Harvard Today: Excerpts From the President's Report

In his annual report to the Board of Overseers President Conant pointed out many of the problems which face the University today. Selections from the report of interest to students have been compiled below. In future weeks the CRIMSON hopes to run features on the specific topics which the President refers to.

Reserve Groups

For a long time Harvard has joined with the Army and Navy in training future officers by means of a Reserve Officer Training units connected with the College; recently a third unit for Air Force officers has been added. The numbers involved in these military programs have varied enormously over the years. In the demobilization period after World War II, only a small percentage of the student body was interested in entering the R.O.T.C. courses, but within the last 12 months the enrollment figures have taken an abrupt upward turn.

This fall some 40 percent of the freshman class applied for and was admitted into the three programs of study leading to Reserve Officer commissions. If the trend continues and the military authorities are ready to expand the courses, another year may see a majority part of the physically eligible freshmen carrying on a military program as part of their undergraduate work.

If and when all four college classes are as much involved in R.O.T.C. work as the present freshman class, a number of problems will arise in regard to curricula, the transition from college to graduate professional study, and the sue of summer vacation for study work.

Government Work

Numerous members of the University staff are heavily involved as consultants in highly confidential scientific work connected with the armed forces. Indeed, many professors here and elsewhere find themselves perplexed as to how to divide their time between calls from the government and their responsibilities as scholars and teachers....

I need not repeat the well-known and compelling arguments as to why we must keep our universities active as scholarly centers even during partial mobilization. The arguments all turn on the premise--some may say the hope--that after a period of strain the time will come when the whole world moves in the direction of less rather than more military preparations.

For it is only by a severe twisting of our normal activities that we in the universities can make a contribution to the waging of a war. Every level of our education program, with the exception of the ROTC courses I have mentioned, and almost every aspect of our scholarly and scientific work is based on the belief that peace, not war, is the state that characterizes the relation between groups of individuals or nations....

Even now it may be on the diplomatic front rather than where armies meet that universities can make their greatest contributions. The Harvard Russian Research Center may serve as an example of what I have in mind.

Today it is generally agreed by those who have access to classified information that only in a few special instances is it necessary to call on the universities to establish secret laboratories and recruit scientists from other institutions on a large scale. At Harvard we have no such laboratories. No secret research is being done here at the present time, aside from a considerable study the Harvard Business School is undertaking for the Defense Department.

Cultural Activities

I might appropriately report also on a new and perhaps significant venture which we have undertaken to promote a different type of adult education on an informal community-wide basis. In association with the Lowell Institute and five colleges and universities in Greater Boston. Harvard has for more than four years been experimenting with the production of educational programs for broadcast on sustaining time over local commercial radio stations.

During the past year this advisory council of colleges has been enlarged by the inclusion of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. A non commercial educational broadcasting station has been set up to carry on and amplify the work already began. The new station, WGBH, has built a 25,000-watt frequency modulated transmitter in one room of the meteorological observatory on Great Blue Hill, and maintains studio in Symphony Hall, Boston.

In operation daily from mid-afternoon until late evening the station offers a great variety of programs which may fairly be described as ranging all the way from intellectual entertainment to organized instruction. It is our hope that in this way we may be assisting many listeners to supplement their education gained in high schools or colleges and to develop for themselves what President Eliot called the "durable satisfactions of life."