At Parsons, a little learning is a profitable thing
Millard G. Roberts is the name, and education is his game. He started 11 years ago with a broken-down, bankrupt campus in Fairfield, Iowa which had only 212 students and only five Ph.D.s on the faculty. By rip-roaring, bell-ringing, every-time-a-bulls-eye salesmanship and rigid cost accounting, he has transformed it into the wonder of the academic world— Parsons College, a private, non-endowed institution which this academic year expects to make an $8 million profit.
Not only that, but he pays his faculty higher salaries than any place in the U.S. except Harvard and the University of Chicago. He has 4,700 students currently enrolled and a waiting list of 14,000. And by operating his campus 10 months of the year and turning a profit on everything from room and board to pool tables and pinball machines, he has set off an academic chain reaction that may soon create facsimiles of Parsons the length and breadth of the land. “It may look like a factory,” Roberts concedes. “That’s what it is.”
What it is above all else is a college for students who can’t get into any other--or have been thrown out of another college. In fact, some boys have been thrown out of four or five. Nobody on the campus feels slandered when Parsons is called “Flunk-Out U.” Nobody resents the description of Parsons as a college “for rich dumb kids.”