Higher Education in Transition: The Challenges of the New Millennium

By Joseph Losco; Brian L. Fife | Go to book overview

Introduction

It is very curious that so few care, or dare, to get their money's worth from the American college. . . . The typical parent of our undergraduates has stored up more or less capital; he has a position waiting for his son; his boy will be able to live comfortably, no matter what may be the efficiency of his mind. The ability to support himself, the power to make money is certainly not the most important quality for this boy to possess. Very commonly, especially in the endowed institutions of the East, moneymaking in his family has reached the saturation point. It is unnecessary, it may be inadvisable, or even wrong, for him to enter gainful pursuits. What the son of parents in comfortable circumstances requires is not so much a narrow training in the support of life as a broader one in how to utilize living. His interests, quite as much as his mental powers, need stimulus, development, and discipline.

-- H. S. Canby. 1915: 72-73

The students Henry Seidel Canby taught at Yale in the early years of the twentieth century are markedly different from those who can be found walking the halls of the American university at century's end. Even at Yale, Canby would encounter far greater diversity on the basis of gender, race, and economic status. In fact, many of the changes that were to mark the democratization of higher education in the twentieth century were already underway as Canby wound his way through New Haven to teach English. The 1862 Morrill Land Grant Act was already responsible for opening higher education to a larger cross section of Americans. State aid opened opportunities for even

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