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Richard, George (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 56, Number 10 (Feb. 15, 1955)

Fred, E. B.
High enrollments: should they be considered a liability--or an asset?,   pp. 8-9


Page 8


high enrollments
                            should they be considere
By E. B. Fred
        President
University of Wisconsin
H IGHER EDUCATION'S role in the development of
our nation never was better understood than it is today.
      In a world split by ideological warfare, we trace to the
colleges and universities of America the sinews of our na-
tional strength. The vitality and ingenuity, the character and
competence which have given us leadership of the free world
have come, in large measure, from our system of higher edu-
cation-free, varied, and dedicated.
  Today that system is under heavy strain. In addition to its
traditional concern about funds and freedom, higher education
faces the challenge of teaching more students than ever before
in our history.
  According to a recent report from the U. S. Office of Edu-
cation, total enrollment in colleges and universities this school
year is the largest in our nation's history-more than eleven
per cent above that of 1953-54 and 1.7 per cent more than in
the fall of 1949 when the last largest enrollment was reported.
  Within a few years, higher education can expect even
sharper increases as the large baby crop, born since the early
forties, begins to arrive at the doors of our colleges and
universities.
   By 1970, most authorities figure, there will be around 70
per cent more college-age citizens than there were just last
year.
   And the growth in higher education enrollments may be
even greater than these birth statistics forecast, for our nation's
ever-increasing realization of the importance of education is
providing another factor.
   According to United States Office of Education figures,
about four out of every 100 young people of college age went
to college or university back in 1900. Today, those statistics
indicate it is about 30 out of every 100. Though we give or
8
take a few, because of changes in reporting systems over the
years, the enrollment problem we face is plain to all who study
the situation.
  But it is a problem capable of solution.
  The first step in meeting it-building general awareness
that the problem exists and will intensify-is well under way.
This article is an effort to further that basic preparation.
  The second step is action-recruiting and training teachers,
adopting policies and procedures, acquiring equipment, and
erecting buildings necessary to handle the additional students.
  Many of our local school systems throughout the nation,
which felt this problem some time ago, have shown how it
can be met without panic or fear. It is oversimplification to
point out that business meets, continually and joyfully, the
problem of added customers. Yet, there are lessons in both
these examples for higher education.
   Let me list just a few of them:
   The people of our nation are aware of the value of educa-
tion and are willing to make the investments necessary to
provide it.
   Methods of handling large enrollments have been developed
which maintain the important close teacher-student relation-
ships and the "small group feeling" in the colleges and
schools within the larger universities and, at the same time,
take full advantage of the curriculum enrichment and facilities
which can be afforded by institutions with a large student
body.
   The increased number of college and university graduates
will provide a large reservoir of talent in the arts, sciences,
and professions-thus adding to our nation's cultural, eco-
nomic, and, if you please, military strength, and to its capacity
for self-government.
                                   WISCONSIN ALUMNUS


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