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A great man, Charles Van Hise, has fallen -- State Journal editorial from 100 years ago

November 25, 2018

Charles Van Hise, a prominent geologist, served as president of the University of Wisconsin from 1903 to 1918. He expanded the university's reach into many new fields before his surprising death related to minor surgery.

This State Journal editorial ran on Nov. 20, 1918:

In the death of the president of the University of Wisconsin, one of the most eminent men in the nation passes into the permanent records of Wisconsin’s already rich biographical history.

The state will never cease to honor his memory for the imperishable impetus he gave to the forward movement of this forward state and the contributions he made to Wisconsin’s permanent fame.

Charles R. Van Hise was a great man.

In the prime of intellectual power, with a physical endowment that seemed adequate to sustain a most useful activity for many years to come, it seems incomprehensible that what seemed to be so slight an affliction could trip such a giant on the path of service.

A strong man has fallen.

Van Hise was a son of Wisconsin and an alumnus of our great alma mater, which he gave his life to serve. He loved Wisconsin. He loved the university to which he brought such great talents and which he built up to that altitude that made it seen across all seas and known in all lands. ...

To Van Hise, knowledge was not luxury but opportunity — scholarship not intellectual aristocracy but a challenge to serve democracy. ...

When Van Hise became president of the university 14 years ago, it had a student population of 3,000. Before the war interruption, its student enrollment was over 6,000, and the University of Wisconsin was internationally known not because of its size but because of its scientific efficiency and of its close application to the state’s needs and its economic service to the people. ...

His memory is a rich legacy to the state he loved, and his name will live forever on the campus where for over 43 years he was honored for his purposeful pursuits.

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