« PreviousContinue »
STATE AID TO HIGHER EDUCATION.
The first and all-important active power of Congress is the obligation “to lay and collect taxes and duties.” It is well known that nothing of this kind has been done by that body for higher educational institutions. The millions spoken of above have arisen not from taxation, but from the sale of lands. The extraordinary slowness with which new ideas, if left to themselves, are disseminated, so that practically the large mass of people, as Burke says, are fifty years behind the times,' has caused the Federal Government to provide agencies for the investigation and careful compilation of new conceptions concerning public health-intellectual, moral, and physical-and national interests, but no institution for the classroom instruction of young persons has been established by the Federal Government, except for the education of the officers of the Army and Navy, the emancipated slaves, and for the wild Indians. The Federal Government has given lands; it is left to the States to tax the property of its citizens for higher education, with which the Federal Government has had nothing to do except so far as the acts of 1890 and 1887 are concerned, and the limitations imposed by the acts of 1787 and 1862 as to the use of the funds granted during those years. Let us see how the States have availed themselves of this privilege of taxing themselves for higher education.
In making this study it is convenient to single out the State of líassachusetts for her early action; the State of New York for her administratively comprehensive action; the State of Virginia for her treatment of the univorsity as the universitas scientiarum of the schoolmen, or the “ Einheit der Lehro” of the Germans, and the State of Michigan as effecting a sort of hybrid of these three, at first, in 1817, with marked preference for the Virginia idea, then of the New York idea of a university distributed all over the State, and finally of the Massachusetts college idea combined with the Virginia idea again, as in the first place, when the paper institution on the Jeffersonian plan, called University Michigania, or Catholepistemiad, was characterized by the French Revolutionary craze for bastard verbal compounds from the classic languages.?
In Massachusetts, says Prof. C. K. Adams, we find the legislature, before the seventeenth century had half run its course, doing six different acts in connection with higher education—to wit, by making a grant for a college (Harvard), by laying an annual tax to support it, by fixing its location, by superintending the erection of its buildings, by appointing a curator paid by the State, by removing an incumbent and appointing his successor, In other words, in order to found a college, Massachusetts, though having fewer than 4,000 inhabitants, gave £100 in cash, the annual earnings of the Boston-Charlestown ferry, and to a man who had promised that he, as president, would devote his life to building up the college 500 acres of land, and when he failed turned him out forthwith. This was in 1636–1640. The ministers of Georgo III, one hundred and
1 It is very rare indeed for men to be wrong in their feelings concerning public misconduct; as rare to be right in their speculation upon th cause of it. I have constantly observed that the generality of people are fifty years at least behind in their politics. There are very few who are capable of comparing and digesting what passes before their eyes at different times and occasions so as to form the whole into a distinct system. But in books everything is settled for them without the exertion of any considerable diligence or sagacity. For which reason men are wise with but little reflection and good with little self-denial in the business of all times except their own. (Present Discontents.)
· Catholepistemiad the place where knowledge or all the sciences are taught. A professorship was called a "didaxia.” Absurdities of this kind are common to revolutions. The French Revolution turned 1793-94 into "the year 1;" so did the revolting Sicilians in their age; so did Rienzi. The later scholastics changed their names-Schwartzerde became Melancthon=black earth, etc. Mr. Jefferson wanted the States on the Northwest to be called Michigania, Polypotamia, etc.
forty years later, came with great rapidity to the conclusion that Boston was not a good center from which to subdue the rebellion of their fellow-citizens, though a decided center of the rebellion. The fact is now accepted—“higher education is the best national defense.” “You are eternally quoting Germany to us,” said a member of the French House of Representatives to the minister of public instruction, Mr. Berthelot, who was addressing that body on higher education. “Yes,” replied the minister, blandly, “always Germany. We all very well know why." “It was not the schoolmaster that conquered at Sadowa,” said Renan, “but German science,” which is just as much as to say "the German universities.” The earliest direct tax for education was imposed for this Massachusetts college (1 peck of corn, or its equivalent, 12d.), paid by each family. So much for Massachusetts and her college, which all educated Americans regard as an Englishman regards Oxforil or a Frenchman regards the Sorbonne.
The State of New York has shown in the management of all the higher educational institutions within her borders a sense of the importance of their influence and of its own moral duty to supervise as well as to foster them which was mani. fested by no other State of the Union until recent years. Her method of treatment was quite original, being unlike that of the Université de France, which came, indeed, shortly after it, and of the University of Oxford, which had preceded it many centuries. The French Revolutionary assemblies had early united the five great scientific bodies of France into a federal system called the Institut de France. This much being accomplished for literature and science, two projects were advanced about 1790, one for centralizing and one for federalizing the influence of higher education in France. The abbé, politician, and subsequent prince, Talleyrand, advocated the first and would have l'institut enseignant (the teaching institute or university) centralized at Paris; but the federal system was advocated by the celebrated Condorcet, scientist and martyr. Vr. Condorcet remarked in the French Assembly, “ We propose to establish in France nine colleges which will be lights shining from many points at the same time, and thus their effect will be more equally distributed among the citizens.” The projects fell through, until, in 1806, Napoleon created the Université de France, originally intended as an examining body, with a grand master at Paris and committees or “faculties” in the provinces. Far different is the system at Oxford. There, as originally in France, the “university” is equally unreal as a teaching entity; nevertheless the University of Oxford has a definite habitat and is an idea founded on facts, which facts are the colleges and halls which have been from time to time established by private or royal benefactions as the dwelling place of instruction. Scatter the Oxford colleges over the State of New York and increase their number and you have made the initial step in conceiving the character of the institution called the University of the State of New York. It is an institution sadly needed in other States to go up and down testing the fitness of people to begin higher studies, and deciding upon the fitness of institutions to be incorporated, especially those who wish to be empowered to confer degrees. Pennsylvania has within a year adopted, though creating a different agency, this wise administrative measure.
There is no more substantial monument to the respect paid to the character of Mr. Jefferson than the founding of the University of Virginia by that State. It was an institution conceived on university lines, in which the curriculum embraced the world of science while preserving the unity of instruction known among the Germans as the Einheit der Lehre. It does not appear that there was any enthusiasm created among the Virginians for an institution with such an ideal. Private colleges were meeting the demands of the people, who were justifiably satisfied that the education given in those institutions was as good as any given elsewhere. Liberty, not science, was the object of their aspirations, and they preferred a village Hampden refusing ship money for the use of a tyrannical king to a Humboldt traveling about the globe collecting snakes and climbing vol
canoes. Yet these gentlemen, bred up on Plutarch, Tacitus, and Livy, had the distinguished merit to found a modern American university in the year 1817. Having once established the university, it became a matter of honor to maintain it, but otherwise to leave it to its own resources.'
“The history of State higher education in Michigan," says Professor Blackmar, "centers around one institution, but that institution is the foremost university of the great West, and, indeed, the first model of a complete State university in America.” In 1817 the Catholepistemiad, or University Michigania, was a mere paper concern. In 1825 an idea was conceived of having a university of Michigan composed of a hundred colleges, something on the order of the University of New York, but one to be for the higher education of women, another a normal, still another an agricultural department, all focusing in or at the “university," whose “regents" were to help support them while the counties did the rest. “The extensive plan early entertained for the branch schools of the University of Michigan," says Mr. Blackmar, who prefers to ascribe this idea to the influence of the German gymnasia, as he does the Catholepistemiad, or University Michigania, to the University of Berlin of 1810, for instance, “resulted in nothing further than the es!ablishment of an excellent system of high schools connected directly with the university curriculum, but entirely independent of the institution in their support and government.” In Michigan the secondary and higher education are knit together by mutual understanding; in New York they are connected by a “university;"' in Virginia the university is still a concentrated establishment, whose sphere of direct influence is confined to its own precincts; but none of these things can be affirmed of the Massachusetts university at Cambridge.
Great as are the difficulties of making a thoroughly accurate statement concerning the endowment in the shape of lands given by the Federal Government to the several States, they are greatly inferior to those encountered in attempting to relate what the State has given. The legislatures of newly admitted States are not always the best informed persons as to the proper disposition of lands and money for higher education, and some unfortunate legislation undoubtedly has resulted; but it is to be remarked that, bearing in mind the vast quantities of cheap public lands still retained by the United States up to 1850, all statements of gross mismanagement as “proved” by meager returns are to be carefully weighed before adoption. The first great difficulty with the university fund while it was still land was to sell it profitably at an early day; the second, when the land had been converted into money, was to invest the money at remunerative rates. Upon these rocks of educational land financiering perhaps several legislatures wrecked the hopes of an endowment for a State university; and then, in a inood of contrition for the evil which had followed from their acts, assumed the loss as a debt, the interest on which was thereafter to be paid by public taxation. It is judicious, therefore, to leave the subject of the management of these funds to the historian
1 Extract from the report of the committee of schools and colleges of the legislature of Virginia, against the expediency of withdrawing the $15,000 annually from the University of Virginia, 1815, Document No. 41:
* It would, on some accounts, certainly be desirable were our university, like Harvard and several others, sustained entirely or in great part by funds derived from the munificence of individuals. But it should not be forgotten that, while by this means the public would be relieved from the annual contribution now required, the general interests of the community as affected by the operations of the institution would be either wholly neglected or but partially secured. The entire government and organization devolving upon self-elective boards of trustees irresponsible to the State would of necessity be exposed to the narrowing influences springing from the predilections and prejudices of religious sects and classes of society, and the university, by an easy transition, losing the liberal features of a school suited equally to all, would become the property and the spoiled favorite of a particular denomination or rank." (Report drawn for committee by W. B. Rogers, chairman of the faculty of the university, and apparentiy presented as the report of the committee.) Life and Letters of William B. Rogers, first president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Appendix A to Vol. I.
of each State, who can award the praise or blame that a thorough investigation of
At the present day the connection of the State and higher education seems to be
Tho method now coming into vogue is to levy directly a specifically named tax
A list of the States taxing the people directly for higher education is given below:
not include technical colleges unless same are colleges of the university.)
Colorado (University of Colorado).--Tax of one-fifth of a mill. (Also taxes itself to the same amount for its agricultural college and its school of mines.)
Georgia (University of Georgia).-Annual appropriation for eleven years of $6,090, or $60,000.
Idaho (University of Idaho).-Annual appropriation for 1892, 1893, 1894, and 1895 of three-fourths of a mill on assessed value of property in State. In 1893 this yielded $22,307.
Indiana (University of Indiana).-Tax for twelve years, 1883–1895, of 5 mills on
Kentucky (Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky).—Tax of 5 inills
Maine (University of Maine).-In 1897 an annual appropriation for ten years of
Maryland.-The appropriation to St. John's College.
Michigan (University of Michigan).-Tax of one-twentieth of a mill on $1,
Minnesota (University of Minnesota).-In 1897 tho legislature increased the tax
Missouri (University of Missouri).-Refund of direct tax by Federal Govern-
Nebraska (University of Nebraska).- Tax on property of 1 mill, 1869–1873; tax
on property of three-eighths of a mill, 1873-1897. This yielded but $32,000 in 1873; in 1897, $170,000; in 1897, $70,000.
Ohio (State University).---Tax by State of one-twentieth of a mill (capitalized at 4 per cent=$2,250,000), 1891-1995; in 1896, one-tenth of a mill.
Oregon (University of Oregon).- Tax by State of one-tenth of a mill, 1882–1887; tax by State of one-seventh of a mill, 1887–1892; granted by State since 1893, $30,000 annually.
Virginia (University of Virginia).-Annual appropriation, 1818-1876, $15.000; annual appropriation, 1877-1881, $30,000; annual appropriation, 1885–1891, $10,000; annual appropriation, 1895–1897, $50,000.
Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin). --Tax in 1883, one-eighth of a mill; in 1891, one-tenth of a mill. Also (laws 1893), for two years an additional State tax of one-fifth of a mill for each dollar of assessed value of taxable property for increased administrative expenditures. In 1896 these taxes yielded $75,431, $60,347, and $120,695.
The other great purpose for which taxes have been laid by the States to establish higher education is a very costly one--the construction of adequate buildings. The most conclusive way of arriving at the amount of this species of State taxation would be to sum up the value of the grounds and buildings were it not very frequently the case that private benefactors have built and presented one or more of the buildings or the grounds upon which the university is placed. Despite this defect, however, such a method is here adopted; for we are dealing on this occasion with the aid furnished by the Federal and State governments to establish universities; and had there been no such action on the part of the Government there would have been no occasion to present lands to them for sites or to provide and furnish science halls and dormitories to facilitate their instruction or accommodate their students. It is thought that such benefactions would not probably have gone to other institutions, in the first place, because they are largely given by an alumnus in grateful memory of his alma mater, and, in the second, are due to a patriotic feeling for the renown of the State. The value of the property in the form of grounds, buildings, and apparatus of the institutions named under each State, as hereafter given, is $41,000,000.
On a subsequent occasion it is hoped that it will be possible to present a statement of the total amount given by the several States to maintain higher education. In this chapter it is impossible to do more than to give the total amount of productive funds reported by the institutions which are named in the summary with which the chapter now clcses. The amount of these productive funds, including the quasi State universities of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Cornell, is $51,673,233, of which about $30,000,000 belongs to the four universities named. It thus appears that institutions that have been materially aided by Federal and State governments possess about $92,000,000 worth of property either as real estate and apparatus or as “productive funds."
Summary of Federal and State aid given to establish higher education in
13144,239 estimated as lost (Histy. Ed. in Ala., Clark, p. 45) and fund fixed at $230,000 by State in