The San Francisco Examiner, Thursday morning, Oct. 26, 1899
Vol. 69, No. 118, p. 14

Benjamin Ide Wheeler Invested with Keys of Power and Robes of Office and Formally Commissioned to Shape and Rule the University of California.

Three Great College Presidents Speak to a Mighty Throng at
Berkeley and a Brilliant Banquet Follows at the Palace Hotel

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 gathered.

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 Welcker.

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 small part:

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 captured him.

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 sea."

[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.