Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/482

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
478
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SHORTER ARTICLES AND CORRESPONDENCE.

THE CENTENNIAL OF WILLIAM BARTON ROGERS.

On the seventh of December at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a convocation of students and faculty, were held exercises in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of William Barton Rogers, the founder and first president of the institute. These exercises were of more than local interest, because the man in whose honor they were held has filled a great place in American education and American science. Born in Philadalphia in 1804, he passed his early boyhood and manhood at the old William and Mary College at Williamsburg, Va. In this institution his father was professor of natural science, and in the academic freedom of which this college was then one of the few exemplars, the young Rogers was able to follow the leadings of his own genius. He became professor there in 1828, and was transferred to the University of Virginia, in 1835, as professor of natural philosophy. His career in the latter place was one of great influence and power, not only as a teacher, but as an investigator. In connection with his talented brother he inaugurated the geological survey of Virginia, which survey has become almost a classic.

While living here and during frequent trips to Europe he became impressed with the need in America of institutions in which scientific studies might form the basis of education; and his removal to Boston, in 1853, was in large measure due to his belief that in this community was to be found a better opportunity for the founding of such an institution than in Virginia. Nothing which Mr. Rogers did could have more clearly indicated his good judgment than this conclusion, for there was certainly no community in America so ready for the building of a great technical school as Boston.

Here, amidst the stress of the years of the civil war and under all the discouragements which those years brought he founded the Institute of Technology, which forms to-day his greatest monument and which continued to be, until the very close of his life, his chief concern. He died splendidly, in the very act of service, at the Commencement of June, 1882, as he was addressing the graduating class. Combining as he did the charm of a gracious and pleasing personality with the power of an orator, of a great teacher and of an investigator it is not strange that those who have received their education in the Institute of Technology should have for him a reverence and an affection far above that which they entertain for any other man. In the truest and fullest sense the institute was founded by him, and in large measure drew its inspiration and life from his enthusiasm and devotion.

The exercises held on December 7 were simple, but full of tender regard for President Rogers and his work. An introductory address by the president of the institute dealt with a general estimate of the originality and breadth of Mr. Rogers's educational conceptions. President Lyon G. Tyler, of William and Mary College, told of the influence of that famous institution in the forming of Mr. Rogers's character and in the training of his genius. Professor Francis H. Smith, of the University of Virginia, spoke as an old pupil of Mr. Rogers and of his power as a great teacher. Professor Robert H.