December 28, 1928, marked the seventy-second anniversary of the birth of the late Woodrow Wilson ’79, president at one point in his career of Princeton University and at a later date of these United States. In many places the occasion was fittingly observed by gatherings which heard addresses commemorative of one of the past century’s most distinguished American citizens.

This twenty-eight of December served – as many preceding December twenty-eights have done – to call attention to what many consider the inadequacy of recognition which Princeton has given to Woodrow Wilson. As to the exact position in history which the nation’s wartime leader will occupy, it is still much too early to do more than hazard a guess; it is reasonable to suppose, however, that future generations, looking at him from the perspective which time alone can give, will see him as one of this country’s outstanding chief executives, as a man of the hour whose hour was so trying a one as to demand for its central figure an individual of his own undoubted qualifications whatever his faults.

Meanwhile it would seem appropriate for Princetonians to pay lasting tribute to the memory of one of the most eminent persons ever included in their number. The history of Princeton’s development as an educational institution has been a story of men of academic proficiency whose individual and collective efforts and achievements have made that growth possible; regardless of his failures, outweighed as they were by his accomplishments, Woodrow Wilson, professor and university president, played one of Princeton history’s most prominent parts. And when he had left the campus for the larger world of politics and statesmanship, he occupied a position of national and international importance second to that of no one of his contemporaries.

The Woodrow Wilson Professorship of Literature does fitting honor to him for whom it was named. But Woodrow Wilson ’79 deserves a more tangible memorial on the Princeton campus. Two other ex-presidents of the institution who with him loom particularly large in academic annals are brought to mind daily by buildings bearing their names – Witherspoon and McCosh. The one other ex-President of the Nation who was a Princeton graduate – James Madison – was similarly signalized when the dining halls were erected. Wilson, however, has thus far failed to receive equally warranted recognition. What appears to us an error of omission can be rectified if some structure of appropriate nature yet to be added to the physical equipment of the University is given the distinguished name of Woodrow Wilson.

This was originally published in the January 11, 1929 issue of PAW.