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Prof. Edwin B. Wilson, Administrative Committee; Horace S. Ford, Bursar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Orville B. Denison, '11, cheer leader; Walter Humphreys, '97, secretary of the Alumni Association.
In opening the after-dinner proceedings President Metcalf likened the new Technology president to three of his illustrious predecessors, Rogers, Walker and Maclaurin, and congratulated the Corporation of the Institute on having searched for an educator with the qualities of leadership, rather than for a man of the administrative type who might perhaps have lacked something of sympathy with and understanding of the teacher's point of view. "To President Nichols we pledge our support," he said.
President Nichols said: "It is impossible for me to rise without the same thought in my heart as is in all of yours. We miss Dr. Maclaurin. In losing him the Institute has suffered an irreparable loss." Dr. Nichols then requested the alumni to stand with him for a moment in reverent memory of the leader whom Dr. Nichols succeeds.
Continuing, he said: "I want you to know the depth and extent of my pride in being chosen leader of Technology. Technology men have always been in my sight purposeful men, and leadership among purposeful men is a very real thing."
"We all have our visions of the Institute," he said, "and though these may be a little indefinite in detail, all of us agree in the one thing that the object of the vision is glory. I have been wondering what the result would be if we could get a composite representation of those visions, something like a composite photograph of all Technology men. The outline would be strong, firm, intelligent, full of will, initiative and power. The details would be hazy, but the face would inspire confidence. It would be something splendid.
"It is going to be my very pleasing privilege, and perhaps also a part of my duty, to interpret this composite picture, and to try as hard as ever I can from time to time, as we gather together, to make some of the details a little clearer, a little more definite, without taking the poetry out of the vision. We must go through the forest and cut out the dead wood in order that the live wood may develop and progress and the forest become more beautiful. But these hot-headed men, and the more hot-headed the more silly they are, cry out for a clean slate on which they may draw more beautiful designs. Some of these men would even burn the forest in order that they may plant it anew. We have had a large-scale example of that in the last few years in the misery of a great nation, and the forest is still in flames. A clean slate and a new forest are things we cannot have in this world. We have got to begin where we are, and it has got to be more than a voice crying in the wilderness, more than a child crying in the night. It has got to be faith. We need strong men, capable of doing fourteen hours' work a day for altruistic purposes. We have got to reshape the world as it stands in order that there may be built the foundations of justice, righteousness and peace. The world is calling on the Institute, and it shall not call in vain."
Dean Alfred E. Burton, who is retiring after almost forty years of service at the Institute, was introduced as "the connecting link between the head and heart of Technology," and as "a model dean." The alumni saluted him with "He's a jolly good fellow." The dean reviewed the history of the Institute during his connection with it, and added: “But two things are greatly needed. One is a better co-ordination of the forces of instruction given to our first-year students, and the second need is a better housing of our students. I do not urge the erection of new dormitories, but there should be wholesome and healthful quarters, so as to insure to the students an opportunity of closer association with young men of their own age and interests while pursuing their studies." The Dean's speech is printed in full, from his manuscript, immediately following this article.
Dr. A. D. Little, president-elect of the alumni, as his first official act pledged to Dr. Nichols the support of the body. He said that in spite of the fact that today more engineers are out of work than ever before, it was his conviction that it is but the threshold of a new day when the engineer shall be more important than ever. He said in the future the engineer would insist on scientific methods which would do away with present-day waste.
After the speaking the chairman, in accordance with the custom of past years, presented Reginald Smithwick, '21, president of the Senior Class, with the 1921 alumni banner, to hang on the walls with those of every preceding class of the Institute. Since it was impossible to procure the banner last year for the Class of 1920, presentation at this time was made also to Kenneth Akers in behalf of the Class of 1920.
The Alumni Association also presented through its president a beautiful desk and chair to Dr. Nichols for his office in Building 3. On the occasion of Dr. Maclaurin's inauguration a similar gift was made by the New York Technology Club, but this year the gift came from the alumni as a body. Dr. Nichols, obviously taken by surprise and deeply touched, responded briefly and in a happy vein.
The speeches throughout the evening were unusually successful, as the Bell amplifiers, installed for the inauguration, had been left for the ceremonies throughout the week and contributed greatly to the pleasure of the evening.
On leaving Walker Memorial at the close of the meeting the alumni joined a large crowd which was already enjoying the illuminations. In addition to more than 750,000 candle-power employed in lighting up the Technology buildings, an army searchlight with 36-inch reflector, capable of a six-mile radius, played across all fronts of the Institute from the Boston shore. All the colors of the spectrum were brought to bear in the illumination of the central dome, while the great pillars at the front of the main building were kept bathed in pink. Prof. W. J. Drisko of the physics department was in charge of the illuminating arrangements. It was Tech undergraduate night at the Pops, and many of the alumni spent the remainder of the evening in Symphony Hall.
THE DEAN'S FAREWELL TO THE ALUMNI
Speech of Dean Burton at the Alumni Banquet, June 8, 1921
THIS is the sixtieth year in the history of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On April 10, 1861, it was incorporated for the purpose of instituting and maintaining a Society of Arts, a Museum of Arts, and a School of Industrial Science. The Society of Arts served a very useful purpose, but has now practically disappeared from public view, and the Museum of Arts has never appeared. The rapid development of the School of Industrial Science, however, showed emphatically that this part of the plan met a public need.
In 1865 the Institute opened with fifteen students, and within the lifetime of some of these first students, now has an enrollment of thirtyfive hundred. The mere increase in numbers, however, is no indication of the value of this school to the community. From the beginning it has never made a conscious effort to increase its enrollment. It has on the other hand very conscientiously and thoroughly eliminated students who did not reach its exacting standard. In spite of the Procrustean bed of its curriculum, and in spite of the determination to make every one conform to its dimensions, the number of victims voluntarily subjecting themselves to its restrictions steadily increased. Whatever faults critics may find with reference to Technology methods and procedures, the public applauds its work, and its surviving pupils spread its fame.
But there has not been a steady curve of growth. There have been depressions and elevations in the line that plots Technology's advance. It has advanced, however, and its advance is mainly due to its loyal sons. The fame of the Institute is due not so much to its teachers, or its Corporation, as to its Alumni. It is a fame based not upon words, but upon deeds, and as they scatter themselves over the world the Alumni carry Technology's name with them. The farther they go from Boston the louder they sound its praise, and the most sceptical and pessimistic observer will have to admit that in the engineering world at the present time the name of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a name to conjure with. Call it the Institute, call it M. I. T., call it Boston Tech, call it Technology on the Charles, whatever you will, it is the place where the modern novelist sends his hero for an engineering education.
The Alumni do not forget that every time they have won out in each of the crises that have faced them it is because they have stood for an independent Institute of Technology. We stand for a different idea in human education; an idea that may not represent the highest ideal for youthful development, but an idea for which the world was ready, an idea for which there was a great demand. The Institute stands for a stern attitude towards life and towards the treatment of youth.
Its founder, Rogers, when meeting the new students said (with that courtesy that always characterized the Southerner) "You are school boys no longer. You now stand on the pedestal of young gentleman." President Walker, succeeding Rogers said, "This is a place for men to work and not for boys to play." It has always been the aim to thrust responsibility on the student, rather than to protect and guard his youthful days. When a graduate of the Institute enters the business world he does so with much less of a shock than does the average academic youth.
As the number of students increased it was found more and more difficult to ignore the private life of the undergraduate. It was a great temptation for the authorities to take up the ancient parental attitude of the academic colleges, but fortunately the students rose to the occasion and began to govern themselves, and to invoke the aid of graduates, and so well have they conducted their affairs in fraternities, in dormitories, and in all the various activities, that the Faculty up to the present time have been able to resist the temptation to interfere. The results of self-regulation, or self-government at the Institute have lately been brought to the attention of the public and to other colleges by an Intercollegiate Conference held this year. There is an educational development in the student life of Technology which cannot be ignored. It is one of the things that counts in later engineering life.
I personally believe that the Institute today is in a better position to carry on its work successfully than at any previous period in its history. Its new course in Engineering Administration, its co-operative work in the Electrical and Chemical Engineering courses, and especially the admirable way in which the Technology Plan is now being handled, are departures along the educational and administrative lines that make for progress and stability.
There are two things, however, that appear to me to be greatly needed at the Institute. One is a better co-ordination of courses given to our first year students. The first year instruction, to my mind, is now the weakest point in our educational program. We need a director for our first year work who will stand in the same relation to the first year as the head of a department now does to instructors and students in his department. He should carefully scrutinize the work of all the teachers and should be consulted in their appointment.
The second need I have often urged to both the President and Corporation. This is the need for a better housing of our students. I do not urge the erection of new dormitories in order that we may exercise a greater paternal care of the young men, but rather to insure wholesome and healthful quarters for students coming to us from a great distance, and to assure to these students an opportunity of closer association with young men of their own age and interests while pursuing their studies.
I leave the Institute with optimistic views for its future, feeling that we can trust in our Alumni to aid its progressive development. During the presidency of Richard Maclaurin the Institute reached one
of the highest points in its career of progress. Maclaurin was fully alive to all that was distinctive in the educational ideas of the Institute. By the erection of these buildings and the securing of the endowment fund he made her individuality secure for many years to come. If President Maclaurin could have suggested a man to carry on his chosen work, I believe that he would have named Ernest Fox Nichols. He was his friend and scientific colleague and co-worker along educational lines.
THE NEW DEAN
PROF. HENRY P. TALBOT, '85, head of the Chemistry Department and chairman of the Administrative Committee since the death of President Maclaurin, has been chosen acting dean to succeed Dean Burton, who has been granted a leave of absence after having held the post since 1902.
Harold E. Lobdell, '17, who has been office manager for the Division of Industrial Co-operation and Research, was chosen to assist Professor Talbot.
Professor Talbot was graduated from the Institute in 1885. Instead of entering the chemical industry for which his Technology course fitted him, he prepared himself for the teaching profession and became an instructor. He remained at the Institute a short time and then took his Ph.D. at Leipzig in 1890. Returning from Germany, he was made an assistant professor and in 1902 was placed in charge of the Chemistry Department and made a full professor. He has been for the last two years chairman of the Faculty. He will continue in charge of the Chemistry Department.