School of Business Administration
You are entering Indiana University when the world is experiencing a period of fear and bewilderment. For more than five years we have felt the effects of the most severe and devastating depression the world has ever known. It has contributed hunger, misery, sorrow, and disappointment to the human race in a measure almost unbearable. In addition, during recent months, society has had to bear the grim spectre of another world war. Last year, the noted contemporary novelist, Sherwood Anderson, traveled from one end of our country to the other, talking with persons in every walk of life. Upon the completion of his trip he described his travels and his conversations in a book which he titled most significantly, it seems to me, Puzzled America.
The distinguished social philosopher and publicist, President Glenn Frank of the University of Wisconsin, in the prologue of a recent book in which he attempts to analyze contemporary social and economic trends in the Western World has this to say:
“As I set down its opening words, the Western world is beset by economic depression, political distraction, and social dishevelment that puzzle its masses and palsy its leaders. . . Our leaders have failed us, we have failed our leaders, for both have blundered in the enterprise of social management.”
This is indeed an era of disillusionment and questioning. You should not think it strange, therefore, if some of your friends and contemporaries may have questioned the wisdom of your decision to train yourself technically for business. Such questioning should not dismay or dissuade you. The prophets of doom have always been with us. Their voices are heard more clearly just now only because the voices of the hopeful are not heard in normal volume. The first report of the United States Commissioner of Labor, made in 1886, illustrates the general state of mind which has prevailed near the end of every depression in the past hundred years. Excerpts read as follows:
“The nations of the world have overstocked themselves with machinery and manufacturing plants far in excess of the wants of production. On all sides one sees the accomplished results of the labor of half a century. . . . This full supply of economic tools to meet the wants of nearly all branches of commerce and industry is the most important factor of the present depression. It is true that discovery of new processes of manufacture will undoubtedly continue and this will act as an ameliorating influence, but it will not leave room for marked extension, such as has been witnessed during the last fifty years, or afford employment to the vast amount of capital which has been created during that period. . The day of large profits is probably past.”
The depressed condition which he described was soon ended, and his dire prophecy of the future was totally incorrect, as you all know, because the period of our greatest prosperity soon followed.
Our prophets of despair discount the fact that we have recovered from past depressions by stating that the reason for recovery was the availability of free land and the economic activity that was occasioned by its exploration and settlement. It is true that our geographical frontiers have disappeared before the hardy advance of our pioneer forefathers. There are, however, great unexplored frontiers of social and economic progress, unfilled present wants, and wants not yet realized or imagined. We have not yet reached the saturation point in the distribution of known goods and services.
The business man and social scientist of the future will devise some method of distribution that will enable such obvious wants to be filled. In addition, the nearly unexplored fields of industrial power, air transportation, air-conditioning, and processes and luxuries as yet locked in the laboratories of the physical scientist of the present or in the minds of unborn geniuses, all point the way to renewed and increased prosperity in the future just as surely as did the development or the unexplored frontier of our western plains in the past.
In this new movement business men and women will be the leaders, taking the place of the prospectors, soldiers, and explorers of an earlier generation. The task is so challenging that our most capable and courageous young people will be needed and, in my opinion, will find an outlet for their enthusiasm in the field of business. It is small wonder that the majority of young men graduating from our American universities and colleges are now entering business. Ernest Elmo Calkins, the distinguished advertising executive, in his book Business the Civilizer paints a glowing picture of the opportunities in this field. He says,
“Business is today the profession. It offers something of the glory that in the past was given to the crusader, the soldier, the courtier, the explorer, and sometimes to the martyr—the test of wits, of brain, of quick thinking, the spirit of adventure, and especially the glory of personal achievement. Making money is not the chief spur to such men as Dupont, Chrysler, Durant, Filene, Hoover, Heinz, Eastman, Curtis, Gary, Ford, Grace. Money to them is no more than the guerdon. They engage in business, and in the business they engage in, because there are no longer any long, slimy, green dragons holding captive maidens in durance vile; no holy sepulchres to be reft from the infidel, no Pacifics to be viewed for the first time. Business is today the field of the Cloth of Gold.”
Roger Pabson’s investment letter of this week (dated September 9) has this to say to rich investors of funds who are his clients:
“One or the basic principles of successful investing is to ‘row with the tide’ instead of attempting to buck the tide. For instance, those who switched their street railway securities into automobile securities (a few years ago) not only saved their investment but many made great fortunes, while those who refused to do so lost nearly all.”
The investing of one’s life and energies likewise will be more successful if in that investment you go with the tide. The tide of human events will bring to the business group of the future added responsibility and influence. In electing to train yourself for business, therefore, you have chosen wisely. You have chosen to spend your life with that group which will have in large part the responsibility of directing our future well-being, and because of the training you are about to undertake you will materially enhance your prospects of prominence and leadership within that group.
To assist you in training yourself, Indiana University offers you the facilities of its library, its faculty, and its plant. It offers you the inspiration of traditions and standards built through one hundred and fifteen years of successful experience in the training of youth. Indiana University is the oldest state university west of the Allegheny Mountains and the second oldest in the United States. Its history and development parallels that of Middle America from which most of you come. Its graduates occupy positions of commanding prominence in every walk of life from coast to coast. I believe that you will find here, as have the students of the past, a sense of stability, a calmness of spirit, and a proper appreciation of values that is the heritage of institutions fortunate enough to live and prosper over long periods of time regardless of changing economic and social conditions. The universities of this country are second to none in the world, and Indiana University is one of the truly great universities of that group.
The record of the university in the field of business training is in keeping with its outstanding record as a whole. As early as 1902, when the subject was hardly known in higher educational circles, Indiana University began a commercial course. A separate college or school was authorized in 1920 and Dr. W. A. Rawles, my predecessor, was made its dean. Under his able and experienced leadership the school grew into a position of prominence among those in this university and among the other schools of business throughout the country. At the present time, the School of Business Administration is second only to the Liberal Arts College of the university in number of students enrolled, and it is second to none in the prominence and abilities of its faculty. We are fortunate to have on the staff of the school men who are recognized throughout the land as experts in their fields. Several of them have written texts which you will use during your four years of study here. Others have contributed widely to the contemporary literature of business and finance. Almost without exception they are men whose experience has been gained both in the field of practical affairs and in the classroom. I believe that without exception they have a warm and sympathetic interest in the problems of our students.
Notwithstanding the many achievements of the school in the past, we have ambitious plans for the future. It is hoped and confidently believed that our curriculum can be greatly enriched within the next year or so in order to allow much greater specialization in at least the senior year. We also plan to expand the laboratory facilities in the field of office management and to provide adequate laboratories in the fields of statistics and accountancy not now available. We are starting that program in a modest way this fall by providing with mechanical equipment a room to be used as a statistical laboratory. Far-reaching plans are also under consideration to integrate more thoroughly with the business life of the state the activities of the School of Business Administration and its Bureau of Business Research. It is hoped that the school and its research facilities can become the cauldron into which will be poured the diverse and intricate problems troubling our business executives, in order that solutions may be achieved by the utilization of the counsel of the experts assembled in our faculty.
We are about to commence another new program that I know will be of intense interest to all of you. President Bryan and the Board of Trustees have just appropriated funds for a bureau of personality building, vocational guidance, and placement available to the students of the School of Business Administration and the Department of Economics. We are not yet ready to make any public announcement of the exact nature of this program. It will be described to you later in detail. We can say, however, that proper machinery will be created to assist you and every other student to overcome defects in personality and difficulties with academic work and to give you advice and counsel in the selection of a career in which your inherent capacities will allow you the greatest success. Of greater importance perhaps than these will be our determined effort to secure proper occupational opportunities for every student making a satisfactory record.
I might as well sound a warning at this point. The School of Business Administration is a professional school. It has professional standards. It is not a place in which to loaf or play through four years of college life. If you expect to avail yourselves of the new and enlarged facilities of our placement service, it will be necessary for you to make a satisfactory grade record throughout your entire career. All other things being equal, our efforts on behalf of placing our students in the future will be in direct proportion to the excellence of their record. Others besides myself may tell you during this orientation week that it is desirable to begin studying at once in order that a satisfactory grade record may be made during the very first semester. In the School of Business Administration it is essential if you expect to have our cooperation and assistance in that critical period in your life when you will have completed the work here on the campus and are ready to look for a job. To achieve excellence in your academic work is an admirable ambition from many standpoints, but as long as you are students in the School of Business Administration, for most of you the achievement of such an ambition will have also a direct effect upon your bread and butter.
We have many other ambitious plans for the future which do not need to be mentioned here. We believe that the majority of them will have matured fully before you have finished the four-year course. If we are to carry out successfully all of these plans we shall need your constructive criticism and advice. Feel free at all times to express your opinion frankly of the administration of this school, of its curriculum, and of its faculty. We will be particularly eager to have your opinions if they are critical or unfavorable. If there is something you do not like about the school, come to me personally and tell me in perfect candor of your criticism and your suggestion for correction or betterment. This is not an idle or empty invitation. It is sincere and genuine, and I shall be disappointed if you do not accept it in the same manner in which it is offered. We need your cooperation, and we expect to have it.
In closing, I want to read you an excerpt from a letter of Mr. Edward Tuck to President Tucker on the founding of the Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance at Dartmouth College.
“In the conduct of the school to which you have done my father’s memory the honor of attaching his name, I trust that certain elementary but vital principles, on which he greatly dwelt in his advice to young men, whether entering upon a professional or business career, may not be lost sight of in the variety of technical subjects of which the regular curriculum is composed. Briefly, these principles or maxims are: absolute devotion to the career which one selects, and to the interests of one’s superior officers or employers; the desire and determination to do more rather than less than one’s required duties; perfect accuracy and promptness in all undertakings, and absence from one’s vocabulary of the word ‘forget;’ never to vary a hair’s breadth from the truth or from the path of strictest honesty and honor, with perfect confidence in the wisdom of doing right as the surest means of achieving success. To the maxim that honesty is the best policy should be added another: that altruism is the highest and best form of egoism as a principle of conduct to be followed by those who strive for success and happiness in public or business relations as well as in those of private life.”
It is my fervent hope that in your experience here you will become conscious of the principles enunciated in this unique and splendid letter. Some of the things that the writer has to say may sound old and threadbare to you. But from a rather intense experience in the world of practical affairs, I myself have come to believe that these principles of fidelity, accuracy, perseverance, and honesty to which he refers are all-important in the achievement of success in business life.
My door will always be open to you for the discussion of any of your problems. I am sure that I may say the same for each of the other members of our faculty. Come to us frequently. We wish to know each of you personally, and to share with you your experiences and problems.
Above everything else, I hope that your four years here may be happy years, years in which you will achieve that happiness which springs from the satisfaction of having given your best to a job worthy of your best efforts.