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Hobbs, M. K. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 27, Number 9 (July 1926)

Slichter, C. S.
The Graduate School,   p. 277

Page 277

.fuly, 1926
The Graduate School
                By C. S. SLICHTER,
            Dean of the Graduate School
   The Graduate School of the University
 of Wisconsin may be said to have had its
 beginning in 1892, when the first degree
 of Doctor of Philosophy was awarded to
 Charles R. Van Hise. It was shortly be-
 fore the granting of this first Doctorate
 that the requirements for, the degree,
 substantially identical with those in
 force today, were formally announced- by
 the faculty. In a way this was a public
 invitation to graduate students to come
 to the University to pursue their ad-
 vanced studies. The University fellow-
 ships and scholarships were established
 at the same time and upon substantially
 the same basis as at present. This action
 was also part of the public invitation to
 advanced students to, accept the privi-
 lege of study at the University of Wis-
   It was quite a number of years later
 before the Graduate School was actually
 established as a separate part of the
 University, for at that time ofily the
 Law School had- a separate organiza-
 tion.  Even the Engineering courses
 were still listed under Letters and Sci-
 ence. As a matter of fact, the founda-
 tions for advanced scholarship at the
 University were laid by John Bascom,
 who gathered at Wisconsin a remark-
 able group of young and enthusiastic
 scholars, hardly matched at any other
 institution of his day. He brought here
 Irving in Geology, Holden in Astron-
 omy, Birge in Zoology, Trelease in Bot-
 any, Bull in Mechanical Engineering,
 Powers in   Organic  Chemistry   and
 Pharmacy, Goff in Horticulture, Owen
 in Modern Languages, Van Hise in
 Metallurgy and   Geology, Henry in
 Botany and Agriculture. We profi - to
 this very day from the amazing ability
 and foresight shown by President Bas-
 com in bringing to this fresh-water col-
 lege such a distinguished group of
 There are now in the Graduate School
 alone three times as many students as
 there were in the entire University of
 Bascom's day. This enormous growth is
 not hard to understand. It is not due so
 much to the fact that knowledge has
 become bulky as to the fact that the
 world has set up new and higher stand-
 ards for admission to its activities. We
 are fast becoming a society of experts.
 No longer is it practicable for the stu-
 dent to acquire the professional and
 technical training the world expects
 from an undergraduate course of four
 years, especially as much of this time
 needs to be given to preparatory and
general studies.  The character and
methods of graduate years and the con-
ditions under which it is carried on,
differ materially from those of the under-
graduate years. The graduate years not
only give the opportunity for much
additional professional and technical
knowledge but also furnish aI new and
valuable kind of training. Here there is
expected a close individual contact with
the instructor, the general use of original
articles and scientific papers rather than
The first to receive the Doctor of Philosophy
           degree at Wiseonsin
text books, and    especially a larger
amount of time devoted to research
based, as far as practicable, upon the
initiative of the individual student. The
spirit of investigation which should be
the guiding spirit of the Graduate
School is now almost universally recog-
             JOHN BAscoM
During whose presidency the foundations of
         graduate study were laid
nized as essential to success in business
as well as in the industries and in the
    The Graduate School has enrolled
 this year nearly twelve hundred students
 and  there were   granted   last  year
 three hundred Master's degrees and
 ninety Doctor's degrees, or about double
 the number of five years ago. It is in-
 teresting to note what subjects gradu-
 ate students select. About one hundred
 and fifty are in Economics; one hundred
 and thirty are in Chemistry.     Then
 come one hundred     in   the various
 branches of Medical Science, including
 physiological Chemistry, Medical Bac-
 teriology, Pharmacology, etc.; ninety-
 two in Education, sixty-eight in English,
 fifty-five in History, fifty-five in Ro-
 mance Languages, forty-three in Geol-
 ogy, and a number of departments with
 from twenty-five to forty each.
   The heart of any Graduate School is a
 faculty selected primarily for unusual
 distinction in scholarship and research.
 It is only as this part of the university
 staff is built up and strengthened that
 the University is justified in taking
 pride in the Graduate School. The duty
 of building up such a faculty falls almost
 exclusively upon the President of the
 University and constitutes one of his
 most important and most difficult tasks,
 as well as the most interesting. There
 are few presidents today who would not
 envy John Bascom, more than half of
 whose faculty were men of outstanding
 scholarship. Nothing will mean so much
 to our own Graduate School in the future
 as the ability to attract at Wisconsin
 men known throughout the world as
 scholars of distinction. The late Thomas
 E. Brittingham of Madison, whose
 generosity to the University is known to
 all Wisconsin alumni, provided funds
 upon which two memorial research pro-
 fessorships have been founded. Gifts of
 this nature will help scholarship and the
 advancement of higher work at the Uni-
 versity more than anything else that can
 be named. Few friends of the Univer-
 sity realize what a high reputation for
 scholarship and graduate work the Uni-
 versity of Wisconsin has held. Only one
 other American university has a higher
 percentage of its total students in the
 Graduate School. Only one other uni-
versity grants more higher degrees. This
is a natural development from the high
scholarly ideals of Bascom. It is the part
of the university life that would receive
the greatest help from private endow-
          (Continued on page 282)

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