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Dedication of Hill Auditorium.

June 1913

Any attempt to estimate the resources of Michigan without considering our great University would result in failure. Our vast iron and copper mines, our coal and salt, our fisheries, our farms, our orchards, all are of immense value. They are fundamental to existence. After all, their existence is primarily for the realization and appreciation of higher riches, the riches of the human soul. Michigan as a state possesses the natural riches I have named. Michigan likewise possesses this great University. I, as Governor of Michigan, in her behalf gratefully accept the gift of the Hill Auditorium.

We memorialize in many ways. Costly granite monuments and mausoleums grace our cemeteries and public squares. These arrest the attention of the passerby and having arrested his attention they sometimes suggest to him noble deeds and noble aspirations. Personally, I have the profoundest admiration for that form of memorializing which has for all its dominating characteristic service. The Hill Auditorium belongs to this class. It serves all of the functions of the grandest type of memorial.

This Auditorium recognizes the tremendous value of the spoken word. The pres and the library have not minimized the value of the spoken word, but rather magnified it. If the time were at my disposal I would be glad to pay my best tribute to the value of the spoken word in moving man to the appreciation of the highest ideals and the noblest actions. This Auditorium is for the thousands who, on account of its ample provisions, can assemble here.

In 1873 while attending the Medical Department of this University I had the great pleasure of hearing J.G. Holland lecture in the University Hall on 'The Elements of Personal Power.' I was not quite twenty-one years of age. I was mentally hungry. I welcomed an inspiration. Holland was not a great orator. His simple style, his wholesome philosophy, however, was of immense service to me. A litter later in the same season I made a special sacrifice in order to hear Richard Proctor, the great English astronomer, lecture on 'The Sun.' His theme was widely different from that of Holland's, yet through his spoken word I was move to the study of astronomy simply for the delight it gave me, whenever I had a few moments of leisure.

This Auditorium is to be the means of furnishing thousands of students with the best thoughts of the best brains of the world.

I am hoping that the Auditorium may offer much in the way of the drama. I feel that it is now time for the universities, colleges and many of the other institutions of learning to recognize the educational value of the drama. Most of the people assembled here this morning have heard some of the great plays of Shakespeare, but they have likewise learned the subtle power of simpler plays such as 'The Old Homestead,' 'The Third Floor Back,' or 'The Servant in the House.' I am not asking that this Auditorium shall emphasize problem plays. I am speaking for the young men and young women who need inspiration, the uplift of the drama in its simpler form.

Certainly this will be the home of the musician when he comes to Ann Arbor to captivate and entertain not only the students of the University, but the citizens of this beautiful city. I cannot sing a not, I cannot whistle a tune, yet I love music. I have never regretted going from Big Rapids to Chicago in order to here Adeline Pati sing, 'Home Sweet Home.' This did not transform me into a singer, but it did send me back to my city determined to give music, the universal language, more abundantly to my students and to all the people whom I could influence along this line of the soul's development and the soul's capacity for joy.

No doubt every artist will find the Hill Auditorium a kind of arena in which to awaken hidden potential powers in scores of men and women who have never dreamed that they possessed artistic genius. The Hill Auditorium is to be a sort of college in itself, a university in itself for awakening the great possibilities that even the ordinary man possesses. I labor under the conviction that few men, few women ever come to use efficiently the real genius they possess. There are a few instructors, lecturers, and preachers who believe that if a man possesses genius he will show it, he will manifest it. That depends largely on whether the necessary stimuli are applied. This Auditorium is to have as high a value as any other feature of the University. Possible the work down in this Auditorium will affect the state of Michigan, the United States and the world more than any other provision that this great University has. The State of Michigan cannot be too enthusiastic in expressing gratitude to the giver who has passed to the great beyond, who chose a magnificent means for making his name dear to thousands and tens of thousands who are not even yet born. It is with the most intense satisfaction that I receive for the State of Michigan this magnificent gift.


Source: "Dedication of Hill Auditorium." Michigan Alumnus 19 (August 1913): 498-501.


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