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Cornell’s Twelve Presidents

Inaugurating the Presidents

Andrew Dickson White, 1868
Charles Kendall Adams, 1885
Jacob Gould Schurman, 1892
Livingston Farrand, 1921
Edmund E. Day, 1937
Deane W. Malott, 1951
James A. Perkins, 1963
Dale R. Corson, 1969
Frank H. T. Rhodes, 1977
Hunter Ripley Rawlings III, 1995
Jeffrey Sean Lehman, 2003

Inaugurating the Presidents

Edmund E. Day, 1937

The Inauguration of Edmund Ezra Day was planned as a “dignified ceremony in an academic setting” for October 8, 1937. The presidents of Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan (the three institutions with which Day had been associated) were invited to speak on the role of American universities. Invitations went to other universities, learned societies and educational foundations, to the clubs and associations of Cornell alumni, and to six undergraduate bodies. About 300 delegates and guests were represented. The Trustees ordered that all regular exercises of the University be suspended throughout the day of the Inauguration and the next day. The procession, which also included New York Governor Herbert H. Lehman, Dr. Jacob Gould Schurman, and Dr. Livingston Farrand, proceeded to Bailey Hall to Bach’s Fantasy in D Major, played by the University Organist. Sections of Bailey Hall were set aside for official guests, including the wives of professors, alumni delegates, and instructors, and students filled the balcony. Delegates were housed in Balch Hall, whose residents gave up their rooms for two days. Judge Frank Harris Hiscock, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, presented the Charter and Seal to President Day.

In his inaugural address, President Day detailed the ideals on which Cornell University had been established, quoting extensively from Andrew Dickson White’s Autobiography and noting that it was almost 68 years to the day since White’s inauguration. On the eve of World War II, he declared:
The time has passed when it can be assumed that social well-being will flow automatically from self-interested individual enterprise. If democratic institutions are to be preserved and individual liberty remain our proud possession, the citizen must recognize his obligation to make his life add to the common weal.

A luncheon was held in the Memorial Room and the Terrace Room of Willard Straight Hall for over 400 people at 1:00, and President and Mrs. Day hosted a reception in the Memorial Room at 5:00.

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Day's Inauguration
Inauguration of Edmund Ezra Day: President Jacob Gould Schurman, President Edmund Ezra Day, Livingston Farrand (left to right)