[Talk at St. Elizabeth’s College, NJ]
February 12, 1974
Sister Elizabeth Ann and conferees on Higher Education and Industry:
We are gathered on the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who spoke of opportunity to live in freedom and fulfillment. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In his spirit, we are moving ahead with freedom and opportunity. Higher education stands as a principal pathway to these goals. Already our nation has set a fabulous pace of having about 8 millions of the youth participating in education beyond the high school. These will spend often more than the average of 12.6 years already used, (out of a lifetime of 71). or nearly 20%, in the pursuit of formal education. And as would be expected, more than 1/8 of our total national productivity is spent on this formal education. So it is one of our larger social enterprises, ranking with health, food, and housing, as a major economic effort of our civilization.
Now of course higher education takes much less than this total, for now only about 12% of our total population have finished four-year college, with another 12% or so having had one to three years, and indeed only something over 50% of our total population have completed four years of high school. So there is an enormous future, a huge potential for expanding our most precious national resourcethe educated personthrough several times the present college completion or even college beginning, and this is to say nothing of more enrichment of our people by life long education, as well.
Now, our purpose today is not to say something more about education, which is well understood by everyone here, nor about people, who are misunderstood by all of us in some way or other. It is to speak about the combination of how people's responses to learning yield the strength and the future of industry and of our free world.
It would be obvious to Lincoln that right now, for instance, we do not have primarily an energy crisis, or a gasoline shortage. But we primarily have a stupidity surplus, or a brain-strain. This is a phenomenon usually blamed on government, as a convenient visible place for assigning troubles of any kind. And often one may say that government deserves that honor I But as we in industry are occasionally reminded, we also are said to be causes of trouble from time to time. Having bright, educated, informed people appears to be much the nicest way to stay out of such trouble, although bond issues, advertising campaigns, style changes, and government subsidies, are other alternatives that have been eagerly tried at one time or other in industrial history.
Now if you believe this notion of a connection between industry and higher education, you would still wonder why I was asked to talk about it. Because engineering, and science, and research, and development are only small parts of industry, whose big things are production, and organization, and capital, and labor. Well the reason I am here, beyond the basic one that there had to be somebody, is that R&D represent change, and the future, and a certain essence of learning in which higher education and industry have so profound a togetherness that the point of view may be pertinent. Perhaps there is a little more too, in that we represent what is hopefully, or maybe fancifully, called the knowledge sector of industry. This involves R&D, the media of communication, information machines and services, especially computers, and the whole information-handling business. That too, is a nontrivial part of our near trillion dollar national product, approaching, indeed, a quarter of it. Thus, the last firm figures for 1970 (the way things are going these may be the last firm figures of dollars that will ever be seen!) were that this (mostly industrial) knowledge sector involves about $230 billions per year. But also, the rest of industry, involving health, housing, raw materials, food, clothing, etc., as the major elements of our industrial society, are represented here by leading enterprises, which oar region is so fortunate to contain. By comparison, all education costs about $175 billions, the largest of which is for primary and secondary schooling at $90 billions, and higher education at $50 billions, with another $20 billions being rather generally assigned to some sort of continuing education. So we see that industry and the national product have already a very big direct stake in higher education economically, and of course depend on it for their management substance and vitality.
It is to all of industry, and to all of higher education, that we who are merely a lesser part of it, although utterly dependent on it, address our plea: today.
Our plea is that the Industry of this region, representing, as it does, great national enterprises and multinational ones an well, expand its direct financial and political support to the independent colleges and universities, and specifically to those that provide liberal education in humanistic and technological skills. The subjects of many of the panels this morning purposefully reflected technological or operational abilities. For those have been roost visibly used in the present and projected success of our business systems. What we have tried to say there is that the past is but prologue, especially in those matters wherein the future range and versatility of exercising professional and vocational skills must be promptly extended and coupled with a now humanism and sensitivity to the life and meanings of the individual. This latter need has been too little met in the vast growth of high learning in the mid-century. This need is often best met by the small liberal arts college or university, such as the one whose hostesses are so graciously receiving us today.
But let as look for a moment at how we have recognized the need in our state already. Many may think that public support is doing what in needed and that we have only to increase taxes a little more and everything will be taken care of on the way to the poor house. Many nations and societies, who had their bicentennials ages ago, have already thought this. They are represented in the world today, on one extreme by the collectivist states of China, Russia, and many others, where higher education and all learning are but tools of political tyranny. Yet other examples are less distinct, and therefore probably more dangerous, in the great cultural traditions of Western Europe, from which our own themes mostly derive. The socialization of higher education is there complete, and the taxation of industry and the populace to almost as total. Yet the great universities of Europe once, too, had their beginnings from the church, and the conservators of independent scholarship. Here we must avoid this loss of independent pluralism and must preserve the thousand year old spiritual sponsorship of higher study.
Indeed, we have adopted that policy in New Jersey. We must now be sure to implement it. After a study by a citizens’ committee, the Goheen Committee, we formed an organizing group, appointed by Governor Hughes and chaired by Mr. Edward Booker. This small group of us, in 1966 conducted the Governor’s Conference on the Future of Higher Education. In this conference those of us who presented the position papers strongly urged the preservation of an independent segment of higher education, along with an historic expansion of the public institutions. Further, the Board of Higher Education, resulting from those plans and established by the legislature and the Governor, has steadily guided that course, in intimate cooperation with the Department of Higher Education.
Our Chancellor, Mr. Ralph Dungan, has wisely and effectively implemented the creation of a now era of college and university quantity and quality in Now Jersey. Thus in 1971, oar original concept of State contributions to the well-being of the independent colleges and universities was initiated with an initial appropriation of $7 millions, following a period of intense policy study and formulation. In this, the Association of Independent Colleges made invaluable contributions under the leadership of Father Ryan, then Executive Vice President of our esteemed contemporary, Saint Peter's College, whose President Father Yanitelli has been a most eloquent and wise spokesman for the public interest. On the Board of Higher Education, we are now actively revising, in view of experience, our original modes of allocation of funds, especially to recognize further the values of liberal, individualistic, and high-quality education.
So overall we are committed in New Jersey, and believe it will be well supported by the present legislature and Governor, to a pluralistic system of education, which will offer an alert warning against a lapse into rigid, bureaucratic, state academia. We followed also the concept mentioned earlier, of converting the state teachers, or essentially professional-vocational institutions, into liberal arts colleges. Their dramatic improvement in curriculum and facilities is a source of pride and appreciation by all of us on the Board and by every citizen of the State. Yet our original commitment to the preservation of independent options and capabilities is strongly supported by this whole experience. For instance, the present struggle with unionization of the faculties and the bargaining process in the state colleges, whatever its elements of social justice, nevertheless, cannot but lead to certain inflexibilities in teaching methods, curricula, faculty, service, and administration, which could limit the options for our students.
But the remaining and central question is, what does this mean to industry and to its responsibilities to independent higher education? What we report today is that the College of St. Elizabeth, with Its devoted faculty and administration, its first-class curriculum and attention to humanistic personalities, should have an extra boost. But industry, you say, has to look at the bottom line. How much can be spared for spending beyond that levied by law In taxes and often short-sighted and politically opportunistic controls? Those who have, for instance, survived any recent train travel, not so much on our diligent Erie-Lackawanna, as on, say, the Penn Central, will know indeed the fate of industry subject to ruthless and arbitrary Federal constraint. Such industry, unwilling or unable to assert its necessity for fair earnings, has gone into technical and operational relapse. So industries do have to watch their balance shoots, and those in petroleum, drugs, as well as our own communications, are increasingly at hazard from destructive government controls, which themselves may be misunderstood by masses of the public who have not had an education in the realities of economics and the viability of enterprises.
Yet, supplementing this matter of Industrial survival through an informed and rational public, we can show the cold numerical values of direct industrial support of higher education. In a recent study, the State cost per full-time equivalent student was above $2000. That cost, of course, is rising, and at Rutgers it exceeds $3000, and $2500 at the Newark College of Engineering. But 65% of this is allocated to instruction or associated departmental studies. The independent institutions, however, claim only about 48% of their total expenditure to be assigned to specific instruction, and accordingly the efficiency of teaching of Saint Peter's with an educational expenditure of $1600 per full-time student, or even of St. Elizabeth's with $2500 per full-time student, is remarkably efficient. Indeed, St. Elizabeth with Its large plant, assigns but $635 for instruction, in comparison with $796 at Saint Peter's for instruction and $750 at Monmouth, and more than $2000 for Rutgers, the State University. Now, by the old American adage of you got what you pay for, the question might be raised whether, indeed, the instruction at St. Elizabeth's Is as thrifty as its cost. Here we can state assuredly that it is of high rank. In my years on the National Science Board and in our employment of woman in this area for more than a third of a century, we know that the technically and mathematically trained graduates of St. Elizabeth have had excellent preparation. We have collateral information that Indicates their work in the arts and liberal studies is correspondingly competent. As Is modestly described In the current annual reports of St. Elizabeth's, the activities in pedagogy are of excellent content. So here Is a real appeal to the bottom line, (although serious underutilization of faculty and facilities will of course drive these demonstrated cost benefits to different levels).
But the final issue is, does industry, and more importantly our total society in which it operates, really need this sort of person, who has had such higher education? By the laws of humanity, much more than by the laws of Government (whose Civil Rights statues now, through Equal Employment Opportunity, make industry eager to hire women), but Indeed by both, we desperately need more and more graduates like those of the College of St. Elizabeth. In this time of the humanism of opportunity and the progress of womankind, we also need graduates from a feminine community, such as here at Convent. Our industry and our nation will be enriched progressively if we have the feminine point of view, philosophy, psychology, spiritualism, call It what you like, extended in parallel with the coeducation which is becoming usual.
As one of the Trustees of Princeton who stood for admission of women from the very outset of the issue, I can emphasize that our recent action in assuring equal access, as well as equal status, has been one of the great advances in that university. But it has brought out as well that women in higher learning have so much to offer that we should also prolong the time when a feminine community, itself, enlarges educational opportunity. Also, the recent association with Draw University, one of the finest of Its size, will provide an invaluable link also with the coeducational assembly of faculty and students and administration. Perhaps in the future an even more cooperative arrangement can be achieved, a consideration which destiny may be favored by location and common devotion to spiritual and temporal ideals.
But however these things may develop, the industrial response must be real and concrete. Scholarships, grants for maintenance, and support of faculty are essential. St. Elizabeth's faculty chairs supported by annual grants from each of dozens of the major industries in this area would do more to assure the feminine humanism, as well as technical and operational resources of our region, than any levels of Federal penalties imposed on nonconforming employers. And such would, vastly more importantly, aid social and political acceptance of industrial free-enterprise function. We speak firmly and practically about these matters, in our mission of looking to the future. The financial burden, thus distributed, would be minimal. The alternative to collectivism and bureaucratic over expansion would be invaluable. The public in already assured of constant guarding of its interests through reviews of performance of our private colleges and universities. This is part of our statutory base in the Board of Higher Education and the Department of Higher Education In Trenton. We have constant surveys of the standards and qualities of all institutions of higher learning. Now curricula cannot be introduced not management shifted or degraded without rapid reaction from organisms protecting the public Interest.
Hence, industry has the opportunity for a risk-free investment for the future. in our report on technology and resources for business, at the White House Conference on the Industrial World Ahead (just two yews ago), we began with this statement: “Science and technology are but other words for understanding and learning and discovery. But they will be used for the benefit of all mankind only when coupled with organization and productivity, which are other words for business. Hence we shall discuss briefly the outlook for research and development in terms of how new basic science and engineering can enhance the service of Industry in the social and economic goals of the decades to come. But In doing this we must first assert our credo that bold discovery is the most individualistic of human enterprises. And so far the record shows conclusively that it occurs in an atmosphere of social freedom and entrepreneurship, aided by the pluralism of institutions, where planning Is modulated by possibility.” Yet we hardly know the real scope of what educated women, in the quantities that business should engage, can contribute to originality, not only in technology and operations, but in marketing, in information processing, In personnel affairs, in labor and capital themselves. Here is a chance, far beyond the detailed experience of technology that I know best, to create in our industrial world now points of view, now appeals to public understanding, and above all, new ways of meeting the needs of people, which industry exists to do.
Further, we have spoken only of the present forms of higher education, whereas we know that even In the near future lifelong education Is ordained if our civilization is to advance. Recently, under the auspices of the Educational Testing Service and the College Entrance Examination Board, a Commission on Nontraditional Study found that, nationwide, 75% of the adults surveyed wished to have some sort of continuing education, and 30% were already engaged in it. A recent national task force, the Newman Group, reported to DREW in Washington that, indeed, affectivity in post-secondary education would depend on “a greater opportunity for individuals to return on a recurrent basis to a full range of educational programs.” We have all been telling ourselves about this for years and doing very little. The time has come for concerted action, In our Laboratories we have an in-hours program of graduate studies, in which more than three-and-a-half thousand professional engineers and scientists are active. This is in addition to an .extensive out-of-hours program and widespread cooperation with neighboring Institutions. But if those institutions were ready, as they must plan to be in providing such facilities, and in convenient proximity to place of work, our In-house graduate school would be done in true academia. In Now Jersey, in a survey of more than a year ago, 371,608 older unconventional students were engaged in courses of study, including general adult education and even secondary school equivalency and vocational efforts. Of these, however, no less than 21,035 were already In the State's colleges and universities. We feel the demand is vastly larger than even these figures suggest.
Particularly, however, the kinds of liberal studies that are offered to women, at the College of St. Elizabeth need extensive enlargement and access by mature citizens. In the years to come large numbers of such women will already be in industry and will want more than ever not merely refreshment in professions and basic skills. They will seek above all learning to broaden and enrich their lives and their responsibilities as citizens. Accordingly, we urge that such colleges begin now plans for offering this new resource for America.
But in addition to all the practicalities and economics, we end on a different theme. In advocating the pursuit of education, Thomas Jefferson wrote In 1817, “The object is to bring into action that mass of talents which lies buried in poverty in every country.” We have made vast progress in that objective and even in the face of contradicting the old doctrine once favored by many in Britain,. for instance, that “more usually means worse.” Our quality is improving, as we have moved in the last century from about 2% of the college age group attempting higher education, to now nearly 50%. Even among minorities the gain has been dramatic, for in the fall of 1972 the proportion of Blacks enrolled in college was about the same as their representation among high school graduates. The rates of Improvement of enrollment from the lowest socio-economic quartiles have fallen off recently, however, perhaps because of a simplistic view of the assured economic values of higher education. Industry must continue to do the best it can on this, but by the nature of its work and the conduct of its management we can also enhance social and personal fulfillment through higher education. We can help to preserve the moral and spiritual qualities which have strengthened this nation in its two centuries. For these qualities stand very high in the goals of the College of St. Elisabeth and of its sister independent colleges and universities in our state. In the malaise of our government, in the distrust and discomfort of our populace, there cries out the need for moral teaching and moral fiber. In the Institutions of Madison, Drew, Fairleigh Dickinson, and St. Elizabeth's, we have a chance to show the way to new generations of students, young and older, of the goodness and beauty that lie in learning and understanding, in the knowledge of literature, and art, and science.
Let the media, supported by industries, and their own public relations departments, organize a campaign for support of attendance at these colleges, as befits the particular student’s interest and capacity. Let the small industries, the merchants, the shopping centers, who most depend on women for their help and markets, join in area-wide contributions for these independent academies. We can tell them that they will be repaid many fold by the strengthening of our free enterprise society that will result. Let our businessmen read, along with the Wall Street Journal, the final report of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, which has just appeared. entitled “Priorities for Action.” It will amply support our evaluations of today. The resources are here now. Let us not abandon them.
We must heed the lesson in the scriptures of the proverbs which said,
“With wisdom did the eternal found the earth.
“With knowledge did he raise the heavens;
“’Twas with intelligence he broke up the abyss and made the clouds drop dew…”
Above all, we must preserve these faculties, these teachers who follow the noble course of giving counsel, described by Francis Bacon, who said, “The greatest trust between man and man is the trust of giving counsel; for in other confidences men commit the parts of life. their lands, their goods, their children, their credit, some particular affair; but to such as they make their counselors they commit the whole; by how much the more they are obliged to all faith and integrity.” And in this giving of counsel, along with advancing the professions and the vocations, we must include the humanities and learning for its own sake, to feel as in John Donne’s “Song of Life,”
“Go and catch a falling star,
“Teach me where an past years are.
“Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
“Or to keep ff Envie's stinging,
“Serves to advance aim honest mind.”
Then, in all, we can be following the Grand Design. For both women and men in the earliest Sanskrit the word “man” meant “to think.” It meant the mind as when the poet. Davis, wrote in “Immortality of the Soul:”
“God first made angels, bodyless. pure minds;
“Then other things which mindless bodies be;
“Last he made man.”