After a service of more than five years as Dean of the Graduate School, James Mills Peirce has retired from that position, and this Board cannot allow the occasion to pass without expressing its high appreciation of his services to the Graduate School and to the cause of higher education throughout the country, as well as the regret of all its members at being deprived of a leader for whom they feel the warmest affection.
The commanding influence of Professor Peirce on graduate study in this University did not begin with his formal appointment as Dean of the Graduate School. Long before the establishment of that office, he had performed its duties under the title of Secretary of the Academic Council. In this capacity his wise foresight gave to the Graduate School at its foundation the constitution which it has since retained without substantial change. In the years that followed he avoided on the one hand the iron conservatism common among the founders of systems, and on the other the restless pursuit of change characteristic of the professional reformer. He has devoted himself to an unceasing, patient and judicious study of the needs of the School, and he has been enabled thereby to introduce numerous improvements in administration. It shows the breadth of his mind that the multitude of administrative details which have of necessity beset him on all sides, have not blinded him to the higher needs of the School, but that his reforms have given greater simplicity in administration and greater freedom (without license) to the students.
All this devotion to the weightier interests of the School has not prevented the most punctual and accurate performance of the lesser and less attractive duties of his position; and in his dealings with the students he has displayed an urbanity, a patient attention to their complaints, even under the most irritating conditions, and a devotion to their welfare, which have made him the father of the graduate students as well as of the Graduate School.
Nor should it be forgotten that in the Faculty, in the important committees, and before the public, he has ever been the able and enthusiastic champion of graduate study and the steadfast defender of research; and this research, with characteristic impartiality, he has encouraged equally in all branches of knowledge.
In spite of the occasional differences of opinion, as to details, which are inevitable when men of diverse characters are associated together, he always commanded the sympathy and cooperation of his colleagues on this Board. All have realized that he was working solely for the advancement of what is highest in education, and all the members of this Board would express their deep regret in parting with one who has bound them to him with the strongest ties of admiration and esteem.