Monday, August 10, 2009

Passing grade

It's been a bit hectic here in Historical Collections & Archives, so just a quick note today on something that tickled our fancy: in an announcement concerning the 1868 graduation of the Willamette University Medical Department (about which, more later) published in the Pacific Christian Advocate on February 29, 1868, we read:
The present term of lectures closes this week. During the four months, about six hundred lectures have been delivered [!], and a daily drill in each of the departments of study. The examinations of candidates for graduation are now in progress. These are in writing, and seventy-five per cent. of correct answers is required. We question if any college in the United States demands so severe a test of qualification. [emphasis added]
I'm guessing that, after an average of 20 lectures per day--including Saturdays and Sundays--students' brains were only able to regurgitate something on the order of three-quarters of the stored information anyway, if you count name and address as part of the three quarters. (I actually took a class once where you did get points for putting your name on the paper, so it's possible.)

By the time of the Flexner report in 1910, clearly, the standards for graduation at WUMD (and at University of Oregon Medical School for that matter) were unacceptable. But for a while, we seemed pretty impressive, for a brand-new state...

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