Today's Commencement exercises, held under more comfortable climatic conditions than last June, are also more in conformity with tradition, going back to the Sever Quadrangle that has been neglected for the past two years in favor of Tercentenary Theatre. The 1945 Commencement, furthermore, is the first since 1945 in which the civilian has been emphasized; service personnel had their own ceremonies at noon today.
Harvard is still very much at war, but today's solemnities and festivities end a year marked by a gradual approach to reconversion. But it has been a year in which military and naval personnel continued to exceed the civilian enrollment at Harvard.
It was a year in which the percentage of veterans in the undergraduate population showed a sharp rise; a year in which Dean James M. Landis returned to the Law School from Cairo, where he was serving as American Director of Economic Operations in the Middle East.
The "Veteran Problem"
1944-45 was a year in which educators spoke more and more about the "Veteran problem," with President Conant suggesting revision in the G. I. Bill of Rights in his annual report.
Late in January, Harvard followed Yale and led most other colleges in announcing the return to the two-term calendar, with this summer forming a transition period.
Figures released in February showed that the Class of 1948 was reversing the wartime trend toward science concentration and that English and allied subjects were first in preference. As the death rate of service schools began to outdistance the birthrate, the Navy announced its return to per-war officer standards, with the V-12 program being merged in to the NROTC.
In early March came the report that Radcliffe's WAVE contingent would ship out July 11, but at Harvard it was indicated that the School for Overseers Administration might continue until the fall of 1946; and the Naval Supply and Communications Schools were still going strong.
Entrance Requirements Relaxed
Late in April, the University announced a relaxation in entrance requirements to facilitate veteran admission, the Law School having already taken that step by itslf.e. And in the same week, as Copey celebrated his 85th birthday, the College reported that Kirk land House, occupied by the Navy since the summer of 1943, would be opened to civilians this summer.
When the catalogue listing course offerings for 1945-46 appeared last month, the SERVICE NEWS commented that Liberal Arts education at Harvard had "received its most forthright and encouraging boost since the start of the second world war." Strikingly evident in the new course list was the emphasis on the Soviet Union by the Economics, Geography, and Anthropology Departments.
MuKay, Brinton, Holcombe Return
Throughout this period, and increasingly towards the end, professors were returning, of announcing their plans to return, to Harvard from wartime positions with the government: Donald C. McKay, associate professor of History, C. Crane Brinton '19, professor of History. Arthur N. Holcombe Professor of Government, and William Y. Elliott, professor of Government. Professor Elliott's return next fall was considered unlikely, however, in the light of his recent appointment by President Truman to the committee investigating to Philippine Islands.
Two weeks ago, the war-time physical conditioning program was cased, with Juniors and Seniors relieved of the four time-a-week athletic requirement, and with the demand on Freshmen and Sophomores cut to thrice weekly. In peacetime, only Freshmen were required to take athletics. Last week Richard C. Harlow, Harvard's famed football conch, returned from the Navy. But Harvard's intercollegiate athletic schedule was still strictly informal: for at least a third year of war there would be no Yale game.
Traditions Revived-But One Vanishes
While the past year, and today's Sever Quadrangle exercises, may seem to indicate an approach to reconversion, one peacetime tradition will vanish after this 1945 Commencement: the canvas tent which shades Sever Quadrangle, a canvas which has shaded other Commencements for the past 30 to 40 years and which has been in Harvard's possession for so long that even the Maintenance Department Doesn't know where it originally came from, will be scrapped as a potential danger after this afternoon's ceremonies are over