Henry S. Stroupe
Wake Forest Magazine, November 1966
(Convocation Address September
In his memorable Phi Beta
Kappa oration at Harvard in 1837, Ralph Waldo Emerson declared hopefully,
"Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of
other lands, draws to close." Emerson spoke eloquently and prophetically
but not factually. For several more decades the young American nation
looked abroad for new educational ideals. They were found, not in the
British Isles or France, but in Germany. Throughout the nineteenth century
and on into the twentieth, many young Americans, ten thousand in all by
1914, trekked to Germany for advanced instruction and inspiration.
Graduate Education in the
Although the critical year
for graduate education in the United States is 1876, the date Johns Hopkins
was founded, the story begins before that. The previous half-century was
the age of the "supremacy of the master's degree" — an unearned
degree which was awarded only to the institution's own alumni, who qualified
for it, as historian Richard Storr says in The Beginnings of Graduate
Education in America, "by staying alive and out of trouble for
three years after graduation from college."
In the years before 1876 there
were several efforts, all unsuccessful, to establish graduate education
in American institutions The name university first came into American
thinking and planning during the period of the Revolution, but its use
expressed hopes rather than accomplishments. The so-called universities
of the time lacked the prerequisites of graduate training and research
facilities. At a "convention of literary and scientific gentlemen''
held New York in 1830, George Bancroft, a Ph.D. of the University of Gottingen,
popularized the slogan "The University Idea"; and Henry Dwight,
son of the President of Yale, exclaimed: "We need university like
those of Germany." Henry P. Tappan's statement in 1851 that there
were no American universities continued to be true for another quarter
of a century. He wrote: "Whatever may be the names by which we choose
to call our institutions of learning, still they are not universities.
They have neither libraries and material of learning generally, nor the
number of professors and courses of lectures, nor the large and free organization
which go to make up universities."
Finally, in 1876, John Hopkins
University the nation's first graduate school, opened under the leadership
of president Daniel Coit Gilman. The flood gates behind which power for
change had long been gathering had at last opened, and universities sprang
up all over the land. Because of the unique American governmental structure,
each of the fifty states defines its own educational standards and terminology,
and so the name university has no commonly accepted meaning throughout
the country. In general, however, academic people think of universities
as having three major characteristics: a commitment both to research and
to teaching, professional schools, and graduate curriculums leading beyond
the bachelor's and master's degrees to the Ph.D.
The promoters of American
universities comparable to those of Germany faced a major problem, namely,
should the new functions of advanced instruction and research be performed
within existing colleges or should they be handled by new post-collegiate
institutions. Educational leaders disagreed among themselves as to what
was best, and in attempting to find the answer they experimented with
three courses of action.
Some, led by Gilman insisted
upon the creation of graduate universities apart from undergraduate colleges,
which should, he suggested, become three-year institutions. Others, led
by Tappan of Michigan and William Rainey Harper of Chicago, proposed to
turn over the first two years of the colleges' programs to the secondary
schools, thereby having the universities begin with the traditional junior
year. Still others, led by Charles W. Eliot of Harvard, moved to expand
the existing colleges into comprehensive universities which would undertake
both undergraduate and graduate instruction.
Of these three types, the
comprehensive university sponsored by Eliot soon became standard. According
to W. H. Cowley in his Short History of American Higher Education,
Gilman, Tappan and Harper failed because of the stubborn will-to-live
of the colleges and also because the combination of undergraduate and
graduate instruction within a single institution had clear economic advantages.
In a history-making reorganization
in 1890, Eliot and his Harvard associates made the Faculty of Arts and
Sciences responsible for all non-professional education from the beginning
of the freshman year through the Ph.D. The other eastern colleges, concurrently
remodeling themselves into universities, adopted comparable plans, and
the state universities followed. Most important of all, the comprehensive
university thus established engaged in both teaching and research.
Opposition to Change
The controversy involved in
getting graduate study under way exhibited the resistance to change which
has traditional characterized educational institutions Bernard Berelson
in his Graduate Education in the United States points out that
most of the arguments used today against innovations in graduate study
were used in the nineteenth century against starting it at all: for example,
the always applicable position that scarce resources should not be put
into new ventures when existing undertakings need to be improved; or that
young men must not be detained from active life longer than now; nor may
the expenses of education be much increased.
Berelson observes that, "The
tension between undergraduate education and the proposed graduate variety
was strong and pervasive.... The natural hostility of college faculties
was only sharpened by the recognition that the new institution represented
science and professionalism whereas they represented the classical curriculum...."
Proponents of graduate education
spoke of the "needs of the times," pointing out that America
was rapidly becoming urbanized and industrialized. The "spirit of
the age" ultimately won out, as it always does. Today's "need
of the times" that so strongly influences graduate study is, of course,
the national security.
Research has now become so
firmly established that everyone takes it for granted, forgetting that
it had no status at all a century ago in the colleges of either the United
States or England. Indeed except for the beginnings made in Germany the
universities of the world played little, if any, part until late in the
nineteenth century in the momentous progress of science.
Controlled by the classicists,
Oxford and Cambridge looked with disdain upon what they considered to
be the spiritually unprofitable and potentially heretical grubbings of
the scientists. At the peak of his career, Benjamin Jowett, the famous
master of Balliol College, Oxford, exclaimed: "Research! A mere excuse
for idleness it has never achieved, and will never achieve, any results
of the slightest value."
In America, the academic world
never seriously sponsored scientific research until well after the Civil
War. Even President Eliot in the earlier days had his doubts about its
value. Professor C. L. Jackson relates that when he was a young teacher
of chemistry in the seventies he asked Eliot if he might be relieved of
the duty of teaching one class in order to prosecute certain investigations.
The president, in his stately manner, propounded a question to which an
answer can seldom be given — "What will be the results of these investigations?"
They would be published, was the reply. The president wanted to know where.
Mr. Jackson named a German chemical journal. "I can't see that that
will serve any useful purpose here," said Eliot and therewith dismissed
Within a few years after the
opening of Hopkins, Gilman's success there had convinced Eliot and other
administrators that the research function could no longer be neglected.
By 1892 Clark, Stanford, and Chicago had been founded and they were headed
by men who had no doubts at all about the importance of research. Harper
of Chicago wrote: "It is not enough that instructors in a university
should do the class and lecture work assigned them. This is important,
but the university will in no sense deserve the name, if time and labor
are not also expended in the work of producing that which will directly
or indirectly influence thought and life outside the university."
David Starr Jordan at Stanford asserted that teaching and research must
be completely intermingled. "Investigation," he said, "is
the basis of all good instruction. No second hand man was ever a great
teacher, and I very much doubt if any really great investigator was ever
a poor teacher."
The reformers also began to
send their students to the college libraries and to insist that book collections
he improved. In 1858 the trustees of Columbia voted to open the library
for ten rather than nine hours a week; and about the same time librarians
began to be concerned with the circulation of their books rather than
merely protecting them. Some librarians, among them John Langdon Sibley
of Harvard, gave up their custodial responsibilities reluctantly. A friend
of Sibley's meeting him on the street one day asked him why he looked
so happy. He replied, so the story goes, "All the books are in excepting
two. Professor Agassiz has those and I am going after them."
By the turn of the century
the significance of the library in a graduate institution had been fully
recognized and the building up of the great book collections of today
was under way.
Research VERSUS Teaching
The growing importance attached
to research led early in the twentieth century to a conflict between the
teaching and research functions of American educational institutions.
To get ahead in the academic world it has been necessary for a long time
for professors to give their attention to productive scholarship. The
American Association of University Professors, for example, declared in
a 1933 report: "The good teacher, even though he be conspicuously
good, often has to wait his turn for promotion in order of seniority,
because there is no systematic way of singling him out and recognizing
him by an early advancement. Success in research, on the other hand, is
bound to be observed and rewarded."
Because of their belief that
researchers were by nature good teachers, administrators of the early
graduate schools went about the business of steering their institutions
into the policy of training all graduate students to be researchers and
of completely ignoring their training as teachers. When during the nineteen
twenties the nation's colleges began to protest that the graduate schools
were sending them inadequately trained and disinterested teachers, a dozen
or so national committees arose to study the problem.
The Great Depression and World
War I diverted the attention of educators to other problems, but after
1945 interest in the relationship of research to teaching again came to
the fore. Howard Mumford Jones, who served during the war as dean of the
Harvard Graduate School, helped revive the question with his 1946 book,
Education and World Tragedy. In this volume he came out unequivocally
for a complete reformation of the graduate schools and for direct attention
to the training of college teachers as teachers. A year later Dean Harry
Carman of Columbia expressed a similar view. President Truman's commission
to study the problem asserted: "The failure of individuals to learn
how to teach is largely the failure of the present graduate school system."
Professor Cowley maintains
that the difficulty arises from the failure to realize that different
types of teachers require different types of research training. He declared
recently that, "Ever since the end of the nineteenth century the
leaders of American higher education have almost universally affirmed
that one cannot be a good teacher unless he does research. This conception
has wisely come to dominate academic thinking in all countries because
it embodies the great truths that out-of-date facts and ideas foist upon
society out-moded people, that only growing minds can arouse and hold
the interest of students, that creativity begets creativity....
agrees, to repeat, that no one can be a good teacher unless he does research;
but to this generally accepted dictum must be added another to wit, that
each individual's research should be relevant to the category of teaching
in which he specializes."
The long debate on teaching
versus research is at last producing results. In the Spring. 1966 issue
of The Educational Record, Keith Spalding deals with the matter in an
article entitled "The relevance of Federal Programs to the Purpose
of the Institutions.'' He tells that a noted mathematician visiting his
campus said, ". . . in all seriousness and with telling effect, that
he had observed a strange phenomenon in his travels: Suddenly all the
universities are preoccupied with teaching and all the colleges are concerned
with research." In view of everything that has been written on the
subject. perhaps it should not he surprising that each type of institution
is trying to meet the criticism which has been leveled against it.
There is a definable distinction
between the purposes of a university and those of a liberal arts college.
Both kinds of institutions must be engaged in the preservation, dissemination,
and extension of knowledge, but not in each of those three functions to
the same degree. The liberal arts college should seek to develop its traditional
strengths — the cultivation of taste and intellect in a relatively gracious
and leisurely environment, and the nurturing of civilized discourse and
"Yet," wrote Spalding,
"no bright and eager student wants to go to a college in which his
teachers are dated and dull. No college which aspires to excellence can
afford to resist improvements aimed at permitting, and even encouraging,
intellectual alertness and significant scholarship on the part of its-faculty
members. No foresighted educator who wants to improve his institution
can avoid the logic of reducing over-heavy teaching loads, of encouraging
efforts to involve students in personal investigation.... But if it is
true that the job of a president is to pour gasoline on sparks, it must
also be recognized that the results are predictable. These trends, once
set in motion, make more and more demands on the resources of the institution.
Society makes more demands on education. And even fiercely independent
private institutions recognize that they carry a public trust. Quantitative
and qualitative needs converge—and the only solid answer is that modern
higher education of good quality is expensive. . . Faced with inexorable
demands to renovate its facilities as well as its programs, the liberal
arts college may have no alternative but to rely more and more heavily
upon the government grant to make ends meet."
Educational institutions have
three possible source, of income — student fees, private and corporate
philanthropy, and denominational and governmental support. Historically,
ever since Hopkins began enticing students from other institutions with
fellowships because she had no undergraduates of her own, student fees
have borne only a small fraction of the cost of graduate education. This
leaves graduate schools almost entirely dependent upon the other two sources
of income for all of their needs.
The Early Days of Wake Forest
As in other American educational
institutions, proposed curricular and administrative changes have been
resisted at Wake Forest. There was, for example, the celebrated controversy
over whether theories of evolution should he taught, and a less stormy
one over whether coeds ought to be admitted as resident students.
During the first three years
of operation, the institution and its approximately 75 students were housed
in a farm dwelling, seven slave cabins, a carriage house, and a tent.
A letter written in the spring of 1835 by a student named George Washington
described a typical day.
"I will begin,"
said he, "at the dawn of day, when the loud peals of the bell arouse
us from our sweet repose. We are allowed about fifteen minutes to dress
ourselves . . . when the bell summons us to prayers. . . Just as the sun
raises his head from behind the distant forest, the Virgil class to which
I belong commences recitation.... At half past seven, the bell rings for
breakfast." Study and recitations alternated "until three o'clock,
when the bell rings long and loud for the toils of the field.... We students
engage in everything here that an honest farmer is not ashamed to do....
"Blistered hands we consider
as scars of honor, and we show them with as much pride as Marius exhibited
his scars to the wondering multitude.... A little bell calls from the
field—we enter the chapel for prayers, and immediately take supper. We
now have half an hour for amusement when the bell again calls to study.
There is no place like Wake Forest at night. The stillness of the graveyard
possesses the whole outdoor establishment . . . save when a solitary student
is heard winding his way with a pitcher in his hand to the well . . .
O what a place for meditation! — how calm, how still.... But hark there
sounds the deep notes of the bell — 'tis nine o'clock and time for bed....
Moonlight and music! . . . There's no place like Wake Forest."
A Graduate Program Evolves
The process of change got
underway immediately and has continued at a steady pace ever since. In
1838 the Manual Labor Institute was granted a new charter as Wake Forest
College. As was the practice in most colleges at that time, from the founding
until the Civil War, Wake Forest conferred bachelor's degrees based on
four years of study and master's degrees based on good behavior.
However, in the 1866 post-war
reopening and reorganization, a program of study leading to an earned
M. A. distinguished from the "in course" degree was announced.
Between 1871, when the first degrees earned under the new plan were awarded,
and 1951, 383 persons received master's degrees. Until 1887 the candidate
for the M. A. had to complete successfully all the courses of all the
"Schools" in the college. The catalogue of 1888 for the first
time prescribed certain of the courses leading to the B. A. degree as
basic for the master's degree; and for the latter required thirty additional
semester hours of work.
George W. Paschal's History
of Wake Forest College points out that the requirements were so loosely
stated that some students succeeded by selecting easy courses in earning
both degrees in four years. To correct this abuse, the 1892 catalogue
required the completion of the bachelor's first, and a grade of 90 or
more on each course in a year of post-baccalaureate study for the M. A.
A faculty committee on graduate studies was also established and a thesis
requirement introduced. This was done, it may be noted, two years after
the reorganization of Harvard's program on the basis of research-oriented
degrees and in imitation of it. In 1919 a final examination by a faculty
committee appeared as an additional requirement.
The effects of the Civil War
and World War I on graduate study at Wake Forest have now been briefly
noted. World War II had an even more significant effect. Between the spring
of 1944 and the fall of 1949, the total college enrollment increased from
the wartime low of 328 to a high of 2,171. This human flood so heavily
overloaded the faculty and so taxed the institution's resources that graduate
work had to be discontinued. By this date, the medical school had already
been moved from the town of Wake Forest to Winston-Salem, where it became
the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest College and continued
to offer the Master of Science degree.
The Division of Graduate
In 1946 the Z. Smith Reynolds
Foundation offered an annual grant in perpetuity on condition that the
entire College move to Winston-Salem. The Faculty Self-Study Report adopted
immediately prior to the removal recommended that graduate study in the
School of Arts and Sciences be resumed as soon as practicable. On January
13, 1961, the Trustees established the Division of Graduate Studies and
authorized it to award the Master of Arts degree in the School of Arts
and Sciences and the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees
in the Bowman Gray School of Medicine. Thus the Division of Graduate Studies
is a joint enterprise of the School of Arts and Sciences and the Bowman
Gray School of Medicine, and is administered by a Graduate Council composed
of two ex officio administrative officials and seven faculty members
representing the combined graduate faculties.
In 1961 M.A. degree programs
were announced in six departments. Two additional departments now have
ongoing programs and two more have been authorized. Bowman Gray awards
the Ph.D. degree in five departments and the M.S. in all of the basic
medical sciences. Expansion has been slow because of costs and the desire
to be thorough. It is, however, the policy of the Trustees and administration
to continue to add graduate programs until advanced degrees are offered
in virtually all of the academic departments.
Candidates for the master's
degree must complete at least thirty semester hours of work, including
a thesis, pass a reading examination in one modern foreign language, and
pass a final examination on the field of the thesis.
Candidates for the Ph.D. complete
two or more additional years of study, have French and German examinations,
pass a preliminary written examination. submit an acceptable dissertation
based on original investigation, and pass a final oral examination.
In the fall of 1961, 82 graduate
students were enrolled in all of the departments on both campuses offering
graduate programs. Each year since then about 15 or 20 additional students
have been enrolled. The total number this semester is 190, of whom 48
are on the Bowman Gray campus.
Since 1961 the degree has
been awarded to 8 students, the M.A. to 88, and the Ph.D. to 3. Thus Wake
Forest College is taking part in the educational growth which constitutes
one of the most amazing developments in American history.
Recent National Developments
By 1900 about 150 American
institutions were committed to graduate study. In that year they awarded
the master's degrees to 1,600 candidates and the Ph.D. to 250. The total
number of graduate degrees was about 6% of the bachelor's degrees. In
1900 only 4% of the college age population attended college. By 1940 this
figure had increased to 15% and 16% of those who received baccalaureate
degrees also earned graduate degrees.
As rapid as this expansion
seems, the truly spectacular growth was yet to come. More doctorates were
granted in this country in the past decade than in all the years up to
then. United States Office of Education reports show that during 1964-65
doctor's degrees were conferred on 16,467 persons. The University of California
(including all branches) led with 1,048; Columbia stood second with 616;
and Wisconsin's 531 came third. At the other extreme, 78 of 45
institutions which award the doctorate had fewer than five to complete
the degree last year. Despite the enormous increase, the Office of Education
predicts that there will be a "deficit" of some 120,000 Ph.D.'s.
in college faculties by 1973.
The latest figures also show
the master's degree to be in a flourishing condition. In the fall of 1964,
the 704 U.S. institutions which award the degree enrolled 478,000 candidates.
During the year ending in June 1964, master's degrees were conferred on
99,046 candidates. In the fall of 1965, the total college and university
enrollment, undergraduate and graduate, reached 5,967,411, or 33.52% of
the college age population (18-24). According to preliminary figures,
over 600,000 are now enrolled for master's and higher degrees.
Allan M. Cartter notes in
An Assessment of Quality in Graduate Education that, "By whatever
measuring rod one chooses, the expansion of graduate education has been
and continues to be dramatic, matched only by the rapidly expanding demand
for teachers. researchers, and qualified specialists in private industry,
government, and the professions who have attained the highest educational
levels." Like Whitehead, he believes that "the future . . .
lies with the nation which values and fosters education at the highest
"Are Colleges Out of
Conrad Hillberry, writing
in Antioch College Notes on the present state of higher education
in America, asked the provocative question, "Are Colleges Out of
Touch?" and concluded with the following: "As the educational
level of the country moves up — as the bachelor's degree becomes the 'normal'
stopping place for a majority of American students, and postdoctoral fellowships
become an accepted part of a researcher's training — the private colleges
are in serious danger of getting out of touch, further removed from research
and from what is happening in the world.
"It is the universities
that are conducting the laser research and the research on the genetic
code. It is the universities that staff the AID programs . . . supply
the men for the council of economic advisers, and organize centers for
research in learning. Even poets and painters gravitate to the universities,
though they are unpredictable sorts and may turn up anywhere.
"I am aware that wisdom
has not grown old, that the most profound ideas are not necessarily the
latest ones. I am also aware that for most university students the inside
of the psychology laboratory or the workings of the university program
in Puerto Rico are as remote as the inside of the CIA.... Still, there
is a tension about the universities, a feeling that there or somewhere
people are discovering things or propounding theories or drafting proposals
or influencing legislation that we will eventually hear about.
"Few colleges, I believe,
have this sense of excitement. And this, in my opinion, should be the
first concern of the colleges; not bankruptcy, not the downward encroachment
of the graduate schools nor the upward encroachment of the high schools,
not even the difficulty of finding faculty members, but a sense of separation
from the world's stir."
Friends of Wake Forest College
both inside and outside these walls are striving to keep her in touch
with the "spirit of the times," and it is my firm belief that
this will be done. All of us, working together can make our venerable
institution a still stronger and more influential center of learning.
unclear on original. (return)]
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