Page:A History of the University of Chicago by Thomas Wakefield Goodspeed.djvu/45

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19
THE PREPARING OF THE WAY

the presidency was superintendent of public instruction in Iowa. He was a man of high character and ability, lacking only self-appreciation. His administration was wise and successful. When, however, the great opportunity came in 1877-78 to discharge the to the Union Mutual Life Insurance Company by raising one hundred thousand dollars, his modesty led him to retire, in the hope that a successor might be found who would bring such prestige and influence and financial skill to the service of the University as would insure the success of the effort to remove the liabilities that were crushing out its life. Dr. Galusha Anderson succeeded the presidency in the spring of 1878. Dr. Anderson inherited a divided constituency and an alienated public. He did all that industry and ability could accomplish, but, at the time when the University's opportunity came, the public simply would not contribute. Every device was employed and every effort made, but the people turned a deaf ear to all appeals. At this supreme moment all that oould be raised in twelve months was hardly one-fourth of the amount required. This was really the last opportunity of rescuing the University from impending destruction. Yet the President and professors labored on with such courage as they could command. Dr. Anderson held on till the site and buildings fell into the hands of the insurance filling the position of president seven years and seven months. The trustees, however, were not ready to give over the struggle and Dr. George Lorimer acted as ad interim President during the last year of the University’s life, 1885-86. In April, 1886, the trustees elected to the presidency Dr. W. R. Harper, afterward President the present University of Chicago. Seeing no hope for the future of the institution, Dr. Harper declined the position and a few months later, in June, 1886, the educational work was discontinued.

In the real work of an institution of learning the first University of Chicago must be regarded as successful. It had a good faculty. It did work of a high grade. During the twenty-eight years of its educational work the University enrolled perhaps five thousand different students in its preparatory, college, and law departments.