The San Francisco Examiner, Wednesday morning, Oct. 4, 1899
Vol. 69, No. 96, p. 14


Newspaper article courtesy of the University Archives, The Bancroft Library

Wheeler, President of the State University,
Given Hearty Welcome by Students



[photo caption:] For the first time Dr. Benjamin Ide Wheeler met and was introduced to the students of the University of California. He has now entered upon his duties as their president. The students were most enthusiastic in their welcome.

BERKELEY, October 3.--On the broad slope of the upper campus the students of the University of California this morning extended their greeting to their new President, Benjamin Ide Wheeler.

Two thousand students came together for the occasion. There was enthusiasm and real earnestness in their lusty expression of heartfelt confidence in the man chosen to become their academic governor.

Eight companies of cadets marched to the library building at 11:15 o'clock and formed themselves in a semicircle at the historic flagpole facing west toward the speaker's stand which had been temporarily erected. Back of them assembled a large delegation of undergraduates from the affiliated colleges, who had crossed the bay to greet Dr. Wheeler. With them stood the co-eds of the University and visitors, which swelled the number of spectators to nearly 3,000.

President Wheeler came up the path from South Hall. The signal was given for the first college cry of the day, which the professor recognized by lifting his hat and carrying it in his hand until he reached the platform:

Cornell, I yell, yell, yell, Cornell!
Cornell, I yell, yell, yell, Cornell!
Cornell, I yell, yell, yell, Cornell!

Three rousing cheers went up for Dr. Wheeler when Professor Bernard Moses rose and introduced him as follows:

Mr. President: It gives me great pleasure on behalf of the University to extend to you a hearty welcome on these grounds and to present to you this body of students. They are California's most excellent product. They are not the transient guests of the State, to be scattered later to the four quarters of the Union. They are here at home; and except in rare instances, they are to remain with us, to carry toward completion on these shores the social structure whose foundations are already laid.

It is, sir, the welfare of these students, the welfare of the students who are to come after them, and therefore the welfare of the Commonwealth that must be the absorbing object of your attention and thought. Their moral and intellectual career must be the justification of our labor and our living here.

Students of the University, it gives me great pleasure to present to you Dr. Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President of the University.

Following is the President's speech in full:

Students of the University of California: I rejoice that my first introduction to the university takes the form of an introduction to you. Thus far this university has been to me more or less a thing of the imagination. I have known of it in the form of statutes and reports, names and titles, forms and observances. I have seen its admirable register; I have seen its buildings, its equipment, its mechanism, its gardens and its trees. But now, standing here in the golden sunlight, by its help under this real blue canopy, I look into the faces of the real blue and gold that constitute the real, living University of California. (Applause.)

Now, from this hour, I know that I am a member in a real and living association, because I am joined in association with men. The only thing that is of interest to me in a university is men and women. As long as I live I trust I may never be interested in a university of mechanisms, reports and papers, but only in a university of human beings. (Applause.)

It has been a solicitude on my part lest in entering a presidential office I might be so absorbed in administrative things that my own loved teaching might be taken away from me, and it will be a disappointment to me if in any way my work here shall separate me from an active interest in student affairs. Almost the only consolation I have this morning in entering upon my work is the belief that I am going to know you and to have to do with you intimately, for all this work of the presidential office is burden and care. It is only done in order that the real thing may be reached, the real object, the bringing forward of a university made up of students.

I want you to find in me--to believe from the beginning and throughout that you have in me a personal friend. (Applause.) I shall regard my mission here as a failure if that is not the case. I want you to come to see me, and to come to me as persons. Tell me your names--I beg of you, tell me your names whenever you see me; for whenever I see a man that I have seen before I am apt to remember him, and to remember a good deal about him--almost everything except his name. So please come to me and say "My name is--and if it happens to be Smith, give the initials. (Laughter.)

Please don't be afraid to come about petty matters, little matters. What interests you will interest me. And I hope I am going to have time enough to know about your petty affairs.

Now there are a great many things that I am moved to say on this occasion. This is a stimulating sight. This golden sunshine coming down in genial lazy haze, smiling upon the ripened brown of these magnificent hills, reminds me of my beloved Greece. It is more than Hellas that we have here. Greece looked out toward the old Oriental world; Berkeley looks out through the Golden Gate toward the Oriental world that has meaning for to-day. (Applause.)

I should like to talk to you about the glorious future that I discern for this University. I should like to talk to you about the work we have to do here--plans we have in hand; but in the few moments that I have in this supreme opportunity I want to speak to you about the one thing that, in my idea, is fundamental in the life of a university; and that is, university loyalty. (Applause.)

A university is not a place where you come as empty buckets to the well to be filled with water or anything else. People are going to pump things into you, to be sure, but you are going to pour most of it out again. I believe, from my own experience, that, after all, we have to take upon ourselves the consolation that that does us the most good which we forget most entirely. Those things which hover on the superficies of the mind are oftener a stumbling block than a help. It is what goes over into spinal marrow, into real life, that makes us, and what we are going to get out of our university life is not bits of knowledge, is not maxims and rules for getting this or that, for learning this or that, for attaining this or that; but, after all, it is this one thing which we talk so much about and understand so imperfectly--it is character. The men you tie to are men of character. As I grow older I come less and less to respect men of brilliancy, and to tie to men for their character. And what men are going to get out of their university life is not what is pumped into the pail, but what goes over into life. And it comes not only from the lecture-room, but from association with the best minds we find here in the student body--association with the whole life and character of the University. This University is a living thing; the real University is alive. Blood pulses though its veins. The spiritual life of the men who have gone before is in it. It is not a thing of building nor of statutes nor of courses; it is a thing of life. And what you will get out of this University that is worth your while, that will stand by you, is what you will get out of association with it as a living thing.

Therefore, I say we are not a mechanism for providing people with equipment; we are alive, we have a heart. And to that family life I charge you students of the University of California, be loyal. It is worth your while. It is your duty. Be loyal to the University. Be loyal to all its parts. Say that you love it. Those who take the misunderstandings and the quarrels of the inside to ventilate them in the outside world are traitors to us. (Applause.) We are a family. You cannot make a University out of minds and brains. In a University or elsewhere in the world heart is more than head and love is more than reason. Hold you fast to that love for this University. Stand strong, shoulder to shoulder, when you do its work. Let every man, according to his ability, do what the University asks of him, and let every man do in support of the other man's work what he can. Let the quarter-back pass the ball, let the line stand solid, let the men guard the halfback when he comes racing round the end. Let us stand together. Let us have at the University of California what we call in football "good interference."

This University shall be a family's glorious old mother, by whose heart you shall love to sit down. Love her; it does a man good to love noble things, to attach his life to noble allegiances. It is a good thing to love the church. It is a good thing to love the State. It is a good thing to love one's home. It is a good thing to be loyal to one's father and mother, and after the same thing it is good to be loyal to the University, which stands in life for the purest things and the cleanest, loftiest ideals. Cheer for her: it will do your lungs good.

It has done me good to hear your cheers ringing over the campus. My little boy (five or six years old), who is already a loyal Californian (applause) asked me when I started to come out here, please instruct him in the California yell; and I, to my great regret, was unable to give it to him in the original. He looked at me and shook his head, entertaining some serious doubts whether I had any right to be the President of the University of California. And I shared his doubts. But we had not been in San Francisco many hours when the yell was heard.

And so I say, cheer for her: it will do your lungs good; love her: it will do your heart and life good. (Applause, cheers and University yell.)

In reply to Dr. Wheeler's speech, Fred Dorety, President of the Associated Students spoke as follows:

Mr. President--It is with feelings of most sincere and heartfelt pleasure, accentuated a thousand-fold by what you have just said, that we, the students of the University of California, greet you, our President, for the first time.

When in June last the choice of the Regents was announced and the press of the country proclaimed their wisdom and our good fortune we felt confident that the time had come when California might realize her destiny, and when this was followed by your cordial messages of sympathy and good-will to the students we knew that we had found not only an honored President, but a true friend. We felt that the man who had hesitated in giving up a professorship for a presidency lest he might sever his intimate relations with students, we felt that here was the man for whom we had been waiting.

For some time we have impatiently awaited the opportunity to welcome that friend. And now that the time has come we do welcome you most cordially and most heartily. We realize that the task which you have undertaken is a great one and full of difficulty, but we earnestly assure you whatever may be accomplished by the loyal confidence and devoted support of a united student body, that you may count upon from us. Once more, Mr. President, we bid you a most hearty welcome to California.

The Reception Committee of the students in charge of the formal welcome to be tendered President Wheeler next Friday evening at Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, has appointed the following students to act as a Committee of Entertainment at the big University affair:

Post graduates--The Misses Edith Bennell and Josephine Abraham, Messrs. Knight Dunlap, Fred Huffman and C. E. Thomas.

Seniors--The Misses Gertrude Jewett, Matilda Richard, Lena Macaulay, Ruth Wilder, Julia Eppinger, Fern West and M. G. Wiltshire; Messrs. Reno Hutchinson, H. S. Robinson, Harold Bradley, Richard Haseltine, C. E. Miller, Ezra Decoto, J. B. Moulthrop and C. W. Peck.

Juniors--The Misses Edna Owen, Isabel Godin, Eva Powell, Bess Graham, Grace Critcher, Muriel Eastman; Messrs. L. L. Greene, J. B. Southard, E. A. Dickson, R. W. Tully, A. B. Rhuart, G. L. Allen, R. T. Fisher, J. A. Morgan.

Sophomores--The Misses Elise Wenselburger, Zena West, Mary Powell, L. L Dozier; Messrs. L. A. Decoto, J. M. Eshleman, Du Ray Smith, J. J. Earle and Ralph Phelps.

Freshmen--The Misses E. McKinne, Annie McCleave, J. M. Davis; Messrs. C. C. Carter and J. A. Moriarty.

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