Alumnus Quits Council, Objects to Oppenheimer
'Veritas Tarnished,' States Local Banker
The Class of 1918's representative of the Harvard Fund Council has resigned in protest over the appointment of J. Robert Oppenheimer '26 as William James Lecturer for 1957.
Edwin Ginn '18, a Boston financier, insisted that he was "all for Harvard, but the atmosphere has undergone a change. There is tarnish on the Veritas today. The good name of the University is being used to disadvantage."
Ginn wrote David T. W. McCord '21, executive secretary of the Council, that the appointment of Oppenheimer, whom he called "a known Communist sympathizer and confessed liar in a matter of espionage," was "just too much," in his resignation letter of October 31.
"Why," he demanded, "must Harvard insult a large body of loyal alumni by inviting so dubious a character to lecture? My conscience will not allow me to continue financial support to the college while such an attitude prevails, nor can I continue to urge others to do so."
Oppenheimer, director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, will deliver the biennial James Lectures in the spring of 1957 under the auspices of the departments of Philosophy and Psychology.
Paul C. Cabot '21, treasurer of the College, pointed out in a letter to Ginn, that "both the Corporation and the Board of Overseers--which is directly representative of alumni interests in the policies of the University--carefully considered the Oppenheimer appointment before it was made. It came with the firm endorsement of the dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences."
"I think it was the feeling of those people that Mr. Oppenheimer's virtues far outweighed the one or two mistakes of judgment to which he himself has admitted," Cabot added.
Cabot went on to say that Oppenheimer had been a "respected member of the Board of Overseers." He continued, "I shall not dispute your statement about Oppenheimer's mistake in judgment, but merely wish to say that I am impressed with the enormous contributions which he has made to our national defense effort and to the advancement of the world's knowledge of nuclear power."
Ginn said yesterday that he had received many letters and phone calls supporting his position and that there was "quite a feeling around" among alumni that the Oppenheimer appointment was a bad policy. However, he personally does not plan any further action among alumni.
In a letter to Cabot, Ginn replied "If great achievements are to be the criteria for appointment despite mistakes in judgment (even in a matter of espionage), why not select Alger Hiss and Richard Whitney to serve on the corporation?
"Then change the title to: 'the President and Felous of Harvard College.'"