I have attended a good many of these Class & Charter Day assemblies -- in fact, all that have ever been held; but usually I have occupied space at the other end of this aisle, for the avowed purpose of seeing that the students get in more of less where they are supposed to get, to undertake to see that the few ladies who come get some sort of a seat and that dogs don't get in at all. At the moment, I carry a scar on the back of my hand, inflicted by a member of the canine set who strenuously objected to my attempts to discourage his attendance at a College affair. I must confess that I am somewhat surprised and a little disappointed that all seems to have gone smoothly without any effort on my part this time. I guess, therefore, that once more I have overestimated the importance of my services. I might say that while the view is better from this end of the aisle, I would be glad to trade places with any one of you who would like to come up here and undertake to make this speech, for I have a few delicate problems with which to cope; and whether or not I shall get anywhere with them is a matter of real uncertainty to me at this moment.
I have always thought that titles to books and even to articles are important, although they need, actually, to have little to do with what is to be read or said. I recall meeting George Nesbitt as he arrived by ship in New York after a prolonged stay in England. He was bearing with him a manuscript of his forthcoming book -- which was his Ph.D. dissertation, incidentally -- and which he had determined to call Benthamite Reviewing; and, indeed, such a book appeared from the press. I do not know how well it sold, but I can guess that it did not cause a stampede at any of the bookstores. I suggested to George that it might sell better if he called it The Skeleton at the Feast, which would have been a not-too-unlikely subject for George's book for, perhaps you don't know this, Jeremy Betham, the subject of the dissertation, in his will left not only his manuscripts to the library of the University of London but also whimsically willed his corpse to the university. He made one stipulation, however, which was that if ever his body was invited to attend a dinner, it should be taken there in coat and tie, of course. His corpse attended several dinners and, I believe, was once invited to come to one in America.
The title I have given this talk is "Six Administrations in 20 Minutes" -- or, as a subtitle and really what I am going mostly to talk about, "Thirty-six to One." The title I might have given it is "Parkinson's Law in College Administration," but that sounded a little discouraging to me. Parkinson's Law states, in sum, that administration increases by certain mathematical patterns but I am sure you wouldn't be interested in the figures if I knew them. In five words it says, "administration outruns what it administers."
For example, in a certain year the British Navy had 62 ships, 146,000 officers and men, 56,000 dockyard men, and 5,249 officials and clerks to administer them. Fourteen years later, it had 20 ships in place of 62; 100,000 officers and men in place of 146,000; 62,439 dockyard workers in place of 56,000; but it had over 8,000 officials and clerks in place of 5,249 -- an increase of around 65 percent. Hamilton's record with Parkinson's Law isn't nearly as sensational.
The Parkinson who established Parkinson's Law is not to be confused with the Parkinson for whom Parkinson's Disease -- "a devastating affliction of the central nervous system" was named. Nor was he the Parkinson who, as president of the Equitable Life Insurance Co., denounced deflationary policies of firms and governments. But he was a history professor at the University of Malaya. All three Parkinson's were on the same track.
Well, now for my title and what we can say about it. Before I'm through -- and that will be in 16 minutes from now -- I'll say a little about the six administrations at Hamilton I have lived under as an undergraduate or as staff and faculty member. But first my subtitle, "Thirty-six to One."
This comes from the half-century annalist's letter of last June. Ever since the Civil War, which coincided with the end of the first 50 years of Hamilton College, at Commencements some member of the class celebrating its 50th anniversary has prepared the half-century annalist's letter. It reviews, generally, the College life of the class, with special emphasis on the cows that were put in the Chapel belfry or on the president's front porch; but also pays tribute to the great, or outstanding men of the faculty. Harry Thomas, the annalist of the Class of 1909, celebrating its 50th anniversary last June, gave me my text when he said "President Stryker, the president of the College in 1909, did alone the work that it now takes 12 men and 24 women to do." I have counted up and believe Harry may have understated it. Let me remind you as to who these 36 persons, men and women, might be.
Dr. Stryker served as this College's president, and he did it without a secretary, an office, a telephone, a typewriter -- and I am not even sure that he owned a piece of carbon paper. So we can be sure that Mr. Thomas credited Dr. Stryker with doing what is now done by President McEwen, his secretary, Miss Coleman; Herb Hansen, the assistant to the president and his secretary; and two receptionists outside the president's office.
Dr. Stryker did all that was done in the line of admitting new men to the College, and of recruiting them, arranging scholarship grants and such, so that accounts for Sid Bennett, his secretary and Carl Wheeler, the assistant director of admissions, and his secretary, with a Committee on Admission made up of seven faculty members.
Dr. Stryker preached in the Chapel every Sunday and six mornings of each week, and in that function he is now replaced by Dean Miller and his secretary.
Dr. Stryker conducted the College Choir and thereby did the work now done by John Baldwin, his secretary, and by -- I think the last count I have heard -- his 23 assistant choir and glee club managers.
Dr. Stryker edited the College catalogue and other official publications, thus doing what Bob Hevenor and a secretary now do. He wrote biographic sketches of deceased alumni which he added to the catalogue.
The then-president taught three courses in several sections -- the freshmen studied a course in Bible with him from a book which he edited himself, the sophomores took a course in parliamentary law, the seniors were introduced to a course in ethics by him. So probably we can say that he represented a fraction of three current teachers or one full-time teacher.
Any traffic with alumni was done by Dr. Stryker, so let's scratch off Dave Mead and his secretary.
The president was in large part the dean, for although some professor held the title of dean, he had no office nor office hours, and the president took over the task of discipline -- that accounts for Win Tolles, Sid Wertimer and two secretaries. Nobody that I have asked seems to remember how scholastic records were kept so that must have been done by the president, and is now done by three women in the Recorder's Office.
There was no such office as secretary of the College at that time, so I suppose Dr. Stryker did whatever it is I and my secretary do now.
And then there were jobs for which we have no one. Dr. Stryker edited at least two editions of the College Hymn Book, and wrote many of the hymns -- and Carissima. He served as consulting architect on all of the buildings which were built during his administration, and they numbered, I think, nine. Paul Parker, in a recent article said that Dr. Stryker had an "edifice complex" -- and he surely did. At times he played baseball on Steuben Field with the boys. One could hardly have called him the baseball coach, but I am sure he had advice to offer on the subject. Each fall he might take a little time to aid in the rushing activities of a certain fraternity, which shall remain nameless.
I had hoped to prepare this paper on "administrations" and not "administrators," but as you can see Dr. Stryker was the administration.
So let us consider a few of the things that the administration does today with which Dr. Stryker didn't have to cope. He had less than 200 students and a faculty of 20, while now we have over 700 students and a faculty of 80 -- maintained at a time when good faculty men are harder to find. The College budget 40 years ago was around $50,000 a year -- or $353 per student; today the annual budget is $2,100,000, an average of $3,000 per student. The payroll in 1915 was around $4,000 a month for 130 people; today a payroll of $92,000 a month goes to 310 people. This all takes more administrative planning.
Dr. Stryker did not have an office on the campus where people today drop in for minutes -- and stay for hours. His study in his home -- where now the Delta Phi's live -- was not of too easy access, and he had no telephone on which one could make an appointment. If he took a "coffee break" he didn't have far to go. He didn't have to attend meetings of the Academic Council, the Alumni Council, the Committee on Studies, the Publications Board, the administrative staff -- in all 12 faculty committees and seven trustee committees.
Dr. Stryker was not on the road, as is President McEwen, many days each year for the Empire State Fund for Colleges, the Association of Colleges and Universities of the State of New York or the Middle States Evaluation Committee.
There were no problems then concerned with withholding taxes and Social Security figures. There was no infirmary, no golf course, no water system, only three instead of 63 college-owned houses and apartments to run, no worries about plowing 10 miles of roads, driveways and walks when it snowed, nor mowing 815 acres of land, no art center, no Alumni House.
As the admissions officer, Dr. Stryker visited no schools and received few visitors applying for admission. In all, he admitted around 60 men in a class and probably did not receive more than 100 applications to process, compared with some 2,000 processed today. And he attended no Admissions Committee meetings, for there was no Admissions Committee. (I hope I am leaving you with the impression that autocracy is less time-consuming then democracy.)
As a teacher, he taught only one-hour-a-week classes, and he never changed the context except to insert what came into his head at the moment so he presumably spent very little time in preparing for them. As the choir director, he rehearsed less than one hour a week, and the choir sang only hymns and was never heard to utter a note outside the Chapel. As the dean of the Chapel, he found it easier and cheaper to preach every Sunday himself than to fill the pulpit with visiting preachers.
Dr. Stryker had no problems such as a Parents' Day, a Sub-Freshman Day, a Class & Charter Day, Opening Convocation or a President's Senior Party with its accompanying "play." His decisions were made rapidly and irrevocably. As an autocrat he spent little, if any, time on committees. To be sure, he held a faculty meeting once a week, and did most of the talking, but that came easy to him.
The administration that followed Dr. Stryker's was that of Dr. Ferry, and then appeared the first symptoms that would indicate Parkinson's Law was operating here. He hired a secretary and established an office on the campus -- in the library where Walter Pilkington now sits. The first real crack in the dike might possibly have occurred when Dr. Ferry hired a then-young man -- during a golf game at the Yahnudasis Golf Club -- to undertake a number of duties which came to include the admissions work, alumni affairs, editing of Alumni Registers and catalogues, management of various College ceremonies, some teaching, occasionally administration pinch-hitting, sometimes duties of head-waiter and janitor. If you think I am referring to myself -- well, I am.
Dr. Ferry appointed a member of the faculty as dean and relieved him of some of his former teaching duties, but Dr. Ferry always kept the reins of discipline in his own hands. He increased the library staff by 100 percent. The business office was moved to the campus; it had been in a back office over the old Hayes Bank in the village.
The dike really began to give way under the next president, Dr. Cowley, and when it began, it began with a rush. He soon engaged an assistant to the president and three secretaries, including a man who sat up half the night taking dictation from the president. During the war he took the Chi Psi Lodge for his offices. The dean he appointed was a full-time dean except when he coached football along with Forest Evaschevski. During the war, there were as many as three deans at once and an acting president who took over whenever Dr. Cowley went off to Washington or undertook to write a book. During this administration a full-time public relations man and editor was appointed, and the Alumni Fund took on real significance.
Of Dr. Cowley's immediate successor, David Worcester, there is unfortunately very little to point to in the way of change. President Worcester arrived on the Hill in late November, spent most of the Christmas holidays in the hospital, had a serious brain disturbance in May and was away from the College for eight months. He returned to service for about four months with a greatly impaired memory, and died in June of his second year here.
In the administration of his successor, Tom Rudd, Parkinson's Law seems to be reversed. Tom had been the business manager of the College, a position he continued to hold while also bearing the title of the president of the College. He never changed his office from the rear to the front of Buttrick Hall nor did he ever make his residence in the then-president's house. Besides the College duties, Tom was president of the multi-million-dollar Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica, was the head of a law firm in Utica and was on the governing board of several large corporations. He often said that he never wanted to be the president of the College and accepted the office only to keep the seat warm until an appropriate successor could be found -- which was a matter of two years.
The College ran smoothly and quite happily under President Rudd, but he claimed no advance in academic or administration processes. On the appointment of President McEwen, Tom returned to the office of controller, which he held until his death.
To compare President Stryker's administration with the present one is not fair. Today there is an administrative staff of 13 men, and they, in turn, employ 28 women assistants; but they do more than just match the performance of Dr. Stryker . . . so Harry Thomas, in his class letter, gave only one side of the story.
And how has all this come about and is it necessary? Growth and specialization of college administration, with more things expected and asked for, account for it. And the need is definitely here. There are four times as many students as in 1909, four times as many faculty members. More money is needed and spent. Purchasing for the College amounts to almost a million dollars a year, covering such oddly unrelated items as rats, pig embryos and lawn mowers.
I believe that one cannot say that the members of the present administration are not busily employed; but one can say that Dr. Stryker carried more than a normal one-man load.
This paper may, I hope, have brought to your attention some of the changes that have occurred over the past 50 years as a definite answer to Parkinson's Law. I don't believe it has solved anything. In fact, in the words of Tallulah Bankhead after finishing reading The Life of the Bee: "There's less to this than meets the eye."