Portraits of . . . . .Harvard Figures
Alfred Chester Hanford
Dean of the College
"A. C. Hanford, Dean"--such is the way that countless formidable-looking bulletins, memoranda, and communiques from University Hall are signed. No title is so curt, nor so instantaneously effective, and consequently when the eye beholds it, that eye will almost automatically shudder and blink twice. Back of the door, in "University 4," uninvitingly marked "Dean of Harvard College," though, there sits a kindly gentle enough looking man who will spring up at once when you enter, or even come to the door for you, and who will offer you a chair as though there were nothing better to do than to bask in the afternoon sunlight which is streaming in the window, or warm the hands before a fire burning in the grate. After you have stopped admiring the bright yellow oriental rug on the floor, you will probably become aware that the Dean is talking to you, asking you questions, and putting the problem fairly up to yourself.
Obviously this is not the type of dean found in magazines and novels of campus life, for he seems to have a "human side" to him and is ready and willing to discuss any problem with the student, especially when the student himself asks for advice. In other words, when he is not gardening at home, dictating to a secretary mysteriously located behind a sliding door in the back of the room, or, seated at the long mahogany table in his office, teaching the naughty faculty members and departments how to behave, he is at the student's disposal. Naturally there are times when he is for the student's disposal, but even then they say that there is no dean in Harvard who can put a man on probation as pleasantly and as painlessly as Dean Hanford.
Delmar Leighton '19
Dean of Freshmen
Delmar Leighton has held the position of Dean of Freshmen since it was first created at Dean Hanford's suggestion in 1931. Smiling, straightforward, and cordial to all newcomers, Mr. Leighton in his third-story office in University Hall directly above that of the President and Corporation, has ironed out difficulties which since the beginning of time have harassed the Freshman, and is constantly striving to make the path smoother.
Under Mr. Leighton great strides have been taken in unifying the life of the student in his first year, and in making the Freshman Union and the Yard a real center for Freshman activity. At present he is trying, and with success, too, to bring the first year man into intimate contact with his Faculty Adviser, who can, and should, offer valuable advice concerning courses concentration, distribution, and especially how to avoid them. Always forward-looking, like a good protege of the progressive Dean Hanford, "Del" Leighton has proved the value of the office created for him.
Under him there are still two Assistant Freshman Deans, Chauncey and Bender, who divide the class between them A-L and L-Z, and perform some of the less honorific tasks for which deans are famous.
William John Bingham '16
Director of Athletics
In the course of a conversation with President Lowell, a caller at the president's office last year mentioned the Harvard Athletic Association. "Oh yes," the president is said to have corrected him, "you mean Mr. Bingham." The Harvard Athletic Association is an organization of wide ramifications, but in the last analysis it all comes down to W. J. Bingham.
"Bill" Bingham is perhaps Harvard's most popular official, has the knack of making every one of his acquaintances feel like a personal friend. A strong exponent of the "Athletics for All" policy, he has built up an unexcelled athletic plant at Harvard. Despite the growing importance of inter-House sports, he feels that intercollegiate competition is still an essential part of the athletic program. He refuses to dismiss coaches merely because their teams have a few bad seasons. Although Harvard has pursued an athletic policy which, in comparison with those of other institutions, has been the epitome of sanity, Bingham is probably unique among athletic directors in admitting that in the years of million dollar gate receipts-money flowed too freely even at Harvard. With the reporters who overrun the offices of the H. A. A., he is completely frank, enjoys a very favorable press.
Roger Bigelow Merriman '96
Gurney Professor of History
Aside from the president of the University, there is no figure familiar to more admiring Freshmen than Professor Merriman. Walking up and down the platform or rocking back and forth on his desk with a seven-foot pointer under his knee, the colorful lecturer of History 1, seems for one hour every Wednesday and Friday to be making Harvard history himself.
Well over six feet in height and built to be a wrestler. Professor Merriman lectures in a deep booming voice which, at crucial moments, rises to a preposterously high pitch. The universal nickname, "Frisky", which ranks with "Copey" and "Kitty" among Harvard's factious sobriquets, has clung to him since his college days, did not spring, as so many think, from his animated platform manner. Anathema to him are hats, newspapers, or sleeping students in the New Lecture Hall just before he begins his lecture. He is a strong Anglophile, swallows his ever present pipe half way down his threat, is given to patting people on the back. Meeting J. P. Morgan at a recent Commencement, he is said to have patted the famous financier on the back and wished him luck!
Besides lecturing in History 1, Professor Merriman is Master of Eliot House, which he rules like one of the benevolent feudal barons of whom he lectures as memorably. Never did he seem more in his element than in a recent play of the Eliot House Elizabethan Club, marching through Eliot's enormous dining hall as King Henry V.
Professor Merriman an expert in Spanish history, is the author of a three-volume "Rise of the Spanish Empire." Freshmen annually are impressed by his two lectures on the rise and fall of the power of the Iberians.
This spring and summer he has been pursuing his studies in Europe. Reports reached Cambridge that while traveling in Italy, he became involved in a violent alteration with the Fascist police.