Economic Reconstruction: Report of the Columbia University Commission

Economic Reconstruction: Report of the Columbia University Commission

Economic Reconstruction: Report of the Columbia University Commission

Economic Reconstruction: Report of the Columbia University Commission

Excerpt

In his Annual Report for the year 1932 President Nicholas Murray Butler called attention to the "new opportunity for university service" created by the economic and social problems which were sorely besetting the civilized world and which presented a peculiar challenge to those scholars who devote themselves to the fields of study within which these problems have emerged. That there was a prophetic note in this pronouncement the response of the universities to the call for service has in the intervening period amply demonstrated. The relevant portion of President Butler's Report follows.

New Opportunity for University Service

The years through which we are passing have brought into new and unexampled prominence a series of difficult problems whose solution affects the happiness and satisfaction of the whole world. These problems demand with the utmost urgency study by the very best intelligence which our time can provide. They summon this University to a high task of interpretation and exposition on a scale that has perhaps never been reached. So rapid, so incessant, and so cumulative have been the changes going on in the economic, political and social structure of our modern civilization that they find us not only wholly unprepared to deal with the grave emergencies which they so constantly present to us, but even unable clearly and fully to understand their essential character. To find a way out of these economic and social dilemmas, with their serious and often distressing consequences, is a responsibility which rests peculiarly on the universities of the world, and in high degree upon Columbia University. It is pathetic that with problems of this kind confronting and perplexing men, some of the great funds which have been established by private benefaction for the service of the public are literally wasting the sums at their disposal by scattering them in relatively small amounts over fifty, over a hundred, different and usually unimportant fields of endeavor. These same sums, concentrated in large amounts on one, two, or three of the commanding problems of our time, might well justify in the public mind any fortune . . .

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