The trend in higher education online

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banking part of the business transactions thus in-
volved is not inconsiderable.

There remains to consider, among those with
whom the university deals in a business way, the
large number of persons ordinarily known as patrons.
It may be suggested that this relationship is one of
philanthropy rather than of business. Those who
are acquainted with the relation in its details, how-
ever, understand that it is really a business matter.
Men and women contribute to the funds of an insti-
tution only when they have satisfied themselves that
its affairs are managed in a strictly business manner.
Their gifts are made on certain conditions, which
they expect to be carried out in a legal way. It is
generally supposed that in large institutions much


efifort and time are spent in securing contributions.
In special cases and under special circumstances
such effort is sometimes made, but in general the
money which such an institution receives in the
form of gifts comes without solicitation. It is prob-
ably safe to assert that in the case of 90 per cent, of
the money given to a large institution the initiative
is taken by the donor, and not by the university con-
cerned. It is surely a matter of business, in so far
as the university undertakes to carry out in detail
certain conditions imposed with the gift. These con-
ditions sometimes involve annuities, and so the uni-
versity for the time being undertakes the work of an
insurance company. At other times they take the
form of a trust, the property being committed to the
university with the understanding that all or certain
portions of its income shall be given to certain persons
during life. In these cases the university assumes
the responsibility and duties of a trust company.
The relationship therefore in many cases becomes
a business one.

For the transaction of its various kinds of business
the university has different agencies. First of all,
in a business way, come the trustees, whose function
it is to control and manage the business affairs of
the institution. The faculties of the institution are
given power to conduct the educational side of the
work, subject to certain general regulations imposed
by the trustees. In general, trustees act only on
those matters which involve the expenditure of money;


but this, of course, includes appointments on the
staff of instruction. The statutes of a large univer-
sity enacted by the trustees take up those questions
which involve money matters as well as the general
organization of the institution. The president of
the board of trustees is in many of the larger institu-
tions also the president of the university, and as
such acts as chief executive officer in business as
well as in educational matters. In other institu-
tions the president of the board is a man chosen for
his large business discretion, and although not a
salaried officer, he devotes himself in large measure
to the material interests of the university. His
judgment has great weight in the determination of all
matters of a business character. The treasurer of
the university is in some cases the business manager;
in others he acts only as custodian of all funds. In
the latter case he is generally chairman of the finance
committee. To the business manager or the treasurer
is committed the general oversight of the university
business. It is he who superintends the manage-
ment of buildings and grounds, who takes the initia-
tive in presenting investments for consideration, and
who looks after the property and property interests
of the institution. The treasurer or business man-
ager of the larger institution has greater and more
varied responsibility resting upon him than does the
president of a large bank.

Besides the business manager, the university
must have a registrar or bursar, who receives fees,


rents rooms in the halls, collects bills for board; a
director for the management of its printing and pub-
lishing; directors also for the museum work, the
library, and the various laboratories, each of which
has its business side; purchasing agents in various
departments, or officers authorized to make pur-
chases. An auditor or chief accountant will have
charge of the university accounts, and audit all
expenditures. The staff of accountants in such an
institution is as large as that of a great business con-
cern, while its stenographic force will in all proba-
bility be much larger. The force of janitors and
servants already referred to completes the list of
agencies for the execution of the business or material
side of the university's work.

The president in a large university is expected,
in addition to his educational duties, to negotiate
contracts with the members of the teaching staff —
a work in itself almost sufficient for one man; to
look after the expenditures in the various depart-
ments, and to see that they do not exceed the appro-
priations; to serve on the committees of the trustees
that have to do with the buildings, grounds, and
investments; to take the necessary steps which will
lead to the voluntary contribution of funds to the
university by its patrons. While generally relieved
from direct contact with employees, janitors, and
servants, he must be sufficiently familiar with the
situation in each case to know that the work is being
performed satisfactorily and at not too great a cost.


to harmonize different opinions in respect to the
form and character of buildings to be erected, and
to consider university departmental requests for
expenditures of various kinds.

If we ask for opinions as to what principles in
general guide and control in the administration of
the business affairs of a large university, we should,
of course, find much variation. But those who have
had experience in this field of business would agree,
I think, to the following propositions :

1. The business affairs of a great institution
should be conducted, not for the sake of increasing
the business, but in a manner wholly subservient to
the best interests of the educational work which has
been undertaken. To this end every dollar possible,
in consistency with good business prudence, will
be expended for educational purposes, and every
dollar possible will be saved from the expenditures
involved in the administration of the business affairs.
In other words, the successful business management
is not in itself an end, but merely a means for pro-
viding facihties of an educational character.

2. The business affairs of a large institution are
of the nature of a public trust, and consequently
differ essentially from the business affairs of a com-
pany or an individual. It follows that no risk of any
kind may be incurred. Speculation with university
funds is criminal. A transaction which would be
perfectly proper, and from a business point of view
satisfactory, for an individual or a firm, may be


utterly lacking in those characteristics which make it
suitable for approval by the board of trustees of a uni-
versity. It is probable that no business management
in the world is more conservative than that of the
large institutions of learning. It is also probable that
in no other business concerns has the percentage of
loss on investments or from dishonesty been so small.

3. The trusteeship of a university, although in-
volving the greatest possible responsibility, and de-
manding work in large amount and of high charac-
ter, must be a voluntary service. The president of
the university, with one exception, should be the only
salaried officer among the trustees. The exception
should be the treasurer, if he is at the same time
business manager. Nor can it be asserted that such
voluntary service is difficult to secure. The honor
and satisfaction of connection with a work of such
character will be found sufficient to satisfy men of the
highest ability.

4. In the administration of the business affairs
of an institution the principles of civil service must
prevail. Favoritism of any kind, not to speak of
nepotism, are insufferable. Those who are held
responsible for certain conditions of the work must
be given the privilege of making recommendations
for the positions under their direction, subject, of
course, to the approval of the higher authorities.
Promotion from those already in the ranks is an
essential element.

5. Absolute economy must be exercised in every


department of the institution. The officers charged
with the responsibility of expending money should
be held to a strict accounting. It is undoubtedly
true that many men, eminent in their respective de-
partments for learning and for ability to give instruc-
tion, fail from the business point of view to conduct
their own affairs or those of the institution, when
intrusted to them, with proper care. Debt may be
incurred only when satisfactory provision for its
due payment has been made in advance.

6. Special consideration from the business point
of view must be given to the problems connected
with the expenses of student life. It is a mistake to
encourage luxury, or even to make it possible. How-
ever wealthy a young man may be, he cannot spend
a large sum of money annually and be a student.
For the time being, at all events, he must limit his
expenditures, and directly or indirectly the university
must see that this is done. On the other hand, it is
equally important that provision be made for the
assistance of worthy students who find themselves
unable to continue their work for lack of means. It
is possible to make mistakes in assisting students
who do not deserve assistance, and in rendering
assistance in a manner which will injure the student
even if he deserves help. To require that every
student who receives help from the university shall
make suitable return to the university in the form of
service or of money is a practical business way of
treating the whole matter. Help should be ren-


dered them in return for work done, or as a loan
to be repaid. In the latter case there is no objec-
tion, from the business point of view, if the loan is
arranged on terms especially favorable to the stu-
dent. Such a student cannot be expected in every
case to furnish satisfactory security, but without such
security money should not be loaned except to those
whose character is personally known to the officers in
charge to be above reproach.

7. The financial transactions of a large institu-
tion should be announced regularly to the public.
The exact amount of expenditures, even in detail, in
the various departments, the receipts from any and
every source, are facts which the public deserve to
know; and, besides, a knowledge of these facts will
give the university the confidence of the public.
No single act can be performed by an institution
that will accomphsh greater good than the regular
and systematic publication in official form of the
receipts and expenditures of money.

8. Contracts with members of the teaching staff
are not treated like contracts with the officers of the
university conducting the business side of the insti-
tution, or Hke contracts made in ordinary business
affairs. A large university is accustomed to accept
the resignation of a professor or instructor whenever
it may be proffered, whatever may have been the
time for which the professor or instructor was
appointed. Resignations are thus accepted in the
case of men who have been appointed to do a certain
service, and who before doing that service desire


to connect themselves with another institution. It
is not considered out of place for one institution to
make assiduous effort to draw away a member of
the staff of another institution. The feeling pre-
vails everywhere in the large universities that what-
ever is for the best interests of the individual will
in the end prove to be for the best interests of edu-
cation; and the university can in no case afford to
deprive the individual officer of a chance to accept
a position of higher opportunity and influence. It
is only in the smaller institutions of learning that
this principle is not acted upon.

9. A university, although possessed of twenty
millions of dollars, is from the legal point of view
a charitable institution. Whatever may be its wealth
or influence, its affairs are managed as are those of
great charitable institutions. It does not hesitate
to accept from any and every source gifts, large or
small, with which to prosecute its work for the
public benefit. It declares no dividends. The uni-
versity gives to the public through its students every
dollar paid by the students, and, with each such
dollar, three or five in addition. There are today
fifteen or twenty institutions in America with refer-
ence to which the above statements, with modifica-
tions, will be essentially true.

Enough has been said perhaps to show that a
great institution of learning is, altogether apart from
its educational work, a business concern which
deserves to take its place side by side with the
world's other great business concerns.



In Boston, high-school teachers are paid from
$1,620 to $3,060; grammar-school and elementary
teachers, $936 to $2,340. In Chicago salaries range
from $850 to $2,000 in the high schools, and from
$500 to $825 in the graded schools. In St. Louis
the limit is slightly lower — ^high-school salaries run-
ning from $682.50 to $2,060, while elementary-
school teachers begin at $420, with a maximum of
$892.50. San Francisco pays from $900 to $1,350
in its high schools, and $450 to $747 in the grades.
In Philadelphia the average salary paid to men in
all the schools is $1,487.70; to women, $569.70. The
highest salary paid in MinneapoHs, excluding prin-
cipals, is $1,300 to a woman, $1,000 to a man — a
reversal of the usual order. Figures for the entire
state of Minnesota show that the average salary of
men teachers in the graded schools is $513, in the
district schools $349.70; while the average for women
is $381 in the grades and only $279.72 for the country
district schools. New York state shows a higher
average because of its cities — $604.78 for the entire
state, the average in cities being $879.27, and in
towns as low as $322.49. The highest average
salary paid to men teachers in Pennsylvania is
$719.80 in Delaware County. The average in


Fulton County is the lowest, $226.71. Delaware
County has also the highest average for women,
$416.88, while Pike County has a minimum of

Can any inteUigent person read these figures and
be willing to say that they represent a satisfactory
situation ? To me it seems a perfectly clear propo-
sition, based on these figures and on the facts as
they are known to exist, that the salaries paid teach-
ers of the elementary and secondary grades in our
pubHc schools are grossly insufficient and inadequate.
To some it may seem unnecessary to consider this
question; and yet, if injustice is being done a great
constituency in the public service, surely remon-
strance and complaint are proper. In this brief
statement, therefore, I desire to present five argu-
ments in support of my protest against the injustice
done this great body of faithful public servants.
Each argument thus presented is in itself sufficient,
but when the five are taken together the case against
the present policy is overwhelming in its strength.

In the first place, then, salaries paid are insuffi-
cient in view of the grade of talent demanded for the
work of instruction. There was once a time when a
young man or woman who could do nothing else
turned his thought toward teaching; but in the better
sections of the country, and especially in the cities,
that time is rapidly passing. It is universally recog-
nized that strong qualities are called for in the
teacher, and that a successful teacher is one who


can succeed likewise in a multitude of ways outside
of the profession of teaching. To understand the
truth of this statement one need only examine the
long list of men and women who have given up their
work as teachers to enter upon some form of business
and have conducted the new work most successfully.
Just as in the departments of higher education
intellectual abiHty of the highest order is called for,
and nothing short of this will satisfy the require-
ments, so it is in lower education. The demands
of the work can be met only by those whom nature
has endowed with a very high order of talent. The
teacher to whom is intrusted the fostering care of our
children should surely be one whose ability we
respect. How is it possible to satisfy the conscience,
if a policy other than this prevails ? Is there any-
thing more precious than the child, whether regarded
from the point of view of the family or the state ? Is
not his training a thing of pre-eminent importance ?
And yet we are wiUing to pay to his teacher a salary
far less than is paid in many cases to the keeper of
our horses or to the keeper of our cattle. Who can-
not see the utter absurdity of this? The teacher,
everything being considered, should be, and in many
cases is, the equal of the man or woman who enters
into any other professional hfe. Shall we stultify our-
selves by continuing to pay the teacher at a rate
which places on him or her the brand of intellectual
weakness for having accepted a position which
promises its occupant so little profit or advantage ?


In the second place, the salaries paid are insuffi-
cient in view of the large amount of technical prepara-
tion required for the performance of the duties of
the office. In this respect again the times are
changed. The teacher in the grades must be an
expert in psychology, and must have a reasonable
acquaintance with all of the departments of knowl-
edge which contribute toward the life and thought of
the child. The field is iUimitable. Years of prepa-
ration are required; first in the high school, and later
in the college or professional school. Effort of the
most serious character is demanded, and many who
undertake this arduous preparation find themselves
unequal to the task and drop it. A small proportion
pursue the work to the end. The time has come
when preparation for teaching, even in the grades,
requires a training and a proficiency equal to that
demanded by any other profession. These require-
ments have gradually been increased until today, in
many quarters, only those possessed of a vigorous
physical constitution, a strong, untiring purpose,
and, in addition, a considerable sum of money, are
able to secure the preparation called for. Is it
justice to those who have pursued this laborious
course of preparation that in the end they should
find themselves Hmited to a salary so small as to
seem pitiful in view of the hardship undergone and
the expense which has been incurred ?

The third reason why the salaries paid are insuf-
ficient is in view of the character of the work required


of the teacher. Those who have never taught have
but slight conception of the actual demand made
upon the nervous energy of the teacher in the school.
It is possible that in some cases parents secure some
idea of the strain under which the teacher works, but
it will be remembered that the family rarely exceeds
three, or four, or five children, while the teacher is
compelled to do service for thirty or fifty or more.
The constant alertness which is necessary, and the
unbroken and uninterrupted strain which, for many,
proves to be a fatal thing, draw upon the constitu-
tion to such an extent that weariness of mind and
body comes to be so great that only absolute rest
brings relief. The four, five, or six hours in the
schoolroom require a strength of body and a strength
of mind as great as that required in the practice of
any profession. And when it is remembered that
this same routine of life comes day after day, week
after week, and month after month, one cannot fail
to realize the painfulness of it all, the courage which
alone makes it possible, and the utter self-sacrifice
which is involved ; for in no other work can it be so
truly said that the toiler gives forth of his own
strength to the one for whom he toils. The end of
it all, unless special effort is made to avoid this end,
is exhaustion, mental and nervous; and the number
of physical wrecks furnished by the teacher's pro-
fession is certainly larger in proportion than that in
any other calling of life. Is such work unworthy
of a respectable salary? Is there anywhere work


of a more serious or more vital character than this ?
Is work that counts for more in the life of the family
or the nation done anywhere else ? Then why treat
it in this ignoble fashion ?

Beside the character of the work, there is the
necessary professional expense connected with a
teacher's life; and this is the fourth reason why the
salaries paid are insufficient. The teacher who is
to maintain his or her position must read daily.
This reading requires the purchase of many books.
The library, indeed, is an essential feature in the
teacher's life. The growing teacher will not fail to
spend at least 10 to 20 per cent, of his salary from
year to year for new books. In these days again
important results are accomplished in teachers' con-
ventions and conferences. To attend these money
is required. There may be a conference of the
teachers of a particular subj ect which meets per-
haps three or four times a year. Or there may be
another conference of the teachers of the county, or
of a certain portion of the city. Perhaps there is
still another conference of the teachers in the city;
and finally there is the convention of the teachers in
all of the states. It is really essential to the life and
progress of the teacher that these meetings shall be
attended, for it is here that one comes in contact
with those who are deeply interested in the same
subjects, and from such contact the benefits are most
numerous and valuable. But, after all, the greatest
necessity of the teacher, regarded wrongly by many


as a luxury, is travel. Nothing is so elevating or so
encouraging or so inspiring as travel. Home travel
and foreign travel together constitute a feature in
self-education which has never been truly estimated.
But how can these things be done without money ?
They cannot. How different will be the life of a
teacher when opportunities of this kind are afforded,
and how different would be the instruction given the
pupils if the teacher thus comes into contact with
the lives of others! At least 20 per cent, of the
teacher's salary can be spent to advantage in this
kind of effort to renew the mind and the body. Can
it be done on the present basis of salaries? One
need only study the annual budget of the average
teacher to see how hopeless is the case.

The salaries paid are insufficient, finally, in
view of the provision which should be made before-
hand for old age. While the professor in the
university may well continue his work in ordinary
cases until he is sixty-five or seventy years old, the
average teacher in the high school or in the grades
ought to give up his work much earher. This is
true partly because the work has been so different
from that carried on by the professor; partly also
because the age of the students is Ukewise different.
It is a serious question whether a woman over fifty
or fifty-five years of age should teach in the grades.
Such a woman can, of course, superintend or super-
vise instruction, but in only a few cases will a teacher
of this age find herself sufficiently fresh and flexible


to meet the demands of younger children. But
what is there left for a teacher who is compelled to
give up her work at the age of fifty or fifty-five?
No new occupation can be taken up. The work
of life is virtually finished, and yet the individual
must go on living, possibly for many years. Pro-
vision beforehand must, therefore, be made, if not
in the form of a pension, in any case in the form of
savings set aside from year to year for this much-
dreaded period. It is here that a serious problem

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Online LibraryWilliam Rainey HarperThe trend in higher education → online text (page 12 of 24)