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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

President's Report for 1888-89.

Intercollegiate Athletics Discussed.


The first part of the president's report for 1888 89 refers to changes and resignations in the governing boards. The number of candidates for admission who offer all the elementary studies, including Greek, French, Latin and German is increasing; the increase in per cent. of 1889 on 1888 is from 31.43 to 37.31. Also the number of these who omit Greek altogether has increased from 3.5 per cent. to 6 42. Facts show that the classical schools are giving more attention than formerly to modern languages and experimental sciences, and that schools which do not teach Greek are becoming more numerous. That the admission examination is still an effective barrier against incompetent students is proved by the large number of withdrawals and resignations. Out of 355 candidates in 1889, 28 withdrew without completing the examination and 22 were rejected. Thus one in seven of the candidates failed of admission. The impression which is evidently prevalent that the college is an easy one to stay in is shown to be erroneous by the number of men dropped or withdrawing during the year. One person in nine failed to maintain his place in college because he either was dropped or left voluntarily. "The department of German, French, and Political Economy were strengthened in the spring of 1888-89 by new appointments and promotions." Reference is made to the new regulations presented by the overseers and adopted by the faculty. The president accounts for the neglect by the faculty of any such administrative orders, by the fact that the elective system had turned their attention to other more vital matters.

The means of prosecuting athletic sports and healthy exercises at the University are considerably increased in 1888-89, by the addition of two new ball fields, a boat house from Mr. George W. Weld, and an athletic building from Mr. Henry R. A. Carey. In speaking of the evils of intercollegiate contests, the president says, "The rules governing intercollegiate base ball and football contests have been made by leagues.' Experience has abundantly proved that nothing is to be hoped from these 'leagues.' They are worse than useless for purposes of reform and are the sources of incessant misunderstanding, quarrels and recriminations between the colleges represented." The president considers that a dual league is worth trying; but one of the evils of intercollegiate sports is not so much the number of them as their intensity-the great amount of preparation undergone to carry them on. The president says, "What is desirable for the right conduct of college sports is that all practice should be done at home and only with other organizations within the same college; that in each sport there should be one, two, or three intercollegiate contests, the interest of which should not be based by any inferior competitions either before or afterwards." He disapproves of freshman intercollegiate sports and considers that no student should take part in intercollegiate contests for more than three years. Betting should be done away with.

The growth of the Graduate department since its organization in 1872 73 has been tolerably steady, but slow, and the administrative machinery has always been inadequate.

The average college graduate is 26 years old when he takes his degree at the Law School, and then has his apprenticeship or clerkship of intermediate length before he can practice for himself. Wherever the fault and whatever the remedy, it is evident that the degree of Bachelor of Arts is taken in the U. S. later than in any other country in which the degree is used, and too late for the best interests of the individuals who aspire to it, and for the institutions which confer it.

The man improvements in the Medical School in 1888-89, were the expansion and adjustment of the instruction offered to graduates in medicine in term time, and the establishment of numerous short courses for practitioners and advanced students, to be given in summer vacation. Thirty-one courses were announced for last summer. The gentlemen who give the summer instruction receive no compensation except the moderate fees paid by the students in the several courses; they clearly teach for other motives than pecuniary ones.

The class of 1889 has furnished but 7 men to the school.

Category1, Category2, Category3, Category4, Category5, Category6, Category7,

Fourth year Medical Class of

1889 90. 23 7

Third year. 77 19 234 (1887)

Second year. 83 17 234 (1888)

First year. 87 8 213 (1889)

The financial condition of the school is not a suitable one. The entire endowment of the school, apart from its buildings being but $196,263.54, it is obliged to rely chiefly upon the receipts from students ($58,141.48 in 1888 89.) This makes the tuition fee high, namely, $200 a year, besides laboratory fees and a graduation fee of $30.

The Dental School celebrated last March by public addresses and a dinner, the 20th anniversary of the first Commencement of the school. The endowment fund has been increased by an anonymous gift of $5,000, to which the giver has since added another $1,000. This is the only large gift which the school has received, and for the first time in its history it has a favorable balance with the college treasurer, its funds being $8,155 85 and its indebtedness to the general treasury, $2,216 40.

Important changes were made in the Scientific School in 1888 89. Latin was dropped as a requirement for admission, and English and American history were substituted; these make the requirements for admission. English and American history, Algebra, plane geometry, logarithms and plane trigonometry, physics, English, and French or German. The former four years' course called Mathematics and Physics was converted into a course on Electrical Engineering.

The Bassy institution has settled down to a well-defined mode of life; at present it has one professor and three instructors. During the past five years it has laid up $6,433.53.

The Veterinary school is prospering although at present it is indebted in the University Treasury to the amount of $17,137.19, of which amount $13,000 was for a building for school use.

Since 1882 3 the library has received only about $10,000 in permanent funds, so that the accession to the library by purchase have been steady from year to year. The total annual increase of books in the University during the past five years has been 13,000 bound volumes a year. The expenses of administration for 1888-89 were $30,429.70. President Eliot speaks of the cramped condition of the library and the need of a further endowment of $200,000, the income of which should be applicable to income and service, also of the need of a well-lighted reading-room to be kept open evenings.

The Botanic garden is now in a prosperous condition. The endowment fund has been increased $60,000 in ten years and now amounts to $98,663.07.

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