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Hove, Arthur (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 65, Number 10 (July 1964)

Mucks, Arlie M., Jr.
On Wisconsin,   p. 5


Page 5


Wisconsin
by Arlie M. Mucks, Jr., Executive Director
( ONTINUING our evaluation of the college profes-
    sor which we began last month, we have found
the recent "publish or perish" discussion an interesting
one in the light of the demands we make on our mod-
ern teachers. The controversy was crystallized recently
in the case of Woodrow Wilson Sayre of Tufts Uni-
versity. Prof. Sayre was discharged from his philosophy
department post at Tufts because he had not published
a single work of "scholarly significance" while he was
at the university. He did, however, publish a book
in that time-a personal account of his mountain
climbing adventures in the Himalayas.
  Prof. Sayre's case points up the fact that, across our
country, several colleges and universities have appar-
ently placed a premium on the value of scholarship
over teaching ability. The impression has been gen-
erated, and not without foundation, that a man who
publishes scholarly articles or books with frequency,
or the man who is engaged in a research project, no
matter how obscure, will move up rapidly on the
academic totem pole. In contrast, the man who does
not publish, but is still an excellent teacher, will not
be promoted as rapidly, and often, will not gain
tenure.
  The guestion then is, what is the primary function
and purpose of a college professor? At one point in
our history, the answer was quite simple-he should
be an outstanding teacher. Now we have come to
realize that the answer is not quite that simple. In
order to be an outstanding teacher, a man must show
a particular aptitude in the field of scholarly research.
The recent "explosion in knowledge" has resulted in a
revolution in teaching. No longer can a professor use
the same lecture notes from year to year. He must
change them constantly if he expects to be up to date.
It has come to such a point that teachers, especially in
the natural sciences, often rely on computers or other
automatic devices to keep them posted on current
research findings.
  The danger in this is that, somehow, the human ele-
ment becomes submerged. Obviously, any professor
needs to keep up with what is being done within his
field. But, the fact that a man does not publish at reg-
ular intervals does not necessarily mean that he has
failed to do his homework. The important function of
a teacher (with more than 24,000 students on the cam-
pus, we assume that the University needs well-qualified
teachers), is that he must have the ability to inspire his
students, to encourage them to discover that the
July, 1964
process of learning is a lifetime preoccupation. Educa-
tion does not end with graduation, it continues through
life. The most inspiring teachers, in my experience at
least, have been those individuals who have been able
to add a dimension to their subject matter, and that
dimension has been one of personality, of enthusiasm,
of personal integrity. Some of those required courses
that would normally repel me, became an exciting
adventure simply because I was fortunate to have a
teacher who transmitted his enthusiasm to me.
  On the other hand, I had some very distinguished
scholars for teachers when I was attending the Uni-
versity-men who had published books and had a na-
tional reputation in their particular field. Quite often,
I fell asleep in their classes. I fell asleep because they
were incapable of communicating to me their dedica-
tion to their chosen subject. They lacked that mysteri-
ous spark that can ignite a person's imagination and
encourage him to take up where the lectures and the
course work left off.
  This is where the problem lies. Many scholars are
poor teachers, while many teachers are careless when
it comes to keeping current with the many changes
that are taking place within .their field and within the
world of higher education in general. In both in-
stances, there is a serious degree of negligence
involved.
  The University has become a home for both research
and teaching. The important thing then is to be honest.
If a faculty member is hired to do primarily research,
he should be allowed* to concentrate on that endeavor.
If he is to be primarily a teacher, then he should be
honored for his ability to perform in that area. There
should be no superficial "class lines" established that
favor research over teaching. Each faculty man should
be judged on his ability to perform effectively in a
given area.
  In an ideal situation, the best teacher is also the best
scholar. But, because humans are variable, the ideal is
often difficult or impossible to achieve. The University
is committed to teaching and research. It should also
be committed to judging its faculty by their individual
strengths. If we draw up artificial qualifications that
do not take the human elements into consideration,
we will, eventually, wind up with an artificial faculty.
If that comes to pass, then we could very likely have
machines rather than men performing most University
functions.
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