“A university which one goes to in a street car cannot, it seems to me, fulfil the true ideal of what a university should be.” - President Woodrow Wilson ’79

This Saturday is the date scheduled for the third annual convention of the Western Association of Princeton Clubs. So far in his Western trip President Wilson has attended alumni reunions in St. Paul and St. Louis. For the following account of his reception in the Northwest we are indebted to James D. Denegre ’89:

“President Woodrow Wilson was the guest of the Princeton Alumni Association of the Northwest at their annual dinner at the Minnesota Club in St. Paul, on the evening of April 24th. Over ninety percent of the alumni of Minnesota and North and South Dakota were present to greet him. This is especially significant of President Wilson’s popularity in the Northwest; several alumni journeyed three or four hundred miles, all the way from the Dakota frontiers, to attend this meeting. Every Princeton alumnus in St. Paul was present, and Minneapolis sent over all of her Princeton men, except two or three who were out of the city or kept away by illness, and Duluth, Winona and the other larger Minnesota towns were also represented. It was the largest gathering of Princeton men the Twin City association has ever been able to muster together.

“President Wilson was warmly greeted and his address on the Princeton system was received with enthusiasm. In the course of his remarks he said: ‘A university which one goes to in a street car cannot, it seems to me, fulfil the true ideal of what a university should be. The true university should stand for something of its own, should be something different from other universities and colleges, and in order to develop this institutional spirit a community of interests and life is necessary. The educator has no business to be trying new things. It is his business to gather the best of the past and present it in forms which have the sanction of time instead of running after new fads and theories. The purpose of culture, which is the end of the university course, is the opening of the student’s mind to what is best in the great minds of the past. While curious speculation may be valuable as mental gymnastics, it has no part in the method of the educator. The private institution has the advantage of the state institution in that it is able to preserve its characteristics and is not obliged to seek the changing favor of politicians and of the uninformed who have a say in the running of the latter institutions.’”

Hon. J. M. Lawson ’85, of Aberdeen, South Dakota, presided, and Henry A. Boardman ’64 acted as toastmaster. Mr. Wallace C. Winter responded for Yale University, and Judge E. M. Johnson for the University of Minnesota. The other toast were given by Prof. A. C. McClumpha ’85, Rev. A. B. Marshall ’71 and Henry F. Green ’80. The following officers were elected for the ensuing year: President, Henry F. Green ’80; Vice President, Rev. A. B. Marshall ’71; Secretary Paul C. Weed ’96.

This was originally published in the May 2, 1903 issue of PAW.