Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun, Tientsin, April 17, 1928


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Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun, Tientsin, April 17, 1928


Letter from Alfred E. Stearns to C.Y. Sun, Tientsin, April 17, 1928


My Dear Mr. Sun:

A short time ago I received word from the Dean of Elmira College that Mary's work in at least two subjects was very unsatisfactory and that her status in the college was consequently precarious. I wrote at once to the dean and asked for a frank analysis of the situation as the college authorities viewed it, and I am enclosing herewith a copy of the Dean's reply.

Mary's case has worried me a good bit for some time. Early in the year she wrote me a letter, prompted evidently by her dissatisfaction with her work and distress over the situation in general. It has been my feeling that Mary has plenty of ability to meet the college demands, even on the basis of her present schedule of work, but that her utter lack of interest in most of the subjects she is taking and her failure to find in the general college course that which she believes will be of value to her in later life have completely undermined her ambition and that without that ambition progress has been rendered practically impossible. I still feel that, if Mary’s interest in nursing, for example, could be encouraged and permission given her to shape her work along that general line, it would mean a complete change in the picture, and for the better. Dean Harris evidently shares my views, though I do not recall that I have ever discussed this particular phase of the matter with her; nor did I know before that Elmira College provided a course of this kind. Very probably Mary herself may have told the Dean of her ambition, though I can only guess as to that.

As I view the matter now, it looks very much as if the college authorities would feel that Mary's work did not justify them in allowing her to return her membership in the college much longer and complete the college course and graduate. Frankly, I should be very anxious as to the effect on Mary of a forced termination of the college career. Such a distressing outcome should be avoided if possible, and I am beginning to wonder whether that can be done without altering completely Mary's present course of study and allowing her to choose a different goal and one more in accord with her natural tastes and ability. I shall, of course, accept your judgment in the matter and urge Mary, as I have always done in the past, to abide by your wishes and do her best to justify your hope; but these latest reports from Elmira naturally make me anxious and lead me to wonder whether we are handling the case to the best advantage of all concerned. May I rely on you to advise me frankly on receipt of this letter just what I ought to do under the circumstances.

Please give my warmest regards to Arthur, and believe me with constant good will.

Very sincerely yours,


Alfred E. Stearns


Phillips Academy


April 17, 1928


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