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Second Half of Bascom's Administration--1881-1887.

Progress at the University--University waterworks--Regents report, 1881--Presidents' report, 1881--University Hall renovated--Presidents' report, 1882--School of Pharmacy, and Experimental Station--Woodman Astronomical Library--Increased necessitites--Attempts to divert Agricultural College fund--Proper lines of growth--New Science Hall built--Farmers' Institutes established--Dr. Bascom resigns--His farewell report.

Progress at the Observatory.

Director Watson, of Washburn Observatory, wore himself out with work in behalf of the University, and because of this fell the easier victim to an attack of pneumonia. From his own funds he commenced a small frame-built observatory for the use of the students, and a substantial stone building designed as a solar observatory, both of them in the immediate neighborhood of the principal observatory, which was chiefly designed for important general observations. As Dr. Watson died before these were complete, ex-Governor Washburn generously carried out his plans, both as to the buildings and their equipment.

The legislature, not to be outdone in generosity, provided 1 for the publication of the results of important investigations by the observatory, also of experiments in the mechanic arts and agriculture. In 1889, there were included in this right to publish, all other investigations connected with the University; and in 1897, these several reports, or bulletins, were ordered used in "exchange with other scientific institutions, and such other public purposes as the regents may determine." The monographs and bulletins thus far published by the University under these several acts have been of large scientific and literary value, and have given dignity to the investigations and extended the fame of the institution.

University waterworks.

Another law of 1881 (chapter 281) made a specific appropriation of $4,500 for "repairing and putting in order the waterworks and pumps at the university, so that a safe, adequate and permanent supply of water for the state capitol and university buildings shall be secured." Still another (chapter 211) provided $1,000 for experiments in cultivating amber and other varieties of sugar canes, and the manufacture of syrup and sugar therefrom--a subject just then engaging much attention from the farmers of Wisconsin. These experiments were continued through 1882, chapter 233 of that year making a further appropriation of $2,000. Concerning these experiments, President Bascom reported 2 that they were "vigorously and successfully prosecuted by the agricultural department of the University."

Regents' report, 1881.

In the regents' report for that year, the acquisition is noted "of convenient and appropriate grounds for gymnastic and kindred exercises, contributing to the preservation and promotion of the mental and bodily health of the large number of young men in attendance." This reference is to what is called "the Lower Campus," which, however, did not, attain its present size until some years later, through the purchase of lots that were not at first obtainable. Marked progress is reported, in the broadening and bettering of many of the University departments. But University Hall is mentioned as "wholly unfitted for the purpose of recitation rooms, to which it is necessarily appropriated;" the "health of the students and of the Faculty is constantly imperiled by ill-heated, badly ventilated and overcrowded rooms." Another important matter, to which the regents call attention, is "a serious reduction in the amount of the University income, due to the inability of the proper officers of the state to loan all the surplus funds at any rate of interest permitted by law." The uninvested funds of the University now amount, they report, to $66,719. 62, with a prospective increase during the coming year. "Such legislation as will protect our annual income from further and unnecessary loss from this cause seems to be an imperative necessity."

President's report, 1881.

From the president's report for the same year, we learn that "The agricultural department is for the first time beginning to strike root a little, and to promise some growth." This was attributable to the employment, two years before, of Prof. William Arnon Henry,3 who soon began to bring the College of Agriculture to the front. He was destined, in later years, to make his department one of the most important in the University and to win for it and its staff a reputation in some respects second to none in the United States. Dr. Bascom also speaks with praise of the machine shop, under Prof. Charles I. King's4 management; "it has grown steadily in usefulness since its very commencement, and * * * now renders efficient and extended instruction to all the students it can well accommodate." The military department, under Capt. Charles I. King, who in after years became famous for his novels portraying army life in the Far West, "has also been peculiarly efficient during the past year." At the observatory, the new director, Dr. Edward S. Holden,5 has "pushed forward with energy and success" the scientific work for which it was erected. The president notes that "Special students are becoming each year with us a more peculiar and important element. * * * The special students have come to represent a very important part of the work done by the University, and also greatly to facilitate its primary and more extended labor, represented in its regular classes."

University Hall renovated.

The legislature of 1881 had considered the matter of reconstructing the University Hall, but the project was then defeated. "The opposition," Dr. Bascom said,6 "came from those who could not be induced to examine the facts for themselves. No member of the legislature who has taken the trouble to visit the building, has had any other than one opinion about the necessity of the change." In 1882, however, a similar bill prevailed, and $10,000 was voted7 to reconstruct the hall, and provide it with a system of ventilation and steam-heating; $15,000 had been asked for.

In his report for that year, President George H. Paul, of the board or regents, was at last able to say that "The buildings required by the University are now substantially ample and complete, for present purposes," save that a small sum was still required to complete the plan of renovation at University Hall. He urges, however, that an appropriation be made to extend the Lower Campus "for military and gymnastic exercises." A more serious matter is the reduced income of the University. From the productive funds proper, there were received in 1882 but about $30,000, while "the addition of all receipts from the State tax the last year increased this sum to but little more than $75,000. The Board of Regents are now practically limited to this sum in providing for the current support of the institution, receipts from specific sources being mainly set apart for specific purposes."

President's report, 1882.

President Bascom's report reinforces that of the regents, by explaining in detail how this reduction in the income cripples the institution. He strongly urges the State to "provide a liberal and elastic income for the necessary wants of the University. The state grows, wealth grows, society grows, education grows, and the University must grow with them. Least of all, can education be left to famish. It must have more, or we shall soon be impatient of what we now give it." The agricultural department has especially suffered from this reduction; it should "be so strengthened as to make it fulfill its purposes under the gift of congress and its original law." He plainly shows that "the time has come in which the state must consider the fitness of a direct annual appropriation to the agricultural department, or of a further increase by taxation of the general income of the University." The president thus strongly combats the notion--then, as now, prevalent in many minds--that the instructional force of the University is too large:

It is carelessly thought and glibly said by some less familiar with higher education and its necessary conditions, that the number of instructors in the University is too great, and could readily be reduced. Undoubtedly it could be reduced, but not without an immediate loss of the gains already made in the character of instruction offered by us, and a rapid deterioration of the University as an exponent of higher education. Instruction of a superior order cannot reasonably be looked for without its own proper appliances, and that undivided attention of each instructor to his own topic, which enables him to master it. If we wish a professor to teach two, three, four, five subjects, he can doubtless do it, but he can bring to each of them only a fraction of the power which he might, under more favorable circumstances, devote to any one of them. If we enter on this policy, we should distinctly understand it to be one of repression and apology and not one of power. We are to remember that the University represents the highest educational work that the state is doing, or purposes to do, and that it does not so much stand in competition with any work within the borders of the state as with those strong institutions which the older states have built up so deliberately and so wisely. The University of Wisconsin is no longer comparable, in the number of topics and the extent to which they may be pursued, with any of the colleges within the state, excellent and valuable as some of these are. The University must be judged on the basis of the broader variety and higher grade of instruction offered by the best institutions of this country. So judged, it is very plain that we have not, in the University of Wisconsin, either run ahead of the real wants of the state, or made of education an enervating luxury for the pupil or the professor.

The professors of the University are expected to be in the recitation-room on an average three hours each day. This is a larger service than is usually required in higher institutions. It is plainly too heavy rather than too light a labor. The maximum of efficiency in instruction can hardly be reached with three hours of active work in the recitation room each day. A lawyer may argue two cases in one day, but both of them are likely to suffer thereby. Not till the hour of recitation is regarded by the instructor as one of critical end earnest action, calling for thorough and extended preparation, will instruction be of a superior order. The nervous system of most men cannot retain its elasticity day after day, for three successive hours under the tax of this style of work.

School of Pharmacy, and Experiment Station.

At the session of 1883 (the first under the biennial system), the legislature responded to the representations of the regents and the president, relative to the reduced income of the University. By chapter 300, the annual percentage tax-levy was increased from one-tenth to one-eighth of a mill--such increase to "be used for the purpose of establishing, under the direction of the board of regents of the University, a chair of pharmacy and materia medica, and the establishment of an agricultural experiment station;" the surplus to be devoted to other general objects. The act, bore this explanatory preamble:

Whereas, The popular sentiment of the state strongly demands that the growing necessity for increased educational facilities for instruction in the agricultural arts shall be supplied, and that a chair of pharmacy and materia medica shall be established at the state university, and

Whereas, The income of the productive funds of that institution has diminished in consequence of the decline in the rates of interest, which marks the great increase of prosperity and wealth in the state, until the total income is now inadequate to its proper maintenance; therefore, etc.

The increased stipend enabled the regents to establish at once the School of Pharmacy8 and the Agricultural Experiment Station;9 and, the following year, the chair of the science and art of teaching.10 This last-named chair marked the resumption of normal training which had been neglected at the University since 1866, in the days of Professor Pickard. In 1897, the present School of Education came into being, thus for the first time fully carrying into effect one of the objects of the University as set forth in the original act of organization.11

Woodman Astronomical Library.

Another interesting event of the year 1883 was the endowment of the Woodman Astronomical Library, in connection with Washburn Observatory. Cyrus Woodman, a pioneer of the Wisconsin lead region, but in later years a resident of Cambridge, Mass., 12 "was a lifelong friend of the founder of the observatory, and for many years associated with him in business affairs. By a deed of trust dated May 14, Mr. Woodman declared his purpose to establish an astronomical library, "in memory of the virtues and beneficence of this man [Cadwallader C. Washburn] * * * and in aid of the objects which actuated him in founding the observatory." For this purpose he conveyed to a board of trustees the sum of $5,000 to be invested and administered by the board, which is authorized to expend one-half of the income arising from it for the support and increase of the library, and is required to add at least one-half of the annual income to the principal of the fund until the latter shall have increased to the sum of $100,000. It is recommended by the donor that the trustees of the fund, three in number, shall comprise a justice of the supreme court of Wisconsin, a regent of the State University, and the director of the observatory. Vacancies occurring in the board are filled through election by the remaining members. The present board consists of Charles V. Bardeen, Lucien S. Hanks, and Director Comstock. The capital fund now amounts to about $8,000. The value of the library, including certain books presented to the observatory by Mr. Woodman prior to the establishment of the fund, is approximately $3,500.

The reports of the regents are hereafter biennial, because of the biennial sessions of the legislature. In that for the two fiscal years ending September 30, 1884, the board states that:

For a series of years past the history of the university has been that of a rapid, continuous and wholesome growth. This growth is not to be measured by the increase in the number of students in attendance alone, but also by the necessary additions to real estate and buildings, by the progressive enlargement of cabinets and libraries, by the establishment of new and the expansion of old departments of instruction, and especially by the higher grade of instruction imparted in nearly or quite all the courses of study.

Increased necessities.

Notwithstanding this growth, however, "in usefulness, influence, property, and in every source of permanent strength," the sources of pecuniary support bear "no just proportion to the increased demands of the institution." With a total income of little more than $80,000 per annum, "the government of the university has been required to furnish nearly four hundred students with free tuition in all the branches of higher education, conduct valuable and somewhat extensive investigations in agriculture, partially maintain an astronomical observatory of high character, contribute to the support of a boarding house for young ladies, repair old and construct new buildings, pay a large insurance, and provide for more extensive apparatus, cabinets, libraries and other facilities of instruction, absolutely essential to this as to all institutions of similar grade and character." An earnest plea is entered for "a more generous support to those branches of education relating to agriculture and the mechanic arts."

Attempts to divert Agricultural College fund.

There were just then being made vigorous attempts to separate from the University the department of agriculture, or that and the department of mechanic arts, one or both, thereby diverting the whole or part of the income from the national grant of 1862. Against this proposition, the regents heartily protest. They show the admirable relationship and cohesion between the various departments of the University; and thus conclude, after denying that the State had the power to reverse its action of 1866, by which it accepted the national grant conditioned upon the gift, by Dane county, of the experimental farm:

But were the legal facts otherwise, what could possibly be gained by a separate and independent establishment? The university, as recognized in our constitution, is but a collection of colleges. Each derives strength and character from its relation to all the others, and to one central organization and government, and this without any more limitation upon either department or college than if it existed separately. All the departments of education are intimately related and inter-dependent. There is no more reason for the secession and separation of the department of agriculture and mechanic arts, than in the case of the classical or purely professional departments or colleges; or for the divorce of the agricultural instruction from that of mechanic arts or military tactics.

Such a disruption would obviously work the largest injury and loss to the agricultural department itself. The courses of study rendered necessary by the agricultural college act, in fact extend legitimately to nearly all departments, including chemistry, mathematics, and practical science in all its various phases. And education in agriculture and the mechanic arts, fairly construed, means mental as well as manual education, and education in the class room as well as by experimental investigation.

Proper lines of growth.

As usual, the report of the president abounds in wise counsel, and shows a broad philosophic grasp. He asks for a new gymnasium and armory, with a professor of hygiene; also, a building exclusively devoted to practical and theoretical mechanics. Answering the critics,--who were, as usual, numerous, and some of them bitter in tone,--he contends that "The University of Wisconsin has really achieved an extraordinary success, and is doing its work with unusual breadth and efficiency." But 312 students are in college courses, against 324 in 1880; but the closing of the preparatory department, thus cutting off an important feeder, has been the cause of this. "The grade of work has been steadily advanced in the University, and this action has thrown back many students on the high schools to the advantage of these schools and to our own advantage."

Michigan University's large attendance, he points out, is attributable to two causes: the presence of its professional schools,--which, "whatever may be their value, are certainly of much less value than collegiate instruction; and the fact that the income of Michigan University is two-and-a-half times that of our University. If we turn to the strictly central and indispensable work of college instruction we find that the University of Wisconsin is doing in this particular for Wisconsin as much as the University of Michigan is for Michigan. The University of Michigan, as much the earlier institution, is drawing largely from other states; but it has scarcely more collegiate students from its own state than we have from our own state. * * * The names of very few young men from the state of Wisconsin are now found in eastern catalogues. It may be doubted whether there is any other institution that furnishes so large a portion, as does the University of Wisconsin, of the entire body of collegiate students graduated within the state which it represents."

The president contends that "The lines of growth are these: If we wish numbers, we may well do something by wise advertisement to secure a larger attendance from neighboring states. There is no institution of equal power so little known beyond the borders of its own state as the University of Wisconsin. Honor abroad and a liberal percentage of foreign students enhance the estimate in which a university is held at home." He concludes: "We can not secure the force of large life without large life itself. It is to this end we make bold, year by year, to renew our claims, and to present the enlarging wants of the University. We are sure the people of the state will not weary in well doing, if they are only convinced that the work of education is well done."

New Science Hall built.

Upon the first of December, 1884, old Science Hall was destroyed by a fire, originating in the carpenter shop in the basement--for within this building were not only the scientific laboratories, collections, and class-rooms, but the entire school of mechanic arts, with carpenter shop and forges, and the power plant and pumping-station. It was "the largest, most costly, and most necessary of the entire group of buildings. * * * With it were destroyed much scientific apparatus and collections of inestimable value."13 But it had always been known as a sorry fire-trap and the regents wisely resolved that its successor should be a fire-proof structure; and that the chemical department, the machine and carpenter shops, and the power and heating plant, should respectively be housed in isolated buildings. Forty-one thousand dollars had been received from insurance; and, with this as a basis, the regents went before the legislature of 1885.

The time had at last arrived in the history of the University when no legislative session could be held without some official recognition of the worth of its work, in more or less adequate provision for its necessities--although these necessities naturally have, in the now rapid growth of the several departments, kept far in advance of the appropriations. This was an extraordinary occasion, and the legislature14 promptly voted $150,000 for the science hall, machine and carpenter shops, engine and boiler-house;" also $20,000 for the chemical department and $20,000 more for a heating apparatus for all the buildings. The regents were directed to expend the insurance on the old hall in procuring for the new buildings the necessary equipment, apparatus, cabinets, and means of illustration and instruction. Obviously, this was far from sufficient for doing the work properly and creditably; and in 1887, after much criticism in the legislature, it was found essential to make up the deficiency by voting $20,000 for "roofing and inclosing Science Hall." There was also appropriated $125,000 for steam heating and plumbing in the group of new buildings (Science Hall, chemical laboratory, machine shop, and power-house), and $10,000 to furnish and $40,000 to purchase apparatus for Science Hall.15 The machine shop was greatly enlarged in 1894, and the power-house in 1894 and 1898.


Farmers' institutes established

Another important act of 1885 (chapter 9) was that by which, in the winter months, the regents were "authorized to hold institutes for the instruction of citizens of this state in the various branches of agriculture. * * * The course of instruction at such institutes shall be so arranged as to present to those in attendance the results of the most recent investigations in theoretical and practical agriculture." Authority was given to employ an agent or agents to organize and conduct these institutes; and an appropriation of $5,000 a year was made for the purpose of carrying the act into effect--a sum increased two years later to $12,000.16 These institutes rapidly became popular throughout the State, and, being ably and judiciously managed, have continued to exercise a far-reaching influence for the betterment of agricultural and social conditions in our rural districts; practically, they are the University-extension branch of the State Agricultural Experiment Station.17

In 1886, there was established at the University the now popular and highly efficient short course in Agriculture, "arranged for young men of limited education, enabled to give but a brief period of time to the acquisition of information in this department." 18

Dr. Bascom resigns.

The biennial report of the regents, submitted to the governor at the close of 1886, states that the number of students now exceeds five hundred. "Chief among the departments of instruction which have recently become rapidly prominent, is that relating to agriculture * * * [which] promises to confer upon the State great practical advantages with great economy in cost. Nearly all branches of instruction, in fact, bear some direct or important remote relation to agricultural industry." The retirement is recorded of Professor Holden, the director of Washburn Observatory, which had come under his management to occupy a place in the front rank of American observatories." President Bascom also has, they report, tendered his resignation, to take effect at the close of the academic year 1886-8; his successor being Prof. Thomas C. Chamberlin, of the U. S. Geological Survey--"an event which fortunately promises a continuance of that energetic, and effective administration of the internal affairs of the University, which has hitherto characterized the history of the institution."

His farewell report.

President Bascom's farewell report to the regents, at the close of 1886, is an admirable review of the steady, firm and moderately rapid growth" of the University in the past thirteen years, during which he had been at the head of the institution. "Then, nearly one-half of the students * * * were fitted in its Preparatory department. They are now all fitted, with the exception of a very small Greek class, in the schools of the state. In the mean time, the standard of admission has been raised as rapidly as the development of the high schools would allow." With the completion of the new buildings, the several departments will be amply accommodated. The next demand will be for apparatus, collections, and especially an adequate library. A gymnasium and hygienic instruction are sadly needed. The professors should have better salaries; "men of original power, and desirous of fresh research in their own departments," will leave the University, until more adequately compensated, and given larger incentives. He closes with these forceful words, as a benediction:

The University of Wisconsin is in that transitional period in which it is easy to go either backward or forward. If it loses faith in itself, faith in its object, wide knowledge, faith in the people to whom it is to give the best things in liberal measure, it will first hesitate, then retreat.

A liberal method will justify itself in the end. It may not justify itself in its earlier period to those who feebly conceive it, and are afraid of its outlays. The self-elevation of true education can never be overlooked.

In leaving the University, I cannot fail, as a last duty, to beseech for it a generous method and a large spirit, on the part of the faculty who order it, on the part of its governing board, and on the part of the people of the state.

In his many years of service, the strong and beneficent personality of President Bascom had become deeply impressed upon the University. The long line of graduates who had gone forth into the world, their characters moulded under his influence, had come to love deeply the grave yet genial scholar who presided over the destinies of the institution; his withdrawal from the State was regarded by each of them as a personal loss. The depth of this feeling on the part both of the students and of his fellow-citizens of the University town was well evinced when, in June, 1890, he revisited Madison for the purpose of addressing the law graduates of that year, and was met by a popular demonstration which was an event in the history of the city.

1 Laws of 1881, chap. 124.

2 Regents' Report, 1881, p. 27.

3 For biographical sketch, see biographies of the present faculty, post.

4 For biographical sketch, see biographies of the present faculty, post.

5 Dr. Edward Singleton Holden was born in St. Louis, 1846. Graduating from West Point in 1870, he was at first (1870-72) with the Fourth U. S. Artillery, serving as instructor in engineering at West Point; and then was transferred to the Corps of Engineers. From 1863 to 1882, he was astronomer of the U. S. Naval Observatory at Washington, resigning that position to come to Wisconsin. He was in charge of the government expedition to observe the total solar eclipse of 1878 in Colorado, and that of 1883 in the Caroline Islands. In 1885, he left Wisconsin University to become director of the Lick Observatory (Mt. Hamilton, Cal.), a position which he held for several years. Dr. Holden is a frequent contributor to scientific and popular periodicals.

6 Regents' Report, 1881, p. 24.

7 Laws of 1882, chap. 293.

8In charge of Prof. Frederick B. Power, 1883-92; and of Prof. Edward Kremers, from 1892 to date. "Technical instruction in pharmacy in the University owes its existence to action taken by the Wisconsin Pharmaceutical Association in 1880. It was then felt that some important steps should be taken for the purpose of advancing the cause of pharmacy in the state. This action resulted in the State Pharmacy Law in 1882, and one year later in a request for the establishment of a chair of Pharmacy and Materia Medica in the University. This request was responded to by the regents of the University and provision was made by the legislature for the permanent support of such a chair." Later, there was established a School of Pharmacy, with five laboratories, in order to give a thorough and complete education to the few who are willing to qualify themselves for the highest positions in this important vocation."--President Adams, in Regents' Report, 1896, pp. 18, 19.

9 "This Experiment Station commenced work October 1, 1883, under the charge of W. A. Henry, professor of agriculture; Wm. Trelease, professor of botany and horticulture; and H. P. Armsby, professor of agricultural chemistry. The objects of the experiment station are to advance the knowledge of practical and scientific agriculture with a view to more fully develop the great agricultural resources of the state."--Report of the Farm Committee, Regents' Report, 1884, p. 39.

10 The chair was promptly filled by the election thereto of Prof. John W. Stearns, president of the Whitewater State Normal School; he is now director of the University School of Education.

11 See Pedagogy at the University of Wisconsin," by J. W. Stearns, in Columbian History of Education in Wisconsin (Madison, 1883), pp. 228-230.

12 He died at Cambridge, March 31, 1889.

13 Regents' Report, 1886, p. 5.

14 Laws of 1883, chap. 336. The University obtained this important grant largely through the energetic efforts of Col. William F. Vilas, then representing Madison in the assembly.

15 Laws of 1887, chaps. 25 and 500.

See Senate Journal, 1887, pp. 742-764, for report of legislative investigation of the manner in which Science Hall had been built. The criticism was, not that the money had been misspent but that the building had cost more than the legislature of 1885 had contemplated spending for the purpose.

16 Laws of 1857, chap. 68.

17 The honor of being the founder of the farmers' institute system in Wisconsin, and therefore in the world,--for such institutes are now held in perhaps a majority of the States of the Union, and in several countries beyond seas,--may fairly be attributed to ex-Attorney General Charles E. Estabrook, now of Milwaukee. In October, 1884, when a Manitowoc lawyer, he had been instrumental in securing an address at the Manitowoc county fair from Hiram Smith, of Sheboygan, then a regent of the University. Regent Smith gave to a keenly-interested audience a practical, informing talk on agricultural methods; whereupon it occurred to Mr. Estabrook that farmers might learn much from such talks by successful agriculturists, at meetings conducted at different points, in the manner of teachers' institutes. Serving in the assembly the following winter, Mr. Estabrook drafted and introduced the famous farmers' institute bill, and against considerable opposition won its passage. It was not his first thought to impose this duty on the regents, but rather on a separate hoard of agriculture, which he had in mind; but, reposing special confidence in Regents Smith and H. D. Hitt, then members of the farm committee of the University board, he concluded to put the enterprise in their hands. See Mr. Estabrook's account of the matter, in Wisconsin Farmers' Institute Bulletin, No. 10 (1896), pp. 193-195.

William Henry Morrison was director of farm institutes, 1885-94, dying while in office; he was succeeded by the present director, George McKerrow.

18 Regents' Report, 1887, p. 9.