Plans for the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study represent the first major attempt by any college to develop the neglected talents of highly educated women now unable to find a way to use their training effectively. Moreover, it appears that the expectations of the program's originator, President Mary I. Bunting, will be fulfilled in a manner beneficial not only to these women but to the College and the nation as well.
One of the program's most important provisions is the appointment of Associate Scholars, a group of gifted but not necessarily widely recognized women, on a part-time basis. At the great majority of educational institutions, part-time study is discouraged. For the married woman whose family obligations make full-time academic or creative activity impossible, the Institute will offer a unique outlet as well as a challenge to prove to other colleges and universities--and to industries or professions--that part-time academic work can result in significant intellectual achievement.
Despite the necessarily small size of the pilot program, the Associate Scholars and the Resident Fellows (a smaller group of very distinguished scholars who will live at the Institute for one to five years) will add a great deal to the College's intellectual life and reputation. Whatever contact they may have with the undergraduates--and it is to be hoped that Radcliffe will encourage frequent formal and informal communication between scholars and students--their ideas and projects should stimulate intellectual curiosity and lead career-minded 'Cliffies to make long-range plans for the future. And if the Fellows can be induced to live in College dormitories, a natural meeting-ground will be provided.
If the Institute for Independent Study is a success, it does not seem overly optimistic to prophesy that Radcliffe will have the honor of initiating a nation-wide effort to salvage potentially effective women from intellectual stagnation and to use their talents for the benefit of all.