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George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Friday, April 9, 2004

A sampling of quotes from past inaugurations

Andrew Wylie, IU's first president

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EDITORS: The following is a sampling of quotations from the inauguration addresses of several of Indiana University's previous 16 presidents.

Andrew Wylie, IU's first president, opened with these remarks on Oct. 29, 1829, "Of what advantage is a college to the community? To this question it is reasonably expected that, on an occasion like the present, a plain and satisfactory answer should be given."

William Lowe Bryan, IU's 10th president, reminded his audience on Jan. 1, 1903, "What the people need and demand is that their children shall have a chance -- as good a chance as any other children in the world -- to make the most of themselves, to rise in any and every occupation, including those occupations which require the most thorough training. What the people want is open paths from every corner of the state through the schools to the highest and best things which men can achieve. To make such paths, to make them open to the poorest and make them lead to the highest, is the mission of democracy."

Herman B Wells, Bryan's successor, echoed his remarks in his address on Dec. 1, 1938, as events leading to World War II progressed in Europe, "Faith in education has been a dominant feature of our society since the beginning of the republic -- a faith so strong that through private philanthropy and public taxation a school system has been built unparalled elsewhere in the world. Throughout the history of our nation, there has been a deep-rooted conviction that a democratic form of government could be made operative only by educated men and women. Today, there is a challenge to that form. For the first time in several generations, the trend toward democracy has been arrested. Never was the university's responsibilities for the development of character of greater significance than at the present hour."

Elvis Stahr, IU's 12th president, said on July 1, 1962, "The foundation of the university becomes more important as the accumulation of what we know defies the individual mind to contain it, and frequently challenges the human mind even to classify it so that it may be retrieved with the aid of wonderous new machines and meanfully interrelated."

David Starr Jordan, IU's seventh president, said on Jan. 21, 1885, "To you, citizens of Bloomington, let me say: You are our environment. No man nor institution can be free from the influence of its surroundings. And in this work on which I enter, this influence may be sufficient to make or break. Let me have your hearty support till I show myself inefficent or unworthy. When that time comes, I shall not stand for a moment in the way of the better man -- whom I hope some day to introduce to you -- the right to lead our university. Until then, I ask of each of you your help, your sympathy, your prayers." Jordan left IU in 1891 to help start Stanford University in California.

John W. Ryan, IU's 14th president, said on Jan. 16, 1971, "Indiana University marches tall in the first rank of the academic world. Long dedication, high scholarly standards and resolute pursuit of what was believed to be right put her there. Let us lose no single opportunity to elevate that stature, to enhance that worldwide reputation. Nothing is in greater jeopardy in our own time than the world-commitment of universities, and Indiana must resolve to defend its role both to provide the broadest possible education for her students who will help shape the domestic and international policies of our nation and for the continuation of her human consideration for the educational, economic and social welfare of others throughout the world."

Joseph Swain, IU's ninth president, known as "Uncle Joe" to many students, sought support and divine guidance on June 6, 1893, saying "I should never have sought the position to which I come today. I may well shrink from the responsibilities it imposes, but if it is right that I should be here, and if all the friends of the university give the institution their sympathetic cooperation, with divine guidance, I trust there will come that strength which the work demands."

John W. Ryan, IU's 14th president, on Jan. 20, 1972, said "This very day, the university stands as a classic alma mater; continuing to offer to students what was made available two decades ago for me; the life-giving sustenance of learning and wisdom, the values of intellectual discipline, tolerance, patriotism and humane service, and the restorative promise of arts and letters. Central to the character of Indiana University throughout development has been the liberal arts tradition, and we are determined to preserve that core of our character throughout our system of campuses. Go where you will in the United States or the world today and identify yourself as a member of the Indiana University family, and you will find you are known, because a father or sister or husband has attended; or because a teacher or a Peace Corpsman or doctor has brought his education from Indiana to that place ... Indiana University marches tall in the first rank of the academic world."

Thomas Ehrlich, IU's 15th president, said on Oct. 12, 1987, "A university can also educate about other values and epitomize those values as an institution. I suggest two by way of prime example -- reason and respect. History suggests that no community can maintain an environment of liberty without an environment of mutual respect, and that both are needed to allow the exercise of reason to flourish."

Myles Brand, IU's 16th president, on Jan. 19, 1995, reminded the audience that 175 years before, the founders of IU believed that higher education would be essential in the world of the future. "We are the beneficiaries of their commitment, and we are the inheritors of the same obligation to look ahead to the world we building for our descendents."