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FRONT ELEVATION OF STANDARDIZED INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL BUILDING

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An Address Delivered by

MARION LEROY BURTON
On the Occasion of his Inauguration as President of the University of Michigan

October 14, 1920

T notable history:

HE University of Michigan has a the problem, defy definition. Even so, it notable history. Its past

Its past is the is our privilege, upon occasions such as occasion of just pride in the heart of every this, to ask ourselves anew just what we citizen of the state. The name of Presi are attempting to do. Specifically, what dent James Burrill Angell is a synonym do we conceive to be the function of the for educational statesmanship in Amer state university ? I venture to answer ica. The university today, its faculties that the function of the state university and students, its buildings, and campus, is to serve the state and through the state give ample proof of the wise, and saga to serve the nation and the world. cious leadership of President Hutchins

This assertion requires of us, first, to during the last decade. Since 1837, this

Since 1837, this make some appraisal, though necessarily university has filled a vital place in incomplete, of the state; secondly, to atAmerican education. For a generation

tempt some critical estimate of the uniits primacy among the state universities versity; and, finally, to suggest some of our country was conceded.

That sev

forms of service which the university eral highly important educational devel- should render to the state. opments were initiated here is obvious

I. to all who are familiar with the history of higher learning in America.

Any complete appraisal here of the This university was founded and has State of Michigan is quite impossible. We been maintained by the state of Michigan. can, however, recognize certain considerIt therefore owes primary obligations to ations which are pertinent to our discusthis state. However large it may be sion during this conference. come, or however attractive it may prove The external facts interesting to students from all quarters of the globe, simply because they serve as the basis it finds its chief satisfaction in serving its for a marvelously beautiful and fascinown constituency. Nevertheless, it shares ating life. Here is a state the same size with all of the colleges and universities as England and Wales and one-fourth of the land, represented here today, many the size of France, inhabited, according common tasks of higher education. It

are

to the census just completed, by three counts it a rare honor to be numbered and two-thirds millions of people gathamong these institutions.

ered from every land under the heavThe aims and functions of a true uni

Moreover, this state has the versity, by the very nature and terms of high honor and distinction of being one

ens.

of the integral units of the United States Our country today is suffering from a of America, which must be numbered lack of national unity.

lack of national unity. This statement among the really great nations of all his

does not need to be supported by statistory. Michigan gives to and receives tical data, graphic charts, or long argufrom every state within the Union. She ments. We are a polyglot people. We takes her color and quality from the have been gathered from all of the nawhole nation. Strategically located in tions of the earth. These peoples have the very heart of America, within easy come with varying traditions, differing access of many of the chief centers of religious beliefs, and with strange expectpopulation, proud of possessing the ations. They have been confronted with fourth city of the nation, conscious of her stern realities rather than thrilling naindustrial power, she may be regarded as tional hopes. They have experienced typically American. To appraise her is chilling disappointments and suffered in reality to interpret America.

from bitter disillusionments.

And yet The vital facts are compelling because out of this heterogeneous mass we are they tell us that here may be seen mil- making America. The war revealed in lions of people engaged in agriculture, sharp outline our dangers. Sometimes mining, manufacturing, and commerce. a flash comes out of the dark pit of our They work and they attempt to play. social and economic world.

. But through They are prosperous, possessing now it all, the war made us see the possibiliabout six billion dollars' worth of prop- ties of a new order and illuminated our erty. They desire to use rightly and rough path with the enduring light which wisely their leisure time. They are asso- emanates from the eternal truths upon ciated, perhaps unconsciously, and with- which Democracy rests. out any serious realization of its implica- The striking fact about America is tions, in the task of community building. that more than any other nation she has They have assumed the responsibilities been released from the past. Here is at of American citizenship. They have de- once her strength and her weakness. veloped here a political, social, industrial, Forward-looking movements in Europe and educational order. Mighty problems are inevitably counterbalanced by the have presented themselves for solution. traditions of the past. In America, libThe city of Detroit alone is spending this erty easily becomes license, and freedom year thirty-one million dollars for her tends toward anarchy. At any rate, the public schools. As we look at Michigan, plasticity of our entire social order is we are thrilled by this heroic community, apparent. Our detachment from the past undaunted by its problems, and inspired has manifested itself in a curious disreby a great vision of its future.

gard even for the laws enacted by ourAmerica as a whole has made great selves and in a strange disrespect for the contributions to this Middle West. If courts of our own making. With all of our Pilgrim forefathers were marked by our worship of the individual, human life independence, initiative, and moral in- has been held a cheap thing. Arnold sight, these characteristics have been Bennett alludes to "that sublime, romanespecially necessary in the development tic contempt for law and for human life, of these great western empires. Along which, to the European, is the most diswith the nation, the West must face prob- concerting factor in the social evolution lems and utilize opportunities which are of your states.” Our escape from ancient apparent to every observer of American tyrannies and limitations has tended to life.

soften our lives and to rob them of their

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