THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING
BY the year 1933 it had become apparent that the general economic depression was not leaving untouched the many institutions of higher learning in the country. Without systematic study it was clear that some of the colleges and universities were beginning to feel the pinch. From various sources came reports of staff members here or there who were confronted with drastic salary cuts or even dismissal. Some contracts were not being renewed. Recent graduates from graduate schools were finding it difficult to obtain the positions to which they had aspired. Since 1929 the business and industrial world had been readjusting itself to the most serious depression in current history. From the day of the collapse in 1929 through most of 1931 the untoward influences of the downswing in the business cycle had not been seriously felt at most institutions of higher education. There were even some advantages to staff members, since the era of falling prices found them with salaries at a fixed level. The shock was to come later, and, as will be seen in the chapters that follow, it came with unmistakable force in 1932. Institutional income was curtailed, budget readjustments necessitated salary reductions. Retrenchments became essential. The depression had reached the campus.
The impact of the depression created grave feelings of concern among those engaged in teaching at the higher levels of the educational system. Something was happening, and everyone was aware of it. But what was happening? The questions that were raised were the starting point of this investigation.
The creation of a special committee of the American Association of University Professors to analyze the effect of depression and recovery upon higher education was a logical and essential step. This organization, because of background and present interest, was qualified to make such a study. The present report is the outgrowth of the work of this special committee. Financial support for the study was assured by a grant in the spring of 1935 from the Carnegie Corporation through the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Scope of the Study. The basic decision to be made by the committee as it began its work was whether to confine its investigations