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As American colleges and universities again examine their traditions and their future, Charles William Eliot’s address is of special interest. His views on the aims of education, the obligations of the university, the role of the faculty, and the responsibilities of the administration make pertinent reading for those involved in the present academic situation, while his feelings about undergraduate manners and morals and about the education of women exemplify the striking changes of the past hundred years.
As Nathan Pusey notes, “Mr. Eliot speaks of university work in a way we can understand, and the sound of his inspiring phrases, although intended for another generation, comes down to us with a brightness and clarity which can be an inspiration to our time. If the true worth of a speech is to be measured by its constructive effect, President Eliot’s inaugural is surely one of the very great addresses in the literature of American higher education.”