Ever since the autumn of 1879, when a girl named Kate Morris showed up in Cambridge, looking for a master's degree, Radcliffe College has had a graduate school. Since that starting fall the school has expanded to 350 women, and has become one of the world's finest graduate schools. But in the process of outgrowing its tiny office in Fay House, it has also outgrown its usefulness as a separate unit from Harvard.
During the early years when Cambridge residents and a good many members of the Harvard Faculty regarded a woman graduate student as a cloistered oddity, there was good reason for Radcliffe to have a graduate school. With Radcliffe undergraduates carefully segregated in their own buildings, the few female graduate students who sat in on Harvard courses would have been lost in the administrative shuffle of a graduate school oriented to male education. But when war-time Conant austerity placed a woman in every class, co- education had arrived in practice, if not in theory, and the fears of the misanthropes reluctantly disappeared. Women were absorbed into the undergraduate curriculum with a notable absence of friction; now it is time, at least on the graduate level, that they were placed under the Harvard administration.
Separation of the two undergraduate institutions provides definite advantages that do not apply to the graduate schools. The small size of Radcliffe's college gives its students personal attention, while they can enter into extra-curricular activities without feeling swamped by the University's bigness. But the older graduate student generally has no use for either the administrative attention or the activities of the college; amalgamation of the two schools, on the other hand, would provide both her and Harvard with very real advantages.
While undergraduate admission to both Harvard and Radcliffe is handled by the two colleges, on the graduate level it is largely decided by the particular department to which the student applies. The departments, therefore, must deal with two sets of administrative offices instead of one central office. If financial aid is involved, the situation becomes especially complicated. For there are three types of aid available under the present system: Harvard aid to its male students, Radcliffe aid to its females, and a certain amount of special funds left to the departments for joint use. It is in the juggling of these joint funds and awards for teaching fellowships that the shortcomings of the dual administration are most painfully apparent. If women were admitted to the Harvard graduate schools, much of the see-saw process now involved in making these scholarship awards would be supplemented by the resources of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The larger scholarships would bring to Cambridge top quality women who often go elsewhere, accepting better offers. All the other graduate schools, except the Business School, have realized these co-educational advantages.
Amalgamation would not mean scrapping the Annex's plans for its new graduate center: the buildings could simply be placed under Harvard administration, and instead of housing Radcliffe's Dean of Graduate Students, they would contain the Dean of Women in the GSAS. Superficial as these alterations may seem, they would facilitate long-needed administrative savings in a system that is more suited for the more leisurely days of 20 years ago.