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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55

New Zealand University. — Presentation of Diplomas

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New Zealand University.

Presentation of Diplomas.

The interesting ceremony of presenting two B A. diplomas, one to Mr. Arthur Gifford (second teacher in the Auckland Training College), and the other to Mr. William C. W. McDowell (of the Herald staff) took place yesterday at the Choral Hall, and although the weather was most unauspicious there was a large gathering, consisting of leading citizens and indies, and including a large number of teachers, pupil teachers, pupils of the Training College, and the more advanced pupils of the Auckland College and Grammar School. Professor F. D. Brown, who was deputed by the Chancellor of the New Zealand University, presided, and with him on the platform were Professors Tucker, Thomas, and Aldis, the Rev. A. Reid, Mr. E. Hesketh, Dr. Murray Moore, Mr. J. M. Clark, Mr. H. G Seth Smith (District Judge), Mr. Bourne (Headmaster of the College and Grammar School), Mr. Sloman (Mathematical master), Mr. McArthur (Head-master of the Training College), Messrs. Kirby, Tomlinson, Cor. Heighton, Coates, Francis, and Tibbs. Dr. Kidd, LL.D., Registrar of the Auckland University, was also present, but did not take his seat on the platform. Many of the gentlemen present on the platform wore their academical robes.

Professor Brown, addressing the audience, said :—The ceremony which you have met together to witness to-day being of necessity extremely brief, it has been customary for the Chancellor of the University or his delegate to add weight and interest to the proceedings by securing the aid of two or three of our most prominent citizens, and requesting them to give short addresses on subjects relating to education. Following this excellent custom I have asked Mr Upton to assist, but I regret to have to tell you that I have just heard that he is very unwell and unable to leave his house. You will all regret this, not only for his sake, but also because it deprives us of the opportunity of hearing the views of a gentleman who holds the important office of Chairman of the Board of Education. I have also asked the Rev. Alexander Reid to give a short address; and I have done so 'because his great attainments, his membership of the Council of the University College, and his leading position in the Wesleyan community, all point to him as a man whose opinion upon education must be of the greatest value. I have further obtained the services of my colleague, Professor Tucker, who, as a member of the Board of Education, as a Governor of the Grammar School, and as one of the staff of the University College, has acquired a large experience of colonial education. You will listen to his remarks with more than usual interest, because it is probably the last opportunity which he will have of speaking on general matters to the Auckland public. I had hoped also that Dr. Cowie, the Anglican Bishop of Auckland, and a member of the University Senate, would have made a few remarks, but this is a busy week with the clergy, and I am sorry to say that he has informed me that it is quite impossible for him to be here to day. I will now call on Professor Tucker to address a few words to you. (Cheers).

Professor Tucker said he was afraid they had too often heard his views upon educational matters to expect anything new from him regarding them, and it was not long since he had spoken at greater length than was usually given to a professor. It was not quite as full as he would have liked, but it gave his views on every point connected with University education, and he then pointed out the proper position which it should occupy. Now he did not propose to go over that ground again, but he thought it right on the occasion of this ceremony to explain the true nature of diplomas, their origin, and how far fragments of the original meaning still remained. About the word "university," also, no word was more common or so much misunderstood. One idea was that it was a collection of colleges, at which all kinds of knowledge were imparted, or as the Modern Greeks had it, a universal knowledge shop. He was afraid if that was the meaning, neither their University nor any other that he knew of met it. Another meaning was that it was a title of distinction, distinguishing the whole from part. According to that sense, this College, and the Canterbury and Dunedin colleges, would be colleges, not universities, whereas the bond which held them together represented totality, not division. But the real origin of diplomas was this. In the Middle Ages all guilds were universities—the whole body of people carrying on any particular trade page break or profession, as for instance, the guild of tailors, of grocers, lawyers, or doctors. It was only natural after a time that one of these guilds or universities should monopolise the title of university par excellence, and the one which was most likely to got that title was the university which taught and patronised the liberal arts. The apprenticeship to a trade in any one of those guilds was seven years, and this corresponded with the term of undergraduates, and after serving seven years apprenticeship they became master workmen. Now, in the University par excellence those that were under grade were called undergraduates, and after serving seven years they became masters of the art. But the education given in these guilds or universities was liberal only in name. There was a division made when the apprentice had served four years, and then be reached the first stage—that of Bachelor—when he was permitted to teach what he knew, but only in the university to which he belonged. That was the time at which in the university par excellence the degree of B A. was taken, and after three more years he was made a Master of Arts, and was per-mitted to teach anywhere, and received a diploma entitling him to do so. That was the origin of diplomas. There was one feature in which it had been altered, but to which it would be well that they should go back again. At that time the universities were not only the givers of diplomas bat they were the test of knowledge and competence to teach, and he believed they must go back to that again. He was only about to make a few desultory remarks as annotations to what he had said some time ago. He had heard it said in regard to the University of New Zealand that it would be sufficient to have one "somewhere in Cook's Straits," and he was prepared to grant the sense of that, as it would be much cheaper for the country and for the locality, but it seemed to him that the benefit to places at a distance like Auckland, Dunedin, and Christchurch would be very problematical. Those who went there would be those who would be able to go to older universities, and those for whose benefit the University was established would suffer. (Cheers.) As this was the last time he would have an opportunity of speaking to an Auckland audience, he would say something in regard to the students of the institution. Three were about to take diplomas, but only two were present, and he was very sorry that the lady who was to take the degree of M.A. was absent. He was particularly sorry, as she was the first material on which the College had to act, and she was an honour to it. She was the first lady student with whom he (Professor Tucker) had ever been brought into contact, and he felt nervous, but he had never met with a more thorough, earnest, and cheerful student than Miss E. M. C. Harrison. (Cheers.) The two gentlemen who were that day to receive the degree of B.A. deserved quite as much praise, and that praise extended to all the students. In coming such a distance to found a young University, it made a great deal of difference what sort of students they were to have, and he confessed he was not prepared to find so much energy, industry, and zeal as he found in the students of this University. Considering how many of them were employed at other duties, and how their time was occupied, it was very laudable that they should give one, two, or three hour to attend lectures, not only because it would help themselves, but for the love of knowledge. (Cheers.) Having now said that in regard to the students—and in general in regard to the institution he had nothing but gratitude to record—he would detain them no longer, but take his farewell of the University platform in Auckland, trusting in future to find that the Auckland University had grown with the growth of the city, and deserved in its work and appearance to be worthy of the city. (Cheers.)

Professor Brown said : I have now to present the diploma of Bachelor of Arts to two Auckland gentlemen who have succeeded in passing the series of examinations appointed by the University. In estimating the importance of this ceremony we must remember that it is only a portion, and, unfortunately, a small portion, of the general presentation of diplomas which takes place to-day in Dunedin, Christchurch Wellington, and Nelson as well as here. It will perhaps be of interest to you if I tell you of the total number of diplomas to be presented to-day, and compare them with preceding years. Today there will be presented three M.A, 18 B.A., and one B.C.L. diplomas—total, 22 In 1844 the numbers were eight M.A., 13 B.A., and one B.C.L.—total. 22 In 1883 there were three M.A., 11 B.A., and two B C.L.—total, 16; and in 1882 there were 11 M.A., nine B.A., and one B.C.L.—total, 21. So that you will see that during the last four years there has been an average of 20 diplomas presented in New Zealand. Having thus prefaced, I will now call on Mr. Arthur Gifford and Mr. William C. W. McDowell to receive their diplomas as Bachelors of Art. [Professor Brown then handed the diplomas to these gentlemen, each of whom on stepping on the platform was greeted with warm applause.] Professor Brown added : Miss Clementine Emily Harrison, who was a student of the University College, obtained first-class honours in Latin and English at the University examinations last November. It would have been a great pleasure to me to have presented her to-day with the diploma of M. A.; but she has removed to Nelson, and will receive her diploma there.

The Rev. Alexander Reid was then called on to address the meeting. He said no one regretted more than he did the absence of Mr. Upton, the Chairman of the Board of Education. He should commence by disclaiming some of the honours Professor Brown had attached to his name, and intimated that he had no theory of education to submit to such a body of potent, grave, and reverend seigniors. He expected page break if he had to say anything, it would be of the pioneers and missionaries who had paved the way for such honours as they were now met to celebrate. It was true, in those days they has a considerable amount of raw material; out they also had men of culture, men of science, and men of statesmanlike abilities, five and thirty or forty years ago. Many of those had gone to their reward, but a few remained still, and, as one instance, he would refer to the Ven. Archdeacon Maunsell. (Cheers.) No section of the community presented more marked congratulations to those young gentlemen who were receiving their diplomas than the old colonists, and none of the inhabitants took a deeper interest in the progress of education than those old colonists whom he represented. They presented their warm congratulations. They claimed these young men as their sons and successors, members to lead the young New Zealand party, pledged to remove everything that was baneful and fostering everything that was for the interests of humanity. They claimed them as their prophets. It was coming of the steps of time; yes it was coming; and these young men would have responsibilities, but they would meet with the true enthusiasm of youth those problems which would arise and would deal with them. He trusted they would not find themselves crushed under an intolerable burden of national debt. In the name of young New Zealand he protested against more borrowing, and held with the old proverb that they should rather go to bed supperless than rise in debt. Men were now looking at New Zealand hopefully. The neighbouring colonies were talking of federation, and New Zealand must be prepared to take a worthy part in that Empire. They were all proud of Britan's foremost position in benefiting the nations. (Cheers.) Some of their prosperity was grounded on this—that they tried to be just to the aboriginals, and had translated the Word of God into the Maori language. He could still picture to himself the genial countenance and warm grasp of the grand father of one of the graduates, the late Mr. W. C. Wilson—(cheers)—when thirty-seven years ago he took him by the hand and welcomed him to one of the best Sunday schools in New Zealand. In order to secure the proud position which they sought to attain they must turn to home, to the Church, to the schools, and to the Universities, and to the professorial staff, who were so greatly responsible, and must say to them that it was for them to prepare men possessed of deep principles and broad culture to acquire the high position which Providence had in reserve for them. Old jealousies must be cast aside—religion and science, Church and college, Press and pulpit, all co-operating to put down wrong and aid all that was right and honourable. (Cheers.) He might be asked where they were to get their students, He was extremely glad to see so many young ladies and gentlemen present to-day taking an active interest in these proceedings. When they had finished their course in the secondary schools it was generally supposed that their education was completed. No, it had only then begun, and what he wished to put before them was how they might continue their studies after they had entered on their apprenticeship or into business. He asked why it should be impossible for them to realise the division of time laid down by the good King Alfred—eight hours' labour, eight hours' rest, and eight hours for building up the mind and system; and if they had evening classes, what an advantage it would be to young men and women—what evils it would save them from. Let the leaders of thought give themselves up to such a system as this, and mark their respect for it by being associated with such classes, and they would make them a benefit. He knew lads who had to work tea hours a-day, and then had to walk four miles each way in order to attend such classes to enable them to make progress in their studies and knowledge. Was there not here, he asked, that love of learning for its own sake to appeal to them, and ask for some such institutions? He was sure they would thrive if the sympathy of the community was with them. He had now kept them longer than he meant, but the sight of so many young people warmed him. But they wanted to see their sons and daughters in positions of power to deal with their noble heritage, to stand forward as exemplars. Let them look look at Fiji now appealing to them to be associated with New Zealand. They already had a reputation, and it was for them to maintain it honourably. (Cheers).