During its 1928 investigation of the propaganda activities of public utility companies, the Federal Trade Commission discovered that some enterprising utilitarians had been giving fat sums of money to professors and institutions of learning for lectures and reports praising private ownership of utilities and discouraging government ownership (TIME, July 16, 1928). In some instances the utilitarians even got their case written into school textbooks. Last week the American Association of University Professors took an official stand on such matters by issuing a report from its Committee on Ethics, prepared by Professor Edwin Robert Anderson Seligman of Columbia.
Findings: "Very few cases are noted of alleged impropriety on the part of regular instructors in the academic departments [of institutions] or of teachers of economics in the schools of business or elsewhere. . . . In almost every case of alleged improper activity the individual in question was either a subordinate instructor or connected with the extension department or with some technical day or night school. . . . Certain instructors, while beyond doubt absolutely honest themselves, were lacking in the tact that was necessary or perhaps in an appreciation of the gravity of the situation. Other instructors were obviously naïve enough not fully to comprehend what it was their employers desired."
Recommendations: Pedagogs were admonished to take no retainer in future "from private persons in any controversial case involving questions of public policy."* Educational institutions were cautioned against sanctioning such research except in cases where the fee is granted "in lump sums, and not in the shape of periodical renewals." In conclusion, the report said: "The university professor must be like a judge. . . . Higher education and scientific research must evoke in the public mind the same confidence as does the system of justice. If the belief in the integrity of either is weakened, a mortal blow has been struck."
* But no pedagog violates professional ethics by accepting other side jobs from private concerns. Dr. Karl Taylor Compton, lately of Princeton, now president of M. I. T. used to do research work for General Electric Co. President William Elgin Wickenden of Case School of Applied Science worked for the personnel department of Bell Telephone Co. while at M. I. T.