Kenneth B. Murdock '16, Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English Literature, will become Chairman of the General Education Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Educational Policy effective next fall, it was announced yesterday. He succeeds Philip H. Rhinelander '29, who resigned earlier this month, in the first job; the second position has been created for him.
The appointment of the widely-known authority on American Literature and former Dean of the Faculty (1931-1936) was seen yesterday by members of the faculty and administration as an important boost to the prestige of the General Education program.
In the first place, the appointment is in accord with the recently-announced policy of the General Education Committee that the chairman should be a man of permanent professorial rank and widely recognized academic standing.
Pusey Praises Appointment
In announcing the appointments, President Pusey said yesterday, "The program of General Education is fundamental in the liberal arts training of Harvard College. It gives our students a common understanding of the great heritage and tradition of Western Civilization. We are extremely fortunate that a man of Professor Murdock's high scholarly attainment, proven administrative talent and great standing in the faculty, is willing to undertake the executive leadership of this important program.
Dean Bundy yesterday said the joint appointment was an effort to integrate the General Education program with the broad educational policies of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Speaking for himself and the CEP, he expressed "great satisfaction" in Murdock's appointment and declared, "It is our hope that by his membership on the CEP the work of the two committees will be strengthened. General Education is so central to Harvard College that the CEP will be much reinforced by having Professor Murdock as Vice-Chairman at the center of its deliberations."
Will Make Liaison
Bundy also emphasized that the appointments would remedy a certain lack of liaison between the faculty as a whole, represented by the CEP, and the General Education Program.
Joining with Bundy and Pusey in their praise of Murdock were many members of the faculty. Reuben A. Brower, professor of English who teaches Humanities 6, declared, "Kenneth Murdock is exactly the man who is needed at this point in the history of General Education at Harvard. He will create an atmosphere in which critical intelligence can operate calmly and effectively."
Archibald MacLeish, Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory who has taught upper level General Education courses, termed the appointment "magnificent." He referred as did many faculty members, to the outstanding administrative jobs which Murdock did as Dean of the Faculty and Master of Leverett House (1931-41). "His senior common room was one of the most exciting places in the University. Out of this will come a superb administration and a fine core of people working in the administration."
MacLeish, along with others, also emphasized the fine job Rhinolander had done in the post.
Samuel A. Boar, professor of Government and lecturer in Social Sciences 2, said, "It will be splendid to have Murdock as chairman. I am delighted and I am sure that the rest of the faculty is equally pleased."
Murdock, who was also formerly an assistant dean of the College, is best known for his studies of colonial literature. He has written "Increase Mather, the Foremost American Puritan," "Literature and Theology in Colonial New England," and others. He has edited "Selections from Cotton Mather" and with F. O. Mathiessen, "The Notebooks of Henry James."
A fellow of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is also a former President of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts