Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 77.djvu/519

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

THE HARPER MEMORIAL LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

There was laid recently the corner stone of the library building to be erected at the University of Chicago as a memorial to William Rainey Harper, the first president of the university. Dr. Harper died on January-10, 1906, and shortly thereafter it was decided to secure a fund for a library to be named in his honor. Mr. John D. Rockefeller offered to contribute $600,000 on condition that $200,000 should be given by others, and this amount had been made up by more than 2,000 subscribers.

Under existing conditions in the United States the president of a university has great power and great responsibility; and these are multiplied when he presides over a newly established institution. President White at Cornell, President Gilman at the Johns Hopkins, President Jordan at Stanford, President Hall at Clark, have all impressed their personalities on the institutions whose foundations they laid; but no one has done so more completely than President Harper at Chicago. He was a scholar and at the same time an efficient executive officer of the modern type. It is probable that the machinery of university administration has become too complicated and that we should fare better if there were less concentration of power in the hands of one man; but President Harper certainly showed remarkable skill and energy in the establishment and conduct of a university. Apart from the financial side, where the difficulties were great, he introduced certain educational features, such as continuing the sessions throughout the year and concentrating the courses in a single term, and above all deserves honor for having called to the university leaders in scholarship and science, so that Chicago equals Columbia and is surpassed only by Harvard in the number of men I of high standing on its faculties.

It has been suggested that a chapel or a hall for ancient languages might with equal propriety have been erected as a memorial to Dr. Harper. Such buildings would perhaps form more suitable memorials than libraries and laboratories, as they can be naturally built in classic or gothic style and are not likely to require alterations or enlargements.

The whole problem of the relation of architectural features to educational uses is complicated. It is desirable for every city to have fine and distinctive buildings, and it is well that libraries and universities should have dignified and worthy settings. The buildings of the Harvard Medical School in Boston and of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City are certainly worth to the community what they cost. It is in a way desirable that the Library of Congress and the Public Library should be the most magnificent buildings in Washington and New York.

But there is another side to this question. It seems unfitting to adapt the needs of a library or laboratory to inherited architectural forms, and to limit their light and growth and usefulness by bricks and stones. The adornments of our college campuses are likely to become monstrosities in the course of a generation. We should plan buildings suited to our needs, and their beauty would then be permanent. The unity of the university can best be symbolized by a single building and the universal application of the library by a central place in such a building. A modern university might have a