Beloit College
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Edward Dwight Eaton

1886-1905, 1907-1917

Excerpted from "Seven Presidents of Beloit College" by Dr. Robert Irrmann:

President Chapin's choice as his successor, unanimously agreed to both by Trustees and Faculty, was Edward Dwight Eaton, Beloit '72. Eaton had taken his theological degree at Yale in 1875, and then spent the following year in study at Leipzig and Heidelberg. In 1886 he was Pastor of the First Congregational Church in Oak Park, Illinois, and the youngest member of the College's Board of Trustees. At his election, the College was in serious financial difficulties, faced with growing competition from both public and private universities, and forced to assess its role in higher education. The era of foundation building was ending; could a small religious college survive for effective participation in American education? Edward Dwight Eaton gave a possible response to that question. Establishing warm and cooperative rapport with both his Trustees and Faculty, he "remade" the College along more modern lines. Life membership on the Board was terminated, the Board was enlarged, and Eaton brought men of substance and vision to its service. The rigidity of the old curriculum was loosened, new departments instituted, and a younger faculty brought to reinforce the remainder of the Old Guard. And it was in Eaton's administration that the campus grew in size and buildings: Pearsons Hall of Science, The Chapel, Emerson Hall, the old Library, and the first Chapin Hall. A man of international reputation in church and missionary circles, President Eaton brought world attention to the College, through his own work and through the work of Beloiters in both Near and Far East. A musician of sensitive nature, President Eaton embellished the Sunday Vesper Service that older alumni hold in reverent memory. From 1886 to 1905, and again from 1907 to 1917, Edward Dwight Eaton led Beloit College always to a larger role in liberal education.

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