Hail to Thee, Okoboji U! A Humor Anthology on Higher Education

By Mark C. Ebersole | Go to book overview

Reforming Yale*

Mark Twain

I was sincerely proud and grateful to be made a Master of Arts by this great and venerable university. And I would have come last June to testify this feeling, as I do now testify it, but that the sudden and unexpected notice of the honor done me found me at a distance from home and unable to discharge that duty and enjoy that privilege.

Along at first, say for the first month or so, I did not quite know how to proceed, because of my not knowing just what authorities and privileges belonged to the title which had been granted me. But after that I consulted some students of Trinity, in Hartford, and they made everything clear to me.

It was through them that I found out that my title made me head of the governing body of the university and lodged in me very broad and severely responsible powers. It is through trying to work these powers up to their maximum of efficiency that I have had such a checkered career this year.

I was told that it would be necessary for me to report to you at this time, and of course I comply though I would have preferred to put it off till I could make a better showing, for indeed I have been so pertinaciously hindered and obstructed at every turn by the faculty that it would be difficult to prove that the university is really in any better shape now than it was when I first took charge.

In submitting my report I am sorry to have to begin it with the remark that respect for authority seems to be at a quite low ebb in the college. It is true that this has caused me pain but it has not discouraged me.

By advice, I turned my earliest attention to the Greek department. I told the Greek professor I had concluded to drop the use of the Greek written character, because it is so hard to spell with and so impossible to read after you get it spelled. Let us draw the curtain there. I saw by

____________________
*
Although Yale awarded Clemens a Master of Arts degree in June 1888, he was unable to attend the award ceremony. And, although he claims he made this address at a later time, it is uncertain whether he actually did.

-133-

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