Quoted: It’s all in the opening

In fall 2019, we held an inauguration ceremony for our 15th chancellor. Here’s a look back at what the university’s first five chancellors said on the occasion of their inaugurations.

Joseph Gibson Hoyt, courtesy of Washington University Archives

“St. Louis, the geographical [center,] not only of this valley, but of the whole country, will be, to a fearful extent, responsible for the intellectual and moral character which shall be impressed upon the American people. It was in view of considerations like these, that a few far-sighted and large-hearted men … laid the foundation of Washington University.”

1st Chancellor, Inaugural Address, Oct. 4, 1859

“The question — What shall we teach, and how shall we teach it? — when proposed in relation to a community involves the whole question of life. What kind of lives shall we live? What shall be our aims, our occupations? What kind of beings shall we be? What shall be the form of our intellectual and moral existence?”

2nd Chancellor, Inaugural Address, June 17, 1863

William Greenleaf Eliot
William Greenleaf Eliot, courtesy University Archives

“We would found a university so widely acknowledged in its influence, that
St. Louis and Missouri should be honored throughout the world by its being established here.”

3rd Chancellor, Inaugural Address, Feb. 29, 1872

“I have a vision of a great university … to support it is considered a duty, to aid in its development a pleasure, and to have one’s name connected with it an honor.”

4th Chancellor, Inaugural Address, Jan. 11, 1892

“                                                              ”

—DAVID FRANKLIN HOUSTON, the university’s 5th chancellor refused inaugural ceremonies. The Chancellor was described as taciturn, even austere, and self-effacing.

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