University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The University of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Thoma, Harry C. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 38, Number IX (June 1937)

Gillen, Martin J.
The march of Wisconsin,   pp. 339-341


Page 340


340                                                                     
        The Wisconsin Alumnus
who carried into fruition the visions of Bascom and  Edward A. Birge was
elevated to the high office of
Chamberlin.  Great was his leadership.  The fact    the Presidency.  Scientist,
philosopher, administrat-
that he had been very poor in his youth, brought a  or, he came from Williams
College in 1875, called
human understanding, of students' ambitions and     by Bascom, while he was
a graduate student at Har-
problems.  With his charming wife, he kept open     vard. His whole professional
life has been given to
house every Saturday night for lonesome "Fresh-      the University
of Wisconsin. When, in 1925, he re-
men."   He was a great kindly man who knew his      tired from the presidency
he had been an active mem-
students personally.  He left a "University for     ber of the faculty
for 50 years. He came to the Uni-
Students."                                              versity in its
early days and shared in many phases
  Among his outstanding contributions to history    of its development during
half a century. Many are
are his "Democracy and Monarchy in France," "Man-   the honors
that scientific men have given this unas-
ual Historical Literature," "Christopher Columbus."  suming
man.
In 1892, he was editor-in-chief of the revision of     As a co-worker, with
his four predecessors, he
"Johnson's Encyclopaedia, a His-                                   
      pioneered and made new pathways
tory of the United States."                                        
      in biology, bacteriology, physiol-
  Then   came Charles R. Van        :^2>                             
   ogy, and allied fields, laying the
Hise, whose life from his gradua-                                       
 foundations for a renowned school
tion in 1879, to his passing in                                         
 of pre-medical work. The Alumni
1918, was an integral part of our                                       
 will, no doubt, best remember him
University. For 10 years during                                         
 as the first dean of the College of
his professorship at Wisconsin, he                                      
 Letters and Science. That posi-
was also professor of Structural                                        
 tion he held for 27 years during
Geology at the University of Chi-                                       
 which the College grew from one,
cago and for twenty years a mem-                                        
 of some 550 students, to one of
ber of the U. S. Geological Survey.                                     
 nearly  2900. When      one says
  In 1903, he was honored with                                          
 "Dean" to one of the older Alum-
the Presidency of the University.                                       
 ni he automatically adds "Birge"
As President he exhibited great                                         
 or perhaps "Bugs."     He main-
breadth of outlook that character-                                      
 tained fine confidential and per-
ized him as scholar and scientist.                                      
 sonal relations, with each of the
Great was his power of organiza-                                        
 Presidents from Bascom on; and as
tion and the impress of his hand is                                     
 dean in an advisory capacity, he
still on the University. He Weld-                                       
 contributed much to "his U.niver-
ed an aggregation of units into an   X       g g                        
 sity," as he did later as President.
acting whole. He developed not        G                             '~  
 Full of character, the beloved Birge
only the research activity of the                                       
 is still with us-beloved by stu-
University, but an Extension De-                John Bascom             
 dents and alumni, and respected by
partment for the purpose of plac       Philosopher educator builder  all.
ing accumulated knowledge at the service of Wiscon-    In 1925 there was
called to the Presidency a man
sin citizens.  He developed fully the idea that the  of great personal charm-Glenn
Frank-a brilliant,
University should be utilitarian for the benefit of the  attractive publicist,
lecturer and orator. Proximity to
citizens of the State. A great and untiring admin-  his tenure of office
and departure demands, in justice
istrator.                                               to all, that the
alumni and the friends of the Univer-
                                                        sity, as well as
his friends allow the kindly, but in-
   EVER factual, as a member of the National Con-    exorable hand of "Time"
to give the test to his work.
servation Commission he contributed to that move-
ment, "The Conservation of Natural Resources in the    BASCOM, Chamberlin,
Adams, Van Hise, Birge
United States."  He was a trustee of the Carnegie   -a galaxy of men,
attended by one great faculty
Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. He      group after another,
have created a sacred trust of edu-
published, "Concentration and Control: A Solution   cation, for all
the people of this State and have made
of the Trust Problems of the United States," and a  sun clear, not only
the dimensional tests to be applied
great many historical scientific works on geology for  to the selection of
and the obligations to be assumed
Wisconsin and Michigan. He was a frequent advisor   by their successors,
but have marked out for the
to Presidents of the United States, on conservation  people, the grave duty
attending the future appoint-
matters, on which with geology, he was a national   ment by the Governor
of the dimensional men, who
authority.  He was a recipient of many academic     shall occupy high and
honored positions, on the
honors and a member of the National Academy of      Board of Regents, in
whose care the people have
Sciences and other scientific organizations both in the  placed the management
of this sacred trust.
United States and abroad.                                 From the white
heat of the national publicity, that
   State wide service typified his every act. He once  surrounded the discussion
of "the dimensional char-
   Stt wI sh    ervie tyifedn  every ct. He onecent   acter" of a new
President for the University, was
Said, l  shall never be content until the beneficent  wrought in the Executive
Committee of the Board of
influence of the University has reached every family in  Regents, an intelligent
and practical spirit in the selec-
the State. This is my ideal of a University." Many  tion of a man worthy
of assuming the position. I
were his practical contributions to our University and  caused that Committee
to interpret correctly, the
State  an untiring, single, and loyal devotion to the  spirit and authority,
with which it was clothed and
advancement of the University marked his course.    to hold firmly to the
belief, that the perpetuation and
   On the untimely death of President Van Hise, Dr.  the administration of
this great School of learning, in


Go up to Top of Page