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Full text of "Memorial service for Edgar Odell Lovett (1871-1957)"

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Memorial Service 
for 

EDGAR ODELL LOVETT 

(1871 - 1957) 




(from the portrait by Wayman Adams) 

EDGAR ODELL LOVETT 

FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE RICE INSTITUTE: 1908-1946 



Memorial Service 
for 

EDGAR ODELL LOVETT 

(1871 - 1957) 




WILLIAM V. HOUSTON 

President of the Rice Institute, Presiding 



On the Afternoon of 
Sunday, September 29, 1957 

IN THE FONDREN LIBRARY OF THE 
RICE INSTITUTE 

Houston, Texas 



MEMORIAL SERVICE FOR 
EDGAR ODELL LOVETT 



CONTENTS 

Page 

The Convocation 

President William V. Houston 1 

The Invocation 

The Reverend Mr. Stanley Smith 2 

Tributes to the Memory of Edgar Odell Lovett 

From the Board of Governors: 

Mr. J. Newton Rayzor 3 

From the Alumni: Judge Phil Peden 5 

From the Faculty: Dr. Radoslav A. Tsanoff 7 

Concluding Remarks 

President William V. Houston 12 

The Benediction 

The Reverend Mr. Stanley Smith 13 



Appendix 

Resolution of the Trustees, Read by Mr. B. B. 
Rice, at the Unveiling of the Wayman Adams 
Portrait of Dr. Lovett, May 12, 1946 



Memorial Service 

for 

EDGAR ODELL LOVETT 

(1871-1957) 

September 29, 1957 

(William V. Houston, President of the Rice 
Institute, Presiding) 

THE CONVOCATION 

By Dr. Hoiisfnu 

BECAUSE THE RiCE INSTITUTE was not in session last 
August, and many were away from Houston, it 
seemed appropriate to provide this opportunity for all of 
us to pay a special tribute to the memory of Dr. Edgar 
Odell Lovett. For his spirit pervades this university. The 
things we admire and cherish most about Rice are the 
evidence of his vision and his devotion to that vision. 



I have asked the Reverend Mr. Stanley Smith of the 
Palmer Memorial Church to open with a prayer and 
invocation. 

[ 1] 



THE INVOCATION 

By the Rcicrciid Mr. Stanley Smith 

A LMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, we thank Thee 
£\_ for Thy care and abiding Presence in the Rice Insti- 
tute through the past years; for the faith Thou hast given 
to Thy children which has kept them faithful and strong. 
Enable us now, we beseech Thee, to open our hearts and 
minds and wills to Thee, that Thou mayest build in us and 
through us, upon the foundations Thou hast laid, what 
Thou hast planned in and through the Rice Institute, that 
Thy purpose may be fulfilled in the pattern of our Lord 
Jesus Christ by the power of Thy Holy Spirit. 

O eternal and everlasting God, the Life and the Resur- 
rection of all that believe in Thee, trust Thee, and serve 
Thee; that art always to be praised as well for the departed 
as for such as be still living upon the earth; we give Thee 
most hearty thanks for Thy servant, Edgar Odell Lovett, 
who has entered into rest; beseeching Thee to show forth 
upon Thy whole Church, in Paradise and on earth, the 
bright beams of Thy light and heavenly comfort, and to 
grant that we who are alive this day may follow the steps 
of all those who have served and loved Thee here, and 
have gone before us, in the confession of Thy holy Name, 
that with them we may at length enter into Thine unend- 
ing joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 



Dr. Houston: At their meeting last Wednesday, Septem- 
ber 2 5, 19 57, the Rice Institute Board of Governors 
adopted a resolution in honor of Dr. Lovett; and I have 
asked Mr. J. Newton Rayzor, alumnus and trustee, to 
read the text. 

[2] 



A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF 

EDGAR ODELL LOVETT 

FROM THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF 

THE RICE INSTITUTE 

Read by Mr. J. Nciiton Rayzor 

EDGAR Odeil Lovett, the first president of the Rice 
Institute, enjoyed a long and useful life of four-score 
and six years. From it came many blessings. He intimately 
touched and greatly influenced the lives of thousands of 
young people, who since 1912 have passed through Rice's 
Sallyport and from her campus. During his tenure as 
president he chose and inspired a splendid faculty and con- 
stantly led them to loftier heights and greater efforts of 
scholarly attainment. At all times he gave strength and 
dignity and stability to the institution he loved. 

We shall always remember his personal charm, his fine 
sense of classical humor, his ability to meet those of lesser 
attainments with quieting ease, and his graciousness and 
pleasant words for all. He will forever remain in our 
memory a rare combination of the dignified scholar and 
superb gentleman. 

His scholarly attainments stand out in clear relief against 
a background of scientific and classical training enriched 
by a true devotion to the humanities. He received his B.A. 
degree from Bethany College, West Virginia, in 1890 and 
later his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia 
and a Ph.D. from the University of Leipzig in 1896. He 
received the honorary LL.D. from Drake University, 
Tulane University, Baylor University, Bethany College, 
and Princeton, and a Sc.D. from Colorado College. He 
occupied various teaching positions from Professor of 
Mathematics in West Kentucky College in 1890 to Pro- 

[3] 



fessor of Astronomy at Princeton in 1905-08. He was a 
member of several distinguished societies such as the 
American Philosophical Society, the American Astronomi- 
cal Society, American, French, and English mathematical 
societies, and Phi Beta Kappa. He made contributions on 
geometry, mechanics, mathematics, and astronomy to va- 
rious American and foreign journals. In addition to his 
academic achievements, he lent a helping hand in the 
management of the Institute by serving as a Trustee from 
1910 to 1946 and Trustee Emeritus from 1946 to 1957. 

As a scholar, he symbolized, in the truest sense, the basic 
principles on which Rice was founded and the lofty goals 
she and her sons and daughters will continually strive 
to reach. 

For Edgar Odell Lovett and all he has meant to the Rice 
Institute and this community, we offer thanks to Al- 
mighty God. 

As this Board of Governors goes about its business in 
conducting the affairs of the Rice Institute, let us hope 
and pray that this great citadel of learning, as Edgar Odell 
Lovett planned and dreamed, will always hold a position 
in the front rank and move onward and upward to higher 
ground, with the torch of genuine intellectual endeavor 
illuminating its path to the end that our people may con- 
tinue to enjoy the advantages of education and forever 
remain free. 



Dr. Houston: To many of the earlier alumni who knew 
him best. Dr. Lovett symbolized the scholarly spirit and 
aspiration of the new university; and Judge Phil Peden, 
president of the Association of Rice Alumni, will speak 
on behalf of the alumni. 



[4] 



A TRIBUTE FROM THE ALUMNI 

By Judge Phil Pcdcti 

AS ALUMNI of the Rice Institute we are among those 
/\ who benefited most from the hfe and deeds of the 
remarkable man whom we honor today. We cannot meas- 
ure the impact which Dr. Edgar Odell Lovett and his 
works had upon our lives; we cannot count the ways in 
which he enriched them. 

We are all familiar with the important role he played 
in the creation and building of this great university, but 
we must not overlook the example he set for mankind 
in the way he lived his full, rich life among mortal men. 
Perhaps the ultimate in compliments is to refer to a man 
as a ''gentleman and a scholar"; and who can imagine a 
more fitting phrase to describe our beloved friend? 

Dr. Lovett was a man of unfailing dignity and com- 
posure, yet there could not have been a more dedicated 
and determined planner. I am told that in the early stages 
of the planning for the Rice Institute, and while he was 
still living in Princeton, New Jersey, it was not un- 
usual for this reserved scholar to discuss with enthusiasm 
the university of his dreams with even casual acquaint- 
ances. And like a proud grandfather with his photographs, 
he always just happened to have a pamphlet about Rice 
in his pocket. His enthusiasm must have been highly con- 
tagious for him to persuade so many brilliant educators 
to give up their established positions and come to this new 
and unproven project. What a salesman he must have been 
to assemble such a famous faculty! 

Of course no man builds alone, and there are many to 
whom we are indebted for making the Rice Institute what 
it is today, but we alumni are deeply grateful for the mem- 
ory of the full life of Dr. Lovett. His fine, erect figure 

[ 5 ] 



as seen on his daily walks to and from the campus is a 
picture that is as indelibly etched in our minds as the 
outline of the Sallyport. We arc glad we have been able 
to preserve on film a little of his spirit in the Alumni 
Association's motion picture, Through the Sallyport. At 
first, when viewing this sequence, one may feel that the 
speaker was weary, but before the finish Dr. Lovett looks 
up, and with head held high his eyes show the strength of 
his feeling as he says: 

"The Rice Institute is a theater of action, a grove for 
reflection, a laboratory of discoverers, a library of knowl- 
edge, a field of sports, a hall for speech and song, a home 
of complete living." 



Dr. Houston: The senior members of the Rice faculty, 
who came here in the early days of the Institute, had a 
special opportunity to know Dr. Lovett. I have asked 
Professor Radoslav A. Tsanoff to speak on behalf of the 
faculty. 

[6] 



A TRIBUTE FROM THE FACULTY 

By Dr. Radoslai A. Tsanoff 

AT THIS MEMORIAL SERVICE honoring President Edgar 
^^3^ Odell Lovett, I have been granted the privilege of 
speaking for the members of the Rice Institute faculty. 
And I should represent not only those of us here present 
and now serving Rice, but also our colleagues of the past 
forty-five years who are no longer with us. A university 
is, of course, a foundation of material resources and a 
physical plant of buildings, libraries, and laboratories; but 
it is also, and vitally, a company of productive minds, 
advancing knowledge and imparting it to youths who are 
to be their successors in the ongoing march of ideas. In 
this conviction Dr. Lovett cited the ancient words of 
Pericles: "'Tis not the walls that make the city, but the 
men." Our Board of Trustees showed fine insight when 
they renamed the former Administration Building of the 
Rice Institute, Lovett Hall. On the dedication plate the 
following line from Horace was engraved most suitably: 
Exegif mounmeutiim cvre pereuuius — "He reared a monu- 
ment more enduring than bronze." We are all proud of this 
monument, and of the other beautiful buildings that have 
joined it on our campus. But from the start of his work 
of building the Rice Institute, Dr. Lovett brought here 
brains as well as bricks, minds as well as marble. 

Let us recognize clearly Dr. Lovett's deep wisdom in his 
high ideals for Rice to which he dedicated himself from 
the very beginning of his presidential office. His own edu- 
cational career was world-wide and of a highly distin- 
guished quality. The range of his intellectual mastery 
spanned over the sciences and the humanities. He was a 
renowned mathematician and astronomer and also a clas- 

[7] 



sical scholar. His annual addresses to the students, as in- 
coming freshmen or as graduating seniors, were enlivened 
with wisdom from modern scientists or from ancient phi- 
losophers and poets. Note the wide range of thinking that 
is reflected in his chosen inscriptions for the marble tablets 
which beautify our buildings. On the cornerstone of Lovett 
Hall you may read the Greek words of Democritus: 
"Rather would I discover the cause of one fact than be- 
come King of the Persians." And on its court facade this 
tribute to literature from Pindar: "The thing that one 
says well goes forth with a voice unto everlasting." And 
then these great words of the philosopher Plotinus: "Love, 
beauty, joy, and worship arc forever building, unbuilding, 
and rebuilding in each man's soul." 

Before coming to Rice, Dr. Lovett had studied or lec- 
tured at man)^ universities on both sides of the Atlantic: 
at Virginia, Christiania, Leipzig, Chicago, Johns Hopkins, 
Princeton. He undertook the planning and directing of the 
organization of the Rice Listitute by taking a trip around 
the world, to study the variety of university methods. And 
here in Houston, Texas, he sought to make Rice a true 
university, vitally responsive to the life and work of uni- 
versities all over the world. The opening of Rice in 1912 
was marked by a most distinguished academic gathering 
of world-famous minds, who brought salutations from near 
and far. For his new faculty Dr. Lovett assembled on our 
campus a cosmopolitan group of young scholars and scien- 
tists, not only from the best American universities, but 
also from Oxford and Cambridge and from London, Paris, 
Heidelberg, and Rome. And besides these resident pro- 
fessors, a long succession of leaders in the sciences and the 
humanities came on longer or shorter visits to Rice, to 
share their knowledge and wisdom with us. While Houston 

[8] 



was growing to national and international prominence in 
trade and industry and shipping, the Rice Institute was 
becoming more and more truly Houston's intellectual Ship 
Channel, drawing us ever closer to the world-wide currents 
of thought. Dr. Lovett had a great ideal for Houston as 
well as for Rice. Who has spoken finer words for the high 
destiny of our city than these words from his inaugural 
address of 1912? — "Great trading centers have often been 
conspicuous centers of vigorous intellectual life: Athens, 
Florence, Venice, Amsterdam were cities great in com- 
merce; but inspired by the love of truth and beauty, they 
stimulated and sustained the finest aspirations of poets, 
scholars, and artists within their walls. It requires no 
prophet's eye to reach a similar vision for our own city. 
I have felt the spirit of greatness brooding over the city. I 
have heard her step at midnight, I have seen her face at 
dawn. I have lived under the spell of the building of the 
city, and under the spell of the building of the city I have 
come to believe in the larger life ahead of us, in the house 
not made with hands which we begin this day to build." 
This is Edgar Odell Lovett speaking about Houston, forty- 
five years ago. 

President Lovett chose the name "The Rice Institute" to 
express the dedication of our university to research as well 
as to teaching. But he always esteemed highly the impor- 
tance of university teaching, and as he sought good teach- 
ers, so he set high standards in the selection and admission 
of students. The entire Rice program was dedicated to 
growing perfection in quality. This fine resolution which 
from the outset established the character of Rice has been 
and will remain President Lovett's greatest achievement as 
a university administrator. Listen to the words in which he 
expressed his ideal for Rice as a university of liberal and 

[9] 



technical learning: "By the spirit of liberal and technical 
learning I understand that immortal spirit of inquiry or 
inspiration which has been clearing the pathway of man- 
kind to intellectual and spiritual liberty, to the recognition 
of law and charm in nature, to the fearless pursuit of truth 
and the ceaseless worship of beauty. Its history is the history 
of the progress of the human spirit." 

Those of us who came to know Dr. Lovett more inti- 
mately through long years of association can never forget 
certain personal qualities of his character. He was deliber- 
ate in reaching conclusions, and was particularly reluctant 
to form an unfavorable judgment of another person, be he 
professor or student. He resisted impetuous action and 
could not be moved easily by an emotional appeal. But his 
mind recognized the imperative power of sound reasoning, 
and he would change his view or decision if good evidence 
and logic demanded it. To his occasional acquaintances Dr. 
Lovett sometimes appeared serious-minded, and we do not 
recall any frivolous lapses in his manner. But he had a real 
sense of humor, to which he would give apt expression at a 
suitable time. So in one of his addresses, alluding to the 
extracurricular attachments of the young people on our 
Rice playground, he reminded them that "there may be 
belles in the cloister, but I am the bell in the tower." 

President Lovett had a sort of timeless contemplation of 
Rice. Generation after generation, all of us, students and 
faculty alike, share our lives in the growth of Rice, but 
sooner or later Alma Mater has outlived us and will outlive 
us all, and will renew her youth through the ages to come. 
On reaching his seventieth birthday, in 1941, President 
Lovett tendered his resignation, but yielded to the earnest 
request of our Trustees to continue in office and direct 
the work of finding his successor. Despite the inevitable 

[ 10] 



delay caused by the war years, this selection was made most 
happily in 1946, when Dr. Houston came from the Cali- 
fornia Institute of Technology to become the second presi- 
dent of the Rice Institute. For the following decade of his 
advancing old age. Dr. Lovett followed with deep interest 
the remarkable expansion of the institution which from 
the very beginning he had conceived and started on its high 
destiny. 

No account of Dr. Lovett's career can fail to pay tribute 
to Mrs. Lovett, whose gracious leadership of the social life 
of the Rice community and whose active interest in all 
cultural activities welded Rice and Houston in all that 
makes life worth living. Mrs. Lovett's long illness until 
her death in 19 52 was a source of deep sorrow to all her 
friends on and off the Rice campus. 

The true estimate of a man like Edgar Odell Lovett is 
best expressed not in words of praise but in the plain record 
of his words and deeds. To anyone connected with the Rice 
Institute his death marks the honorable closing of an epoch. 
We on the Rice faculty grieve that he is no longer with us, 
but above and beyond our grief is an inspiring conviction 
of his noble work in laying the solid foundations of the 
institution to which we have given our lives. There is 
something symbolic about the naming of our first build- 
ing Lovett Hall. It is the gateway to the Rice Institute. 
The meaning of this name will abide. Long centuries hence, 
the newcomer to Rice, as he enters under the noble arch 
of our Sallyport, will read on the dedication plate the name 
of Edgar Odell Lovett and will honor the man who first 
dedicated the Rice Institute to its great purpose and destiny. 



[11] 



CONCLUDING REMARKS 

By Prrsiiienf William V. Houston 

SEVERAL YEARS ago the Trustees honored Dr. Lovett by- 
naming the administration building Lovett Hall. Pro- 
fessor Alan D. McKillop prepared the inscription which was 
carved into the stone at the entrance to the Sallyport. That 
inscription includes the quotation, "He built him a monu- 
ment more lasting than bronze." When I showed the pro- 
posed text to Dr. Lovett, he remarked that it seemed quite 
appropriate since he had always tried to build, in the Insti- 
tute, a monument to William Marsh Rice. The modesty 
was characteristic, but I think we all agree that the Rice 
Institute is a monument, as well, to Edgar Odell Lovett, a 
monument which will outlive the bricks and mortar we 
now see; for he has truly "built himself a monument more 
lasting than bronze," a living monument in the minds and 
hearts of men. 



[12] 



THE BENEDICTION 

By the Rcicvcnd Mr. Stanley Smith 

THE Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, 
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and 
love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the 
Blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the 
Holy Ghost, be amongst you, and remain with you always. 

Allien. 



[13 ] 



APPENDIX 

Resolution of the Trustees at the Unveihng 

Of the Wayman Adams Portrait of Dr. Lovett 

May 12, 1946 



RESOLUTION OF THE TRUSTEES AT THE 

UNVEILING OF THE WAYMAN ADAMS 

PORTRAIT OF DR. LOVETT 

May 12, 1946^'- 

Read by Mr. B. B. Rice 

OUR GREATEST HOPE for the future lies in the conscious- 
ness of our past. The two are Hnked by personahty — 
the vital bridge between what has been and what is to be. 
The powers that work for good must be embodied in the 
human spirit, and since education is essentially the drawing 
forth and mustering of those powers, it must be conveyed 
in the subtle medium of personality. In this living medium 
all our plans and ideals must find their nutriment; abstrac- 
tions like scholarship, discipline, enlightenment, leadership, 
research, and progress can only thus take on meaning and 
vital warmth. It was the good fortune of the Trustees of 
the Rice Institute at an early and crucial stage of their 
work to find this living medium in the personal leadership 
of Edgar Odell Lovett. Emerson has said that ''an institu- 
tion is the lengthened shadow of one man." As far as the 
individual embodies the universal, this is profoundly true, 
and the history of the Rice Institute affords one of the 
most signal instances in educational annals of the effective 
translation of personal integrity, intelligence, and force 
into high action and achievement. 

The social and economic history of the Southwest would 
seem inevitably to call for a university of the highest 
standards just in this place and just at the time when Edgar 
Odell Lovett decided to devote the rest of his life to the 
new foundation. The challenge was irresistible; the respon- 
sibility was tremendous; foresight, skill, resolution, and 



'The resolution was adopted at a meeting of the Board of Trustees on May 8, 1946. 

[17] 



good fortune as well were required to meet it. The unre- 
mitting labors and strong sense of direction which President 
Lovett brought to bear on the fulfillment of the imperative 
requirements of a new era in Texas education — these quali- 
ties were not a gift from the gods, conjured up for the 
occasion; they were made possible by labors and drives 
directed apparently in other directions: they were made 
possible by his early and brilliant achievements in mathe- 
matics and astronomy, his deep feeling for literary and 
historical culture, and, fusing these together, his profound 
sense of the university as a corporate entity. Beyond all 
this he had concentration and continuity: "This one thing 
I do." To a rich endowment of character and of training 
at great centers of learning in America and Europe were 
added other fortunate gifts which were to be manifold 
blessings for the future of the Rice Institute — a happy 
marriage which bound him by ties of deepest affection and 
interest to the South, an exacting taste which required for 
the new institution the highest standards in architecture, 
and a sense of propriety and a power of felicitous utterance 
which invested academic ceremonial with added dignity 
and significance. 

For a year following his acceptance of the presidency 
of the new university he traveled around the world and 
engaged in a study of educational institutions that extended 
from Great Britain to Japan. Never losing sight of the 
best academic tradition, he sought patiently and deliber- 
ately to adapt this precious heritage to the needs of this 
place and time. The manifold duties of the presidency — 
the recruiting of a faculty, the construction of a curricu- 
lum, the use of the site and the planning of new and beauti- 
ful buildings, the establishment of inter-university rela- 
tions, the knitting of the university into the community — 

[ 18] 



all were clearly related to one central purpose. We can look 
back now and confirm the truth of the words of the 
American Yearbook for 1912: 

The opening of the Rice Institute at Houston, Texas, is 
the most significant event of the year as regards higher edu- 
cation. The endowment has secured to the state and to the 
entire Southwest opportunities for the intellectual develop- 
ment of the people and for scientific research which in the 
older states have been the outcome of long effort and much 
sacrifice. The carefully matured plan of operation developed 
under the direction of the appointed president, Edgar Odell 
Lovett, places the new foundation in the group of institutions 
that are essentially national in scope. 

Thus the spiritual as well as the physical foundation of 
the Institute was celebrated in the academic festival of 
October 10 to 13, 1912, memorably recorded in the mag- 
nificent Book of the Opening, Thus early did the farseeing 
leadership of the first president of the Rice Institute com- 
mit the new enterprise irrevocably to the principle that 
scholarship and research best serve state and region when 
they range afar on a national and international scale. 
Though we do not know all that the future may bring, we 
feel certain that when The Book of the Opening is centu- 
ries old this principle will still be valid. 

President Lovett has had the rare privilege of unfolding 
and executing his plans consistently and coherently during 
the span of a third of a century. The good idea and the 
high ideal arc never completely with us here and now; 
their full realization always lies in the future, the long 
vista which we view through the arch of present experience. 
Who knows to what far goals at long last the beautiful 
cloisters of the Institute may lead the steps of coming gen- 
erations, or what high emprise may find a footing on this 
campus? Unseen things are eternal, and however noble our 

[19] 



building, "a man's thought must be the building in which 
he lives." A due consideration of ways and means has never 
deflected President Lovett's leadership from envisaging 
things eternal. But, that the meaning of our lives may stand 
out more clearly, we may now fittingly pause a moment 
and say simply, "It is good for us to be here." This is the 
appropriate moment for us to pay tribute to him who has 
guided us hither and has pointed us forward. 

Be it therefore resolved by the Trustees of the Rice 
Institute, speaking not only for ourselves but for all who 
share our devotion to the life and ideals of this institution, 
that we extend to Edgar Odell Lovett our unbounded 
thanks and gratitude for the execution of a great task 
boldly undertaken and faithfully performed in the fullness 
of his wisdom and loyalty. 



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