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THE USES OF EFFICIENCY IN SCIENCE AND EDUCATION DWIGHTJ. INGLE* Still wepersist, plow the light sand and sow seed after seed, where none will evergrow.—Juvenal. We in the United States boast ofthe advantages ofa competitive society and offreedom to advance according to drives and abilities. But in science and education there are restrictive customs and rules which are the antithesis ofneeded freedoms. The most important members ofa school are those who come to learn and those who are there to teach and inquire. The use oftrustees, administrative officers, and those engaged in ancillary services is to support the functions of teaching, learning, and research. When the institution is engaged only in research, the man at the bench should be looked upon as the most important member ofthe organization. This is a review of some factors, just a few ofmany, which limit achievement in science and education. How far can a skillful, energetic young man advance as a laboratory technician? A common requirement is that he have had a college education , but not often can he achieve a good standard ofliving for a family that includes a college education for each of his children. A man with equivalent training and intelligence does not find artificial barriers to advancement in the business world. Many competent young laboratory technicians , men and women, withdraw from the field, leaving it to the mediocre. The cost of training frequent replacements is high and the cost of inefficiency and errors is great, but it never shows in research's ledger books. What 1 suggest is the creation ofa new professional class ofresearch personnel . I see no reason for a ceiling on salaries for technicians less than * Department ofPhysiology, University of Chicago. 356 DwightJ. Ingle · Efficiency in Science and Education Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Spring 1962 $10,000 to $12,000 per year. The best technicians can supervise the routine operations ofa laboratory, and some are inventive. The average scientist will employ two or three untrained, untested technicians rather than pay one well-trained, reliable person a decent wage. Other scientists prefer to employ a young Ph.D. rather than a high-priced technician. This is often a wise choice, but some laboratory operations need permanenttechnicians of high ability. The salaries which I have indicated are occasionally achieved in industry. A competent secretary is worth whatever it is necessary to pay to get one, but the ceiling on secretarial salaries keeps many institutions out ofthe market for excellence. Happily, many satisfactory workers serve out of enjoyment, loyalty, and pride in service, but these are the exception. The professor or scientist who lacks adequate secretarial assistance is ordinarily inefficient at the routine tasks which nowadays accrue as he grows older. The out-of-pocket loss from using professional salaries for clerical work is ofsecondary moment; the loss ofirretrievable opportunity for imaginative work in the profession is not. Most ofthe routine ofadministering a department can be handled by an executive secretary. It is tragic when a man who has spent much ofhis life as a creative teacher and researcher is baited by a higher salary into becoming a department chairman only to find that his time is spent at routine that could be reduced markedly by good administrative assistance. Hiring, job classification, and wage scales are commonly the responsibility ofa personnel office. The reasons for central control over employment policies are compelling, but the functions of such an office can go awry and frequently do. Scientists and teachers find that the level of efficiency in the laboratory and office is arbitrarily dictated by others. Ifpersonnel administration is not sensitive to the needs ofthe scholar, efficiency can decline quickly; the institution becomes populated by people without pride who come late, eat and talk excessively, leave early, and, worst of all, are prone to make errors. The life history ofan error is sometimes—not always—hard to trace. It may pass through a whole line ofcommunication within the institution. Difficult as it may be to determine its total cost, it is simple enough to prove that it is worthwhile for any institution to concentrate on the quality ofits ancillary services as well as its primary functions . Adequate salaries linked with...


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pp. 356-363
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