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Then And Now

"At the close of the late war. . . the universities and colleges . . . found themselves in a position of extreme difficulty.

". . . there had been an unprecedented growth in the number of students in attendance at institutions of higher education. An increase of 130 per cent between 1914 and 1921 was not uncommon. This large growth, of course, called for additional buildings to provide the necessary classroom and laboratory space and also for a greatly enlarged teaching staff.

". . . to complicate the problem, there came a tremendous rise in the price level of commodities .... Building costs also rapidly mounted and the prices for equipment and supplies were doubled and trebled .... For the sake of preserving the morale of the teaching force and avoiding deterioration in the quality of college instruction, it became necessary to provide forth with very considerable increases in the salaries of university professors.

"The revenues at the disposal of these in institutions no longer sufficed. Additional great sums had to be secured for buildings and equipment, for endowments, and for immediate expenditure in effecting a higher-level of professional salaries. In the case of the state universities the situation demanded and obtained enormously increased legislative appropriations for support and maintenance. . It was a veritable crisis in the financial support of higher education in this country; for as time went on it became evident that this was no temporary flurry, but on the contrary that the scale of expenditures in the universities and colleges would settle down permanently on a level considerably higher than that of prewar times.

". . . The war, while it may have accelerated the crisis, did not produce the problem. It merely brought to a premature culmination and forced upon public attention processes and tendencies which had been developing for more than a decade."

Except for the dates and the percentage of increase in the number of students, the fore going paragraphs might have been written in 1947 instead of 1923, when Richard Rees Price wrote them in Harvard Bulletins in Education, (School of Education, Cambridge, Mass., Number VIII, January, 1923). Writing on "The Financial Support of the University of Michigan," Mr. Price used the occasion for tracing, in his introduction, some of the financial problems faced by all higher education. That these problems are not new was shown further by an article, published on the back cover of the last issue of the Michigan Alumnus, which told of the situation at the University of Michigan following the Civil War.

Higher education is on a new plateau. Enrollments are phenomenal, and except for occasional drops will continue at the new high levels. The colleges and universities must meet these problems now, when they can be of service to veterans. Educators anticipate that the greatest needs in history will arise in 1948 when the present freshmen and sophomores move up to more advanced work—work that will equip them for great public service.  Now is the time to complete plans to meet those needs, and to get ready to live on the higher plateau.

The Michigan Alumnus

Feb 15 1947, Page 250

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