Harvard

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
June 28, 2011

A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly without an appointment into the president of Harvard’s outer office.

The secretary could tell in a moment that such backwoods country folks had no business at Harvard and probably didn’t even deserve to be in Cambridge. She frowned. “We want to see the president, “the man said softly. “He’ll be busy all day,” the secretary snapped. “We’ll wait,” the lady replied.

For hours, the secretary ignored them, hoping that the couple would
finally become discouraged and go away. They didn’t. And the secretary grew frustrated and finally decided to disturb the president, even though it was a chore she always regretted to do.

“Maybe if they just see you for a few minutes, they’ll leave, “she told
him. He sighed in exasperation and nodded. Someone of his importance obviously didn’t have the time to spend with them, but he detested gingham and homespun suits cluttering his office.

The president, stern-faced with dignity, strutted toward the couple. The lady told him, “We had a son that attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard, and was very happy here. But about a year ago, he was accidentally killed. And my husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him somewhere on campus.”  The president wasn’t touched, he was shocked.

“Madam,” he said gruffly, “we can’t put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and died. If we did, this place would look like a cemetery.”

“Oh, no,” the lady explained quickly, “we don’t want to erect a statue. We thought we would give a building to Harvard.” The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and homespun suit, then exclaimed, “A building!! Do you have any earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the physical plant at Harvard!!”

For a moment the lady was silent. The president was pleased. He could get rid of them now. The lady turned to her husband and said quietly, “Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don’t we just start our own?” Her husband nodded. The president’s face wilted in confusion and bewilderment.

Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford walked away, traveling to Palo Alto, California where they established the University that bears their name…a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about. “You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them.”

Author - Malcolm Forbes
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9 comments
  1. We cannot see into a person’s heart to judge it; therefore, we should not!

  2. Well, there’s a story I’d never heard before. Goodness!

  3. One of the best I have read. Loved it.

  4. valleysong said:

    This story (which I’ve come across before, does not ring true.

    With his wife Jane, Stanford founded Leland Stanford Junior University as a memorial for their only child, Leland Stanford, Jr., who died as a teenager of typhoid fever in Florence, Italy, in 1884 while on a trip to Europe. The University was established by March 9, 1885, Endowment Act of the California assembly and senate, and the Grant of Endowment from Leland and Jane Stanford signed at the first meeting of the board of trustees on November 14, 1885.[28]

  5. valleysong said:

    “With his wife Jane, Stanford founded Leland Stanford Junior University as a memorial for their only child, Leland Stanford, Jr., who died as a teenager of typhoid fever in Florence, Italy, in 1884 while on a trip to Europe. The University was established by March 9, 1885, Endowment Act of the California assembly and senate, and the Grant of Endowment from Leland and Jane Stanford signed at the first meeting of the board of trustees on November 14, 1885.[28]”
    So he wasn’t “killed acidentall”. Would he have spent a year at Harvard seeing he was younger than 16?

    • I think the point of the story is more that we should not judge by appearance rather than the absolute details of how the University came about. It is a lesson to be learned even if the facts have not been accurately retold.

  6. Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network. From: Morning Story and DilbertSent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 17:20To: dondresden@gmail.comReply To: Morning Story and DilbertSubject: [New post] Harvard

    a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; }

    /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } */ WordPress.com

    morningstoryanddilbert posted: ”

    A lady in a faded gingham dress and her husband, dressed in a homespun threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston, and walked timidly without an appointment into the president of Harvard’s outer office.

    The secretary could tell in a moment th”

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