Speaking of the thirteen men who contributed a dollar and a prayer to found Colgate, one of Colgate's favorite songs says: "funds were low, but abundant was their pluck, in eighteen-nineteen."
The same can be said of the University's educational setup in 1952. Trapped between inflated costs and an endowment that refuses to budge beyond four million dollars, Colgate must stow away its ambitious expansion plans while it tries to keep its budget balanced.
Those educational programs which got off the ground before inflation, however, are progressing nicely. The most important is the "Core Curriculum," Colgate's version of General Education. There is a double difference between the Core and G.E.: everyone must take the same courses and take them in four years instead of two. Whereas G.E. emphasizes the historical roots of society, the Core for the most part trains its sights on the present.
Philosophy and Religion
Perhaps the most interesting and certainly the most popular Core course is Professor Herman Brautigum's Philosophy and Religion. Brautigum takes magnificent advantage of the opportunity he has to introduce his freshman students to learning. First, he say, he "tries to convince them that the upper middle class orthodoxy they bring to Colgate from, Westchester county is not the only way to look at the world."
He jars them a bit by having them read vicious attacks on capitalistic society by Marx and Archbishop Sheen. Then, the course takes up four ways man has tried to orient himself to the world: the Catholic way (Brautigum calls this "sacramental orientation"), the Protestant view ("Recognizing individual shortcomings"), the Marxist, and the naturalist-materialist orientation, typical of Westchester County and the American middle class. In his attempt to raise questions in student minds, Brautigum has made his course the cornerstone of the freshman year at Colgate.
While the Core program has been nurtured despite the financial squeeze, other improvements have been cut down. Colgate would like to conduct all senior courses in seminar form, and tried to before the war. But now, lack of personnel makes seminar courses an exception rather than a rule. The University made a game try at a tutorial system when it introduced graduate student "preceptors." But there are only 16 preceptors for 1300 students.
Other physical and educational improvements are on the docket. The University desperately needs a new Library, to replace rickety old James C. Colgate Library, which clings to the side of the Hill like a medieval castle, and is equally as comfortable.
Colgate would also like to expand its unique social science experiments: the Washington study group and the economics study group on the Tennessee Valley.
Shuns Federal Money
Colgate could, of course, appeal for money to the Government, but it is determined to do so only as a last resort. Instead, under the leadership of President Edward N. Case, former assistant dean of the Harvard Business School and successor to President Conant as chairman of the National council on Education, Colgate has banded together with other small colleges of New York State in a unique money raising pool called the "Empire State Foundation." Appealing to interested businesses and industries, the fund hopes to extract a million dollars a year with no strings attached. It is too early to tell how well the idea will work, but Colgate officials already admit that the million dollar sum was "perhaps too optimistic." And if it is, today's leaders at Colgate will need as much pluck and even more luck to realize their hopes as did the thirteen men who contributed their dollars and prayers many years ago.