Page images
PDF
EPUB

Professor Garrison:

Like the youthful heir of an immense estate The University of Texas today looks out upon the future. Rich in money or in lands, according to the standard that has been set for universities in America, it cannot yet claim to be; but in the fostering good will of a State whose resources, already great, are increasing with almost unexampled rapidity it has a better and a more magnificent endowment. This constitutes the real permanent fund by the income from which the institution has been nourished to its present stature -a fund that, if I can read correctly the signs of the times, bids fair to increase until the splendid private foundations by which we now measure university wealth shall seem small in comparison. I need not dwell here upon the remarkable progress which this University has made during its brief existence hitherto, nor marshal figures in illustration. In view of such progress, it is not strange that cultured Easterners should attribute to The University of Texas, in common with all the Western Universities whose strength has grown faster than their traditions, the spirit of the educational parvenu. How far the imputation may be justified, I shall not stop to inquire. In any case it is certainly true that these young giants of the West are quivering with the energies that must dominate the twentieth century.

The most serious and impressive thought suggested by this occasion to all who have a place in the corporate life of the University is that of the opportunity, with its commensurate responsibility, which they share. What does it signify that by good fortune Texas was committed, from the very foundation of the Republic, to the principle of popular education, and that the public-school system with the University as an integral part has become an essential feature of the organization of the State? The system is, in fact, the mightiest civilizing agency that the State has ever set in operation. What, then, is to be said concerning the importance of the function of those who must control and direct its working? Are we to fear that they will unduly magnify their office? Nay, verily; the danger always is that they will think of it more lightly than they ought. It is well, therefore, that each of us should now examine himself with critical introspection and ascertain whether he has gone about the work of his life in the spirit of one having a mission which he fully appreciates and understands.

For yourself, Mr. President, on whom the heaviest burden falls,

and whose success or failure means so much more than that of any other among us, we have no fear. In taking the place of him whose loss afflicted us so sadly and whose memory we revere, you come to us no stranger. Out of intimate association with you during the years in which you were our colleague, we know your courage, your resolution, and your energy. We are aware also of your qualifications for leadership your scholarship and broad sympathies, your knowledge of men, your firm grasp of both the general principles and the complex details of university organization; and now when, after a period of executive experience elsewhere, you return to us as our leader, we congratulate the people of Texas, and especially ourselves, upon the prospect.

Speaking, then, for the Faculty, I pledge you our loyal support and hearty co-operation in maturing and executing the plans that are to spring from your initiative. It shall be ours to teach, to investigate, and to assist, as occasion may demand, in the University administration; while to you we shall look for organization, supervision, proportion, and adjustment. We understand, I am sure, our duty to yourself, to our students, and to each other; and if I know the spirit which prevails among us, as indeed from long experience I ought to know it, we shall not acquit ourselves unworthily. It will be your function in part to distribute the rewards of our efforts. None can expect you to do all for himself or his subject that he might wish. Concerning this, you must take counsel not of us, but of "the Eternal Justice that pervades the Universe." Each of us has his eye, I trust, "upon the goal, not on the prize."

There are two considerations on which, for the few moments I have left to speak, I wish to dwell. The first is that of the University's relation to the State. This institution exists and grows because the people of Texas, who pay the bill, believe that it is worth every cent of what it costs. The average university professor is cosmopolitan by instinct and training, and he is sometimes led to forget the interests of his real employer. He does his work, and gets his salary, and there, as he too often sees it, the reciprocal obligation ends. Yet the best service is never given by the mere paid employee, but by him who is willing to make himself for the time a member of the family. This does not mean the setting up of any provincial standard. On the contrary, a faculty with the best interests of the University at heart will often find itself under the necessity of struggling against such a standard. But we should al

ways remember that we are working for the people; and he that has no other aim than the selfish use of his opportunity for his individual interests is out of place among us.

Finally, without meaning to encroach on the presidential prerogative of offering a program for the conduct of the institution, I would venture to speak briefly of the true ideal of a university, as I believe this Faculty understands it. No university can fulfill its highest function if it does no more than to prepare its students for money making, or even for winning a livelihood. Undoubtedly it must give the most efficient professional training for engineering, law, medicine, and teaching; but most important of all is the preparation it gives for manhood and for citizenship. In spite of certain manifest tendencies in this age of vast accumulation of wealth and rapid material progress, it is as true now as it was nineteen hundred years ago that man lives not by bread alone. May The University of Texas never be subdued to the uses of the commercial spirit. May it be no mere factory of mental skill or culture controlled by captains of educational industry, where experts in the technique of instruction shall ply their trade. May it be rather a vestibule to the great hall of Everlasting Truth-an antechamber, where eager crowds shall gather to hear the echoes from within, and whence they shall go forth, with enthusiastic selfdevotion, to carry freedom with richer and fuller life to all mankind.

ADDRESS.

PRESIDENT B. I. WHEELER.

Dean Mezes: The farthest west of American universities a number of years ago called to her presidency an eminent Eastern college professor, who in breadth of scholarship and sympathy fitly bears the message of the learned sisterhood of American universities. I have the pleasure of presenting President Benjamin Ide Wheeler.

In introducing the President of the University of California, I assure him that The University of Texas especially appreciates his presence with us in the stress of his anxiety, that its profound sympathy goes out to the people of California in the appalling calamity

that has visited their shores, and that it hopes most sincerely that the sister universities at Berkeley and Stanford have escaped serious damage.

President Wheeler, after acknowledging the greetings and expression of sympathy from Dean Mezes, spoke as follows:

A man who is just entering upon the presidency of a State university is for several reasons an object of interest, but not least for his hardihood in undertaking such an office. There is no more difficult and complicated task to which an American citizen can address himself. Let him combine all the energetic skill of a business man, all the intellectual subtlety of a scholar, all the commanding grace of a diplomat, all the persuasiveness of an orator, and all the magnetic force of a leader; he will yet find the demands of the position greater than he can meet.

The presidency of a privately governed institution such as the older universities of the East generally are, offers vastly less complications and difficulty; but even that is a peculiar office developed upon American soil to meet American needs. Two features of the American situation have conspired to make the presidency what it is in contrast to its prototype, the headship of an English college. First, in the English college the ownership of the property and the administration of the finance was invested in the master and fellows, i. e., in the teaching body-as well as the educational administration. There was no board of regents or trustees. This was evidently a continuance of the traditional organization characteristic of the monastic bodies, and no respect for such tradition came over with the colonists sufficient to commend a system by which teachers should administer and allot the moneys out of which they themselves were paid. There arose therefore the corporation or board of trustees by differentiation out of the composite functions of the old board of master and fellows, but the president maintained a place on both boards and sharing in both functions became the medium of intercourse between the two bodies and the buffer between what were often two diverse points of view, the academic and the businesslike.

Second, the Old World colleges were in a state of static condition of real or supposed adaptation to social needs and conditions with which they had grown up, and such is in large measure their condition today. In the new world the need of constant readaptation to newly forming conditions was keenly felt, and continued to be felt,

never more indeed than in the past twenty years. While experience has shown that faculty government is competent under static conditions, it has shown with equal clearness that for progress and readjustment strong executive leadership is essential.

At the demand of these two considerations the office of the American college president has come into being, half man of affairs, half scholar. The tradition of their origin in an ecclesiastical purpose has held many of the smaller colleges to the usage of selecting a clergyman to fill the office; the availability of clergymen with their better opportunity, as compared with teachers and investigators, for developing public and executive talents has often encouraged to continuance of this usage. Then, sometimes the pendulum has swung toward the business side and away from the scholar; just now it is swinging back toward the scholar and away from the "promoter." It is necessary in order to maintain the best spirit of scientific and literary work that the president should have sympathy with that work through personal experience with some branch of it. The ideal of the situation is fulfilled if he be regent-wards a man of affairs, and faculty-wards a scholar, and this is no easy combination to discover. Happy the president who can carry both rôles and yet not "wear two faces under one hat." If he fails to establish himself in either rôle, he is sure to be ground between the upper and nether millstone;-and he may be anyway.

To the difficulties of the ordinary presidency are added in the case of the State university all the complications which spring from the factor of public control. These have been so great and have proved so ominous in the eyes of prospective candidates that the State universities have in recent years found it difficult to fill the office. Indeed it must be said that the most serious obstacle in the present outlook of this type of university control associates itself with the apprehension lest these institutions should not be able to command for the direction of their affairs that calibre of talent and experience which their relative importance warrants and which can be commanded by the privately governed institutions. The tenure of office of State university presidents has been, for example, at least until the last decade, ominously insecure, and among the smaller institutions is still insecure. In fact only the University of Michigan, over which Dr. Angell has most worthily presided for thirty-four years, can offer an instance of the established length of tenure, though Dr. Northrop's excellent twenty-one years at Minne

« PreviousContinue »