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It will be seen that had there not been a recent influx of trainees from the Federal Board for Vocational Education, the number of students in the school of agriculture would have continued to decline, as prior to the World War. Inasmuch as the demand for vocational education for Federal trainees is doubtless only temporary, the question may reasonably be raised as to the desirability of continuing the school of agriculture.
The causes for the decline in the registration in the school are as follows: (1) Under the Smith-Hughes Act there are now 78 high schools in Kansas offering vocational agriculture on a two or four year basis. In addition to these schools, there are 482 other high schools which offer a course in general agriculture. There are 441 high schools which give instruction in home economics, and a reasonable number which teach manual arts or trades and industries. Consequently, the need for vocational education for boys and girls of normal high-school age is rapidly being met by the public high schools. (2) The extension service in agriculture and home economics operating through county and home demonstration agents and through numerous other channels is rapidly meeting the vocational needs of the adult farmers. (3) The fairly high fee of $33 per semester may have discouraged a few prospective students. (4) The fact that the school has been on a regular nine months' basis has probably made it impossible for young men on the farm to devote so large a proportion of the year to securing the desired education. (5) The establishment of the 15-week short course in home economics for housekeepers seems to have met, partially at least, the needs of students seeking short vocational courses in that field.
In the general decline of attendance at the school of agriculture the number of students in home economics and mechanic arts has been reduced almost to the vanishing point. For example, during the year just closed the enrollments were as follows: Mechanic arts, 17; home economics, 16; agriculture, 139.
Not only has the registration in the school of agriculture declined on account of the causes which have been mentioned, but there is clear evidence that the school is not now fulfilling the function for which it was originally created, but has become largely a preparatory school to the college. In the first place, more than 90 per cent of the students who were enrolled in the school during the past year had had more than an eighth-grade education. At the same time, for the year 1921-22 the average age of these students (exclusive of Federal Board students) was 20.08 years, whereas the average age of the freshman class in the college was 20.7 years. With a little more preparation, therefore, many of these students are fully capable of entering the freshman class in the college. In recent years a very large portion of those who graduate from the school of agriculture do this very thing, as the following table reveals:
In addition to those who graduate, there is also a considerable number of students who do not choose to graduate from the school of agriculture but who are allowed to select their own curricula to meet the entrance requirements of the college. If these students were included, it would become even more evident that when the Federal trainees are excluded, the school of agriculture has become primarily a preparatory school to the college.
The commission is clearly convinced that a preparatory school at the agricultural college is needed to-day even less than it was when the preparatory department was abolished 10 years ago. It wishes to recommend, therefore, that steps be taken at an early date to reorganize the school, in order to meet whatever demand there is in the State for adult vocational education of less than college grade in agriculture, home economics, and mechanic arts. The college will need to carry out this reorganization with reference to the existing 15-week short course for housekeepers and the 8-week short course for farmers, both of which, although declining in enrollments, have nevertheless fulfilled important functions. The commission is of the opinion that a two-year course of study in agriculture covering not to exceed three to six months each year would find a ready response among a considerable number of persons above high-school age who would be able to leave the farm for one-half the year in order to secure further education.
THE RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS. The agricultural college has, of course, ever since its establishment been required by the terms of the Morrill Act to teach military science. Accordingly, there is a well-defined tradition in military instruction which has been carried over into the present organization of Reserve Officers' Training Corps units in the colleges and universities of the country.
At the agricultural college, therefore, there have been organized the following units, with students divided as follows, during the second semester of 1921–22: (1) Infantry, basic courses (freshmen and sophomores), 311, advanced courses (juniors and seniors), 48;
(2) coast artillery, basic courses, 349, advanced courses, 33; (3) veterinary, basic courses, 12 advanced courses, 18; total, 771.
At the university there was no military instruction until the organization of the Students’ Army Training Corps, toward the close of the World War. Owing to the difficulties encountered with that organization, the establishment of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps has made slow but steady progress. There were 200 students in 1921–22 registered in artillery and engineering units. These students were divided as follows: Seniors, 2; juniors, 38; sophomores, 56; freshmen, 104. Next year the university will have a senior class in Reserve Officers' Training Corps for the first time. It is expected that the enrollment may then reach 300 students.
The Reserve Officers' Training Corps at the university is, however, very greatly hampered by the lack of facilities. Office space is to be had only in the athletic trophy room of the gymnasium; there is no separate classroom for military work except an unheated attic room; the artillery is unhoused; there is a very unsatisfactory indoor range; and there is no space for indoor drills and very little for outdoor work.
If the university wishes to have a Reserve Officers' Training Corps organization at all, much should certainly be done to enable the officers to carry on the work under more satisfactory conditions.
In the appendix will be found a table showing by departments for each institution the number of courses offered and the number given for each academic year, 1920–21 and 1921-22. (Table 11.) When summarized the figures for each institution are as follows:
From this table it seems very likely that all the institutions could very profitably examine the offerings in their catalogues with a view to eliminating courses which are not likely to be given.
Also, in the case of the agricultural college, by reducing course descriptions the catalogue could easily be reduced in size without impairing its usefulness. At the Pittsburg normal school the catalogue is inexcusably large. The long curriculum vitae following the name of each member of the faculty, as listed at the beginning of the catalogue, is unnecessary. Also the frequent reprinting of course descriptions should be avoided by eliminating the artificial divisions into which the teaching departments have been separated. In this connection it may be pointed out that, when an institution grants neither a bachelor of arts degree nor a straight bachelor of science degree, and when an institution may be presumed to be primarily a teacher-training institution, it is improper to include catalogue headings under such a title as “College of liberal arts and sciences.” Particularly is this true when, so far as the commission could learn, so important a departure in policy was never referred to the board of administration for its authorization. In view, also, of the great preponderance of vocational subjects at the Pittsburg normal school as compared to those which are offered in the professional engineering field, the commission doubts seriously the advisability and propriety of using the word "engineering" as a heading for a division in the catalogue.
All the normal schools could be more careful about calling attention in the catalogues to the courses which are prerequisite to the advanced courses.
GRADES OF STUDENTS. Of great significance is the movement among American higher institutions at the present time to induce students to strive for quality in grades, in addition to securing the mere quantity necessary to meet the graduation requirements. Sensing the importance of this matter the committee on standards of the American Council on Education, already referred to, recommended the following standard to the several accrediting agencies in the country:
A college should require for graduation the completion of a minimum quantitative requirement of 120 semester hours of credit (or the equivalent in term hours, quarter hours, points, majors, or courses), with further scholastic qualitative requirements adapted by each institution to its conditions.
The commission thoroughly approves of this principle and is pleased to see that the college of liberal arts and sciences and the schools of engineering, medicine, education, law, and pharmacy at the university have all adopted regulations requiring all students who graduate to present from two-thirds to three-fourths of their credits in grades of A, B, or C. The agricultural college has also adopted a "point" system leading to the same objective. The commission commends these or similar schemes to the favorable consideration of the other three higher institutions.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF THE HIGHER INSTITUTIONS.
A number of situations encountered during the conduct of the survey has impressed the commission deeply with the fact that the State should by no means falter in the somewhat more liberal financial support of its higher institutions begun during the present biennium. The commission is convinced that the appropriations made to the five higher institutions have been economically expended. While it has not been possible to compare the use of room space and teaching load at the several institutions with similar figures at other institutions, there is general evidence that the Kansas institutions suffer from lack of space fully as much as other State institutions, and that the faculties are rendering as unselfish and devoted service as can be found anywhere in the country.
In the meantime it appears certain that Kansas is not living up to its opportunities and duties in the realm of higher education, with a population almost unaffected by any adverse influences from foreign immigration, with a very high rate of literacy, and few States which exceed it either in the number of students in secondary schools or higher institutions according to its population, with wealth as evenly distributed among the population as can be found in almost any State in the Union; yet Kansas somehow does not attract students to its higher institutions as it should. In other words, Kansas is not keeping pace in higher education with other such great States as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, and Minnesota. (Tables 18 and 19.)
SALARIES. In order to accomplish these ends there needs to be a further generous increase in the scale of salaries at the university and at the agricultural college. The commission realizes that increases in salary at State universities and colleges, for the year 1922–23 will seldom be as extensive as for the year just closed. Nevertheless it believes that the university and the agricultural college particularly are faced with so grave a crisis in this respect as to relegate them to a secondary position in higher education as compared to other great State universities and colleges, unless they very soon increase the salary basis to meet their competitors.
In order to ascertain how the salaries at the higher institutions in Kansas compare with those at similar higher institutions in the