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the institutions were strictly ecclesiastical and their work was almost exclusively theological, or preparatory to theological studies. The university library of that time comprised, therefore, only classical and theological works. Another explanation is the fact that the chief universities are located at the national capitals and every country has its national library, which has often been developed at the expense of the university library.

The striking feature of the university libraries is the large number of works in languages other than the national language. It is true that Spain has not nearly kept pace with her European neighbors in scientific studies and scientific production. The Spanish-American countries have not yet produced many original scientific works themselves, and have, therefore, been forced to have recourse to foreign literatures for the materials of advanced study. This is unfortunate, as it unconsciously gives a tinge of depreciation to the national idiom as a vehicle of learning. French scientific books form the great majority of the library collections and are also much used as regular texts. This arises from the historic prestige of the French language and the ease with it is acquired by other Latin peoples. Of the works consulted by students and professors in the library of the medical college of Montevideo in a recent year, 154 were in German, 231 in Portuguese, 239 in English, 1243 in Italian, 2793 in Spanish and 5816 in French.

Laboratory equipment is fairly adequate to the demands made upon it. Unfortunately, from a North American viewpoint, the Latin-American practice fails to make the fullest use of the laboratory. As a rule, it is used simply for demonstrations by the instructor in the presence of the class and not for frequent individual experiment by each and every student. Hence one of the greatest advantages of laboratory studies is lessened. Particularly is this true in engineering and agricultural schools. In medical schools, more individual use is made of the equipment. Many LatinAmerican educators admit the inadequacy of the mere demonstration method in laboratory, and the best universities are changing their practice in this respect; but the advance in engineering schools is greatly hampered by tradition.

The lack of better buildings must not be attributed to indifference to higher education. The Latin-American takes an exceptional pride in handsome public buildings and in the material aspect of the universities. In some countries, the rapid growth of the population has so increased the university enrollment that the public revenues have been inadequate to the demands made upon them. Buenos Aires has as many thousands in her university today as she had hundreds thirty years ago.

In states where immigration has not been marked, the reorganization of higher education in the past two decades in order to adapt it to the new scientific era has exhausted the available resources.

There is scarcely a country, large or small, rich or poor, that has not built and equipped its institutions of higher learning as well and as fast as it could well afford. Some have been even too lavish here in proportion to the expenditures for elementary and secondary education.


Latin-American universities are more closely related to and more dependent upon the political powers of the country than is the case with North American state universities. They are, however, in name almost universally autonomous, i.e., the professors constitute a corporation that is self-perpetuating. Vacant professorships are filled by the faculty itself. The control of the state resides in the fact that the chief executive, through the minister of public instruction, has the veto power over every election, and the further fact that the institution is directly dependent upon the state for its revenues. Few have endowments of any considerable value, and no fixed percentage of the state revenues are allotted by statute or constitutional provision to the university as is the case in many of our states. The veto power is, however, seldom exercised in a way to infringe upon the liberty of teaching, or in the sense of political spoils. In a few states, where autocratic methods have been in vogue in politics, the same principle extends to the universities, but these states are exceptions. The institutions of higher learning in Latin America, whether universities or detached departments of professional schools, are all state institutions. They may have had their beginnings far back in colonial times and been originally chartered by the church, but they have been completely secularized and now owe allegiance to the state only. Further, they are more than mere academic bodies. They not only train for the professions, but their degrees virtually confer the sanction to exercise the professions. They are the state's agents for the administration of the so-called learned professions.

It is true that the Roman Catholic Church in Chile and also in Argentine maintains a Catholic university comprising certain faculties, but these universities have no power to grant professional licenses. In this sense, the state in Latin America maintains a monopoly of higher, or at least of professional education.

There is still another bond that links the Latin-American university with the state that is foreign to North American customs. Notwithstanding the fact that a teacher by profession and but recently a college president sits in the White House at Washington, it is nevertheless true that academic life in the United States has run in quite different channels from the political life. Not so in Latin America. There statecraft and the professorate have been closely allied. A man of talent easily passes from the professor's chair to political administration and as easily returns. The Latin-American professor is seldom devoted to research as a vocation. It may be an avocation. (I have already noted that there are no graduate schools strictly speaking.) His teaching is practical in that it aims simply to prepare for a profession. Moreover, the professor does not limit his activities to the university. He practices a profession at the same time. In fact his teaching is secondary. He is first of all lawyer, physician, engineer, journalist or agriculturist. His lectures of three or six hours per week are a by-product of his activities. As an educated, cultivated citizen, he is therefore easily available for a political position. It would not appear incongruous to us that professors in the law school should easily gain political preferment; but that professors of medicine, engineering, pharmacy and other technical subjects should be directly in line for political positions is to the North American an anomaly. To understand the situation it must be remembered that in Latin American the professions are filled almost exclusively by the aristocracy, and it is by virtue of this fact that physicians, engineers, and others, who are at the same time professors are called to political life. It is not so much that the university contributes to the political life of the country as that the personnel of the university is recruited from the same class that directs the state. The interchange of functions is therefore most natural and facile. With us, it has often been a cause for regret that our higher education has few points in common with our political activities. Our tradition is not wholly an evil; our policies suffer somewhat probably, but there are compensations.

The internal organization resembles that of a European university. There is a dean of each college chosen annually by the professors. He is seldom reëlected, as it is the custom to rotate the office. He is assisted by a small council also chosen by the professors. The head of the entire university, the rector, is elected by the professorship. He, like the deans, seldom serves for a long time. There is also a university council composed of representatives from all the faculties. The council has legislative powers for the entire institution, and it arranges the budget for the university, distributing the funds among the various colleges.

Notwithstanding the existence of the university council and the rector, who represent the entire institution, a LatinAmerican university is a far less unified body than a North American state university. Each department is inclined to lead its own life apart. The council is not as unifying an agency as a board of trustees, and the rector who holds office for but a year perhaps and then returns to his professional chair is not the important centralizing figure that the North American university president is. He has neither the prominence nor the authority. The different colleges may be located in widely separated districts of the city. The university organization is, therefore, often only nominal. Hence, the practice of omitting it entirely and conducting the departments as separate institutions under the minister of public institutions, as in Brazil, Bolivia and Guatemala.


The fact that the Latin-American professor is rarely a teacher by profession has far-reaching effects on the character of the teaching body and still greater on the character and scope of the teaching. In the first place, it fills the professional chairs with men of the highest class of society. They may not be erudite, but they are the most cultured of the nation. They give the university a dignity that could not, in countries where rank in society counts for so much, be imparted by mere erudition. Since the great majority of the students are of the same social class and since the teaching lacks the technical and burdensome detail that a scholar might introduce, there exists a community of spirit between students and professors not so common with us, and this tends to create a corporate sentiment, such as existed in the mediaeval universities.

As the professor has active vocations, which he considers more vital than his lectures, he cannot be held to regular attendance. A professor who gives four-fifths of his lectures is considered a model of regularity. Not infrequently he is absent one-half the time, and the annual report of the institutions will include a table of professors' attendance. To remedy the matter, each chair is provided with a substitute professor, who may be called by the administration to fill the place of the absentee, in the event his absence is foreseen and reported.

The curriculum is divided into a great number of courses and each course has its professor. He usually gives three lectures a week. If the course includes laboratory work, this exercise is conducted by a laboratory assistant, who has neither the rank nor dignity of a professor. This sharp

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