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universities themselves—with their faculties, their administrators, their trustees. The universities must see to it that their own standards of excellence and freedom are maintained in a period of growing relationship with government. From my knowledge of government I feel strongly that this is possible if the universities adopt and maintain a courageous, firm, vigilant, reasonable and just attitude toward this partnership.
I believe the thrust of my remarks thus far indicates I am convinced that the graduate schools, with government help, have an enormous challenge ahead of them in performing their primary functions. Those functions are, of course, to expand knowledge and to equip our best young people for creative work in a wide variety of disciplines. Under the best circumstances, these challenges test the finest academic minds of our country. The government-university partnership has succeeded in this effort beyond the fondest imaginings of a generation ago, and our institutions are in many ways the envy of the world. In the achievement of this success, our universities have been the irreplaceable source of the skilled people now coping with the difficult socio-economic and technological problems our society faces. The need for continuing and expanding flow of sophisticated knowledge and skills is, and will be, very great. The substantive challenge to the universities in the future can be defined in terms, above all, of maintaining quality in the face of rising multitudes of students and the strain on academic resources.
The quantity side of the equation is indicated by the recent report of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, headed by Clark Kerr of the University of California. The Commission, using figures from the U.S. Office of Education, Department of Health, Education and Welfare, traces and projects the growth of higher education. In 1956 there were about three million students in the colleges and universities; this year the number is about six million (on a full-time equivalent basis), and in 1976 there will be some eight to nine million students pounding on the doors. While this new flood of students calls for establishing at least two new colleges (in large part, junior colleges) per week in the next several years, according to the Commission, in the academic year 1966–67 only 72 new institutions of higher learning were established in the United States. Provision is needed by 1976 for 75 percent more medical students and 60 percent more candidates for the Ph.D.
As for quality, the core of my own philosophy continues to coincide with the statement by the President's Science Advisory Committee on Scientific Progress, the Universities and the Federal Government, issued in November 1960, during my period of service on PSAC. In this report the Panel on Basic Research and Graduate Education, of which I was chairman, stated: “In science, the excellent is not just better than the ordinary ; it is almost all that matters. It is therefore fundamental that this country should energetically sustain and strongly reinforce first-rate work where it now exists."
The Panel report also speaks to a parallel challenge that will remain with us in the next decade, and I quote : "It is of equal importance to increase support for rising centers of excellence.” This is required not only to solve the problem of quantity and quality of educated men and women but also to meet the growing requirement of a government run by representatives that Federal support for higher education must pay some attention to geographical distribution. A number of government agencies have adopted funding policies designed to create such new centers of excellence. For example, the National Science Foundation has its University Science Development Program, and the Atomic Energy Commission, the National Institutes of Health, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Defense have programs designed to advance this concept.
There are, of course, problems in meeting this challenge. We need to establish the needed centers of excellence in new geographical areas without tearing down established ones in the face of our increasingly difficult budget situation. We must prevent the competition for establishing new centers in various regions from deteriorating into a science pork barrel. Considerable wisdom and restraint, combined with new money, will be required so that national support for excellent yet reasonably distributed graduate institutions does not degenerate into the parochial situation where no congressional district is complete without a post office, a reclamation project and a new science laboratory.
I would also like to repeat another fundamental contention of this Panel report because of its special relevance to this audience and because I feel that it is so important to emphasize in connection with current discussions concerning the role of graduate schools. The Panel stated and emphasized that the process of graduate education and the process of basic research belong together at every possible level. The two kinds of activity reinforce each other in a great variety of ways and each is weakened without the other. I believe that this concept is basic to the graduate school.
At the beginning, I said I would speak on a subject that relates to the turmoil now afflicting some of the campuses of the nation. As we face the test of maintaining quality for the multitudes, the challenge to the graduate schools is magnified by the problem of turbulence on some of the campuses, within which there appears to be a struggle over the primary responsibility of, as well as for, higher education. This turbulence has provoked considerable thought.
The seriousness of this conflict was underlined by Dr. Frederick Seitz, in his role as President of the National Academy of Sciences, who said in university .lectures and in the autumn 1968 issue of the American Scientist that prior to 1960 he would have expected, and I quote in part, "the universities to become in effect as centrally important to our society as cities, being the major trading centers of our intellectual and innovative life.” Professor Seitz adds that in the light of the present social struggle on the campus, and in the event of its prolongation, he has significant doubts about this outcome. Professor Seitz continues, and I quote, “The universities are poorly equipped to maintain their productivity in both breadth and depth as they attempt to cope with this complex struggle.” Professor Seitz speculates on, although he does not advocate, a variety of results of this struggle, if it continues indefinitely. One pattern might resemble some European forms: the universities may turn into extensions of secondary schools in which basic disciplines are taught and rudimentary experience is gained in the research process; and the advanced schools would be detached or new institutions established to provide protection against campus turbulence. A less radical outcome, according to Professor Seitz, might be a pattern of academic institutions to induce selective specialization on campuses in order to permit like minds to flock together. Still another alternative, he foresees, is the development of universities specializing in graduate work, much as the medieval Italian universities did.
The genius of the American university and its superiority over the European system, in the view of many scholars, lies in its breadth, its integration under one roof of the diverse disciplines of learning and research. The fragmentation of the universities would have, I believe, damaging consequences for education and for society at large. Fragmentation would exacerbate the two-culture syndrome to which C. P. Snow has called attention; our need is for unity rather than isolation. It is not beyond imagining that liberal arts universities oriented primarily to social problem-solving would suffer in financial support, with subsequent reductions in the quality of the advanced institutes, which would already be risking much from the inherent dangers of isolation and narrowness. As an educator and as a participant in some of the policies supporting Federal aid to higher education, I find no merit in policies that would lead to dismemberment of the universities.
I would not have you think these views suggest that I believe in ivory towerism. I am one of thousands of members of the academic community, including many in the audience, whose work refutes the notion that the university has been remote from the world in recent years or that it can be in the future. In a wide variety of roles and at many levels of social organization, academic people contribute their knowledge and energies to the solutions of social and technical problems. In my case, I am on leave from the University of California as professor of chemistry. For these past eight years, as Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, my major concerns have included efforts to provide adequate sources of energy for a highly technological energy-consuming world of the future, and to find the means for establishing a stable peace.
Surely the universities should be, as they are and have been, involved in the solution of society's problems. Indeed since the Federal Government has basic responsibilities for such solutions, the Federal-university partnership appropriately strengthens the direct coupling of the universities to social issues. By its nature the university has unique knowledge and resources to contribute. To date, the university has succeeded in making these unique contributions by its very attention to priorities based on first principles. These principles, I believe, hold that the university's first duty is excellence in the expansion of knowledge and in the teaching of the young, and its second is to contribute to society through its able graduates and in such other ways as do not imperil its first obligations.
I have no doubt that participation in the solution of social problems by faculty and graduate students can be expanded, especially in the social sciences, and in the context of scholarly endeavor. In this regard we should perhaps note that the Urban Coalition, under the leadership of John W. Gardner, former Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, emphasizes the necessity of the university's joining with business, professional people, the clergy and ghetto representatives in seeking solutions to urban problems. An interesting response to the call for increased involvement of this nature is the program proposed by President Charles J. Hitch, of the University of California. President Hitch has initiated an inventory of University resources that may contribute more, in appropriate ways, to the solution of urban problems. He has also proposed the reorganization of University Extension so that this organization can transmit “the thought and research of the campus directly to the heart of the city," in a manner analogous to the historic and productive function of Agriculture Extension. This appears to be a promising approach.
However, for the universities to yield to extreme commands that they become primarily direct social action agencies would appear to be self-defeating. It does not seem likely that the university has the resources or the tactical position in the social structure to undertake the central role in solving complex social problems directly. But what is more important, the attempt could weaken or destroy its unique, primary mission. One also suspects that there will continue to be an abundance of social problems in 1990 and the year 2000. Will the universities have produced the knowledge and the multitudes of skilled men and women to solve those problems? Or will the universities have decayed into intellectual stagnation by one of two unhappy routes: through the dominance of internally generated political activism over intellectual achievement; or through the imposition by an alarmed public of repressive political restrictions?
At this point, I am reminded of the lines of McLandburgh Wilson who wrote:
I have always been one to see more of the dougnut than the hole. Thus, I am inclined to believe the present abrasiveness of campus conflict can be diminished before serious harm is done to the academic community. I claim neither clairvoyance nor evidence for this point of view. I am persuaded to it mainly by the past. Our institutions have demonstrated considerable strength and resilience. So far they have been able to limit and absorb extremism, and on occasion to benefit from the experience.
I am confident that faculties and students will solve current vexing problems in ways that will keep the universities intact and be consistent with the expansion, improvement and continued success of the government-university partnership
I say this without complacency and with the realization that the present test lies ahead. The genius of our institutions lies in their capacity to embrace reasonable change peacefully. In general terms, our task is to approach, with intellectual honesty and moral courage, the deep-rooted problems that lie at the base of today's ferment; problems that, unsolved, provide ammunition for the extremist. I think we can concede the validity of much that troubles thoughtful young people today. They see a world of immense potentials for material productivity inhibited by inertia in patterns of distribution, of affluence existing adjacent to poverty, of knowledge and concern amid ignorance and indifference, of political turmoil and philosophical upheaval. We should honor the young for recognizing our paradoxes and perceiving barriers to our potentials We can sympathize with their idealism, with which we ourselves identify, and with their concerned desire to influence change. Our defense against destructive apocalyptic solutions is to effect demonstrable change where it is called for and to show the young that they can influence the course of events through participation in our institutional processes. Students and recent graduates are indeed finding that our institutions offer extensive outlets for implementing their ideals. For every confrontationalist there are scores of students who join the Peace Corps and Vista and who engage part-time in a wide variety of educational projects to help the disadvantaged. The opportunities for rewarding action will grow, I believe.
As serious students find increasingly that there are serious ways they can make serious contributions to the solution of serious problems, the hyperbolic activitist will give way to the constructive commitment from which progress flows. In the universities we are seeing the establishing of new channels of communication between students, faculty and administrators.
The current turmoil may turn out to have some benefits which in the daily life of a harassed dean are, to understate the matter, obscure. Perhaps we are learning from students some new ways of improving and enriching the university experience.
I cannot resist the temptation to comment on what seems to me to be a paradox in some of the apparent attitudes of activist young people. For whatever reason, we frequently perceive an anti-science posture in today's politically active students; and one sometimes receives the impression that the virulence of the affliction rises with the degree of activism. This is curious. Consider the extent to which our young people for the most part are products of science their years of good nutrition, their protection against disease with modern drugs, their freedom from the youthful drudgery that was the lot of every previous generation, the gift of time for extended educational experience, the institutional material resources available, the very content of knowledge and preceptions that permeate the body of modern intellectual thought. Yet many young people have managed to escape understanding what a powerful tool science is for improving man's well-being.
My purpose is other than to ask the young to exude gratitude for the blessings of science. If I read the signs correctly, the anti-science posture derives from the obvious fact that new knowledge can be misused. If the analysis is limited to this perception, as it often is nowadays, the analyst deprives himself of considerable power. One might as well-or even more appropriately-be hostile to a baby as to science, for surely there is nothing potentially more dangerous. The baby, after all, can grow up to be heroically evil and destructive, since he is the potential instrument for the perversion of knowledge. We approach the baby rationallywe study him and his development and try to influence his maturation.
Science is not a baby, of course, but I believe there is some value in the analogy. We have good reason to study science. One lesson to learn is that it is man, not science, who misuses knowledge. Identification of the right target seems to me to be very important in making improvements in the achievement of a peaceful world. Another important lesson is that the study and understanding of science—its processes, potentials and power-would appear to be essential for young people who wish to influence the world in the direction of their ideals. Do they know that we are on the verge of revolutions of greater magnitude than any in the past-revolutions more powerful than a few of the young hope to achieve in the streets? Do they comprehend the implications of the deciphering of the genetic code for the hereditary characteristics of human beings of the future? Do they understand that we stand in the shadow of an era of unlimited nuclear energy generation and of a capacity to realize the dreams of generations of idealists—the material well-being for the people of the earth? Does the activist idealist know that he can achieve his ideals only through science and technology?
Nor is the value of science limited to the material. No less important in the equipment of an effective modern idealist is an understanding of the unique philosophical, aesthetic, and moral values of science. In an age of science, can a set of values be relevant that excludes science? For those who seek and would act upon the basic truths, can the magnificent truths being revealed by science be ignored? Can the young idealist fashion our future without a mastery, not of the details, but of the philosophical and moral implications of science that so powerfully affect the human future?
The acquisition of the skills and knowledge the young idealists will need to influence the future, and to be philosophically attuned to the modern world cannot be gained easily. It takes very hard intellectual effort. It would require for many a redistribution of energy and work. But the results would be, I believe, rewarding both to the individual and to society.
I would like to close with a few words on what I believe the future role of the universities can be. I believe the universities can occupy an increasingly central role in society. To some extent the universities have been serving the needs of an industrial society which has been only partly and indirectly of their making. In the future I see the possibility of our universities, especially our leading graduate schools, substantially shaping the goals of society. Not that the world will be ruled by a handful of professors. Rather, I believe, society will find merit in the ideas and values generated in the universities. And thus universities will shape the educational experience from their earliest years through the full lifetime—a broad experience equipping the individual for maximum intellectual achievement and a capacity to live with man, machines, leisure and change. As Robert Theobold suggests, education in the age of the Cybernetic Revolution would not be directed toward "earning a living” but toward “total living.” In the achievement of such ambitious goals, we look to the graduate schools for leadership.
I have talked to you this evening from the perspective of one who has had some participating experience in the area of graduate education and research, as a university administrator who had to deal with this area during a time of changing government-university relationships, and finally as a government official who has had much to do with the support of university research and graduate education. I hope that I have succeeded in synthesizing from this experience a point of view that will be useful to you.