THE NEW HARVARD PRESIDENT
The choice of a new Harvard President is bound to hold the interest of every member of the University during the next month or two. Obviously undergraduate opinion on the men best fitted for the Presidency cannot be well enough informed to be taken seriously. Perhaps it is presumptuous for undergraduates to make even general suggestions. What is said here will scarcely help the Corporation to find a worthy successor to President Lowell. It is said as the expression of a strong feeling among a number of undergraduates about the sort of man whom they would like to see at the head of Harvard. What is said looks wholly toward the future and has no reference to President Lowell's great administration.
At a place as large as Harvard there is a need for a President who has educational idealism vigorous enough to unify and direct the intellectual efforts of both Faculty and students. There is a danger at Harvard that the vital intellectual enthusiasm which undoubtedly exists, by being hopelessly scattered, may lose much of its force. Harvard needs at its head a man who, through the vitality of his own intellectual life and through a living interest in the educational standards of the college, can embody and focus the ideals for which Harvard ought to stand.
There is no reason why Harvard's next President should be a scholar by profession; there is every reason why he should be a scholar by instinct. Any man who lacks genuine sympathy with the best kind of scholarship or who does not command respect for his own intellectual attainments is disqualified for holding any high position in a university. The suggestions for making a business man President and leaving educational policy to the Deans are on the wrong track.
President Lowell has provided new methods of study and new conditions of life at Harvard. He would certainly agree that some of those forms have not yet developed their full potentialities that neither the Tutorial System nor the Reading Periods nor the House Plan have meant all they may come to mean in the shaping of undergraduate education. There are plenty of men who could fill the President's office with dignity and executive skill. There are very few who could exert the kind of influence in the college which would put a full measure of vitality into those forms of organization which President Lowell has brought into being.
The President is to the University what the heart is to an animal body. With a weak heart the animal does not die, but its life is a flabby and slothful one hardly preferable to death. With a man of only moderate ability at its head Harvard would go on as one of the great universities. But in order that a Harvard education may be a vitalizing and rightly directive force in the lives of the University's graduates, the new President must be a man of outstanding character and original vision. There is a real opportunity here for a man with courage and compelling idealism to make Harvard stand for even finer things in higher education than those for which it stands today.