Basing his statements upon actual conditions during the past 30 years, for 24 of which he served as an Overseer, Judge Robert Grant '73, retiring president of the Harvard Club of Boston, formerly president of the Harvard Alumni Association and Board of Overseers, maintains in an article appearing in the Alumni Bulletin published today, that there is no foundation for the criticism of the Harvard Overseers as a materialistic group of "narrow-mintled Bostonians" and Wall Street bankers or corporation lawyers.
Feeling free to discuss the composition of the Overseers because of his retirement from the Board three years ago, Judge Grant mentions individual members in 1895, at the time of his first election, and in 1924-25, "none of whom", he says, "could seem-utilitarian in his outlook save to a person who regards all distinguished men as enemies of learning."
"Who will say", Judge Grant asks, after mentioning the varied callings of the present Board in detail, "that this is not a well proportioned and representative list of alumni qualified to serve in this capacity?"
Judge Grant mentions the differences of opinion as to whether fewer or more men of national reputation should be chosen as overseers and whether or not there should be definite geographical representation for the whole country. After discussing the attendant difficulties, he concludes:
"Yet when all is said and done, Harvard graduates should bear in mind that the composition of the Board rests entirely in their own hands. The men elected to office through the postal ballot which reaches every alumnus are those who get the most votes. If the malcontents are dissatisfied, let more of them take the trouble to vote. Even with the complete extension of our suffrage only 30 per cent of those qualified sent in their ballots last year. This proportion ought to be doubled. If it is not, it must be because the mass of the Alumni realize that taking one year with another the choice of those voting has generally been excellent. . . .
"Nothing is so easy in this life as to spatter mud or cavil. There has been a good deal of loose talk on the subject of the Board of Overseers and one constantly has to listen, often with weariness, to counsel of perfection when the annual printed list of suggestions appears, But let me ask again--would it be easy to improve on the list of men now in office? To be sure, it might be preferable--in the sense that they would be able to give more time to the duries if more mute inglorious Miltons were chosen instead of men of wider reputation. But the difficulty is that the voters, the Alumni, fail to elect them: they prefer to vote for--candidates whose names and activities are familiar. The committee to suggest names has frequently tried the expedient only to find that men especially picked for the job fall by the wayside because not sufficiently well known.