Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Perhaps the best example of an action taken by a central agency to eliminate such duplication was the abolition by the Oregon board of higher curricula of the engineering work at the university and its concentration at the agricultural college. The Iowa board also has taken a number of actions to define the respective fields of the institutions under its care. The Washington joint board of higher curricula, with more data at hand regarding the cost of the curricula at the several institutions than any State in the Union, has failed signally to accomplish anything in the way of eliminating undesirable duplication.

In general, the amount of duplication in courses and departments which has been eliminated by central boards has been small, partly because upon thorough examination central boards usually find that the total amount of wasteful duplication between institutions is always much less than at first supposed. In the next place, even when undesirable duplication has been recognized, central boards sometimes find that action to eliminate duplication may arouse more trouble than the good which they can accomplish. Finally, the composition of the board, when made up wholly or largely of representatives from the institutions themselves, as was formerly the case in Washington, undoubtedly prevents a board from taking definite steps for the elimination of undesirable duplication.

On the other hand, a great deal of competition for appropriations has been adjusted by central boards, who reduce the budgets to the lowest terms commensurate with the needs of the several institutions before they reach the legislature. As a result, it is either unnecessary for the institutions to make a campaign in the legislature to secure the appropriations or the necessity for such action is reduced to the minimum.

The establishment of better business practices on the part of higher institutions has been and still is in many instances an urgent necessity. Many people are convinced that the establishment of a purchasing agency for all the State institutions, including the higher institutions, will result in saving much money to the State. Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia are at present the most conspicuous examples of central business agencies, including purchasing departments.

Some doubt may, however, be expressed as to whether the State saves any considerable amount of money at its higher institutions through the operations of a central business office. Certainly the character of the purchases of educational institutions, with a few notable exceptions such as coal, are so radically different from that at charitable and penal institutions that it is not often the State can profit through opportunity to buy large quantities of supplies for the higher educational institutions in conjunction with other types

of institutions. Indeed, the failure of a central business office to appreciate the necessity of ordering the definite technical apparatus suited to the specific needs of the various departments of all the higher institutions may work a very real hardship upon them. Furthermore, any delay as a result of handling orders for supplies through a central business agency may seriously impair the quality of the work of an educational institution. Finally, the withdrawal of all or nearly all of the business offices of a State college or university from the institution to some central point, for example, the State capital, may embarrass the executives greatly in securing quickly full information concerning the finances of the institutions under their charge.

These remarks are directed more particularly to the larger higher institutions than to the smaller ones. Indeed, the larger a State university or college becomes, the more desirable it is that it should be practically independent of a central business office. On the other hand, the small institutions may very well secure much greater benefits from such a central business office, because ordinarily they have only small facilities for taking care of business matters. Moreover, they do not always know where to purchase supplies most economically, nor are their orders in such quantities as to command the lowest prices.

In a general way, therefore, central business offices for the large higher institutions are most successful where they confine themselves chiefly to the purchase of supplies and when they accept freely and unquestionably the advice of the institutions concerning the type of techinal material wanted. In considerable measure the business offices should be recording and checking offices for the purchase of supplies.

On the other hand, there seems no reason why, for example, the purchase of coal should not be handled entirely by a central agency. It is very likely also that a central business office may supervise the erection of all buildings as effectively, if not more effectively, than individual institutions.

As an agency for the gathering of statistics and other data regarding the higher institutions regularly and systematically, the joint board of higher curricula in Washington has been more active than any other central board. This board has devised a method of securing accurate enrollment and attendance statistics, salary statistics, sizes of classes, room space used, and maintenance expenditures which have been used to compute the per capita cost of instruction in the various courses of study at the several institutions. The experiment has been a valuable one, although so far very little use has been made of the material.

In Idaho the matter has been carried still further by establishing a commissioner of education at the head of the entire educational system responsible only to the State board of education. The State superintendent of public instruction is retained only to perform the constitutional duties appertaining to the office.

STANDARDS FOR GOVERNING BOARDS. A board which controls and administers the higher institutions of a State is dealing with the State's most fundamental agency for progress. Upon the proper solution of educational problems and the intelligent determination of educational policies in the State universities and colleges waits the material, moral, and cultural standards which are to obtain in nearly all the States. They are indeed problems and policies which deeply concern the present generation, but they more vitally affect those who come after us.

In order that these important functions may be performed most satisfactorily, it is essential that the basis for choosing the governing board of higher institutions should be sound in principle. The history of boards of trustees of separate institutions affords what appears to be conclusive evidence on this matter. There is no reason to believe that the basis for choosing central governing boards should vary from that which has been found to be good practice for separate institutions.

It should be assumed that the men who compose such a board should be capable of sound judgment and a prophetic view which will enable them so to shape the careers of the institutions under their charge as to make them of the highest possible service to the people of the State. They should usually be men of some educational attainment, whose experience has been broad and deep enough to give them definite conceptions of the purposes of higher education and the necessary equipment and facilities to accomplish the desired ends. Furthermore, in order that the welfare of all the people in the State may be the single consideration, the board should be composed of public-spirited men chosen without reference to political creed, denominational attachment, or sectional interest. At the same time these men, through their public contacts and the weight of their published opinion, should be able so to interpret the higher institutions to the people as to establish and maintain perfect mutual confidence.

In performing these functions a board of this character will administer chiefly in the realm of the larger and more fundamental problems confronting the higher institutions. To the executives and their respective faculties will be left the particular method of carrying out these policies. It should be remembered also that the executives of the higher institutions will often initiate fundamental educational policies, but in every case the approval of these policies should wait on the deliberate judgment of a board which represents the broad interests of the State. In this manner the institutions are made to follow consistently through a period of years the broad outlines of an educational policy that is developed and shaped wisely as new conditions arise.

The services of men who can most satisfactorily perform the functions which have been described are ordinarily not to be had in return for any salary which a State is willing to pay. It is a type of service which appeals only to the social instinct and to that pride that comes from performing notable public service. Given satisfactory conditions, however, this service engages the attention and devotion of men of consequence and attainment who will not under any circumstances undertake any other public career.

It would seem to follow, therefore, that the central board which has charge of the higher educational interests of a State should comprise prominent laymen in the educational world who are appointed by the governor on a nonpaid basis. The number of men on the board should be about nine, appointed for terms of seven to nine years, in order that all temptation to use the board for political purposes may be removed. At the same time this arrangement safeguards the institutions and the State against abrupt changes in the fundamental educational policies of the institutions. So important have these several considerations been regarded in such States as Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and California as to lead to a provision in the State constitution for the appointment of the governing board. Experience in other States seems to point against the presence of ex officio members on the board. Also it seems to be clear that a fulltime board devoting its entire attention to the higher institutions is inadvisable because such a board is naturally tempted to encroach on the internal administration of the institution.

In laying down this basis for a central board of the most satisfactory character, the commission believes that it is only repeating what has been found to be the most successful basis for choosing boards of trustees at individual State institutions of higher learning. In the surveys of higher institutions conducted by the Bureau of Education boards of trustees so constituted have been repeatedly recommended. The problem is no different when central boards of control are under consideration.

ANALYSIS OF THE KANSAS LAW.

The law establishing the present board of administration in Kansas was approved by the governor, February 27, 1917. It went into effect on the following 1st of July. Including certain amendments which have been made by succeeding legislatures, the law provides for a board composed of four members, consisting of three electors appointed by the governor, “who shall be chosen without reference to party politics and because of their fitness for the duties of the office, by and with the advice of the senate.” The governor himself is the fourth member of the board and is the chairman. The term of office for the appointed members is four years, one retiring at the end of one biennium and the other two at the end of the next. The appointed members give all their time to the duties of the board, for which they receive a compensation of $3,500 per year. The law also provides that the board shall appoint a secretary at $2,000 per year and a business manager at a salary to be fixed by the board.

The board of administration with one or two unimportant exceptions has charge of all the State educational, charitable, penal, and correctional institutions, numbering with their branches 27 in all. They are as follows: University of Kansas, Lawrence, together with the medical school and the Bell Memorial Hospital, at Kansas City; Kansas State Agricultural College, Manhattan, together with the four branch agricultural experiment stations at Hays, Garden City, Colby, and Tribune; the three normal schools at Emporia, Hays, and Pittsburg; School for the Blind, Kansas City; School for the Deaf, Olathe; State fish hatchery, Pratt; Western University (colored), Kansas City; Industrial and Educational Institute (colored), Topeka; the four State hospitals at Topeka, Osawatomie, Larned, and Parsons; State training school, Winfield; State sanatorium for tuberculosis, Norton; State orphans' home, Atchison; Kansas State Penitentiary, Lansing; Kansas State Industrial Reformatory, Hutchinson; women's industrial farm, Lansing; Boys' Industrial School, Topeka; and the Girls' Industrial School, Beloit.

According to the law the board of administrationshall control and manage said institutions, including the erection of all buildings, additions, alterations; * * * shall appoint the superintendent, warden, or other executive officer for each of the educational, benevolent, penal, or corrective institu

upon recommendation of the superintendent or executive officer of each institution, annually determine and fix, with the written approval of the governor and business manager, the annual or monthly salary of all officers and employees of the several institutions,

The board holds for the State the property of the several institutions. It receives and executes trusts for them, and authorizes "such expenditures for the interest of said institutions as may in its judgment be necessary.

Although the board seems to enjoy almost unlimited power in its administration of the institutions, it was evidently intended that the internal administration of each institution should be left largely to the local executives, as is evidenced by the provisions stating that superintendents or executive officers "shall appoint, subject to the provisions of the civil service laws of Kansas, all officials, clerks, guards, and employees”; that the executive officials may discharge

tions; * * *

« ForrigeFortsett »