Wesleyan's First Century: With an Account of the Centennial Celebration

By Carl F. Price | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
CYRUS D. FOSS, CHURCHMAN

THE second of the three presidents of Wesleyan University, consecutively chosen from the alumni of the college, was Cyrus David Foss. His election, a few days after the resignation of President Cummings, was hailed as a happy choice for what had become a very difficult office.

He was an upright man in two senses. He was tall in physical stature, not broad-shouldered like President Cummings. The perpendicular effect of his form was heightened by a long face, by a high forehead and thick hair, and by a full beard. One alumnus recently pictured him physically as "exceedingly up and down." Such a phrase might aptly describe also his uprightness of character. His moral sense was acute. His associates came to recognize that he welcomed the advice of others more readily than President Cummings had done. In debates over matters of policy or procedure he was openminded, even when he vigorously urged his own opinions, and if the weight of judgment was against him, he could graciously acquiesce in the decision. But if what he considered to be a moral issue was involved, he would stand erect and firmly in his position, and no argument of expediency could ever dislodge him.

Like each of his predecessors, he came to the presidency of Wesleyan at a time when serious problems were confronting the college -- in this instance a real crisis of alarming proportions. The new buildings and the expansion of the curriculum through Wesleyan's new elective system had made necessary a greatly increased annual budget. It was a calamity that just at this stage the endowment funds had shrunk to less than onehalf of their former book value and annual yield in interest.

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