There has been considerable discussion among Seniors since President Eliot's resignation as to the possibility of having him sign the degrees for the 1909 commencement. It would seem too bad for Seniors not to have his name on their sheepskins as he has been in authority during practically the entire existence of the class and the degree would be of just that much more value to each man as he valued the sentiment which the signature bears.
By the nineteenth of May, however, it is expected the Corporation will have chosen a successor, one of whose duties will be to sign the degrees. With a new man in office it would be impossible for President Eliot to sign them as such an act would be an infringement on the duties of his successor which the President would never consent to. It would be unwise to usurp such a function even though there was a unanimous petition in favor of it. The new president will be given every opportunity to take hold of his work and responsibilities under the most favorable conditions and it would not do to create such a situation, slight as it might be in its consequences toward the new man.
The fact is, moreover, that after the nineteenth of May President Eliot will be no longer President of Harvard University and in signing a degree which has its legal as well as academic and sentimental aspects, he would be acting outside his legal powers. It would necessitate a special vote of the Corporation to appoint him to serve in that capacity in order to make the degrees strictly official.