From Alumni Magazine, December 1919, pp. 11-12. Courtesy of University Archives.
The cornerstone laying of the Auditorium and Administration Building at University avenue and Thirty-sixth Street took place the fourteenth of October. The cornerstone had been presented by the Class of 1919 last Ivy Day. Bishop Adna Wright Leonard, after the invocation by Dr. Hugh K. Walker, delivered the address. Acting Mayor Boyle Workman, Mr. Ernest P. Clarke, President of the State Board of Education, and Dr. Silas Evans, President of Occidental College, were the other speakers of the day. Judge R. M. Widney, who was president of the Board of Trustees in 1880 and who laid the cornerstone of the first buildings of the University in that year, was also present at these ceremonies. Dr. Francis M. Larkin pronounced the benediction.
The Cornerstone Laying
If the ancient admonition to let sleeping dogs lie was intended as a warning to college professors not to argue questions already settled, it has failed miserably of its purpose. Several weeks ago the Board of Trustees selected the eight individuals to be represented by the statues which are to adorn the tower of the new Administration Building. But certain professors insist on arguing pro and con the wisdom of the selection made.
The Disputed Eight
Here is the list of eight decided upon by the Trustees:
Borden P. Bowne
One of the ardent champions for the list as it stands, without amendments or reservations, is Dr. James Main Dixon of the Department of Oriental Studies.
In a recent issue of the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Dixon explains the basis of the selections made by the trustees, and comments on the worthiness of the eight for the distinction given them. He says, in part, "The tower of the new Administration Building of the University of Southern California, now in course of erection on University Avenue, is to hold the statues of eight men whose lives and ideals have made them worthy of the distinction. As the University is a Christian institution, several of them have been noted Christian leaders of thinkers. As it is also an American institution attached to the Methodist church, great men in that church are naturally given a place.
Those who selected the men to be honored had to answer the questions: What characters are to be held up to the students of the University for admiration and imitation? What personages have been molding the characters of the instructors chosen to teach these students?"
Dr. Dixon proceeds to name the eight men, and to comment on each as follows: "John Wesley, founder of Methodism, loyal son of Oxford University, and true to her best ideals. Matthew Simpson, church editor and university president, most eloquent and influential of his brethren on the bend. Roosevelt, incarnate spirit of American patriotism. Borden Parker Bowne, who from his classroom at Boston University, sent out so many capable teachers over the continent, and whose 'Philosophy of Theism' and other works are more esteemed today than ever they were. Phillips Brooks, bishop of Massachusetts, whose influence on young American manhood was so deep and powerful. Lastly, as before the Christian era, noble ideals of life and thought made the Academy of Plato at Athens an intellectual influence for all time, and as the Greek language is still a requisite in university work, the broad-browed figure of Plato and beside him, the exponent of Roman law, the orator, Cicero."
From Dr. Allison Gaw, Professor of English Language and Literature, come certain objections. While recognizing the worthiness of all the men selected for any honor the University may be able to bestow upon them, he regrets that the basis for the selection was not defined in a way to admit a better balancing of the group and a more comprehensive choice of men. He would select eight personages of history who might well be universally considered as outstanding representatives of their respective fields of knowledge, and at the same time as representatives of the great races of civilization. Dr. Gaw's selection is as follows:
Moses, representing moral law.
Aristotle, representing the art of teaching.
Michelangelo, representing three forms of art: sculpture, painting, and architecture.
Pasteur, representing science.
Wesley, representing theology in general, Methodism in particular.
Lincoln, representing statesmanship.
Shakespeare, representing letters.
Beethoven (if his German origin does not constitute a bar), representing music.
As possible substitutes for some of the above, Dr. Gaw suggests Milton in the field of letters, Roosevelt for his distinctive Americanism, and Borden P. Bowne, a representative of modern philosophy.
The Latin Department rejoices in the presence of Cicero in the list chosen by the trustees, while the Department of Psychology regards Cicero as a representative of "mere legalism," and not comparable with Moses as a representative of law. The Mathematics Department regrets the absence of Newton, or some other great mathematician and scientist, to represent the contribution of the exact sciences to the progress of civilization.
And so the discussion goes on. In the meantime, the eight selected have gained the stature of some fifteen or sixteen inches in the shops of the artisans employed to fashion the models for the statues. By next September, they will have grown to heroic size, and then they will take their stand on the four corners of the great tower. Once firmly fixed in their niches, they will be in a position to ignore criticism and defy invasion.