The reception given last night by Professor Barrett Wendell to the newly appointed holders of John Harvard Scholarships was a notable event. It was notable not only because of the large number of distinguished scholars and eminent literary and public men who attended this reception to a comparatively small number of undergraduates, but far more because it signalized the taking of a long step forward in the recognition and reward of scholarly merit at Harvard.
In past years scholarships have been distributed in a large part as financial aid to "needy and deserving students." There were awarded as much for pecuniary need as for scholastic merit. Under this system a student of high standing, who had no need of financial aid, could not, in good faith, apply for a scholarship.
This year, however, the establishment of the John Harvard Scholarships, without stipend, throws the competition for academic distinction open to all students alike. Now, for the first time in the history of Harvard, the list of holders of scholarships of the first class shows who are entitled to academic distinction for scholastic merit, not who have gained it by reason of financial necessity.