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President Eliot is quietly passing his eighty-sixth birthday in Cambridge today. As has been his custom in other years no special celebration will mark the day.
President Eliot was born in Boston on March 20, 1834. After receiving his early education at the Boston Latin School, he entered the University at the age of sixteen years. He received his A.B. in 1853 and his A.M. in 1857. After his graduation he served as an assistant professor of chemistry for several years. In 1869 he became President of Harvard University, holding this position until he resigned in 1909. Since that time he has devoted himself chiefly to letters, his articles on political subjects, written for the daily papers, particularly the New York Times, have been widely read and have had a great influence on domestic and international affairs.
Great Developer of Graduate Schools
President Eliot's greatest service to the University has been in the broadening of the curriculum, the introduction of the elective system, and the development of the Graduate Schools. Under his leadership, the Law School, the Medical School and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences attained their present high standing. In short, President Eliot transformed Harvard College into Harvard University.
The Graduate School of Education, the latest phase in this development, owes its origin, no less than the older schools owe their development, to President Eliot. Its establishment, then, makes this year a particularly memorable one in President Eliot's life. An appreciation of President Eliot's service to this new school was made at the dinner in celebration of the new school when Dr. Wallace Buttrick, Chairman of the General Education Board, said, "In naming the fund of the school "The Charles William Eliot Fund,' it is not so much honoring him as honoring us."
Appreciation by Prof. Hanus.
Professor Paul H. Hanus, Professor of the History and Art of Teaching, who was the first professor ever appointed to teach education in any endowed American university, has written for the CRIMSON the following article on "President Eliot and the Graduate School of Education."
President Eliot's interest in education was always comprehensive. Early in his career he showed his interest in precollegiate education as well as in college and university education. Hence, also, he was interested in the work of teachers and in the training of teachers.
One of his earlier contributions to precollegiate education was his well known contention that elementary school courses of study should be enriched--a contention which was at the time received won complete recognition. No one man has influenced more profoundly the improvement of American elementary school courses of study than President Eliot.
Another of his significant contributions to the improvement of precollegiate education was his work as Chairman of the "Committee of Ten" on secondary school studies. The report of this Committee (1893) prepared by president Eliot is an education classic. It immediately received wide recognition, and profoundly influenced the trend of secondary education throughout the country.
Teacher Most Important Factor
Naturally, President Eliot's study of the schools caused him to realize that the most important factor in a good school is the teacher, and that schools and school systems need technically trained principals and superintendents as well as trained teachers. Accordingly in 1891 with characteristic courage--and in required courage in those days--he secured the assent of the governing boards of the University and of the Faculty to the appointment of a professor in a new field, the field of Education; and the appointment of an "Assistant Professor of the History and Art of Teaching" established at Harvard University the recognition of Education as a University study. This was the first recognition of that sort in an endowed university in the United States. The title of the new professorship in interesting because it indicates the limited conception generally entertained thirty years ago of the university study of Education.
President Eliot's counsel and support were freely given to the new enterprise in the years during which the single professorship developed, first, into a Department of Education within the Division of Philosophy and, later, (in 1906) into the Division of Education of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
The Department began definitely about twenty years ago to aspire to become a Graduate School of Education parallel to the other professional schools of the University. When this aspiration took the form of definite plans for the School and efforts to secure the necessary endowment, our whole enterprise again received his hearty encouragement and active support and continued to be a strong asset to our endeavors.
During almost thirty years therefore, President Eliot has profoundly influenced the development of the study of Education at Harvard. At the same time it is well known that no man has had a wider or more pronounced influence on the development of educational aims and practices in schools and colleges throughout the country than President Eliot. It is, therefore, a great satisfaction to us all that the principal fund of the new School is to bear his name
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