Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 59.djvu/421

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



It is generally though not universally known that Washington made provision in his will toward the establishment of a national university. For reasons somewhat difficult to understand his bequest has never been used, and only after the lapse of a hundred years has an institution been established in his memory which will fully accomplish under the conditions now existing the great objects he had in view. These have, it is true, in large measure been met by the growth of private and state universities, and by the development of scientific work under the government, but at last these different lines will converge in the Washington Memorial Institution. This has resulted from the union of more or less independent efforts. An enthusiastic group of men and women has long advocated the establishment of a national university, and for this purpose a George Washington Memorial Association was incorporated in 1898. In the same year the Washington Academy of Sciences was organized, giving a definite center for scientific interests in the city and to a certain extent throughout the country. In the same year a committee of the National Educational Association was appointed, which recommended the utilization for research of the scientific and other departments of the government. In the same year a committee of the Association of Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations recommended the organization of opportunities for study and research for students of the land grant and other colleges. The year 1898 is consequently an important one in the history of the development of education and research in the United States, and the present year marks the union and fruition of these efforts.

The Washington Memorial Institution was incorporated on May 20, its objects being defined as follows:

To create a memorial to George Washington, to promote science and literature, to provide opportunities and facilities for higher learning, and to facilitate the utilization of the scientific and other resources of the government for purposes of research and higher education.

A board of fifteen trustees has been created, including representatives of the leading universities of the country and of the scientific work under the government. The officers include Dr. D. C. Gilman, lately president of the Johns Hopkins University, as director; Dr. Charles D. Walcott, president of the Washington Academy of Sciences and director of the U. S. Geological Survey, as president of the board of trustees; and Professor Nicholas Murray Butler, of Columbia University, as secretary of the board. Under these auspices there will surely develop at Washington a great institution, which will in fact be a national university. It will not, however, be a rival to existing universities, but will coordinate their work; it will utilize the opportunities for study and research in the government departments, without interfering with their legitimate functions; it will be a center of research and intellectual activity, worthily representing our great universities and the scientific work of the national government.