WILLISTON WALKER, PH.D., D.D., L.H.D. Provost of Yale University
The American university has been a rather planless growth, due largely to an opportunist attempt to meet an ever-changing and constantly enlarging appreciation of its possible service to the community, which is the prime warrant for its existence. Its roots run back into the colleges of colonial days. Their purpose was primarily to train men for the Christian ministry, and, in a lesser measure, to supply the succession of their own teachers, then the only generally recognized learned professions.
The close of the eighteenth and the dawn of the nineteenth century saw a demand for systematic instruction in law and medicine, till then largely secured privately, witnessing to the vindication of the professional standing of these disciplines. The result was the loose attachment of law and medical schools to the existing colleges, the union being the more imperfect because of the predominantly classical curricula of the older departments of our colleges, even though they had already outgrown the dominance of ministeral preparation, and also because instruction of these so-called "special schools" was long in the hands of part-time teachers engaged in active practice. The great university advance of the nineteenth century was in the recognition of the scholarly demands of other professions widely beyond the few formerly accounted "learned." The natural sciences, with their wealth of investigation and application, claimed rightful university recognition. Special branches of scientific effort, such as