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Hobbs, M. K. (ed.) / The Wisconsin alumni magazine
Volume 27, Number 10 (Aug. 1926)

Frank, Glenn
The baccalaureate address,   p. 328


Page 328


8August, 1926
The Baccalaureate Address
               By PRESIDENT GLENN FRANK
   (Last month we announced that Presi-
dent Frank's baccalaureate address, "The
Six Lamps of Liberal Learning," would
be printed in full in this issue of the
Magazine. Since that time, however, the
University Committee on Public Func-
tions has received so many requests that
the address be reprinted in pamphlet form
for general distribution, that it has been
decided to withhold publication of the en-
tire speech until the President's return
from abroad. It will then be decided as to
whether the address will be published by
the University. Pending such decision,
we must perforce go to press, and can
therefore give you only the first part of the
speech which appeared in the local news-
papers. The six lamps of liberal learning,
as defined by President Frank, are free-
dom, courage, prophecy, science, human-
,ism, and tolerance. It is with the first of
these, the lamp of freedom, that the follow-
ing excerpt deals. We also include the
introduction to his address.--Editor)
   "I am, I confess, a bit skeptical of the
value of the academic tradition of bacca-
laureate and commencement addresses.
We might manage to give decent burial to
many skeptic platitudes were they not
annually galvanized into seeming life
by successive commencement oracles.
But one of the penalties of my post is
that I must serve this custom the wis-
dom of which I doubt.
   "I am not naive enough to believe
that anything I can say here will materi-
ally affect the quantity or the quality of
the educational result that-has come to
you as the fruit of your years at this uni-
versity. But happily the completion of
a university course is supposed to mark
the beginning of an educational adven-
ture, not the end of an educational
achievement. Commencement day is a
mile-stone, not a tomb stone. Otherwise
we should inscribe diplomas with the
legend: Here lies the mind of John
Smith. It is not, therefore, inconsistent
with the occasion to undertake a re-
hearsal of the major objectives of a lib-
eral education with a group of men and
women who are within twenty-four
hours of their graduation from a univer-
sity. For an education that does not
continue after university days is an edu-
cation that never began during univer-
sity days.
      Defines Liberal Education
   "A liberal education means literally
an education worthy of a free-man. The
term 'liberal' comes down to us from
early classical times when the thing we
call "vocational education" was con-
fined to slaves and the thing we call
"liberal education" was reserved for
freemen. The social stage setting of
education has changed since then. Hap-
pily we are not citizens of a stratified
society in which men must stay put in
the class or craft status into which they
are born. There are regrettable indica-
tions of a growing stratification ifn our
civilization but we are still socially fluid.
We still keep a career decently open to
the talented. There are still hatchways
through which the able and the ambi-
tious may crawl up or the weak and the
worthless drop down from the class or
craft status into which they were born.
  "I conceive it to be the ultimate objec-
tive of liberal education to insure to all
men everywhere the possession of free-
dom and to equip those who come under
its immediate ministry for the practice
of freedom. The philosophers have re-
minded us that all freedoms are reduci-
ble to three kinds--freedom from the
brute forces of nature; freedom from the
social tyrannies of oppressive men; free-
dom from one's self. I suspect that the
only true freedom is the last---freedom
from one's self, because the methods
mankind has,' so far, used to achieve all
other kinds of freedom have created as
many evils as they have cured.
    Freedom From Self Essential
  "Mankind has achieved freedom from
the brute forces of nature through sci-
ence and force; mankind has achieved
freedom from the social tyrannies of op-
pressive men through politics and force;
but freedom from one's self can be
achieved only through education with-
out force. And I use the word 'educa-
tion' very broadly as a covering term for
those intellectual, moral, and spiritual
disciplines which include religion.
  "The freedom that men gain from the
brute forces of nature through science
and force is a delusive freedom, because,
in struggling against the brute forces of
nature, men are obliged to adopt na-
ture's own unscrupulous tactics. After
winning their freedom from nature, men
practice on each other the brutality that
nature practiced on them. The result is
evident in the endless cycle of wars and
struggles that mark mankind's history.
Freedom Through Politics Delusive
  "The freedom that men gain from the
social and economic tyrannies of op.-
pressive men through politics:4d, orce
is a delusive freedom, because' ifh un-
consciously parody the evil they fight.
Democracy may become autocratic at
home while defeating autocracy abroad.
We may become intolerant in fighting in-
tolerance. We may soil our souls with
hatred in defeating the man who hates
us. We may lose our conscience in win-
ning our case.
   "The freedom that men gain from
 themselves through education and reli-
 gion without force is the only real free-
 dom, because to win freedom from one's
 self means to stop the inner war of con-
 tradictory desires, contradictory loyal-
 ties, and contradictory standards of
value that tear our lives apart, turning
our brains into battlegrounds and our
spirits into bear-gardens.
. "It is this inner freedom that I con-
ceive it to be the business of liberal edu-
cation to help men to gain, for it is only
men who are the masters of an inner
freedom who know how to manage the
victories they gain over the brute, forces
of nature and the social and economic
tyrannies of oppressive men.
    What Free Man Must Have
    "I can do little more here than to sug-
gest a few things that mark the mind of
the man who has achieved this inner
freedom which is the first fruit and the
final justification of liberal education:
  The free mind of the free man which
the spirit of liberal learning has nursed
and nurtured    to maturity tnows no
loyalty save loyalty to the truth which
it seeks to see clearly and without bias in
the dry light of facts.
   "The free mind of the free man resists
enslavement to passion and to prejudice;
turns a deaf ear alike to democracy when
it grows sentimental and to plutocracy
when it grows selfish; is independent
alike of tyrannical majorities and of
tirading minorities if it happens that the
truth abides in neither; is never guilty
of saying the things that will take rather
than the things that are true; serves the
crowd without flattering it and believes
in it without bowing to its idolatries.
   "But we must never forget that the
spirit of liberal learning flings this chal-
lenge to freedom alike to educated indi-
viduals and to educational institutions,
for only free universities can produce
free minds. The mere existence of mag-
nificently housed and largely attended
universities in a democracy is no guar-
anty that reason and right will deter-
mine the policies and dictate the actions
of the social order. Democracy may be
stabbed to death in its own universities,
Everything depends upon the kind of
universities a democracy develops. The
nature and needs of democracy demand
that we create and sustain free universi-
          (Continued on page 345)
328


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