Charles William Eliot

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Charles William Eliot (March 20, 1834 – August 22, 1926) was an American academic who served as Harvard University's president from 1869 until 1909.


  • Enter to grow in wisdom. / Depart to serve better thy country and thy kind.
    • Over entrance (“Enter”) and exit (“Depart”) of Dexter gate (gift of Class of 1890) to Harvard Yard, erected 1901.[1][2]
    • Alternatives Eliot considered included “Enter daily to grow in wisdom,” and “Depart to serve better thy country and mankind.”[3][4]
    • Widely paraphrased as:
      • Enter to learn; go forth to serve.
    • Used by schools including Brigham Young University, Delaware State University, Tennessee State University, Keene State College, and Oakland City College.[5]
    • Sometimes credited (in abbreviated form) to Margaret Sanger.[6]
    • Sometimes parodied as: “Enter to learn; go forth to earn.”[5]

Quotes about Eliot

  • Eliot revolutionized the Harvard curriculum, transforming a moribund academic system for training clergy into a modern research institution at the forefront of American and international scholarship.


  1. Enter to grow in wisdom: A tour of Harvard’s gates, Ken Gewertz, The Harvard Gazette, December 15, 2005
  2. The Yale Book of Quotations, 2006, "enter+to+grow+in+wisdom" p. 232
  3. The Gates of Harvard Yard, Harvard Magazine, 2013 July 18
  4. The Gates of Harvard Yard: The Complete Story, in Words and Pictures, of a Great University’s Iconic Portals
  5. a b BYU not alone in using motto 'enter to learn', Tad Walch, Deseret News, August 4, 2007
  6. “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.”, Jill Grimaldi, Margaret Sanger Papers Project, 2010-11-30
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