Stanford University President Gerhard Casper has announced a plan to expand the faculty by 20 positions, but with a radical string attached:
Any academic department applying for one of the new faculty positions must convince Casper that the new member will spend part of his or her time working directly with freshmen or sophomores.
Departments that find ways to accomplish Casper's aim - to provide an opportunity for each freshman to sit in a small class with a top professor - will get more resources. Those that don't, won't.
"Students should be challenged and their minds stretched from the first year onward," Casper said in a speech to Stanford's academic senate in which he stressed the importance of "personal, face-to-face learning."
"The first year sets the tone. That is why I believe every freshman should have a seminar with a tenure-track member of the faculty."
For years, colleges and universities have faced complaints that undergraduates rarely see professors except in large lecture halls. …