Yesterday afternoon, with simple ceremony, but before
a great and enthusiastic company, Benjamin Ide Wheeler was formally
installed as President of the University of California.
The event was chiefly notable for the general feeling
of satisfaction with the man who is to guide the destinies of the
State's great institution of learning. His appearance, his manner,
his forcefulness in address convinced every one who saw and heard
him that he is destined to make the University fit for the great
building scheme so recently projected.
"At last the students have a President," said the
enthusiastic undergraduates. "The Regents have had presidents, and
the faculty has had presidents, but here is a man who will be the
President of the students."
At the same time the Regents are enthusiastic over
him, and the members of the faculty chuckle with delight. Yesterday
was the first time the general public has had a chance to get his
measure, and the universal comment was that he was an educational
giant--one who can carry the burdens of the position and at the
same time give the University renown.
The Three Presidents.
The Regents and faculty and a few invited guests,
including General Shafter and staff, gathered at Stiles Hall at
2 o'clock. To them came three notable men attired in gowns and mortar-boards--President
Daniel Coit Gilman of Johns Hopkins University, President David
Starr Jordan of Stanford and President Wheeler. Marshaled by Professor
Frank Soule these three led the way, followed by the Regents, invited
guests and faculty, to the cinder-path athletic ground, where a
band was stationed and where some four or five thousand people had
On the way one man in that company might have thought
of the change in the sentiment of the people toward the University
which has taken place in the past quarter of a century. That man
was President Gilman. When that great educator came to California
as the University's President, he found a condition of war. There
was a deal of talk about taxing the people for the education of
a few rich men's sons. No one talks that way now. Then, support
to the University was grudgingly given. Now, it is given proudly
and freely. Then, the dismissal of a professor was the signal for
a popular uprising. The dismissed educator was treated as a martyr
and elected to office--as witness the cases of Professors Carr and
There was a deal of hounding of the university President
then, like the attacks of Henry George and Sallie Hart upon President
Gilman, that great collegian being driven from the State to take
up the wonderful work at Baltimore which has made him world-famous.
Now the entire State is interested in the university and eager to
hold up the President's hands. Then the university was attacked
as godless. Yesterday the priests and rabbis and ministers of almost
every creed and dogma assisted in the ceremony of inauguration.
And President Gilman could think of all this change, could hear
the tumultous applause with which his name was greeted, and know
that the educational seeds sown by himself and Henry Durant had
not fallen on stony ground, but had multiplied a hundred fold.
The day was of the kind which Californians delight
in calling typical, and the feeling of the occasion was quite as
genial as the air. The stand at the athletic grounds had been tastefully
decorated in blue and gold bunting, flowers, greenery and the University
Battalion flags. Leader Hinrichs had an excellent band, and the
grove of tall eucalyptus at the west of the cinder path enclosure
sifted the sea air and aided the acoustics.
The students broke into hearty college yells when
the three Presidents appeared, the band played Meyerbeer's "Marche
aux Flambeaux," and the great crowd stood up and applauded. Regent
Andrew S. Hallidie called the gathering to order, and Rabbi Jacob
Voorsanger, D. D., of the Temple Emanu-El of this city offered up
a prayer to the God of Jew and Gentile, Pagan and Christian, asking
for blessing on the great work which President Wheeler has been
called upon to do.
Then Mr. Hallidie delivered the opening address. He
referred to the inauguration of President Gilman, twenty-seven years
ago, and quoted that educator's prophetic words to the first graduating
class of the four-year term, about the influence of the university
extending to the Orient and the far islands of the sea. He spoke
in compliment of Senator and Mrs. Stanford and President Jordan,
and each name was given a hearty cheer.
At the close of his remarks Mr. Hallidie gave into
President Wheeler's hands the key of the university, this emblem
of power being decorated with blue and gold ribbons. As President
Wheeler's name was mentioned and as he stepped up to take the key,
all the people cheered and the students yelled and yelled again.
Cheers for Jordan and Stanford.
Then President Jordan was introduced, and there were
more cheers, while the students complimented him with Stanford's
well-known "Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! Rah! Rah! Stanford!" President
Jordan read a notable address, in which he advised President Wheeler
to give the university personality, color and character, and concluded
with the following sentiments:
It has been Dr. Wheeler's good fortune and mine to
sit at the feet of the same great master, Andrew D. White. We can
remember President White's appeal to his alumni that, wherever we
might go, we should stand by "our State universities, for in them
is the educational hope of the South and West." We of Stanford are
not deaf to this appeal. We are citizens of California, loyal and
true. We shall stand by our State University, for in its development
is the educational hope of our golden west, and we pledge to President
Wheeler our help in fullest loyalty, whenever and wherever and howsoever
he may ask our aid.
After the band had rendered Faure's "The Palms," President
Gilman was introduced and was received with tremendous enthusiasm.
He spoke at length and with much earnestness, congratulating the
University in the warmest terms on the accession of President Wheeler,
briefly summarizing the recent progress of American universities,
indicating the points in which it seemed to him the University of
California surely will excel, and closing with a patriotic injunction
to face the Pacific and the new duties there with faith in the country's
future and an appreciation of the country's mission. He said in
I congratulate you on the succession of great gifts
which have supplemented the appropriations of the State and have
helped to attract to this place throngs of young men and maidens
in the pursuit of a liberal education, while other students are
enabled to get in San Francisco their professional training in the
legal and medical sciences and in the fine arts.
With heartiness for which no tones can be too emphatic,
I congratulate you on the far-sighted munificence of that generous
woman whose hope it is that the buildings of this University shall
be worthy of its aims, and who desires that this shall not be constructed
haphazard (as they have so often been built), but conformable to
a plan selected by fair and well-trained judges from plans submitted
to them by accomplished architects of Europe and America, and who
has determined by her own munificence to set an example that others
are ready to emulate.
A Splendid Selection.
Few persons know as I do what a persistent, sagacious
and successful search the Regents made for a president. If they
were eager to give an example of original investigation--which never
rests until a finality is reached--they could not have done better.
But their difficulties did not end with their discovery; persuasion
was harder than research. The leader of their choice had received
many previous calls, to which his ear remained deaf. The ties of
intellectual and social friendship, the assurance that a professor's
chair is stable, while a president is usually offered a rocking-chair,
which looks more comfortable, but is really shaky, and the consciousness
that in an old State the traditions of higher education are secure
of recognition--all these considerations were of weight. He has
wisely decided. Greater opportunities on a broader field, the generous
support of the authorities, and that large-mindedness and large-heartedness
which are ever alluring characteristics of the Californians, have
And now with one voice his old friends in the East,
his new friends in the West, bid him Godspeed in his new work. Bind
him new with bands of steel! Don't let him go away! Strengthen his
hands! Confirm his plans! Listen to his counsel!--and soon you will
know what you now believe--that the right man is here--suggestive,
strong, hopeful, wise and inspiring, and I say for the benefit of
the students, athletic also; ready to promote the vigor, the industries,
the wealth, the literature, the sciences, the arts, the politics
and the religion of this great State.
A Forceful Man Is Wheeler.
After President Gilman had been applauded until all
the hills rang Mr. Hallidie said: "Hank Monk said that with a team
of good horses he could drive anywhere, but his advice was 'Be sure
of your right wheeler.' I now introduce you the right Wheeler."
Then all the sounds were let loose, and President
Wheeler was made to understand something of how hearty is his welcome.
As he stood to read his address, it was seen that he has good shoulders
and a deep chest; that he is what men call "commanding," and women
"handsome." He was carefully groomed and looked what his friend
say he is--a man right up to the present date. As he spoke his voice
had a forceful ring, though lacking in the "thrill" effect of the
orator. But he "spoke as one having authority," and when he brought
his forensic fist down on a declaration the people, who hung upon
his every word, shouted their approval.
"We must have these things and have them now!" he
thundered, like one who knows what he wants and is sure that he
will get it.
Altogether it would have been hard to make a more
favorable impression. Following are some of his paragraphs:
Some Present Conditions.
Governors, Members, Friends of the University of California:
You have laid upon me a heavy task; you have entrusted me with a
high responsibility; you have crowned me with opportunity. A consciousness
of my own limitations, which time and experience have made reliable
and definite, would have forced the gleam of opportunity into the
thick shadow of the task had not your hearty confidence which placed
both in my way called faith to the seat of distrust.
Here's His Policy.
The university shall be a thing of life too, in that
it shall be a life bond between those who together teach and study
here. Between teacher and taught there is and can be in a true university
no fixed boundary line. We are all students, we are all learners,
we are all teachers. All teaching which does not deal in fresh,
new visions of truth, truth seen and felt each time it comes to
expression as a new and vital thing animating the whole personality
of him who sees and who summons the vision to the thought of others,
is a dead and hopeless exercise. Education is transmission of life.
The supreme purpose of the university is to provide living beings
for the service of society--good citizens for the State.
Then cheers broke out again, and it was some time
before Mr. Hallidie could get quiet for the benediction from the
venerable Rev. Horatio Stebbins. "Thou source of light and life
and truth, send down that light and life and truth upon the people,
until faith and love shall fill the earth as the waters fill the
[illustration caption, bottom left] The great crowd
wildly cheered and the enthusiastic students sent up their college
yells when Benjamin Ide Wheeler was yesterday afternoon at Berkeley
invested with the powers of the University presidency, lauded by
President Gilman of Johns Hopkins University and President Jordan
of Stanford, and delivered a forceful inaugural address.
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The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Last updated 04/11/01.