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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

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Yesterday the University Catalogue for '93-'94 made its appearance. There are comparatively few changes beyond those incident to another year's growth. The facts published in another column are so explicitly stated and speak so plainly for themselves that they need little comment or explanation here. We can only add a word or two on the general tendencies which the figures and facts presented reveal. The first thing that suggests itself is the marked growth of the university spirit as opposed to the simple college spirit. Everything in the catalogue points to the gradual reaching out of the Harvard spirit into all the spheres which education enters; everywhere is the steady advance along lines of special work and a broadening of the lines themselves. This is shown by the fact that the most marked signs of progress have been in the Law School, the Medical School, and the Scientific School, not in the college proper. This progress simply means that the attention of the people is now fixed on the great work of the University rather than on any one part of it, as, for instance, the college; and to meet the expectation of the cultured public which watches Harvard's lead with the greatest interest, and to meet the demands of the most advanced thought there is this constant raising of standards and adoption of new methods. It is the University, then, that is ever increasingly in the minds of the college authorities and of the public in general.

But the progress in the three schools above mentioned has another significance. It will be noticed that the greatest advance has been made in two of the great professions and also in the matter of science. No men in our day require, or should require a higher standard of proficiency than lawyers and especially physicians, and every move to make the law and medicine open only to the best men is an important step in advance. Moreover, the business of the law and of medicine and of scientific research is largely with the present and the future, and it is gratifying to find these given more and more equality with the past. The work of the college is largely with the past, which of course is of the greatest importance; the work of the special schools is to grapple with the problems of life as it is today and as it must be in the future, and their work is of equal importance. More might be said of these general tendencies. It is enough, however, that they all point the right way,- toward the advancement of education and the perfection of Harvard's system.

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