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In their own words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is an historic day. Today we inaugurate our 16th president, Gregory Hess. This day prompts me to think about our past presidents. With this in mind, I thought that I might share their words today.  Each president prepared a speech for his inauguration.  In each case, these speeches are a chance for the new man to highlight what he felt was important to the College at that time. These speeches provide an interesting chance to look across the decades, indeed across the nearly two centuries, of our history.

Here they are, in their own words, our presidents…

“I shall devote myself to the instruction of the youth…Our hope is that no sacrifices in this noble cause will be lost, and that we shall enjoy the privilege of seeing our institution realize the expectations of its patrons and the friendly public…Our purpose is, never to rest while Wabash College shall lack any advantages for the student, which are offered by the highest class of American colleges.”

President Elihu W. Baldwin Inaugural Address July 13, 1836

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“Whoever exerts an influence here, exerts an influence upon many individuals and upon great interests elsewhere. Whoever communicates any portion of his opinions or his character to young men here, communicates them to all after ages.”

President Charles White Inaugural Address July 19, 1841

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“I address myself to the alumni of this College. You are our joy and our crown. As you go out among men, we ask you to remember this College, as the mother who bore you. Speak of her sometimes in those terms of fondness which shall be so grateful to her ear and so potent in the esteem of society, as “our College” as “Old Wabash”…showing that you would rather lose the music of your own tongues than to forget Alma Mater.”

President Joseph Ferrand Tuttle Inaugural Address July 24, 1862

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“So, this hour, grateful for the Wabash of the past…we together—students, teachers, trustees, alumni, friends of the College—together we pledge ourselves to the Wabash of today, to the Wabash of tomorrow.”

President George Stockton Burroughs Inaugural Address June 21, 1893

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“The historic college is built on the idea that its work is to educate men. Not simply to educate the intellect nor to train the hand or the eye or any other fractional part, but to educate the man himself. The work of the old-fashioned college is to lay the foundation for a complete manhood. Its aim is not to make specialists, but to make men…”

President William Patterson Kane Inaugural Address February 22, 1900

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“In assuming the duties of President of Wabash College I am not unmindful that humility most of all becomes me. When one has in mind the five presidents who were here and are not, it does not yet seem quite credible that one like myself is the sixth…One can only beg that he may not be altogether unworthy of his predecessors.”

President George Lewes Mackintosh Inaugural Address June 12, 1907

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“It is essential…that the whole problem of individualizing education be kept in the foreground in the shaping of educational policies, in the administration of college affairs, and in the instruction of students…These, then are the opportunities that our predecessors…have handed down to us. May we in turn keep the faith and assist those whom we admit to our institution  in their intellectual development; may we inspire them to right living; may we encourage them to search for the truth and reveal to them the significance of the message…that the truth shall make them free.”

President Louis Bertram Hopkins Inaugural Address December 3, 1926

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“Every day at Wabash should be regarded as an important day…full of the realization that here are citizens in the making…In its student body is the life blood of any school. For students it was founded—for students it should live…Friends of Wabash, let us join together this day…in a new pledge of cooperation and in a new dedication of effort for a stronger, more powerful, more effective Wabash.”

President Frank Hugh Sparks Inaugural Address October 25, 1941

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“There is…a poetic quality about such a college. Its poetry is in its past. It is in the fact that for a century and a quarter students and teachers, trustees and friends, much like ourselves, have studied and played and worked and worshipped here, and now they are gone as we must shortly go…On this occasion, we who now constitute Wabash—students, teachers, trustees, alumni and friends—could do no better than to resolve to match the courage, the vision, and the energy, of our predecessors. If we do, we shall lift this college to still higher levels of usefulness, distinction and honor.”

President Byron Kightly Trippet Inaugural Address October 13, 1956

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“The men of Wabash will not break faith with the humane tradition or with their history. We will be relentless in our pursuit of excellence. We will continue to develop men to lead and to serve. We will not compromise our sense of high purpose.”

President Paul W. Cook Inaugural Address December 3, 1966

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“I want to see Wabash continue to excel as a small, independent, undergraduate, liberal arts college for men. That forthright definition will be the text for my remarks this morning…the convictions of one who believes with all his being that our type of college, that our own College, continues today the special mission of service which motivated its founding; that Wabash will best serve by producing men of balanced judgment, broad knowledge, and good character – ‘Scientiae et Virtuti,’ know-how and guts.” President Thaddeus Seymour Inaugural Address October 10, 1969

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“If education at Wabash is anything, it is the cultivation of the intellect…the acquisition of skills which enable us to dissect and construct arguments, to disentangle the valid from the specious, and to order our beliefs in some proportion to the weight of evidence supporting those beliefs.”

President Lewis Spencer Salter Inaugural Address October 10, 1978

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“Thus a tradition for exceptional teaching in the liberal arts was begun. Names from the past like Mills, Thomas, Gronert, Brigance, Rogge, Haenisch and Dean have carried this tradition forward, helping to create the richness for which a Wabash education is so well known…Whether one looks at leadership activity, professional impact, or the percentage of graduates attaining the PhD, Wabash ranks with the finest institutions in the country.”

President F. Sheldon Wettack Inaugural Address December 3, 1989

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“Wabash is not simply a four year college for men; Wabash is a lifetime experience for men and their families. It is not simply a four-year liberal arts program; Wabash is the beginning of one’s independent life. It is not merely preparation for the real world; Wabash is participation in the real world. It is not rules, regulations and judicial procedures; Wabash is trust, responsibility and caring. It is not unique because it is a college for men; Wabash is unique in the candor, rigor, and caring of the classroom experience. Wabash is above all about making men better.”

President Andrew T. Ford Inaugural Address, January 29, 1994

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“…men of Wabash, I turn to you, in hope, with courage, with all the powers and energy I can muster, and I promise you that together, my brothers, we will carry this College we love so well to new heights of service, new heights of honor. We will ask the difficult questions of our times and we will never tire. In our uncommon dream – the uncommon dream of Wabash College – lies the common good of our country and our world, and we will pursue that dream with our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole spirit.”

President White Inaugural Address January 27, 2007

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All best wishes to President Hess as he takes his place in this inaugural parade!

Beth Swift
Archivist
Wabash College