tion founded as ours was would be quite likely to prove its poorest; but some of the men here called to the early work were broad in culture and progressive in spirit.
Versatility and hard work - these were the watchwords of the small faculty. Benton constantly pressed the regents for additional staff, but confronted by a hostile public and nearly bankrupt state treasury, they proceedly slowly. They ignored his requests for funds to open the College of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and rejected a similar plea for funds to institute courses in military science, required to meet the stipulations of the Morrill Act. But Benton persisted. In 1874 he said that the University required the services of another man in the natural sciences, a professor of civil engineering, a professor of elocution and vocal training, and a professor of history, adding: "For some years, however, it would be practicable to unit voal culture to the chair of history, and thus economize the resources of the University." As he told the regents: "The constant addition of learned men to the Faculties, the increase of the Cabinet, Museum, Library and apparatus, should be the settled policy of the University. In this way only can the University become a center of literary influence, and the Faculty, instead of being mere drill masters, will become investigators and discoverers in science, and the atmosphere of the University will be stimulating and vital."
"The way to popularize a University is to make a university of it," said one observer; and the University needed additional faculty so that both teaching and research-the dual duties of a true university-might be facilitated. The crux of the problem lay in the concept of research. The idea of teachers spending a portion of their time in original, scholarly research was not as yet widely accepted, and some professors, trained in the traditional methods of university and college instruction, resisted the trend. Nevertheless, the first faculty of the University of Nebraska contained men, precursors of modern university faculty, who attempted to combine instruction with investigation.
One of them was Samuel Aughey, professor of natural sciences. Aughey worked diligently to bring to the people of Nebraka an understanding of the physical nature of their state-its geology, its flora and fauna. Scores of inquiries came to him conserning the natural history of Nebraska, and he felt it his duty to provide the information. His replies, phrased in the most optimistic manner and based upon a mininal amount of scientific investigation, made him the darling ogf the Nebraska boomers. In 1873, for example, the legislature invited Aughey to deliver a lecture upon the geology of Nebraska. His speech must have come as a tonic to discouraged legislators, for he painted a bright picture of Nebraska's future. The problems of timber and water would soon be solved. The shortage of timber he expected to be overcome by the discovery of coal beds in the state, sine he was certain that the Iowa coal fields extended west, growing richer as they moved toward the Rockies. As for lack of moisture, he looked to the extension westward of the line of rainfall, made possible by the operation of the beneficent law that "rainfall follows the plow." Aughey's observations led him to conclude that man, through the operation of "known geologic laws," could change is environment. He was one of the most outspoken advocates of the theory that man, by plowing the ground, increased the possibilities of rainfall. Finally, he said that judging from soil surveys, Nebraska possessed the richest soil in the world, surpassing that of the Rhine and Nile valleys, because, unlike them, Nebraska's soil would never require artificial fertilization. The process of "natural regeneration" of soil fertility Aughey claimed to be a most unusual one; since the phenomenon was characteristic of Nebraska's soil, farmers would be assured abundant crops. While the professor talked, a stenographer
Nobody has written a note for this page yet
Please sign in to write a note for this page