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chapter 108: The Universities and Colleges - Viscount James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol. 2 
The American Commonwealth, with an Introduction by Gary L. McDowell (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1995). Vol. 2.
Part of: The American Commonwealth, 2 vols.
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The Universities and Colleges
Among the universities of America there is none which has sprung up of itself like Bologna or Paris or El Azhar or Oxford, none founded by an emperor like Prague, or by a pope like Glasgow. All have been the creatures of private munificence or denominational zeal or state action. Their history is short indeed compared with that of the universities of Europe. Yet it is full of interest, for its shows a steady growth, it records many experiments, it gives valuable data for comparing the educational results of diverse systems.
When the first English colonists went to America, the large and liberal mediæval conception of a university, as a place where graduates might teach freely and students live freely, was waxing feeble in Oxford and Cambridge. The instruction was given chiefly by the colleges, which had already become, what they long continued, organisms so strong as collectively to eclipse the university they had been meant to aid. Accordingly when places of superior instruction began to grow up in the colonies, it was on the model not of an English university but of an English college that they were created. The glory of founding the first place of learning in the English parts of America belongs to a Puritan minister and graduate of Cambridge, John Harvard of Emmanuel College,1 who, dying in 1638, eighteen years after the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, gave half his property for the establishment of a college in the town of Cambridge, three miles from Boston, which, originally organized on the plan of Emmanuel College, and at once taken under the protection of the infant Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has now grown into the most famous university on the North American continent.2
The second foundation was due to the Colonial Assembly of Virginia. So early as 1619, twelve years after the first settlement at Jamestown, the Virginia Company in England voted ten thousand acres of land in the colony for the establishment of a seminary of learning, and a site was in 1624 actually set apart, on an island in the Susquehanna River, for the “Foundinge and Maintenance of a University and such schools in Virginia as shall there be erected, and shall be called Academia Virginiensis et Oxoniensis.” This scheme was never carried out. But in 1693 the Virginians obtained a grant of land and money from the home government for the erection of a college, which received the name of the College of William and Mary.3 The third foundation was Yale College, established in Connecticut (first at Saybrook, then at New Haven) in 1700; the fourth Princeton, in New Jersey, in 1746. None of these received the title of university: Harvard is called “a school or colledge”; Yale used the name “collegiate school” for seventeen years. “We on purpose gave your academy as low a name as we could that it might the better stand the wind and weather” was the reason assigned. Other academies or colleges in New England and the Middle states followed: such as that which is now the University of Pennsylvania, in 1749; King’s, now Columbia, College in New York, in 1754; and Rhode Island College (now Brown University), in 1764; and the habit of granting degrees grew up naturally and almost imperceptibly. A new departure is marked after the Revolution by the establishment, at the instance of Jefferson, of the University of Virginia, whose large and liberal lines gave it more resemblance to the universities of the European continent than to the then educationally narrow and socially domestic colleges of England.
At present most of the American universities are referable to one of two types, which may be described as the older and the newer, or the private and the public type. By the old or private type I denote a college on the model of a college in Oxford or Cambridge, with a head called the president, and a number of teachers, now generally called professors; a body of governors or trustees in whom the property and general control of the institution is vested; a prescribed course of instruction which all students are expected to follow; buildings, usually called dormitories, provided for the lodging of the students, and a more or less strict, but always pretty effective discipline enforced by the teaching staff. Such a college is usually of private foundation, and is almost always connected with some religious denomination.
Under the term new or public type I include universities established, endowed, and governed by a state, usually through a body of persons called regents. In such a university there commonly exists considerable freedom of choice among various courses of study. The students, or at least the majority of them, reside where they please in the city, and are subject to very little discipline. There are seldom or never denominational affiliations, women are admitted, and very low charges are made for instruction.
There are, however, institutions which it is hard to refer to one or other type. Some of these began as private foundations, with a collegiate and quasi-domestic character, but have now developed into true universities, generally resembling those of Germany or Scotland. Harvard in Massachusetts and Yale in Connecticut are instances. Others have been founded by private persons, but as fully equipped universities, and wholly undenominational. Cornell at Ithaca in western New York is an instance; Johns Hopkins in Baltimore is another of a different order. Some have been founded by public authority, yet have been practically left to be controlled by a body of self-renewing trustees. Columbia College in New York City is an instance. Still if we were to run through a list of the universities and colleges in the United States, we should find that the great majority were either strictly private foundations governed by trustees, or wholly public foundations governed by the state. That is to say, the two familiar English types, viz., the university, which though a public institution is yet little interfered with by the state, which is deemed to be composed of its graduates and students, and whose self-government consists in its being governed by the graduates, and the college, which is a private corporation, consisting of a head, fellows, and scholars, and governed by the head and fellows—neither of them appear in modern America.4 On the other hand, the American university of the public type differs from the universities of Germany in being placed under a state board, not under a minister. Neither in Germany nor in Scotland do we find anything corresponding to the American university or college of the private type, for in neither of these countries is a university governed by a body of self-renewing trustees.5
It is impossible within the limits of a chapter to do more than state a few of the more salient characteristics of the American universities. I shall endeavour to present these characteristics in the fewest possible words, and for the sake of clearness shall group what I have to say under separate heads.
The United States Education Bureau received in 1912 reports from 596 universities and colleges and technological schools, i.e., institutions granting degrees and professing to give an instruction, higher than that of schools, in the liberal arts. Of these 144 were for men only and 343 for both men and women, while 109 were for women only. The total number of teachers was 30,034, 24,508 men and 5,524 women teachers, teaching in the 596 institutions. Of the total number, 80.2 per cent were men, 19.8 percent women.6
The total number of students in the undergraduate and graduate departments of the 596 institutions was 198,453, viz., 125,750 men and 72,703 women. In the 109 colleges for women only there were 21,423 undergraduate students. These numbers do not include those in the preparatory departments. The attendance has risen rapidly: it is double that of eighteen years ago. Besides these there are returned:
The total number of baccalaurate degrees conferred is returned as 22,354, 58 per cent on men, 42 per cent on women; of graduate degrees, 5,226, 83.4 per cent on men, 16.6 per cent on women.
General Character of the Universities and Colleges.
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 that 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 fifteen and possibly only ten or twelve of the American institutions would fall within the definition. Of these two-thirds are to be found in the Atlantic states. Next below them come some forty or more foundations which are scarcely entitled to the name of university, some because their range of instruction is still limited to the traditional literary and scientific course such as it stood fifty 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, well calculated to fit a man for the professions 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, three hundred or more, 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. This large group 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 and teachers. Some seventy or eighty, though comparatively small, are strong by the zeal and capacity of their staff, 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. The West and South are covered with these small colleges. In Illinois I find 32 named in the Report of the United States Education Bureau, in Tennessee 25. Oklahoma has already 6, with nearly 2,000 students, but all are still in an early stage of development. In Ohio out of 35, or possibly more, scarce any deserves to be called a university. The number of teachers and students is sometimes large, but not very many are in the collegiate and far fewer in the graduate departments. Most of the students are to be found in the preparatory department.
The total number of students in Harvard University was, in 1913, 4,354, in Yale 3,262, in Columbia University, New York, 9,379, and in four great state universities as follows: Michigan 5,805, Illinois 5,054, Wisconsin 5,982, California 6,817. These numbers, which except in the first case include women, show a great increase during the last twenty years.
Nearly all, if not all, of the degree-granting bodies are endowed, the great majority by private founders, but a good many also by grants of land made by the state in which they stand, partly out of lands set apart for educational purposes by the federal government. In most cases the lands have been sold and the proceeds invested. Many of the state universities of the West receive a grant from the state treasury, voted annually or biennially by the legislature, but a preferable plan, adopted by several states, is to enact a permanent statute giving annually to the university some fraction of a cent, or a mill (1/1000 of a dollar) out of every dollar of the total valuation of the state. This acts automatically, increasing the grant as the resources of the state increase. The greater universities are constantly being enriched by the gifts of private individuals, often their own graduates; but the complaint is heard that these gifts are too frequently appropriated to some specific purpose, instead of being added to the general funds of the university. Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, and Johns Hopkins are now all of them wealthy foundations, and the stream of munificence swells daily.8 Before long there will be universities in America with resources far surpassing those of any Scottish university, and exceeding even the collective income of the university and all the colleges in Oxford or in Cambridge. In some states the real property and funds of universities are exempt from taxation.
As already remarked, no American university or college is, so far as I know, governed either by its graduates alone, like Oxford and Cambridge, or by its teaching staff alone, like the Scotch universities before the Act of 1858. The state universities are usually controlled and managed by a board generally called the regents, sometimes elected by the people of the state, sometimes appointed by the governor or the legislature. There are states with an enlightened population, or in which an able president has been able to guide and influence the regents or the legislature, in which this plan has worked excellently, securing liberal appropriations, and interesting the commonwealth in the welfare of the highest organ of its intellectual life. There have also been states in which the haste or unwisdom of the legislature seemed for a time to have cramped the growth of the university. On the whole the regents of late years have generally ruled well and the states have shown more and more interest in university work; though too apt to bestow their liberality almost wholly on the more directly practical branches of its work.
All other universities and colleges are governed by boards of governors or trustees, sometimes allowed to renew themselves by cooptation, sometimes nominated by a religious denomination or other external authority.9 The president of the institution is often, but not always, an ex officio member of this board, to which the management of property and financial interests belongs, while internal discipline and educational arrangements are usually left to the academic staff. A visitor from Europe is struck by the prominence of the president in an American university or college, and the almost monarchical position which he sometimes occupies towards the professors as well as towards the students. Far more authority is vested in him, more turns upon his individual talents and character, than in the universities of Europe. Neither the German pro-rector, nor the vice-chancellor in Oxford and Cambridge, nor the principal in a Scottish university, nor the provost of Trinity College in Dublin, nor the head in one of the colleges in Oxford or Cambridge, is anything like so important a personage.10 In this, as in not a few other respects, America is less republican than England.
Of late years there have been active movements to secure the representation of the graduates of each university or college upon its governing body; and it now frequently happens that some of the trustees are elected by the alumni. Good results follow, because the alumni are disposed to elect men younger and more abreast of the times, than most of the persons whom the existing trustees coopt.
The Teaching Staff.
The faculty, as it is usually called, varies in numbers and efficiency according to the popularity of the university or college and its financial resources. The largest staff mentioned in the tables of the U.S. Bureau of Education is that of Harvard, with 731 professors, instructors, and lecturers; while Yale has 455, Columbia has 907, the University of Pennsylvania 553, Princeton 203, the University of Michigan 331, Johns Hopkins 225. Cornell returns 700, but apparently not all of these are constantly occupied in teaching.
In the colleges of the West and Northwest the average number of teachers is small, say twelve to fifteen in the collegiate, five to ten in the preparatory department. It is larger in the state universities, but in some of the Southern and ruder Western states sinks to five or six, each of them taking two or three subjects. I remember to have met in the Far West a college president—I will call him Mr. Johnson—who gave me a long account of his young university, established by public authority, and receiving some small grant from the legislature. He was an active sanguine man, and in dilating on his plans frequently referred to “the faculty” as doing this or contemplating that. At last I asked of how many professors the faculty at present consisted. “Well,” he answered, “just at present the faculty is below its full strength, but it will soon be more numerous.”“And at present?” I inquired. “At present it consists of Mrs. Johnson and myself.”
The salaries paid to professors seem small compared with the general wealth of the country and the cost of living. The highest known to me are those in Columbia College, a few of which exceed $5,000 a year, and in the University of Chicago, which pays some of $7,000. Even in Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Cornell, most fall below $4,000. A very few presidents receive $10,000, but over the country generally I should guess that a president rarely receives $4,000, often only $3,000 or $2,000, and the professors less in proportion. Under these conditions it may be found surprising that so many able men are to be found on the teaching staff of not a few colleges as well as universities, and that in the greater universities there are also many who have trained themselves by a long and expensive education in Europe for their work. The reason is to be found partly in the fondness for science and learning which has lately shown itself in America, and which makes men of intellectual tastes prefer a life of letters with poverty to success in business or at the bar, partly, as regards the smaller Western colleges, to religious motives, these colleges being largely officered by the clergy of the denomination they belong to, especially by those who love study, or find their talents better suited to the classroom than to the pulpit.
The professors seem to be always among the social aristocracy of the city in which they live, though usually unable, from the smallness of their incomes, to enjoy social life as the corresponding class does in Scotland or even in England. The position of president is often one of honour and wide influence.
It is the glory of the American universities, as of those of Scotland and Germany, to be freely accessible to all classes of the people. In the Eastern states a comparatively small yet an increasing number have been the sons of working men, because parents can rarely bear the expense of a university course, or dispense with a boy’s earnings after he reaches fourteen. But even in the East a good many come from straitened homes, receiving assistance from some richer neighbour or from charitable funds belonging to the college at which they may present themselves; while some, in days when the standard of instruction was lower, and women were less generally employed as teachers, used to teach district schools for three months in winter. In the West, where there is little distinction of classes though great disparity of wealth, the state universities make a small or possibly no charge, and some other institutions require a merely nominal fee, or are ready to receive without charge a promising student. Thus the only difficulty in a young man’s way is that of supporting himself during his college course; and this he frequently does by earning during one half the year what keeps him during the other half. Often he earns it by teaching school: many of the eminent men, including several presidents of the United States, from 1840 to 1890 thus supported themselves in some part of their earlier careers. Sometimes he works at a trade, as many a student has done in Scotland; and, as in Scotland, he is all the more respected by his classmates for it. The instruction which he gets in one of these Western colleges may not carry him very far, but it opens a door through which men of real power can pass into the professions, or even into the domain of learning and scientific research. In no country are the higher kinds of teaching more cheap or more accessible. There is a growing tendency for well-to-do parents to send their sons to one of the greater universities irrespective of the profession they contemplate for him, that is to say, purely for the sake of general culture, or of the social advantages which a university course is thought to confer. The usual age at which students enter one of the leading universities of the East is, as in England, from eighteen to nineteen, and the usual age of graduation twenty-two to twenty-three,11 the regular course covering four years. In the West some students come at a more advanced age, twenty-four or twenty-five, their early education having been neglected, so the average in Western colleges is higher than in the East. In Scotland boys of fourteen and men of twenty-four used to sit side by side in university classrooms, and compete on equal terms, a pleasing relic of mediæval times which survives in the University of El Azhar in Cairo. The places of less note draw students from their immediate vicinity only; to those of importance boys are sent from all parts of the Union. The University of Michigan, the first among the state universities to develop on a large scale, used to be a sort of metropolitan university for the Northwestern states. Harvard and Yale, which used to draw only from the Atlantic states, now receive students from the West and even from the shores of the Pacific. Princeton has long drawn many from the South.12 A student generally completes his four years’ graduation course at the same institution, but some few leave a small college after one year to enter at a larger one. A man who has graduated in a college which has only an arts or collegiate department, will often, in case he designs himself for law or medicine, resort to the law or medical school of a larger university, or even, if he means to devote himself to science or philology, will pursue what is called a “post-graduate course” at some one of the greatest seats of learning. Thus it may happen, as in Germany, that a man has studied at two or three universities in succession.
Buildings and External Aspect.
Few of the buildings in any college or university are more than a century old,13 and among these there is none of an imposing character, or with marked architectural merit. Many of the newer ones are handsome and well arranged, but I have heard it remarked that too much money is now being spent, at least in the West, upon showy buildings, possibly with the view of commanding attention. The ground plan is rarely or never that of a quadrangle as in England and Scotland, not because it was desired to avoid monastic precedents, but because detached buildings are thought to be better adapted to the cold and snows of winter. At Harvard and Yale the brick dormitories (buildings in which the students live) and classrooms are scattered over a large space of grass planted with ancient elms, and have a very pleasing effect. Rochester, too, has a spacious campus. Princeton, Amherst, Williams, and Dartmouth, being placed in small country towns and pleasing scenery, have even more attractive surroundings, and the situations of the Universities of Virginia, Wisconsin, and California are highly favoured by nature. Ample and agreeable pleasure grounds surround the women’s colleges of Vassar, Wellesley, and Bryn Mawr.
Time Spent in Study.
Vacations are shorter than in England or Scotland. That of summer usually lasts from the middle of June to the middle of September, and there are generally ten days or more given at Christmas and at least a week in April. Work begins earlier in the morning than in England, but seldom so early as in Germany. Hardly any students seem to work as hard as the men reading for high honours do at Cambridge in England.
Local Distribution of Universities and Colleges.
The number of degree-granting bodies seems to be larger in the Middle and Northwestern states than either in New England or in the South. In the tables of the Bureau of Education I find New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, credited with 191, one-third of the total for the United States; but as many are small and indifferent, the mere number does not necessarily speak of an ample and solid provision of education. Indeed Ohio has no single institution to which a place in the front rank would be assigned. The fourteen Southern states (excluding Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware) stand in the tables as possessing 191, but it may be doubted whether any of these, except the University of Virginia, attains the very first rank; and though some have been rising steadily, the great majority are undermanned and hampered by the imperfect preparation of the students whom they receive. In this respect, and as regards education generally, the South, though advancing, is still far behind the other sections of the country. There are several colleges, all or nearly all of them denominational, established for coloured people only.
System and Methods of Instruction.
In 1860 it would have been comparatively easy to describe these, for nearly all the universities and colleges prescribed a regular four years’ curriculum to a student, chiefly consisting of classics and mathematics, and leading up to a B.A. degree. A youth had little or no option what he would study, for everybody was expected to take certain classes in each year, and received his degree upon having satisfactorily performed what was in each class required of him.14 The course was not unlike that followed (till 1892) in the Scottish universities: it began with Latin, Greek, and mathematics, and wound up with logic, mental and moral philosophy, and a tincture of physics. Instruction was mainly, indeed in the small colleges wholly, catechetical. About 1870 the simple uniformity of this traditional system began to vanish in the greater universities of the Eastern and Middle states, and in most of the state universities of the West. In most of the smaller colleges, however, there are still regular classes, a certain number of which every student must attend, but he is allowed to choose for himself between a variety of courses or curricula, by following any one of which he may obtain a degree. The freedom of choice is greater in some universities, less in others; in some, choice is permitted from the first, in most, however (including the great university of Yale), only after two years. In Harvard freedom reached its maximum. The controversies out of which the “elective system” emerged turned largely on the question whether Greek should be a compulsory subject. The change was introduced for the sake of bringing scientific subjects into the curriculum and enabling men to specialize in them and in matters like history and Oriental or Romance philology, and was indeed a necessary concomitant to such a broadening of universities as may enable them to keep pace with the swift development of new branches of study and research during the last forty years. It is defended both on this ground and as being more likely than the old strictly limited courses to give every student something which will interest him. It is opposed as tending to bewilder him, to disperse and scatter his mind over a too wide range of subjects, perhaps unconnected with one another, to tempt him with the offer of an unchartered freedom which he wants the experience to use wisely. One or two conspicuous universities, and many smaller colleges, have clung to the old system of two or three prescribed degree courses in which little variation is admitted.15 An elective system is indeed possible only where the teaching staff is able to do justice to a wide range of subjects.
A parallel change has passed upon the methods of teaching. Lecturing with the interposition of few or no questions to the class is becoming the rule in the larger universities, those especially which adopt the elective system, while what are called “recitations,” that is to say, catechetical methods resembling those of Scotland or of a college (not university) lecture in Oxford sixty years ago, remain the rule in the more conservative majority of institutions, and are practically universal in the smaller colleges. Some of the largest universities have established a system of informal instruction by the professor to a small group of students on the model of the German seminar. Private “coaching,” such as prevailed largely in Oxford and still prevails in Cambridge, is almost unknown.
Requirements for Entrance.
All the better universities and colleges exact a minimum of knowledge from those who matriculate. Some do this by imposing an entrance examination. Others allow certain schools, of whose excellence they are satisfied, to issue leaving certificates, the production of which entitles the bearers to be admitted without examination. This plan is said to work well.16 Michigan led the way in establishing a judiciously regulated and systematized relation between the public schools and the state university, and other universities have now an excellent system for inspecting schools and admitting students on the basis of school certificates.
Degrees and Examinations.
It is only institutions which have been chartered by state authority that are deemed entitled to grant degrees. There are others which do so without any such legal title, but as the value of a degree per se is slight, the mischief done by these interlopers can hardly be serious. B.A., M.A., (less frequently) Ph.D., D.D., and LL.D., the two latter usually for honorary purposes,17 are the only degrees conferred in the great majority of colleges; but of late years the larger universities have, in creating new courses, created a variety of new degrees also.18 Degrees are awarded by examination, but never, I think, as often in Europe, upon a single examination held after the course of study has been completed. The student, as he goes through the various classes which make up his course, is examined, sometimes at frequent intervals, sometimes at the end of each year, on the work done in the classes or on prescribed books, and the degree is ultimately awarded or refused on the combined result of all these tests. At no point in his career is he expected to submit to any one examination comparable, for the combined number and difficulty of the subjects in which he is questioned, to the final honour examinations at Oxford or Cambridge, even as now constituted, much less as they stood in the middle of last century.
There is indeed no respect in which the American system is more contrasted with that of Oxford and Cambridge than the comparatively small part assigned to the award of honours. In England the class list or tripos has for many years past, ever since the universities awoke from their lethargy of the eighteenth century, been the main motive power in stimulating undergraduates to exertion and in stemming the current which runs so strongly towards amusement and athletic exercises. Examinations have governed teaching instead of being used to test it. In the United States, although most universities and colleges reward with some sort of honourable mention the students who have acquitted themselves conspicuously well, graduation honours are not a great object of ambition; they win little or no fame within the institution, they are unnoticed beyond its walls. In many universities there is not even the stimulus, which acts powerfully in Scotland, of class prizes, awarded by examination or by the votes of the students. It is only a few institutions that possess scholarships awarded by competition. American teachers seem to find the discipline of their regular class system sufficient to maintain a reasonable level of diligence among their students, being doubtless aided by the fact that, in all but a very few universities, the vast majority of the students come from simple homes, possess scanty means, and have their way in life to make. Diligence—a moderate but fairly sustained diligence—was the tradition of the American colleges until the passion for athletic competitions became pronounced; and this is still true in most of those remote from the dissipating influences and social excitements of large cities. It is still the rule in post-graduate courses and in the professional schools, for students who have got so far feel the need for turning their opportunities to full account. Even the greater universities have never been, as the English universities avowedly were in the first half of the last century, and to some extent are still, primarily places for spending three or four pleasant years, only incidentally places of instruction. For the absence of a competitive system two merits have been claimed. One is that it escapes that separation which has grown up in Oxford and Cambridge between pass or poll men and honour men. The ordinary student supposes himself to have come to college for the purpose of learning something. In all countries, even in Switzerland and Scotland, there is a percentage of idle men in places of study; but the idleness of an American student is due to something in his own character or circumstances, and does not, as in the case of the English “poll-man,” rest on a theory in his own mind, probably shared by his parents, that he entered the university in order to enjoy himself and form useful social connections. It is held to be another merit that the love of knowledge and truth is not, among the better minds, vulgarized by being made the slave of competition and of the passion for quick and conspicuous success. An American student is not induced by his university to think less of the intrinsic value of what he is learning than of how far it will pay in an examination; nor does he regard his ablest fellow students as his rivals over a difficult course for high stakes, rivals whose speed and strength he must constantly be comparing with his own. Americans who have studied in an English university after graduating in one of their own have told me that nothing surprised them more in England than the incessant canvassing of one another’s intellectual capacities which went on among the undergraduates.19 Much less work is got out of the better American students than the examination system exacts from the same class of men in Oxford and Cambridge. Probably the qualities of readiness and accuracy are not so thoroughly trained. Possibly it is a loss not to be compelled to carry for a few weeks a large mass of facts in one’s mind under the obligation of finding any one at a moment’s notice. Those who direct the leading American universities recognize in these points the advantages of English practice, but have not so far been disposed to alter their own traditional system, which relies on the interest the student has in turning to account his college years and doing work enough to secure his degree.
Nearly all American students do graduate, that is to say, as those who would be likely to fail drop off before the close of the fourth year, the proportion of plucks in the later examinations is small. 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 very numerous 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 average, as much knowledge and mental discipline as the poll or pass degrees of Cambridge or Oxford, possibly less than the pass degrees of the Scottish universities. Between the highest American degrees and the honour degrees of Oxford and Cambridge it is hard to make any comparison.
A degree is in the United States given only to those who have followed a prescribed course in the teaching institution which confers it. No American institution has so far departed from the old and true conception of a university, approved by both history and policy, as to become a mere examining board, awarding degrees to anybody who may present himself from any quarter. However, the evils of existing arrangements, under which places below the level of German gymnasia are permitted to grant academic titles, are deemed so serious by some educational reformers that it was proposed as far back as 1890 to create in each state a single degree-conferring authority to which the various institutions within the state should be, so to speak, tributary, sending up their students to its examinations, which would of course be kept at a higher level than most of the present independent bodies maintain. This is what physicians call a “heroic remedy”; it does not seem to have won favour, nor need this be regretted.
Notwithstanding these evils, and the vast distance between the standard of a university like Johns Hopkins at the one end of the scale, and that of the weakest Southern colleges at the other, a degree, wherever obtained, seems to have a certain social value. “It is,” said one of my informants, “a thing which you would mention regarding a young man for whom you were writing a letter of introduction.” This does not mean very much, but it is better than nothing; it would appear to give a man some sort of advantage in seeking for educational or literary work. In several states a man who can point to his degree obtains speedier entrance to the bar, and some denominations endeavour to secure that their clergy shall have graduated.
Several of the leading universities have lately instituted sets of lectures for students who have completed the regular four years’ collegiate course and taken their B.A. or B.Sc., hoping in this way to provide for the special study of subjects for which room cannot be found in the regular course. Johns Hopkins University was among the first to devote itself especially to this object. Its aim was not so much to rival the existing universities as to discharge a function which many of them had not the means of undertaking—that of providing the highest special instruction, not necessarily in every subject, but in subjects which it could secure the ablest professors. It did much admirable work in this direction, and soon made good its claim to a place in the front rank of transatlantic seats of education. There are also many graduates who, desiring to devote themselves to some particular branch of science or learning, such as experimental physics, philology, or history, spend a semester or two at a German or to a less extent at a French university.20 Fewer come to Oxford or Cambridge, but the number has increased since the foundation of the Rhodes scholarships provided funds for two from each state to proceed to Oxford. American professors, when asked why they send their men chiefly to Germany, considering that in England they would have the advantage of a more interesting social life, and of seeing how England is trying to deal with problems similar in many respects to their own, answer that the English universities make no provision for any students except those who wish to go through one of the regular degree courses, and are so much occupied in preparing men to pass examinations as to give, except in two or three branches, but little advanced teaching. There can be no doubt that if Oxford and Cambridge offered the advantages which Leipzig and Berlin do, the afflux to the two former of American graduates would soon be considerable.
Professional and Scientific Schools.
Besides the very large number of schools for all the practical arts, agriculture, engineering, mining, and so forth, as well as for the professions of theology, law, and medicine, statistics of which have been already given, some universities have established scientific schools, or agricultural schools, or theological, legal, and medical faculties. The theological faculties are usually denominational; but Harvard, which used to be practically Unitarian, has now an unsectarian faculty, in which there are several learned divines belonging to Trinitarian denominations; and no difficulty seems to have arisen in working this arrangement. The law school is usually treated as a separate department, to which students may resort who have not graduated in the university. The course is usually of two, sometimes of three, years, and covers all the leading branches of common law, equity, crimes, civil and criminal procedure. Many of these schools are extremely efficient.
Till recently no special provision was made for the promotion of research as apart from the work of learning and teaching; but the example set by Johns Hopkins and Harvard in founding fellowships for this purpose has now been largely followed, and in 1907 there were 664 fellowships, of which 115 were in Massachusetts, 114 in Illinois, and 85 in New York. The munificence of private benefactors may be expected to continue to supply the necessary funds. There is now, especially in the greater universities, a good deal of specialization in teaching, so an increasing number of professors are able to occupy themselves with research. The Institution for Research founded in Washington by Mr. Carnegie incidentally aids the universities by its grants of money to professors engaged in research work.
Aids to Deserving Students.
In proportion to the number of colleges, not many have scholarships or bursaries open to competition like those of the colleges in Oxford and Cambridge and of the Scottish universities. The number has, however, been increasing.21 But in a large number there exist funds, generally placed at the disposal of the president or the faculty, which are applicable for the benefit of industrious men who need help; and it is common to remit fees in the case of those whose circumstances warrant the indulgence. When, as occasionally happens, free places or grants out of these funds are awarded upon examination, it would be thought improper for anyone to compete whose circumstances placed him above the need of pecuniary aid. When the selection is left to the college authorities, they are said to discharge it with honourable impartiality. Having often asked whether favouritism was complained of, I could never hear that it was. In some colleges there exists a loan fund, out of which money is advanced to the poor student, who afterwards repays it. President Garfield obtained his education at Williams College by the help of such a fund. The denominations often give assistance to promising youths who intend to enter the ministry. Says one of my most experienced informants: “In our country any young fellow of ability and energy can get education without paying for it.”22 The experiment tried at Cornell University in the way of providing remunerative labour for poor students who were at the same time to follow a course of instruction, seems to have proved unworkable, for the double effort is found to impose too severe a strain.
Social Life of the Students.
Those who feel that not only the keenest pleasure, but the most solid moral and intellectual benefit of their university life lay in the friendships which they formed in that happy springtime, will ask how in this respect America compares with England. Oxford and Cambridge, with their historic colleges maintaining a corporate life from century to century, bringing the teachers into easy and friendly relations with the taught, forming between the members of each society a close and almost family tie which is not incompatible with loyalty to the great corporation for whose sake all the minor corporations exist, have succeeded in producing a more polished, graceful, and I think also intellectually stimulative, type of student life than either Germany, with its somewhat boyish frolics of duelling and compotations, or Scotland, where the youth has few facilities for social intercourse with his classmates and none with his professor. The American universities occupy an intermediate position between those of England and those of Germany or Scotland. Formerly all or nearly all the students were lodged in buildings called dormitories—which, however, were not merely sleeping places, but contained sitting rooms jointly tenanted by two or more students—and meals were taken in common. This is still the practice in the smaller colleges, and remains firmly rooted in Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, though in the two former for part only of the students. In the new state universities, and in nearly all universities planted in large cities, the great bulk of the students board with private families, or (more rarely) live in lodgings or hotels, and an increasing number have begun to do so even in places which, like Harvard and Brown University (Rhode Island) and Cornell, have some dormitories. The dormitory plan works well in comparatively small establishments, especially when, as is the case with the smaller denominational colleges, they are almost like large families, and are permeated by a religious spirit. But in the larger universities the tendency is now towards letting the students reside where they please, though some state universities have dormitories. The maintenance of discipline gives less trouble; the poorer student is less inclined to imitate or envy the luxurious habits of the rich. Sometimes, however, as where there is no town for students to lodge in, dormitories are indispensable. The chief breaches of order which the authorities have to deal with arise in dormitories from the practice of “hazing,” i.e., playing practical jokes, especially upon freshmen. In an American college the students are classed by years, those of the first year being called freshmen, of the second year sophomores, of the third year juniors, of the fourth year seniors. The bond between the members of each “class” (i.e., the entrants of the same year) is a pretty close one, and they are apt to act together. Between sophomores and freshmen—for the seniors and juniors are supposed to have put away childish things—there is a smouldering jealousy which sometimes breaks out into a strife sufficiently acute, though there is seldom anything more than mischievously high spirits behind it, to give the president and faculty trouble.23 Otherwise the conduct of the students is generally good. Intoxication, gaming, or other vices are rare, those who come to work, as the vast majority do, being little prone to such faults; it is only in a few universities situate in or near large cities and resorted to by the sons of the rich that they give serious trouble. Of late years the passion for baseball, football, rowing, and athletic exercises generally, has become very strong in the universities last mentioned, where fashionable youth congregates, and the student who excels in these seems to be as much a hero among his comrades as a member of the university eight or eleven is in England.
The absence of colleges constituting social centres within a university has helped to develop in the American universities one of their most peculiar and interesting institutions—I mean the Greek letter societies. There are clubs or fraternities of students, denoted by two or three Greek letters, the initials of the secret fraternity motto. Some of these fraternities exist in one college only, but the greater are established in a good many universities and colleges, having in each what is called a chapter, and possessing in each a sort of clubhouse, with several meeting and reading rooms, and sometimes also with bedrooms for the members. In some colleges as many as a third or a half of the students belong to a fraternity, which is an institution recognized and patronized by the authorities. New members are admitted by the votes of the chapter; and to obtain early admission to one of the best is no small compliment. They are, so far as I know, always nonpolitical, though political questions may be debated and political essays read at their meetings; and one is told that they allow no intoxicants to be kept in their buildings or used at the feasts they provide. They are thus something between an English club and a German Studenten Corps, with a literary element sometimes thrown in. They are deemed a valuable part of the university system, not so much because they cultivate intellectual life as on account of their social influence. It is an object of ambition to be elected a member; it is a point of honour for a member to maintain the credit of the fraternity. Former members, who are likely to include some of the university professors, keep up their connection with the fraternity, and often attend its chapters in the college, or its general meetings. Membership constitutes a bond between old members during their whole life, so that a member on settling in some distant city would probably find there persons who had belonged to his fraternity, and would be admitted to their local gatherings.24 Besides these ther exist a few honorary societies into which students are elected in virtue of purely literary or scientific acquirements, as evidenced in the college examinations. The oldest and most famous is called the φΒΚ, which is said to mean φιλοσοφίαβίουκυβερνήτης, and exists in many of the leading universities in some of the states.
I have already observed that a good many of the American universities, and indeed a majority of the smaller colleges, are denominational. This term, however, does not mean what it would mean in Europe, or at least in England. It means that they have been founded by or in connection with a particular church, and that they remain to some extent associated with it or influenced by it. Apart from the 81 state or municipal institutions, only 84 out of the 493 mentioned in the educational report state that they are unsectarian. The Methodists claim 77 colleges; the Presbyterians, 54; the Baptists, 39; the Roman Catholics, 52; the Congregationalists, 10; the Protestant Episcopalians, 2. But, except as regards the Roman Catholic institutions, there is seldom any exclusion of teachers, and never of students, belonging to other churches, nor any attempt to give the instruction (except, of course, in the theological department, if there be one) a sectarian cast; this indeed is apt to be expressly repudiated by them. Although it usually happens that students belonging to the church which influences the college are more numerous than those of any other church, students of other persuasions abound; nor are efforts made to proselytize them. For instance, Harvard retains a certain flavour of Unitarianism, and has one or two Unitarian clergymen among the professors in its theological faculty; Yale has always been Congregationalist, and has by its charter ten Congregationalist clergymen among the trustees; and moreover had formerly Congregationalist clergymen as its presidents, as Brown University has a Baptist clergyman.25 Princeton is still more specifically Presbyterian, and the Episcopalians have several denominational colleges in which the local bishop is one of the trustees. But in none of these is there anything approaching to a test imposed upon professors; all are resorted to alike by students belonging to any church or to none.
In all the older universities, and in the vast majority of the more recent ones, there is a chapel in which religious services are regularly held, short prayers on the five weekdays and sometimes also a full service twice on Sundays. In most institutions every student, unless of course he has some conscientious objection, is expected to attend. The service seldom or never contains anything of a sectarian character, and arrangements are sometimes made for having it conducted by the clergy of various denominations in turn. Even among the professedly neutral new state universities, there are some which, like the University of Michigan, have daily prayers. There are of course persons who think that an unsectarian place of education cannot be a truly Christian place of education, and Cornell University in its early days had to face attacks directed against it on this score.26 But the more prevalent view is that a university ought to be in a general sense religious without being sectarian.27 An interesting experiment in unsectarian religious worship has for some time past been tried at Harvard. Attendance at the college chapel, formerly compulsory, is now voluntary, and short morning daily services with extempore prayers are conducted by the chaplains, who are eminent ministers of different denominations, serving in turn for a few weeks each. The late Dr. Phillips Brooks was one of them; and his short addresses profoundly impressed the students.
The Provision of University Education for Women.
The efforts made and experiments tried in this matter furnish material for a treatise. All I have space to mention is that these efforts have chiefly flowed in two channels. One is the admission of women to coeducation with men in the same places of higher education. This has gone on for many years in some of the denominational colleges of the West, such as Oberlin and Antioch in Ohio. Both sexes have been taught in the same classes, meeting in the hours of recreation, but lodged in separate buildings. My informants generally commended the plan, declaring that the effect on the manners and general tone of the students was excellent. The state universities founded of late years in the West are by law open to women as well as to men. The number of women attending is always smaller than that of men, yet in some institutions it is considerable, as for instance at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor there were, in 1911–12, 810 women and 4,120 men, in that of California 1,710 women and 3,088 men, in that of Minnesota, 1,746 women and 3,143 men, while Oberlin had 1,064 women and 670 men and Chicago 3,611 women and 3,421 men. The students live where they will, but are taught in the same classes, generally, however, sitting on the opposite side of the classroom from the men. The evidence given to me as to the working of this system in the Universities of California and Michigan, as well as in Cornell University, was on the whole favourable, save that the young men sometimes find the competition of the girls rather severe, and call them “study machines,” observing that they are more eager, and less addicted to sports or to mere lounging.
In the Eastern states the tendency has been to establish universities or colleges exclusively for women, and cases are known to me in which institutions that received both sexes ended by having a distinct department or separate college for women. There are persons even in the East who would prefer the scheme of coeducation, but the more general view is that the stricter etiquette and what is called the “more complex civilization” of the older states render this undesirable.28 The total number of colleges specially for women was given in the Education Report for 1909 at 113, at two grades. In Division A were 16 colleges, with 357 male and 568 female instructors and 8,610 students of whom 142 were in preparatory departments. The 97 colleges in Division B might more fitly be described as “upper schools” with 301 male instructors, 1,443 women, 12,211 “collegiate students” and 6,691 preparatory. The number of degrees conferred was 978. Among these colleges the best known, and apparently the most complete and efficient,29 are Vassar, at Poughkeepsie, New York; Wellesley, Smith, and Mount Holyoke in Massachusetts; Bryn Mawr in Pennsylvania. In visiting three of these, I was much impressed by the earnestness and zeal for learning by which both the professors and the students seemed to be inspired, as well as by the high level of the teaching given. They have happily escaped the temptation to which some similar institutions in England were in danger of yielding, of making everything turn upon degree examinations. Harvard has established, in what was called its Annex, but is now more generally known as Radcliffe College, a separate department for women, in which the university professors lecture. I have no adequate data for comparing the quality of the education given to women in America with that provided by women’s colleges, and especially by those in Cambridge and Oxford, in England, but there can be no doubt that the eagerness to make full provision for women has been keener in the former country, and that amuch larger number avail themselves of what has been provided.
The European reader will by this time have perceived how hard it is to give such a general estimate of the educational and social worth of the higher teaching in the United States as one might give of the universities of Germany, England, and Scotland. In America the universities are not, as they are in those countries, a well-defined class of institutions. Not only is the distance between the best and the worst greater than that which in Germany separates Leipzig from Rostock, or in England Cambridge from Durham, but the gradations from the best down to the worst are so imperceptible that one can nowhere draw a line and say that here the true university stops and the pretentious school begins.30 As has been observed already, a large number present the external seeming and organization—the skeleton plan, so to speak—of a university with the actual performance of a rather raw school.
Moreover, the American universities and colleges are in a state of transition. True, nearly everything in America is changing, the apparently inflexible Constitution not excepted. But the changes that are passing in the universities are only to be paralleled by those that pass upon Western cities. The number of small colleges, especially in the Mississippi and Pacific states, has greatly increased since 1870. The character of the Eastern universities is being constantly modified. The former multiply, because under the federal system, every state likes to have its own universities numerous, and its inhabitants independent of other states, even as respects education; while the abundance of wealth, the desire of rich men to commemorate themselves and to benefit their community, and the rivalry of the churches, lead to the establishment of new colleges where none are needed, and where money would be better spent in improving those which exist. Individualism and laissez faire have, in this matter at least, free scope, for a state legislature is always ready to charter any number of new degree-giving bodies.31 Meanwhile, the great institutions of the Atlantic states continue to expand and develop not merely owing to the accretion of wealth to them from the liberality of benefactors, but because they are in close touch with Europe, resolved to bring their highest education up to the European level and to keep pace with the progress of science, filled with that love of experiment and spirit of enterprise which are so much stronger in America than anywhere else in the world.
Not the least interesting of the phenomena of the last thirty years is the struggle which has gone on in the Middle and Western states between the greater, and especially the state universities, and the small denominational colleges. The latter, which used to have the field to themselves, are now afraid of being driven off it by the growth of the former, and not only redoubled their exertions to increase their own resources and students, but—in some states—to prevent the state university from obtaining larger grants from the state treasury. They alleged that the unsectarian character of the state establishments, as well as the freedom allowed to their students, made them less capable of giving a moral and religious training. But as the graduates of the state universities became numerous in the legislatures and influential generally, and as it was more and more clearly seen that the small colleges would not, for want of funds, provide the various appliances—libraries, museums, laboratories, and so forth—which universities need, the balance inclined in favour of the state universities. It is probable that while these will rise towards the level of their Eastern sisters, many of the denominational colleges will subside into the position of places of preparatory training.
One praise which has often been given to the universities of Scotland may be given to those of America. While the German universities have been popular but not free, while the English universities have been free32 but not popular, the American universities have been both free and popular. Although some have been managed on too narrow a basis, the number has been so great that the community have not suffered. They have been established so easily, they have so fully reflected the habits and conditions of the people, as to have been accessible to every stratum of the population. They show all the merits and all the faults of a development absolutely uncontrolled by government, and little controlled even by the law which binds endowments down to the purposes fixed by a founder,33 because new foundations were constantly rising, and new endowments were accruing to the existing foundations. Accordingly, while a European observer is struck by their inequalities and by the crudeness of many among them, he is also struck by the life, the spirit, the sense of progress, which pervades them. In America itself educational reformers are apt to deplore the absence of control. They complain of the multiplication of degree-giving bodies, and consequent lowering of the worth of a degree. They point to such instances as the dissipation over thirty-five colleges in Ohio of the funds and teaching power which might have produced one first-rate university. One strong institution in a state does more, they argue, to raise the standard of teaching and learning, and to civilize the region which it serves, than can be done by twenty weak ones.
The European observer, while he admits this, conceives that his American friends may not duly realize the services which these small colleges perform in the rural districts of the country. They get hold of a multitude of poor men, who might never resort to a distant place of education. They set learning in a visible form, plain, indeed, and humble, but dignified even in her humility, before the eyes of a rustic people, in whom the love of knowledge, naturally strong, might never break from the bud into the flower but for the care of some zealous gardener. They give the chance of rising in some intellectual walk of life to many a strong and earnest nature who might otherwise have remained an artisan or storekeeper, and perhaps failed in those avocations. They light up in many a country town what is at first only a farthing rushlight, but which, when the town swells to a city, or when endowments flow in, or when some able teacher is placed in charge, becomes a lamp of growing flame, which may finally throw its rays over the whole state in which it stands. In some of these smaller Western colleges one finds today men of great ability and great attainments, one finds students who are receiving an education quite as thorough, though not always as wide, as the best Eastern universities can give. I do not at all deny that the time for more concentration has come, and that restrictions on the power of granting degrees would be useful. But one who recalls the history of the West during the second half of the last century, and bears in mind the tremendous rush of ability and energy towards a purely material development which has marked its people, will feel that this uncontrolled freedom of teaching, this multiplication of small institutions, have done for the country a work which a few state-regulated universities might have failed to do. The higher learning is in no danger. The great universities of the East, as well as one or two in the West, are already beginning to rival the ancient universities of Europe. They wll soon have far greater funds at their command with which to move towards the same ideal as Germany sets before herself; and they have already what is better than funds—an ardour and industry among the teachers which equals that displayed early in the last century in Germany by the foremost men of the generation which raised the German schools to their glorious eminence.
It may be thought that an observer familiar with two universities which are among the oldest and most famous in Europe, and are beyond question the most externally sumptuous and beautiful, would be inclined to disparage the corresponding institutions of the United States, whose traditions are comparatively short, and in whose outward aspect there is little to attract the eye or touch the imagination. I have not found it so. An Englishman who visits America can never feel sure how far his judgment has been affected by the warmth of the welcome he receives. But if I may venture to state the impression which the American universities have made upon me, I will say that while of all the institutions of the country they are those of which the Americans speak most modestly, and indeed deprecatingly, they are those which seem to be at this moment making the swiftest progress, and to have the brightest promise for the future. They are supplying exactly those things which European critics have hitherto found lacking to America: and they are contributing to her political as well as to her contemplative life elements of inestimable worth.
 Emmanuel was a college then much frequented by the Puritans. Of the English graduates who emigrated to New England between 1620 and 1647, nearly one hundred in number, three-fourths came from the University of Cambridge.
 In 1636 the General Court of the colony of Massachusetts Bay agreed “to give Four Hundred Pounds towards a school or college, whereof Two Hundred Pounds shall be paid the next year, and Two Hundred Pounds when the work is finished, and the next Court to appoint where and what building.” In 1637 the General Court appointed a commission of twelve “to take order for a college at Newtoun.” The name Newton was presently changed to Cambridge. John Harvard’s bequest being worth more than twice the £400 voted, the name of Harvard College was given to the institution; and in 1642 a statute was passed for the ordering of the same. Teaching began in 1650.
 The Virginians had worked at this project for more than thirty years before they got their charter and grant. “When William and Mary had agreed to allow £2000 out of the quit rents of Virginia towards building the college, the Rev. Mr. Blair went to Seymour, the attorney-general, with the royal command to issue a charter. Seymour demurred. The country was then engaged in war, and could ill afford to plant a college in Virginia. Mr. Blair urged that the institution was to prepare young men to become ministers of the gospel. Virginians, he said, had souls to be saved as well as their English countrymen. ‘Souls!’ said Seymour. ‘Damn your souls! Make tobacco!’”—The College of William and Mary, by Dr. H. B. Adams. This oldest of Southern colleges was destroyed in the Civil War  (it has recently received a national grant of $64,000 as compensation), but was restored, and has been reendowed by the legislature of Virginia in 1888.
 As respects government the American university more resembles the newer type of university recently created in some great cities, which is governed by a council in which various elements are represented and, for some educational purposes, by its faculty.
 The Scotch universities (since the Act of 1858), under their university courts, present, however, a certain resemblance to the American system, inasmuch as the governing body is in these institutions not the teaching body.
 These figures are to some extent imperfect, because a few institutions omit to send returns, and cannot be compelled to do so, the federal government having no authority in the matter. The number of degree-giving bodies, teachers, and students is therefore somewhat larger than is here stated, but how much larger it is not easy to ascertain.
 Mr. Johns Hopkins gave £700,000 to the university he founded at Baltimore. In 1906–7 the State University of Wisconsin received from its state treasury $624,456, that of California $446,040, that of Illinois $350,000. The legislature of California has since further raised its grant. Some universities, such as Columbia (in New York), Harvard, and Chicago, have very large revenues derived from private endowments. A magnificent endowment was given by Mr. Leland Stanford, senator for California, to found a new university at Palo Alto in that state, and still more recently Mr. John D. Rockefeller bestowed immense sums on the new university (opened in 1891) he established in Chicago.
 In Harvard the government is vested in a self-renewing body of seven persons called the corporation, or technically, the President and Fellows of Harvard College, who have the charge of the property; and in a board of overseers, appointed formerly by the legislature, now by the graduates, five each year to serve for six years, with a general supervision of the educational system, educational details and discipline being left to the faculty.
 The president of a college was formerly usually, and in denominational colleges almost invariably, a clergyman, and generally lectured on mental and moral philosophy. (When a layman was chosen at Harvard in 1828 the clergy thought it an encroachment.) He is today not so likely to be in orders. However, of the forty Ohio colleges twenty have clerical presidents. The greater universities of the East and the Western state universities are now usually ruled by laymen. Even some of the denominational colleges have no longer clerical heads.
 President Eliot gives it for Harvard at 22 years and 7 months.
 Many students now come from Europe and Asia. In 1909 there were in 34 United States universities 1,467 from abroad, including 458 from Asia (including 158 Japanese and 193 Chinese, with 60 from the East Indies), 313 from Europe, 154 from South America, and 64 from Australia.
 I remember one in Yale of 1753, called South Middle, which was venerated as the oldest building there.
 The University of Virginia was an exception, having received from the enlightened views of Jefferson an impulse towards greater freedom.
 The small colleges were the more unwilling to drop Greek as a compulsory subject because they think that by doing so they would lose the anchor by which they held to the higher culture, and confess themselves to be no longer universities. But Greek declines in them also.
 At Harvard I was informed that about one-third of the students came from the public (i.e., publicly supported) schools. The proportion is in most universities larger. There is a growing tendency in America, especially in the East, for boys of the richer class to be sent to private schools, and the number and excellence of such schools increases. The total number of endowed academies, seminaries, and other private secondary schools over the country in 1912 is returned as 2,044, with 12,110 pupils (7,646 boys and 4,464 girls) preparing for a college classical course; 8,575 pupils (7,679 boys and 896 girls) preparing for a scientific course. But these figures are far from complete.
 Honorary degrees are in some institutions, and not usually those of the highest standing, conferred with a profuseness which seems to argue an exaggerated appreciation of inconspicuous merit.
 Among the degree titles awarded in some institutions to women, the titles of Bachelor and Master being deemed inappropriate, are the following—Laureate of Science, Proficient in Music, Maid of Philosophy, Mistress of Polite Literature, Mistress of Music (North American Review for March 1885).
 If this be true of England, the evil is probably no smaller under the class prize system of Scotland.
 In 1909 there were said to be 298 American students enrolled at the German universities.
 The Report of the Bureau of Education for 1911–12 gives the total number of scholarships and fellowships at 13,989, but does not state how many are awarded by competition. Of these, 7,073 were reported from the North Atlantic states.
 Fees, in the West especially, are low. In the University of Michigan a student belonging to the state pays $10 on admission and an annual fee of $30 (Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts), or $45 (other departments), students from without the state paying $25 (admission), $40 (Department of Literature, etc.), $55 (other departments), with special fees in law and laboratory courses.
 Sophomores and freshmen have a whimsical habit of meeting one another in dense masses and trying which can push the other aside on the stairs or path. This is called “rushing.” In some universities the admission of women as students has put an end to it. Hazing has diminished of late years.
 There are, of course, other students’ societies and social clubs, sometimes expensive and exclusive, besides these Greek letter ones.
 Brown University, formerly called Rhode Island College (founded in 1764), is in the rather peculiar position of having by its regulations four denominations, Baptists, Congregationalists, Episcopalians, and Quakers, equally represented on its two governing bodies, the trustees and the fellows, the Baptists having a majority.
 At Cornell University there exists a Sunday preachership endowed with a fund of $30,000 (£6000), which is used to recompense the services of distinguished ministers of different denominations who preach in succession during twenty-one Sundays of the academic year. The founder was an Episcopalian, whose first idea was to have a chaplaincy limited to ministers of his denomination, but the trustees refused the endowment on such terms. The only students who absent themselves are Roman Catholics.
 This idea is exactly expressed in the regulations for the most recent great foundation, that of Mr. Leland Stanford in California. It is declared to be the duty of the trustees “to prohibit sectarian instruction, but to have taught in the University the immortality of the soul, the existence of an all-wise and benevolent Creator, and that obedience to His laws is the highest duty of man.” The founders further declare, “While it is our desire that there shall be no sectarian teaching in this institution, it is very far from our thoughts to exclude divine service. We have provided that a suitable building be erected, wherein the professors of the various religious denominations shall from time to time be invited to deliver discourses not sectarian in character.” On the other hand, the still more recent foundation of Mr. Rockefeller at Chicago prescribes that “at all times two-thirds of the trustees and also the president of the university and of its said college shall be members of regular Baptist churches—and in this particular the charter shall be for ever unalterable.” All professorships, however, are to be free from any religious tests.
 As the late Mr. George William Curtis wrote: “It is now settled that Juliet may study, but shall she study with Romeo?—that is a question which gives even Boston pause.”
 In 1913–14 Wellesley had 1,480 students, with 133 professors and teachers and an income from all sources of $716,000. Smith College had 1,548 students, 127 instructors and an income from all sources of $581,000. Vassar had 1,073 students, 115 instructors and an income of $1,176,108. Bryn Mawr had 469 students, 67 instructors and an income of $331,274. The proportion of men teachers to women teachers varied from one-third to two-thirds.
 Even in Europe it is curious to note how each country is apt to think the universities of the other to be rather schools than universities. The Germans call Oxford and Cambridge schools, because they have hitherto given comparatively little professional and specialized teaching. The English call the Scotch universities schools because many of their students enter at fifteen.
 The New York legislature recently offered a charter to the Chatauqua gathering, one of the most interesting institutions in America, and one most thoroughly characteristic of the country, standing midway between a popular university and an educational camp meeting, and representing both the religious spirit and the love of knowledge which characterize the better part of the native American middle and poorer classes. It has been imitated in the West; there are many such gatherings called Chautauquas.
 Free as regards self-government in matters of education, for they were tightly bound by theological restrictions till 1871.
 The law of most American states has not yet recognized the necessity of providing proper methods for setting aside the dispositions made by founders when circumstances change or their regulations prove unsuitable. Endowments, if they continue to increase at their present rate, will become a very doubtful blessing unless this question is boldly dealt with. The difficulties of so dealing are complicated by the provisions of the federal Constitution.