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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 9

liability-or an asset?
   Our country has strong educational leaders with fresh
 memories of how enrollment increases can benefit students.
 Our experience after World War II, when a 100 per cent
 enrollment growth in the course of a single year was not
 uncommon, outlines the possible advantages and pitfalls.
 O   UR SUCCESSES-and failures-prompt special attention
     to a number of areas.
   In building a faculty, extraordinary care must be taken lest
 the pressure of the need prompts hurried selection. We must
 have men and women with minds that never rest-teachers
 dedicated to the continual search for knowledge-teachers who
 excel in teaching. Because graduate school enrollments have
 been heavy in recent years, there is a sizeable reservoir of
 potential teachers in some branches of learning. It is important
 that we survey this supply now, and guide young people of
 great promise into fields where the need for teachers is great-
 est, so that we have balanced, well-trained faculties for the
 future. Increases now in fellowships and assistantships in
 critical areas can do much good. And faculty salaries must be
 improved to the point where teaching can attract the best
    In counseling prospective students, special attention must
  be given to make sure that those particularly suited for higher
  education have an opportunity to attend. Because enrollments
  will increase almost automatically, there may be some tendency
  to slacken effort on the part of higher education to "recruit"
  the best young minds for further study. This tendency must
  be restrained. Increases in scholarship aids and part-time job
  opportunities may be needed.
     In teaching, we must guard against enlarging classes to the
   point where the personal attention the professor can give each
   student is limited, and against loading extra classes upon
   faculty members to the detriment of their research which is
   necessary for the best teaching. This detriment was graphically
   described recently by Prof. E. R. Guthrie of the University
   of Washington who tells of the "many cases of a good teacher
   who has not kept up with his subject, and becomes a tragic
   figure in his later years."
     In student advising, we must proceed cautiously with any
   plan for advisory "specialists" which might weaken student-
   teacher contacts. Additional students will make possible the
   establishment of counseling services of various kinds which
   can be exceedingly helpful for students, if the service is not
   employed as a substitute for the professor who is always ready
   to listen to and talk with his students.
   FEBRUARY, 1955
  In building, we must seek permanent solutions, not tem-
porary expedients. Beautiful campuses throughout our nation
are still despoiled with war-suplus barracks and huts. Wis-
consin has remnants from World War I on its campus. The
enrollment increase ahead is not a temporary phenomenon
but a rise to a new plane of student attendance. Because gen-
eral population increases and high building costs have reduced
the availability of private housing for students, dormitories
must be added.
   In admhinijtra/ion, farsighted planning is required. Admin-
 istrative procedures and staffs must be geared to handle greatei
 numbers of students with a minimum of waiting lines and
 impersonal methods, and a maximum     of efficiency and indi-
 vidual attention. Teaching techniques, catalogues, and rules
 must be re-examined in the light of the changing conditions.
 But the emphasis on efficiency must not interfere with demo-
 cratic method and faculty prerogatives.
   In our relations with the public-, we need have no fear if
 we constantly strive to improve education and keep it avail-
 able for all. We must continue to teach the fundamentals,
 avoid educational frivolities, and in general, teach students
 how to think. Not what to think. We must keep the public
 aware of our problems and be frank about costs, for although
 the total cost of higher education will rise with the enroll-
 ments, the cost-per-student may actually decline, and the bene-
 fits reaped by our nation will far outweigh the costs.
    Adequate financing is, in many ways, the key to the solution
  of many of the problems of higher enrollments. There is con-
  siderable evidence that American wealth is becoming increas-
  ingly aware of the growing financial needs of higher educa-
  tion. Whether this awareness has spread to the general public
  who must, in the final analysis, lend wholehearted support,
  is not as evident. Federal agencies indicate a recognition of
  the need, but some state administrations in the nation seem
  less well-informed.
    The Wisconsin Legislature has provided leadership in this
  respect with a thoughtful and fact-filled report which recently
  was produced by the Legislative Council Committee on Uni-
  versity of Wisconsin Policies.
    That committee's recommendations and data (which were
  reprinted in the January 15 Alumnus magazine) provide a
  basis for sound planning to meet the problems of increasing
  higher education enrollments in Wisconsin. If the committee's
  recommendations are followed, our state will meet and be
  enriched by the rising tide of students.

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