11. Emergent University, II: Emboldened Faculty

Alma Mater/Spring 2014
February 26, 2014

11. The Emergent University, II:  Faculty Emboldened

Monday recap:
Proliferation of institutional types – public and private
Importance of new sources of funding  — public and private
State legislatures for state colleges
Federal appropriations/grants  to help states with A & M colleges
Private benefactions for “new” institutions
LACs no longer the norm à a regional character
Functional differentiation — Pyramid
1860 – 1920
# institutions doubled    500+ à  1000
# faculty x 10    5000 à 10,000
# students  x 10  60,000 à 600,000   [of age group of 12,000,000]

1920 still less than 5% of 18-24 year olds collegians
1920 — < ¼ of population attending high school; 15% graduating??
Not yet the democratization of higher education – to occur in 1920s and 1960s


Focus on those instns which acquired the character of universities: 12-member
American Association of Universities (1900)

Old conversions – Harvard/Columbia             [Yale/Princeton/Penn]
New entities – privates — Cornell/JHU/Stanford/U Chicago
publics – California/Michigan/Wisconsin

Mistakes – Catholic University/Clark University – both withdraw….
Today, some 60 universities

Hallmarks of the Research University:
Not primarily focused on/privileging undergraduate instruction for the  “College”
Substantial numbers of professional school programs – law/medicine/engineering
PhD-granting graduate programs in several arts and sciences disciplines
Active research programs expected of its faculty;
Permanent faculty appointments turn on scholarly standing
Significant portion of its revenues attributable to research funding/patents

Institutional reorderings  accompanies these developments – Who’s in charge?

Not the undergraduates —

Other possibilities:

1. Founding benefactors? – Cornell/Hopkins/Stanford/Rockefeller
Cornell/Hopkins/Leland Stanford all die too early
Mrs. Stanford/John D.
Surprisingly little say in the doings of their namesakes….

2. The presidents installed at the start?
AD White/DC Gilman/DS Jordan/WR Harper
At the older instns – CW Eliot/FAP Barnard/Seth Low
[Probably the era most characterized by real presidential authority?]
Presidents known by the reading public – Woodrow Wilson
Next generation of presidents  — drawn from administrators with experience in professordom
more than from corporate world
CU – NMB/GK/WMcGill/MSovern/GRupp/LBollinger – only Seth Low, Ike and ACordier
HU – CWE/JBC/NP/DB/LS/DG Faust – only Abbott Lawrence Lowell

3. The trustees?
More so at late 19th-c. Columbia – acting as brake on would be university-builder FAPB
Harvard – 7-man Corporation – Eliot-directed until late in his presidency
Yale – Its Corporation more centrally involved – ministers and alums
Primary function —  Choose the president; watch the endowment; decide plant issues (to build/expand or not?)

4. The Faculty?
DDE  — 1948 —  “Faculty — the University’s  most valued employees”
II Rabi – “Faculty – We are the University”
Hofstadter ending “The Age of the College” – Paul Chadbourne – “the faculty is the college.”

Faculty of the old-time college:
Think your most uncool substitute  high school teacher assigned to most disruptive classes….
Physically intimidatable by students; economically/occupationally intimidatable by parents; job in the gift of president/trustees; low social standing/prestige/pay;

Attractions – Not competitive as law or journalism, even ministry; not manual labor; out of the limelight; a refuge for over-educated FTLs…. Reasonable level of job security…. Not socially discreditable (bank robbing)

Columbia’s hiring of James Renwick in 1820:   CC (1807)/sec’y to Washington Irving /good war record/father-in-law a successful merchant/JR on CC board/1819 financial collapse/30-year-old JR broke/out of job/three sons/roofless?? …. Offered next opening on CC faculty and lodgings in the College.

Irving – JR’s uncle by marriage to JR’s father-in-law:

I am heartily glad that James Renwick is snugly nestled in the old college.
[It] is a safe harbor of life and a very comfortable and honorable one.

Harvard in 1830s as described to a German tourist visiting Boston:

Our practice is to give the different professorships away to young men in order
to induce them to devote themselves to the branch they are to teach. Our country
is yet to young for old professors; and, besides, they are too poorly paid to induce
first rate men to devote themselves to the business of lecturing…. We consider
professors as secondary men.”


Taste of Germany:
1820s-1840s <100 Americans studied in German universities
1850s > 300 Gottingen/Heidelberg
France’s  Ecole des Mines

Columbia College 1870 –
Ogden Rood – physics
Charles Joy – chemistry
Thomas Egleston – metallurgy
Francis Vinton – mining
Charles F. Chandler – applied chemistry

Gibbs 1854 case aspects that set the new norm:
Candidate presets universalistic (not local) credentials; degrees, publications….
Endorsements come from outside – from fellow scientists
Effectiveness as teaching of young boys discounted
Trustees’ capacity to judge challenged; their alternatives not compelling
College’s reputation seen to turn on selection….

Not present:
Providing senior faculty a role in choosing – too few competents then….

Harvard 1863  Insider CW Eliot (Harvard grad;  9 years on faculty; father a Corporation  Fellow)
vs. outsider Wolcott Gibbs –    CWE on —  “undoubtedly the first chemist in the country”
Gibbs has backing of outside scientific community Harvard’s top scientists – Benjamin Peirce/Louis Agassiz

Domestic PhDs
By 1876 – 25 or so (Yale/Cornell/Harvard/S/Mines)
By 1890 – 300 or so – JHU
By 1900 – 2000 or so. – 6-8 universities
Not all into academe – but increasing % of them

Who were these chaps/gals?  Maybe 100 women PhDs by 1900 à women’s college faculties
Emily Gregory – Zurich PhD à Barnard in 1890
Virginia C. Gildersleeve (BC  ; CU PhD     )
Many of the men sons of ministers – clergy’s declining appeal….

Not lacking in ambition;
George Santayana (Harvard PhD (1889) on his peers:

Many of the young professors… are no longer the sort of persons that might as well
have been clergymen or schoolmasters; they have rather the type of mind of a doctor,
an engineer, or a social reformer; the wide awake young man who can do most things
better than old people, and who knows it.

2500 or so highly credentialed would-be professors
500 or so research-oriented places for them at the top universities

The consequences: à A buyer’s market –

Older at first appointment; fewer false starts in other callings

“No appointment without a PhD” William James screed “The PhD Octopus”

2000 also-rans dispersed on first jobs to not-so-top instns – Texas/Nebraska — Oberlin/Bryn
Mawr/Amherst – keep their bags packed for call to “the bigs”

More inter-institutional mobility – more raiding of faculty
Hopkins PhDs: tried to get William James from Harvard
Josiah Royce – California à Harvard
Woodrow Wilson – Wesleyan à Princeton
John Dewey – Vermont/Michigan/Chicago à Columbia

University of Chicago – 1892 – President W R Harper – offers to HU/CU/JHU faculty
Struggling Clark University – all interested

Columbia into biology and psychology
Henry Fairfield Osborn – Princeton
Edmund B. Wilson  (Yale, JHU PhD 1881)– Williams/MIT/Bryn Mawr
Thomas Hunt Morgan  Kentucky/JHU/Bryn Mawr  (1892)/CU 1904-1928 (Cal Tech)

James McKeen Cattell – Freiburg/JHU – first professor of psychology at Penn; to CU in 1897
John Dewey – to CU in 1905
How much agency did these big profs have?
Organizational backing from professional societies — AHA/AEA/ APA/ and their journals
University appointments fungible – unless morally suspect behavior – or outrageous politics
Think NBA – Knicks hiring troublemakers elsewhere in the league…

Thorsten Veblen

Charles Sanders Peirce


Stretch out of probationary period for juniors at top instns – tutors/instructors/ assistant professors/associate professors
Many faculty late 30s/40 before securing permanent post

The “stars” know themselves and some are given to pushing against the conventional wisdom of Main Street and standing organizational arrangements of the University:

Biologists as evolutionists; economists critical of capitalism (pro-unions; socialists); philosophers skeptical of religious doctrine; Historians lamenting misguided governmental policies – Reconstruction/Civil War….

Stanford/Wisconsin – scene of  many  “academic freedom”  issues – the freedom of credentialed scholars to engage in the issues of their area of expertise in the classroom in their journals  – and beyond??

Two prime examples at  Columbia — [arguably] the country’s leading university in early 1900s
The largest in enrollments, faculty, schools;
the newest campus;
the biggest producer of PhDs;
the biggest endowment;
the most effective faculty raider
the most prominent/recognizable young president – Nicholas Murray Butler

James McKeen Cattell
Founding father of psychology; son of a college president; wealthy
Sweetheart deal on coming in 1891 from  Low;  no undergraduate responsibilities; 2-day schedule;
Challenging CU’s president NMB and board of trustees on their legitimacy – argued that governance belonged in the hands of the senior faculty  (internal governance)
Pages of his Science to press case for “University Control”

Charles A. Beard
Midwesterner, DePauw, England (mixed with socialists); married a progressive women(and co-author); CU PhD 1904 – very popular instructor (taught political history at Barnard); CU’s next president?
Didn’t directly challenge NMB
Critical of law school doings – Trustees appointed dean in 1909 a practicing attorney/not a scholar;
Insufficiently reverential in his writings about the Supreme Court
1913 – Really pushing the envelope in 1913 with publication of An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution  —  argument that F/Fathers shaped the Constitution to suit their perceived economic interests – and then rammed it through ratification by obscuring their real motives….

Several trustees want nothing more than to get Cattell and Beard off their payrolls – Butler not willing to risk University’s reputation  by trying to silence them or fire them.

Could be highhanded with junior or less reputationally-protected faculty

The costs of being a great university….

Others at Columbia of a similar type with a larger public profile than trustees wanted:

John Dewey – philosopher to CU in 1904
Franz Boas – anthropologist to CU
James Harvey Robinson – historian

All sitting on offers from competition ….

Back to them another lecture….

Last updated: February 25, 2014

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