Tag Archives: education
All that to say that there’s room for another book about Macalester, with perhaps more emphasis on the changing structure of the curriculum, the faculty’s ever-evolving membership, and changes to student life (and the student body’s makeup) which occurred over time. Nonetheless, Kilde’s book is valuable as written, and quite a gratifying read.
This is a short book, compiled by editors Cohen and Scheinfeldt, consisting of about 50 essays and fragments exploring the shortcomings and future of the modern university. The authors have a special concern about the impacts of new technologies. It’s well worth your time to read.
The strength of the book is its fascinating portrait of the early years of a small college. We see buildings under construction, we sit in on debates about whether to permit women students, we watch faculty get hired (and fired), we experience a neighborhood growing around the campus, we grow frustrated as the finances of the school devolve from difficult to grim. Then we follow newly-elected Macalester president Wallace as he slogs through a half-decade of budgets and fundraising–begging, really–during the 1890s recession. Finally things right themselves as the new century begins. This section of the book is extremely well-done, and worth reading for anyone interested in the beginnings of educational institutions. While the details are specific to this institution, the general pattern, I suspect, is common.
Every campus has a narrative, and that narrative shapes the college culture. These stories may emphasize unimportant details; they ignore entire decades. Macalester’s, like most, begins with a founder, has a key figure who shaped the college, skips lightly through the decades, mentions some key teachers and graduates, describes a major crisis, and looks brightly to the future. To the best of my ability, here’s the Macalester story.