Hon. J. D. Long, President of Overseers, Presented Insignia of Office.
In the inaugural ceremonies which took place on the platform erected in front of University Hall at 10.30 o'clock this morning, Hon. John Davis Long '57, President of the Board of Overseers, formally inducted Abbott Lawrence Lowell, LL.D., into office as President of Harvard University. His words were as follows:
Abbott Lawrence Lowell:--You having been duly chosen to be President of Harvard College, I do now, in the name of its governing bodies and in accordance with ancient custom, declare that you are vested with all the powers and privileges of that office. It is a great trust, but it is laid on you in full confidence that you will discharge it in the interest alike of the College we love and of the democracy it serves. I deliver into your hands, as badges of your authority, the College charter, seal and keys. God bless you!
In response, President Lowell accepted the charge laid upon him as follows:
Mr. President of the Board of Overseers:--It is with a deep sense of responsibility that I receive at your hands these insignia of the office to which the governing boards have chosen me. You have charged me with a trust, second in importance to no other, for the education of American youth, and therefore for the intellectual and moral welfare of our country. I pray that I may be granted the wisdom, the strength and the patience which are needed in no common measure; that Harvard may stand in the future, as she has stood under the long line of my predecessors, for the development of true manhood, and for the advancement of sound learning; and that her sons may go forth with a chivalrous resolve that the world shall be better for the years they have spent within these walls.
After the Alumni Chorus had sung the Domine Salvum, President Lowell delivered his inaugural address, which is printed verbatim.
The Inaugural Address.
Among his other wise sayings Aristotle remarked that man is by nature a social animal; and it is in order to develop his powers as a social being that American colleges exist. The object of the undergraduate department is not to produce hermits, each imprisoned in the cell of his own intellectual pursuits, but men fitted to take their places in the community and live in contact with their fellow men.
The college of the old type possessed a solidarity which enabled it to fulfill that purpose well enough in its time, although on a narrower scale and a lower plane than we aspire to at the present day. It was so small that the students were all well acquainted with one another, or at least with their classmates. They were constantly thrown together, in chapel, in the classroom, in the dining hall, in the college dormitories, in their simple forms of recreation, and they were constantly measuring themselves by one standard in their common occupations. The curriculum, consisting mainly of the classics, with a little mathematics, philosophy and history, was the same for them all; designed, as it was, not only as a preparation for the professions of the ministry and the law, but also as the universal foundation of liberal education.
In the course of time these simple methods were outgrown. President Eliot pointed out with unanswerable force that the field of human knowledge had long been too vast for any man to compass; and that new subjects must be admitted to the scheme of instruction, which became thereby so large that no student could follow it all. Before the end of the nineteenth century this was generally recognized, and election in some form was introduced into all our colleges. But the new methods brought a divergence in the courses of study pursued by individual students an intellectual isolation, which broke down the old solidarity. In the larger institutions the process has been hastened by the great increase in the numbers, and in many cases by an abandonment of the policy of housing the bulk of the students in college dormitories; with the result that college life has shown a marked tendency to disintegrate, both intellectually and socially. To that disintegration the overshadowing interest in athletic games appears to be partly due. I believe strongly in the physical and moral value of athletic sports, and of intercollegiate contests conducted in a spirit of generous rivalry; and I do not believe that their exaggerated prominence at the present day is to be attributed to a conviction on the part of the undergraduates, or of the public, that physical is more valuable than mental force. It is due rather to the fact that such contests offer to students the one common interest, the only striking occasion for a display of college solidarity.
If the changes wrought in the college have weakened the old solidarity and unity of aim, they have let in light and air. They have given us a freedom of movement needed for further progress. May we not say of the extreme elective system what Edmond Sherer said of democracy; that it is but one stage in an irresistible march toward an unknown goal? Progress means change, and every time of growth is a transitional era; but in a peculiar degree the present state of the American college bears the marks of a period of transition. This is seen in the comparatively small estimation in which high proficiency in college studies is held both by undergraduates and by the public at large; for if college education were closely adapted to the needs of the community, excellence of achievement therein ought to be generally recognized as of great value. The transitional nature of existing conditions is seen again in the absence, among instructors as well as students, of fixed principles by which the choice of courses of study ought to be guided. It is seen more markedly still, in the lack of any accepted view of the ultimate object of a college education.
On this last subject the ears of the college world have of late been assailed by many discordant voices, all of them earnest, most of them well-informed, and speaking in every case with a tone of confidence in the possession of the true solution. One theory, often broached under different forms, and more or less logically held, is that the main object of the college should be to prepare for the study of a definite profession, or the practice of a distinct occupation; and that the subjects pursued should, for the most part, be such as will furnish the knowledge immediately useful for that end. But if so, would it not be better to transfer all instruction of this kind to the professional schools, reducing the age of entrance thereto, and leaving the general studies for a college course of diminished length, or perhaps surrendering them altogether to the secondary schools? If we accept the professional object of college education, there is much to be said for a readjustment of that nature, because we all know the comparative disadvantage under which technical instruction is given in college, and we are not less aware of the great difficulty of teaching cultural and vocational subjects at the same time. The logical result of the policy would be that of Germany, where the university is in effect a collection of professional schools, and the underlying general education is given in the "gymnasium." Such a course has, indeed, been suggested, for it has been proposed to transfer so far as possible to the secondary schools the first two years of college instruction, and to make the essential work of the university professional in character. But that requires a far higher and better type of secondary school than we possess, or are likely to possess for many years. Moreover, excellent as the German system is for Germany, it is not wholly suited to our Republic, which cannot, in my opinion, afford to lose the substantial, if intangible, benefits the nation has derived from its colleges. Surely the college can give freedom of thought, a breadth of outlook, a training for citizenship, which neither the secondary nor the professional school in this country can equal.
Even persons who do not share this view of a professional aim have often urged that in order to save college education in the conditions that confront us we must reduce its length. May we not feel that the most vital measure for saving the college is not to shorten its duration, but to ensure that it shall be worth saving? Institutions are rarely murdered; they meet their end by suicide. They are not strangled by their natural environment while vigorous: they die because they have outlived their usefulness, or fail to do the work that the world wants done; and we are justified in believing that the college of the future has a great work to do for the American people.
If, then the college is passing through a transitional period, and is not to be absorbed between the secondary school on the one side and the professional school on the other, we must construct a new solidarity to replace that which is gene. The task before us is to frame a system which, without sacrificing individual variation too much, or neglecting the pursuit of different scholarly interests, shall produce an intellectual and social cohesion, at least among large groups of students, and points of contact among them all. This task is not confined to any one college, although more urgent in the case of those that have grown the largest and have been moving most rapidly. A number of colleges are feeling their way toward a more definite structure, and since the problem before them is in many cases essentially the same, it is fortunate that they are assisting one another by approaching it from somewhat different directions. What I have to say upon the subject here is, therefore, intended mainly for the conditions we are called upon to face at Harvard.
It is worth our while to consider the nature of an ideal college as an integral part of our University; ideal, not in the sense of something to be exactly reproduced, but of a type to which we should conform as closely as circumstances will permit. It would contemplate the highest development of the individual student,--which involves the best equipment of the graduate. It would contemplate also the proper connection of the college with the professional schools; and it would adjust the relation of the students to one another. Let me take up these matters briefly in their order.
The individual student ought clearly to be developed so far as possible, both in his strong and in his weak points, for the college ought to produce, not defective specialists, but men intellectually well-rounded, of wide sympathies, and unfettered judgement. At the same time they ought to be trained to hard and accurate thought, and this will not come merely by surveying the elementary principles of many objects. It requires a mastery of something, acquired by continuous application. Every student ought to know in some subject what the ultimate sources of opinion are, and how they are handled by those who profess it. Only in this way is he likely to gain the solidity of thought that begets sound thinking. In short, he ought, so far as in him lies, to be both broad and profound.
In speaking of the training of the student, or the equipment of the graduate, we are prone to think of the knowledge acquired; but are we not inclined to lay too much stress upon knowledge alone? Taken by itself it is a part, and not the most vital part, of education. Surely the essence of a liberal education consists in an attitude of mind, a familiarity with methods of thought, an ability to use information, rather than a memory stocked with facts, however valuable such a storehouse may be. In his farewell address to the alumni of Dartmouth President Tucker remarked that "the college is in the educational system to represent the spirit of amateur scholarship. College students are amateurs, not professionals." Or, as President Hadley is fond of putting it, "The ideal college education seems to me to be one where a student learns things that the is not going to use in after life, by methods that he is going to use. The former element gives the breadth, the latter element gives the training."
But if this be true, no method of ascertaining truth, and therefore no department of human thought, ought to be wholly a sealed book to an educated man. It has been truly said that few men are capable of learning a new subject after the period of youth has passed, and hence the graduate ought to be so equipped that he can grasp effectively any problem with which his duties or his interest may impel him to deal. An undergraduate, addicted mainly to the classics recently spoke to his adviser in an apologetic tone of having elected a course in natural science, which he feared was narrowing. Such a state of mind is certainly deplorable, for in the present age some knowledge of the laws of nature is an essential part of the mental outfit which no cultivated man should lack. He need not know much, but he ought to know enough to learn more. To him the forces of nature ought not to be an occult mystery, but a chain of causes and effects with which, if not wholly familiar, he can at least claim acquaintance; and the same principle applies to every other leading branch of knowledge.
I speak of the equipment, rather than the education, of a college graduate, because, as we are often reminded, his education ought to cease only with his life, and hence his equipment ought to lay a strong foundation for that education. It ought to teach him what it means to master a subject, and it ought to enable him to seize and retain information of every kind from that unending stream that flows past every man who has the eyes to see it. Moreover, it ought to be such that he is capable of turning his mind effectively to direct preparation for his life work, whatever the profession or occupation he may select.
This brings us to the relation of the college to the professional school. If every college graduate ought to be equipped to enter any professional school, as the "abiturient" of a German "gymnasium" is qualified to study under any of the faculties of the university, then it would seem that the professional schools ought to be so ordered that they are adapted to receive him. But let us not be dogmatic in this matter, for it is one on which great divergence of opinion exists. The instructors in the various professional schools are by no means of one mind in regard to it, and their views are of course based largely upon experience. Our Law School lays great stress upon native ability and scholarly aptitude, and comparatively little upon the particular branches of learning a student has pursued in college. Any young man who has brains, and has learned to use them, can master the law, whatever his intellectual interests may have been; and the same thing is true of the curriculum in the Divinity School. Many professors of medicine, on the other hand, feel strongly that a student should enter their school with at least a rudimentary knowledge of those sciences, like chemistry, biology and physiology, which are interwoven with medical studies; and they appear to attach greater weight to this than to his natural capacity or general attainments. Now that we have established Graduate Schools of Engineering and Business Administration, we must examine this question carefully in the immediate future. If the college courses are strictly untechnical, the requirement of a small number of electives in certain subjects, as a condition for entering a graduate professional school, is not inconsistent with a liberal education. But I will acknowledge a prejudice that for a man who is destined to reach the top of his profession a broad education, and a firm grasp of some subject lying outside of his vocation, is a vast advantage; and we must not forget that in substantially confining the professional schools at Harvard to college graduates we are aiming at the higher strata in the professions.
The last of the aspects under which I proposed to consider the college is that of the relation of undergraduates to one another; and first on the intellectual side. We have heard much of the benefit obtained merely by breathing the college atmosphere, or rubbing against the college walls. I fear the walls about us have little of the virtue of Aladdin's lamp