Before entering upon a discussion of President Fairchild's aims and efforts, it seems proper to say a few words of the history of the period intervening between his election and the resignation of President Anderson.
From February to December, 1879, and to some extent from the time of Anderson's nomination for U. S. Representative, the executive work of the College was faithfully performed by the acting president, Prof. M. L. Ward, but the result of long delay in electing a president had begun to exhibit itself in many directions, the more so because changes had been made in two of the chairs during the summer. The faculty were underpaid and overworked. The Legislature of 1877 had decreed "that not over $15,000 of the interest on the endowment fund shall be used, to pay instructors or teachers in said College, until the debts of said College be paid in full, and until said College shall refund to the State all moneys advanced by the State to pay for instructors and running expenses of said College." In accordance with this "ukase," the salaries of the majority of the members of the faculty had been reduced, in some cases as much as four hundred dollars, while the work was constantly increasing in all directions. In his Department Report for '78-79, Prof. Ward said: "In the discharge of my duties as a Professor, I will simply say that I have done as best I could under the circumstances," and a prominent friend of the institution wrote: "It was a year of drudgery and heroic devotion to the cause and to the College for which the acting president and his collaborators received neither proper credit on the part of a wrangling Board, nor proper pay on the part of a rich State."
President George Thompson Fairchild, A. M., was born in Brownhelm, Lorain county, Ohio, October 6th, 1838. His father was a farmer and teacher. There were four sons and four daughters, of whom George T. was the youngest. He was educated at Oberlin College, graduated in the classical course in 1862, and in the Department of Theology in 1865, and though never a pastor, was afterwards ordained to the ministry of the Congregational church. In the same year he was elected instructor in the Michigan Agricultural College, and the next year was made Professor of English Literature, which chair he filled until his call to the presidency of the Kansas State Agricultural College, where he entered upon his work December 1st, 1879. President Fairchild is a prominent member of the National Educational Association, and has contributed several valuable papers to the published proceedings of that body. At the session at Saratoga, N. Y., in 1885, he was made a member of the National Council of Education and appointed to the Committee of Technological Education. At the meeting in Chicago, in 1887, he was made president of the Industrial Section, and in the following year, at San Francisco, he was re-elected to the same position. In 1886, the faculty of the Kansas State Agricultural College, in order to show him their appreciation of his work and to give him a fitting token of their esteem, presented him with a life directorship in the National Educational Association. In the American Association of Agricultural Colleges he has twice held the office of vice president and his services on important committees have had their directing effect upon that organization. One of his brothers, James H. Fairchild, was for many years president of Oberlin College, and another brother, E. H. Fairchild, president of Berea College, Kentucky.
President Fairchild's views, with regard to the "now education," were not as radical as those of Anderson had been. With President Anderson the Agricultural College had been largely a station for pedagogical experiments conducted with the view of producing convincing proofs of his theories on the value of manual training. With President Fairchild the College became a model school for the education of young men and women who were to go back to the farm or workshop, not only to perform manual labor, but to live complete lives and to develop and honor their calling. In an article on "Our Agricultural Colleges," written for the Chicago Farmers' Review, and subsequently published by the Michigan State Board of Agriculture in their annual report, President Fairchild, then professor at the Michigan State Agricultural College, presented his ideal in such a characteristic manner that there could be no doubt in the minds of those who called him to Kansas as to his aims and methods. Other articles and papers published during the last dozen years, and especially one on "Agricultural Schools: Their Aims, Objects, Methods and Equipments," read before the council of the National Educational Association in 1888, show that his subsequent experience as the head of the Kansas institution but corroborated the views of the teacher in the Michigan college. The following is a synopsis of the Review article:
"In a brief notice of what our agricultural colleges ought to be, it may properly be assumed that they ought to be, first, what the name college implies everywhere now - places for the education of the young. Whatever service they may render in affording models for farming for the public, or in searching for new facts, principles or applications in agriculture must be secondary. The education which they furnish must be agricultural, in quickening and deepening a young man's regard for a farmer's life, while in every way making him more capable in such a life. Learning and labor are to meet in a more profitable life upon the soil. With this understanding, it may be well to consider more specifically
"Of these there are two classes, closely united: to develop the man in the farmer, and to develop farming through the man engaged in it. The first is to be sought in discipline, the genuine education of the youth. True scientific principles, which underlie all knowledge, are to be taught and enforced by a thorough drill in observation. The eyes must see and the hands handle the very elements of nature, in order to gain proper ideas of nature's use. There must be a definite training to think accurately and connectedly, and intensely if need be. Thinking has made the world's discoveries and inventions, and it will always be the means of progress in any calling. Thinking to a purpose will always distinguish the able man and the efficient work, and our College will have missed its aim if it fails to furnish thorough training to think. Added to this must be the formation of habits of ready action to a purpose. The thinking and doing are so closely united in farming that no one can neglect training in both. Often the only expression of the thought is the act that turns soil and seed, sunshine and shower, into produce. The College must aim at such a combination of thought and action in its routine of drill for developing the best men for the work of making farming better.
"The second is to be sought through information. While this always accompanies discipline and directs the application of ability, it differs from that just as the instruction of a child how to drive a nail differs from the training which enables him to do it successfully. The College must gather and impart the best of instructions in the art of tilling the soil. It must gather from the history of this art, and from the failures and successes of practice and experiment, constantly, such facts as will make the strongest impression. By such means it aims to give higher ideals and stronger ambition to do excellent work. It stimulates discussion and comparison of experiences, and encourages thoughtful consideration of future prospects. It aims to be a center of information for a farming community through its instruction to learners. So far as is compatible with thorough discipline and accurate information, it aims to be a leader in further improvement of practice by new devices, but consciously preserves the difference between knowledge and supposition, fact and theory. Such aims suggest
"Most prominent must stand a thorough course of study, long enough to establish principles and habits, severe enough to develop strength of mind, and so associated with agriculture as to cultivate enthusiasm for it. In this there must be systematic instruction by most approved methods in the sciences, training to logical investigation of facts and principles, history and general knowledge of civilization enough to kindle inquiry, and technical training enough to give a general ability.
"This involves a drill in manual labor that shall make the hands ready and the eyes quick. That dexterity which comes from long practice in one routine is not desirable at this stage of education, if it were practicable; but a readiness to turn the hand to account in various directions is to be provided for by regular duty in real work, where pay and reputation and responsibility are thought of, and business rules apply, while a zest is given by connection with study and thought under competent oversight. These methods would bear a lengthy study, but we must hasten to connect with them
Tom & Carolyn Ward