- EphBlog - http://ephblog.com -

Induction Seminar: ‘Confectionary’

This post continues our month-long seminar about President Adam Falk’s Induction address.


Another challenge through our history has been balancing for our students their academic activities and other learning experiences. While academic pursuits are at the heart of what we offer, it’s the case that artistic and athletic endeavors, religious and social justice commitments, along with simple play all contribute to student development. In case you suspect that finding the right balance among these is a new challenge, I submit the following words of Mark Hopkins:

But the truth is that students, in common with other classes of the community, not only do not exercise enough, but they live in the constant violation of all the rules of dietetics. Some have used, and still do, intoxicating drinks; a much larger number use tobacco, many of them are constantly loading their stomachs with raisins and almonds, and various kinds of confectionary. They eat too much, they sit up late under the excitement of novel reading, and perhaps for study. Let their food be of proper quantity and quality, let them avoid poisonous and narcotic substances, let them keep regular hours, and shun the predominance of an excited or polluted imagination, and they will find that there is an elasticity in the human frame that requires exercise.

The continuing need to recalibrate that balance has been, and I suspect always will be, a matter of some tension within our community. Since the days of Mark Hopkins, the worry has often lurked that if we don’t maintain a certain balance, our College will lose its way. But what students bring to the college experience and the ways in which they need to develop, change as continually as does our culture. It will always remain our work to understand our students’ shifting needs, and to help them balance work and play, sports and the arts, activity and rest, and even – yes – the consumption of raisins and almonds. After all, we are more than simply teachers of the mind, we are developers and nurturers of the spirit.


1) Perhaps the weakest section of the speech. Why not cut it all?

2) I was initially impressed that Falk discovered and used such an amusing Mark Hopkins anecdote. But then I read John Chandler’s induction address (pdf) and found (page 2) that Chandler used the exact same quote, citing it correctly to Hopkin’s own induction address (pdf, pp. 18-19). Perhaps the main difference between a historian president and a physicist president is that the former provides more accurate citations. In any event, I love that Falk read some (all?) of his predecessor’s induction speeches before writing his own.


Thanks to the hard work of the archivists I have in front of me here in Jerusalem a letter from one Dalvos Kane Class of 1832,  to his mother.

It reads in part:

I had been quite impressed by President Hopkins’ introductory remarks,  until,  after teaching us Greek,   Prof.  Lockhardt made us read Polycidemiu–  oh,  I forget that  name!   who made similar complaints about the youth in Greece.
I’ve also subsequently come to understand that Pres. Hopkins’ reference to confections is merely a sort of weak footnote to Mr. Plato.  I do wish he would have left all this out,  but I guess I am impressed that Hopkins bothered to read some (all?) of his predecessors.

Have you– David– perhaps been to the reading room,   next to the Western Wall?

One walks in,   one takes a text from the shelves,   one walk out,  takes one’s place,  and one recites the text,  to the Wall.

The texts– they’re  “Greek to me”– actually,  most of what is there,  is ancient Hebrew or Aramaic.   But I can sound some of it out,  and start to make sense of it.

What we have hear is a sort of recitation.

And what I’m asking,  then,  is:

First:   Why?  Why do we do this?  What’s going on?  What sort of ritual,  is this?

Second:  What happens if we forget Hopkins’ words,  if we leave them out?

“After all, we are more than simply teachers of the mind, we are developers and nurturers of the spirit.”