University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Schoenfeld, Clay (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 49, Number 9 (June 1948)

How big should the University be?,   pp. 3-4

Page 3

   A YEAR AGO this month the Wiscomsin Alumnus posed the prob-
lem of "How big should the University be?"
   From the standpoint of expense, we asked, how big a University.
can Wisconsin afford? From the standpoint of educating its citizens,
how small a University can Wisconsin afford? Shall enrollment be
pegged at an arbitrary ceiling? Shall off-campus services and research proj-
ects be truncated? Or is the sky the limit?
  These are important questions, and during the past year we have presented
a series of answers by faculty members, alumni, students, and interested
We rain, in other words, a sort of "Gallup poll" on the subject.
   Let's take a quick look at some of
 those answers.
   Writing on "The Case for the Big
 School" in the October A 1 u m n u s,
 LeRoy Luberg, PhM '36, assistant to
 the president, listed the advantages of
 the big university over the small col-
 lege and then went on to say: "The
 University of Wisconsin should remain
 large enough to accommodate all
 worthy students wherever they may be,
 affording them an opportunity to grow
 and to learn in an atmosphere which
 encourages the freedom to find the
 truth, under leaders in their respective
 fields, and in competition with the best
 student talent available."
   In the November Alumnus, Dean
 John Guy Fowlkes of the School of
 Education declared that "because for a
 large number of Wisconsin high school
 graduates two years of higher learn-
 ing is sufficient, and to relieve the pres-
 sure for advanced training on the Uni-
 versity, a system of junior colleges
 should be organized throughout the
   Pres. E. B. Fred himself took a look
 at the "size" problem in the December
isse Hewarned-that the University
does not now have sufficient funds to
support adequately all of the programs
and services for which it has been
made responsible by the people of the
state, and that it is particularly in dire
need of new and additional buildings
and equipment.
   Looking at "Long-Range Enrollment
 Trends" in the January Alumnus, J.
 Kenneth   Little, registrar, predicted
 that UW enrollments will recede with-
 in the next year or two and then slowly
 climb again to a peak in 1960.
   In the February issue we cocked an
 ear to the past and heard the words of
 Pres. Charles R. Van Hise, '79, at his
 inauguration in 1904:
   "I hold that the state university, a
 university which is to serve the state,
 must see to it that scholarship and re-
 search of all kinds . . . must be sus-
 tained . . . A university supported by
 the state for all its people, for all its
 sons and daughters, with their tastes
 and aptitudes as varied as mankind,
 can place no bounds upon the lines of
 its endeavor, else the state is the ir-
 reparable loser."
   Burton K. White, '22, president of
 the New York City Alumni Club, con-
 cluded in the March issue that "if the
 University adheres strictly to its es-
 sential objectives and maintains or even
 increases its high standards, the prob-
 lem of size may solve itself."
  A graduate student, Sidney Pritzert,
'47, writing in the April Alumnus,
decried the crowded conditions on the
Madison campus and called upon the
State Legislature to more adequately
support higher education in Wisconsin.
  E. G. Doudna, '17, late secretary to
the Board of Normal School Regents,
last month outlined "The Teachers Col-
lege Role" and suggested the solution
for Wisconsin's teacher shortage is not
to turn all the teachers' colleges into
little universities but to strengthen
their teacher-training programs.
  Now what does it all add up to?
  These eight articles were contributed
by persons with diverse backgrounds
and interests, and dealt, in varying de-
grees of directness, with different
phases of the central "size" question.
It seems doubly significant, therefore,
that not one writer suggested that the
size of the Universtiy or the scope of
its services be arbitrarily limited. In-
deed, not one writer was content with
the quantity or quality of University
endeavor today. Each recommended a
forging ahead in education, in research,
and in public service-according to the
services. And each implied -that when
the public is made sufficiently aware of
the need for greater public funds, that
such funds will be forthcoming.
  These facts seem clear:
    1. In the words of the Presi-
  dent's Commission on Higher Edu-
  cation, "In a real sense the future
  of our civilization depends on the
  direction education takes, not just
  in the distant future but in the
  days immediately ahead." Educa-
  tion is the most hopeful of the
  nation's enterprises. An expansion,
  not a contraction, is needed, in
  order to bring to all citizens edu-
  cation for a fuller realization of
  democracy in every phase of living,
  education directly for international
  understanding, and education for
  the application of creative imagi-
  nation and trained intelligence to
  the solution of social problems
  and to the administration of public
    2. Too often, discussions of the
  size of the University have given
  too little attention to the most
  important factor. It is not the size
  of the University in number of
  students, physical facilities, and
  personnel that should concern us
  most directly, but the responsibili-
  ties and the nature of the institu-
  tion. It would be possible to limit
  arbitrarily the size of the Univer-
  sity of Wisconsin. But it would be
  irrational to stop its growth wholly
  or in part without considering the
  consequences. As the University
  has grown in number of students
  and teachers and research workers,
  it also has grown in depthy of
  knowledge and in variety of cour-
  ses offered. As President Fred
  emphasizes, "To artificially cur-
  tail such growth would do harm to
  a great institution."
    3. There is no need of unwhole-
  some rivalry between the large and
  small institutions of the state, but
  only need of cooperative supple-
  mentary services in carrying out
  an educational program worthy of
  The size of the University of Wis-
consin, then, is simply a problem of
citizens of the state continue to demand
increasing educational s e r v i c e s-in
teaching, research, and extension-so
long must the University supply such
services, expanding their quantity and
quality alike.
  A temporary ceiling will always be
present in the form of the University's
operating budget; and it consequently
behooves the administration, faculty,
alumni, students, and friends of the
University to do all in their power to
see that that budget ceiling is high
enough so that the University can do
justice to Wisconsin's educational needs
of the hour.
  Given an intelligent, informed cit-
izenry, expressing its desires through
the Legislature, the University can be
expected to have the wherewithal with
which to accomplish adequately, and in
some cases magnificently, its many
tasks in a world which cries for educa-
tion above all else.
  With Van Hise, we look forward with
confidence to the future, with the con-
viction that the same Wisconsin vision,
which has enabled the University to
develop from small beginnings to its
present stature, will continue to guide
the people of the state, until a Univer-
sity is built "as broad as human en-
deavor and as high as human aspira-

Go up to Top of Page