« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
The compilation of this volume was undertaken in connection with the celebration, in 1884, of the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the University of the State of New York. It was designed to comprise a full record of the educational work of the Board of Regents, and of the several institutions and trusts which by law had been placed in its care. The execution of this task was intrusted to Dr. Franklin B. Hough, who by natural taste, by his long experience in such investigations, and his familiarity with the sources of information to be explored, was possessed of all the qualifications for its successful accomplishment. Amid the sorrow with which we make record of his death,* we must note it as a fortunate circumstance that his labors on this volume were substantially completed before he was attacked by the fatal illness which ended his life. The little that remained to be done, in the adjustment of portions of the prepared material, and in the correction of the proofs, has been done by the hands of those whom he had trained to such tasks. And though there is little need for such apology, I am charged by those upon whom this work was so sadly devolved to ask for it such consideration as may be due to the fact that a part of it lacked the critical revision of him who had planned and written it. To those who desire to investigate the early history of education in this State, and trace the broad stream to its small beginnings, the present compilation, drawn from original and authentic sources, must always possess a special interest and value.
The period covered by this record begins with the year following the close of the revolutionary war, when the Legislature, adopting the courageous and inspiring counsels of Governor George Clinton, took the first steps toward the "revival and encouragement of seminaries of learning." During this period New York has done much to justify for herself the title of the Empire State. In population,
* Dr. Hough died at Lowville, N. Y., June 11, 1885.
in wealth, in all the wealth-producing industries, in commerce, in her great cities, in her lines of transportation, in her public works, in her contributions to the establishment and maintenance of the Union, she stands pre-eminent. But her best title to greatness lies in none of these evidences of political power or commercial superiority. Her chief glory and her chief assurance of continued prosperity are found in the system of education which she has established,― a system which compasses in its beneficent folds her entire population,- a system which comprises her colleges of arts with 378 professors and 4,165 under-graduate students, with endowments aggregating $22,812,835; her professional colleges of medicine, law and science with 374 professors and 7,252 students; her academies and high schools with 1,400 teachers and 34,162 scholars, and expending an annual revenue of $1,359,945; her State Normal Schools with 120 instructors and 2,393 students; her classes in academies for training teachers with their 1,616 pupil-teachers; her teachers' institutes and city training classes; and last and greatest of all, her 11,921 public schools free to every child of the State, employing 21,411 teachers, and instructing 1,000,057 children, at a total cost of $11,834,911. The inception of this system was largely the work of the great men whose names appear in the long list of the Board of Regents. To its care the State has committed its institutions for higher education, and through it has distributed the funds which she has given for their aid. The history and statistics of these institutions as given in the following pages are creditable alike to the great State whose liberality and protection have made them possible, and to the board which for a hundred years has rendered to the State its unpaid service of supervision and visitation.
ALBANY, August 1, 1885.
INTRODUCTORY SKETCH OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.*
By DAVID MURRAY, Ph. D., LL. D, Secretary.
1. The Board of Regents.
The University of the State of New York is an organization including all the incorporated colleges of the State, together with the incorporated academies and the academical departments of public schools. The governing body of this University is a Board of Regents, composed in part of State officers, who are Regents, ex officio, and in part of members elected by the Legislature. Their functions are those of supervision and inspection, and not of instruction. The original theory of the corporation was that of an English University, composed of separate and independent colleges, established not necessarily in the same locality, but distributed through the State, as circumstances might call for them. Certain parts of this original plan proved impracticable, and changes, some of them radical, were introduced by subsequent legislation.
The original act creating the University was passed by the Legislature, May 1, 1784, at its very first session after the close of the Revolutionary War. It was in response to a very strong appeal from Governor George Clinton, in his annual message. It is entitled "An Act for granting certain privileges to the college heretofore called King's College, for altering the name and charter thereof, and erecting an University within this State." King's College had been broken up by the war, its property had been sacrificed, many vacancies existed in its corporation, and legislative intervention had become necessary to effect a reorganization. By this act the corporate rights of King's College were vested in a new corporation thereby created and termed "The Regents of the University of the State of New York." The principal State officers were made ex-officio Regents; twenty-four others, men of the highest character and distinction, were named in the act, and it was provided that "the clergy of the respective denominations might meet together and appoint one of
*Reprinted by permission from the "Public Service of the State of New York," with additions, bringing it down to 1884.
their body to be a Regent," and keep his place filled. The Fellows, Professors and Tutors of any college were also empowered to act as Regents in respect to their own college. The Regents were empowered from time to time to establish such additional colleges as they might think proper, such colleges to be considered as parts of the State University and to be under the control of the Regents. Experience, however, very soon showed that a body constituted, like this Board, of men residing in different localities and engaged in engrossing occupations, could not be assembled for business except on very urgent occasions. An enlargement of the number and a limitation as to a quorum were found necessary. Hence, on the 26th of November, 1784, the act previously passed was amended, by adding to the Regents named in the preceding act thirty-three others therein named, and providing that a legal quorum for the transaction of business should be eight besides the Chancellor. The Board was organized by the election of Governor George Clinton, Chancellor, Pierre Van Cortlandt, Vice-Chancellor, and Robert Harpur, Secretary. Its meetings were chiefly held in the Assembly Chamber in New York city, but sometimes at the Exchange, and sometimes at the house of one "John Simmons, innkeeper." Its chief business, during this period, was the government of Columbia College, which, up to 1795, constituted the only college of the University.
The Board created by these two acts proved a cumbrous body. Its members were so numerous (sixty-four, exclusive of clerical representatives) and so widely scattered, that full meetings could not be obtained. Its powers extended to the financial as well as the educational control of the colleges, and already Columbia College felt the inconvenience of having its finances administered by a body so little identified with its interests. The movement for a reform began in the Board itself. A committee was appointed to consider the defects of the organization and submit to the Legislature a revised form of a law. Alexander Hamilton and Ezra L'Hommedieu, both at that time Regents, the former a member of the Lower House of the Legislature and the latter a member of the Senate in 1787, were the leading spirits in this reform. This committee presented to the Board an elaborate and able report, setting forth the defects in the law and the urgent importance of making provision for the spread of education in the State. This report contains one notable passage, which serves to show that this Board appreciated the value of general education, as well as of the higher education with which they were more particularly charged. These are their words: "But before