It takes only a few weeks of attendance for one to get the idea that Harvard, after three hundred years, has become skilled in the art of frustrating chicanery. Bills arrive promptly; and rigid, relentless machinery is put into operation for their payment. Erring students, tottering on the verge of probation, find all their past cuts carefully noted at the Dean's Office. And, when crafty Jawn Harvard is proctoring, his eyes are sharper than a hawk's from centuries of administering examinations to some of the cleverest brains America has produced.
These days droves of fresh young M.A.'s and Ph.D.'s who proctored here leave Cambridge every year, anxious, among other things, to spread the gospel of thoroughly supervised examinations much as Plato's pupils left Athens to tell the world about the soul's immortality.
Stanley Leonard is the present Plato of proctoring. At least once in every examination given by the University his short, stocky figure makes an appearance, sheathed in a collegiate overcoat and topped with a fine head of gray-streaked hair parted in the middle. His bearing is impressive and authoritative, and he is ready to tackle any sort of knotty problem which may be baffling his underlings. To cite one instance out of many, a proctor had begun to suspect an examinee of resorting to a crib sheet, but wasn't sure enough to make an issue of it. Mr. Leonard took over masterfully by casually asking the suspect to move to another seat: in the process of moving the tell-tale slip of paper fell to the floor.
Most Harvardians never see the Head Proctor except when they are at their psychological worst, eyes glazed, fingers aching, brain whirling; and the idea is thus prevalent that he is some sort of evil genius who emerges from under the eaves only at such moments, expressly to interfere with their trains of thought. Actually he has interests which extend well beyond the dismal confines of Memorial and New Lecture Halls and Emerson D. He cuts quite a figure locally at the Cambridge Skating Club. But whenever his inquistional activities give him enough time off, he hurries north to his farm on the shores of Lake Winnesquam in New Hampshire to look after his fruit trees and worry about the roofing.
He administers Registrations, College Boards, and Graduate Record Examinations as well as Hours and Finals and is often called in when a remote college wants to test local entrance candidates.
As a product educationally of Melrose High, M.I.T., and the Harvard Graduate School, Leonard knows the business of examinations from all points of view. The ideal proctorial attitude was expressed in a statement of his recently: "Though it doesn't happen very often, every time a fellow here cribs, we want to be sure that our system couldn't have prevented it."