The appearance last week of the future president of Harvard University descending the second class gangplank of the Europa in Brooklyn has been interpreted by the experts as a subtle indication that Harvard may expect a new democracy of its own, an academic new deal, and that the days of the Cabot-Lowell-God hegemony are over.
Such a dramatic upheaval can be indeed pleasant to ponder over, but it does not seem in the least likely to occur. Some explanation for this may be that the Lowell regime was not as stuffy, narrow-minded, and conservative as the wiseacres tend to make out. President Lowell himself declared that he preferred to be called a conservative because he could then be as progressive as he like, and no one could object; As far as personal tastes are concerned, he was as well acquainted with the subway as Mr. Conant.
Naturally, like Calvin Coolidge's "wonder boy" in 1928, a great deal is expected from Mr. Conant, for, as President Lowell said in his address to the alumni on Commencement day, "my successor is far better prepared for the job than I was." He is expected to make improvements, and President Lowell was among the first to expect him to make them. It is practically taken for granted that he will stand a few customs or even departments on their heads. But the point is that he has not by any means been picked by a few zealous reformers to teach Harvard a blue eagle-like loop-the-loop, but has been selected, as it were, almost by Lowell himself to keep alive Harvard's cherished "tradition of change." With such a tradition firmly entrenched, it is inconceivable that any sensational reform should take place, or one which would not have been made by the old administration, had it continued. Instead, the Class of 1937 has four college years to look forward to, which according to Hoyle, should display as much variety amongst themselves as have the last four.