1911 Fredericton Encaenia

Address in Praise of Founders

Delivered by: Cartmel, William Bell


"Address in Praise of the Founders by Prof. W.B. Cartmel ..." The Daily Gleaner (31 May 1911): 5, 7.

As is well known it is customary every year at Encoenia for one of the members of the faculty to give an address in praise of the founders. Following the names on the list in order, it falls to my lot this year to have this pleasant duty. Though why it should be necessary to praise the founders I cannot conceive. To praise those who established so beneficent an institution as a university is like "painting the lily or gilding refined gold." All through the ages universities have held so important a position that we even feel inclined to gauge a nation's civilization by its universities. When, for instance, we read in history that the Arabs after having overrun Europe, developed a great civilization, that learning flourished, and universities were established, so that people from other countries had to go to the Arabs if they wished for an education in arts or science or medicine, we realize that the Arabs must have been the great force of their times. The university stands for so much that it becomes a great and glorious monument to those who established it. We shall see that this honor was held in such esteem, that even a king of England was anxious to be known as the founder of this university.

The University of New Brunswick was first established in 1800 under the name of King's College. In 1823 a new charter was given to it with the understanding that King George the Fourth was to be regarded as the founder. Not until 1859 was it given the name which it now bears, when the College was entirely reorganized. Under its present name then the University dates back to 1859, rather more than half a century. During this time there have been a wonderful change in university influence, due not only to the great increase in numbers of universities and colleges, but there has been such great developments in Science and Engineering and for this development the universities themselves have been largely responsible. The University of New Brunswick, moved by the spirit of the times, has undergone changes similar to those that have taken place elsewhere. The changes to which I refer relate to the increasing importance of scientific courses in the University curriculum, and the adding to the curriculum of courses in engineering. Everywhere changes of this sort have taken place. Not that there was any lack of inspiring lecturers in the old days, men of strong intellectuality and high ideals, who must have exerted wonderful influence. Think, for instance, of the time when De Morgan and Maxwell lectured at Cambridge or Boole and Sir William Gowan Hamilton at Dublin, or Kelvin at Glasgow, and others of the long list of men who have left to us permanent records of their greatness in the works they wrote. But universities, like other things, change and either advance or go backwards. The kind of education that colleges gave fifty years ago is well illustrated by the announcement of courses in the catalogue of this University for 1861. A course of lectures in chemistry was given following Stockhardt's text book, mathematics included the differential and integral calculus, in mathematical physics Galbraith and Haughton's Optics and Galbraith and Haughton's  Astronomy in Chronology, and History, Tytler's Universal History. Other textbooks used were Whatseley's Rhetoric and Logic, Dardner's Animal Physics and Agassiz and Gould's Zoology. Very complete courses in French and in Classics were given.

Since that time great increases in our knowledge of science have taken place, and engineering has been brought to the front. The science of chemistry has been wholly remodelled, in fact, it has been in the field of chemistry and in physical chemistry that the greatest changes have taken place. In physics there have been no such far reaching changes, no remodelling as in chemistry, although our knowledge of this subject has been greatly extended in the last fifty years, and many wonderful discoveries have been made, in fact we all know of many advances in this subject made even in the last few years. How long ago is it since X-rays were discovered, and later the wonderful properties of radium. It is only 25 years since the discovery of electric waves, and now today these are used in a system of wireless telegraphy already perfected to such a degree that to telegraph across the Atlantic without the use of connecting wires is now a commonplace performance. I think we will all agree that there has been a most remarkable progress in science during the last fifty years. During this period of time universities have multiplied rapidly and higher education has been extended the most, material development has been the most rapid. The two countries to which I refer are the United States and Germany. Speaking first of the United States I would like to point out that nowhere have great benefits from education been looked forward to with more confidence than in this great Republic to the South. The early Americans had a great faith in colleges, and we see all of the States provided with well supported State aided universities, and beside these there are hundreds of well endowed colleges. Not only are there such great institutions as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and Johns Hopkins, but even in the West such institutions as Chicago University and the University of Illinois have made for themselves international reputations. These have been the means of providing the nation with a large body of highly trained men.

The other rapidly progressing nation, Germany, owes even more to its universities. A little over a century ago, when Prussia had been crushed by Napoleon, the brother Alexander and William von Humboldt, influenced the King to try and retrieve the fortunes of the nation by building up a system of high class universities.

Thus, first Bonn and afterwards Berlin University were established. A new type of University quite different from the medieval university was developed. In the older type general culture was aimed at, while the new type had for its object the advancement of research. The German universities have played a great part in the development of modern chemistry. There has resulted from this a splendid reaction on industry so that Germany now leads the world in many branches of technical chemistry. This is particularly true of the manufacture of analyne dyes, although peculiarly enough analyne dyes were first discovered by an Englishman, Sir William Perkin. the control of Germany over this industry is now so complete, that even in red dye for the trousers of French soldiers, is said to be made in Germany. This control of the industry is due to the fact that so much research work in the discovery of new colors has taken place in German universities, and also to the fact that German manufacturers have been sufficiently alive to their own interests to make use of and to employ large numbers of highly trained chemists. These things have not taken place without other nations have noticed that higher education had produced wonderful results in Germany. It gave a new turn to education in the United States, and a direct result was the establishment of Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore, Maryland, which was modelled after the type of university established in Germany by the brothers von Humboldt. All the larger universities in the United States were later remodelled on these same lines.

In England, too, the importance of the new movement has been felt. Many earnest men have pointed out the fact that millions of dollars for universities would produce stimulating results of far more benefit to the nation than the sums spent on battleships. Although England moves steadily and slowly, not turning like a weathercock with every wind that blows, she has in the last nine years instituted five new universities. Of these the best known perhaps is Birmingham University, which many of you will remember was partly endowed by the generosity of Andrew Carnegie, one of the men of vision who has done so much for education in the United States and Canada. The British Government pays out of the exchaquer $75,000 a year towards the support of Birmingham University, which shows that in England interest in the progress of education is growing. Public men in England have not yet felt the spirit of the times, as men in the United States and Canada have done, though when they do so there is no doubt that immense sums of money will be given for higher education. A striking exception in regard to the apathy of wealthy Englishmen for the claims of education, will occur to all of you. I refer to the Right Honorable John Cecil Rhodes. When one thinks of the founders of universities, men of the type of Cecil Rhodes loom up big before our eyes. Though he founded no university he was one of those who understood the immense power of higher education. His intense patriotism moved him to set aside large sums of money for the purpose of bringing under the influence of the culture and ideals of Oxford young men from Germany, the United States and the British possessions, young men of the sort likely to become of influence in the world. Perhaps if he had known how rapidly his beloved Alma Mater was becoming infected with the new ideas in education, he might have devoted his wealth to the extension of the modern university idea in England. However, his thought seems to have been to bind together the nations of the world and extend British influence. England has always had great men like Rhodes, and no doubt there will be some successors of his who will have the patriotism and foresight to establish a number of universities of the type of Birmingham University.

The spirit of the times seems to have operated more strongly in the New World than in the Old, and a university was established there in New Brunswick at a time when the population was very small. It was realized that some day New Brunswick must increase greatly in influence and in numbers and that a university should be established as the crowning edifice of the educational institutions of the province. There is no doubt of the benefit it has exerted in giving a broader training to teachers of the Normal School and other schools of the province. The more recently established engineering school has furnished trained men to take part in the engineering projects which are now being carried on. In this rapidly developing country there is a great need of well trained engineers for roads and highways, bridges, railways, rivers and harbors. The harnessing of the water powers of the province will create a demand for both civil and electrical engineers. Of course trained men could be brought in from the outside, but the engineering school of the University does away with the necessity for this. No one surely doubts the wisdom of this training of the young men of the province at home to do this work. what would we think, for instance, of Japan if that country in reaching out for Western civilization had depended on outside universities. We can easily appreciate that Japan would have been merely an imitator of other countries and would therefore not have attained to the excellence of those they imitated. It has not been the policy of this progressive little people to depend on outside institutions, but to provide such high class universities as, for instance, the University of Tokio, without which they surely could never have hoped to become a first rate power. It is precisely for this reason that the engineering school of the University of New Brunswick must be regarded as a great asset to the province.

Of even more direct use is the still more recently added school of forestry. Under the able leadership of Prof. Miller this has already made itself felt as an influence for good. I need hardly dwell on the benefits the province is likely to derive from this branch of the University. Lumbering is so important an industry here that a forestry school have a direct influence and improvement of them would seem to be an absolute necessity. Without such a school there would be great difficulty in obtaining a sufficient number of trained foresters. It must, furthermore, inevitably happen that men who belong to the province will be given important positions in the forestry work. It is obvious, therefore, that there should be available graduates of a local forestry school.

As important to the province as a school of forestry is a school of agriculture. It has not yet been found possible to add a department of this kind to the University, though I am sure it is realized on all sides that there is necessity for one. At present the farmers of the province have to go outside for such training as they need. In these times it is well known that even a farm must be managed by modern methods to make it profitable. Not only must the farmer have a knowledge of agricultural chemistry and soil physics, but he must know something about bacteriology in order to understand butter ferments and nitrogen forming bacteria. Furthermore, the proper selection of plants and animals cannot be done without a knowledge of the laws discovered by Mendel. This is so well recognized that the Government now makes provision to send young farmers outside the province to get this training and knowledge. But it is hardly necessary to urge that the arguments I have used for other branches hold also for this, and for the province to maintain a leading position as an agricultural province it is necessary for it to have its own school of agriculture in connection with the University. this, however, would call for increased endowment of which there now seems good prospects. The increase in grant given by the old government together with the increase recently given by the present government has almost doubled within a period of about four years, the annual sum given by the province to the University. If the Provincial Government had only done as well ever since the foundation of the University in 1859, the Government grant would have increased to over $50,000 a year instead of being the $17,000 a year to which it has recently been raised. Now $50,000 a year would not be too large a sum for this province to spend on its University. In no other way could the prosperity of the province be so well assured.

In conclusion I would like to say that I have tried to show the great importance that universities have always held and that a nation's civilization is closely connected with the degree of advancement of its universities. That about a century ago a few men in the United States and in Germany came to the conclusion that national development could best be brought about by the establishment of universities, and that the hoped for result has been fully attained, thus justifying the beliefs of those farseeing men. That the University of New Brunswick, founded in the early days of the province, has grown with the times and there has been added to it a school of engineering and a school of forestry, and it now stands a noble monument to the patriotic men to whom it owes its origin. No word of mine is needed to be given in their praise or honor, for the University itself will go on and on, increasing in influence more and more a monument to the founders forever.

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