As associate who makes a hobby of statistics pointed out to me recently that the average date of graduation of the present members of the Board of Overseers was 1924. Even the most cursory glance at the University during the past year quickly reveals what a different place it has become in four swift decades.
As least half the buildings on which we now depend - including, for example, the majority of the Undergraduate Houses, the whole of the Business School, virtually all of the laboratories for science north of the Yard - did not exist in 1924. Mr. Lowell began to appeal for new quarters for the Department of Chemistry as early as 1916, but in 1924 this department was still endeavoring to make do in the ancient Boylston Hall. The biologists were sandwiched at that time into the University Museum which today cannot even provide adequately for its own basic activities.
There were 6,733 students enrolled in all departments of the University in 1923-24, some 2,931 of them in the College. Now there are 4,737 undergraduates in the College plus 1,163 students at Radcliffe who attend Harvard classes, and a total student population of nearly 14,000. Furthermore, with the addition or such programs as that in Advanced Management, the Trade Union Program, and the Nieman Fellowships, it has now become common each year to have a number of mature individuals well advanced in their professions attending the University.
Twice as many degrees
In 1924 there were, 1,054 members of the University Faculty; this year there are 4,994. Almost twice as many degrees were awarded last June as in 1924 - a total of 3,124 as compared with 1,671. The number of baccalaureate degrees given annually by the College has almost doubled, which testified primarily to the fact that now almost all undergraduates admitted obtain their diplomas. There has been a corresponding increase in the number of degrees in law, and largely for the same reason. There has also been a very striking growth is the number graduating each year form the Business School. But most impressive of all perhaps, is the increase in the number of advanced degrees now being awarded throughout the University. For example, there were 164 Ph.D's awarded last year, compared with only 72 in 1924. And in addition there are now several thousand post-doctoral students, not candidates for degrees, in residence each year. In 1924 there were very few in this category.
It will occasion no surprise to hear that the annual expense of operating the University has risen. The cost in 1923-24 was $6.6 million; last year it reached the level of $89 million, and it continues to rise. Meanwhile the number of books and pamphlets in the Library has increased from about 2.4 million to more than 6.8 million, a silent indication of the vast increase in knowledge which has occurred during the interval.
More important than such quantitative changes are fundamental alternations in what we are doing. It now takes nearly four times as many pages as in the 1924 President's Report Issue of the Official Register to list the courses given by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. And the character of almost all the courses has deepened enormously. Courses in literature and history now typically deal with more constricted periods of time - with limited periods and more specialized considerations within them, and with single authors and new methods of approach. There are more advanced courses and more people taking them - including more undergraduates. Last year almost half the students enrolled in graduate courses in mathematics were undergraduates - and in several of the large advanced mathematics courses undergraduates comprised to-thirds of the enrollment. Also whole new areas of human experience have been brought into the curriculum. For example, the two full courses and seven half-courses given in Social Ethics in 1923-24 have now been supplanted by the offerings of the new Department of Social Relations which in 1961-62 taught eleven full courses and 66 half-courses in a rich variety of offerings in such articulated fields within the discipline as comparative cultures, institutions and group behavior, the psychological foundations of social behavior, communication and interaction, and social control and deviance. Such dramatic examples of curricular growth have been made necessary by the advance and increasing specialization of knowledge. In 1923-24 the University offered tow courses in Chinese, one elementary and one advanced, and none in Japanese and Korean. Last year the Department of Far Eastern Languages offered four full courses and approximately twenty half courses in Japanese, Korean and Mongolian, including both intensive and non-intensive courses in languages and intermediate and advanced courses in the literatures, history and institutions of these countries now of such great importance in the world. There were also new courses in Oriental art offered by the Department of fine arts.
One can find almost anywhere one looks similar examples of the effect wrought in the curriculum and in the nature of the contemporary university by widening international awareness, advancing knowledge, and increasingly sophisticated methods of research. The revolution in nuclear physics came out early in our period. Since the thirties the electron microscope has opened new ways to study the chemistry of the cell. Space engineering has now broken upon us. IN field after field the application of contemporary mathematical and statistical analysis stimulates new research. And since World War II the whole globe has become of exciting interest to scholars in the social sciences and humanities to a degree unknown before. Asia and Africa, radio telescopes, masers and lasers, and devices for interplanetary exploration unimagined in 1924 - these and other developments have effected such enormous changes in the intellectual orientation and aspiration of the contemporary university as to have made the University we knew as students now seem a strangely underdeveloped, indeed a very simple and an almost unconcerned kind of institution. And the pace of change continues.
Noteworthy among events of the academic year 1961-62 was the beginning of operation of the newly built Cambridge Electron Accelerator. This research tool spins bursts of 100 billion electrons around its race track 10,000 times in 1/120th of a second and then shoots them out into the experimental hall with an energy of 6 billion electron volts, the highest electron energy yet achieved. In so doing it creates a situation permitting scientists to peer more deeply into the nature of our physical universe, into the wonder world of particles and anti-particles, than have any of their predecessors during the whole history of mankind. It is instructive to recall that the first primitive misnamed "atom-smasher" was built in 1928 and that the powerful accelerators of the kind now used by high energy physicists to advance their study have been developed only since World War II. The Cambridge Electron Accelerator, financed and sup- ported by the Atomic Energy Commission, and built and jointly controlled by Harvard and M.I.T., is powerful enough to create all the known particles and anti-particles in quantities sufficient to make possible the accurate measurement of their properties. At the moment it is the most powerful instrument of its kind in the world.
The year 1961-62 also saw the organization of a new Computing Center which one might say has evolved from Harvard's pioneering Computation Laboratory, where the first large-scale digital calculating machine, the historic Mark I, was built only as recently as 1944 by the International Business Machines Corporation on a design developed by Professor Howard H. Alken in collaboration with IBM engineers. Now already greatly improved computers have become indispensable for many kinds of research. The new Center is equipped with an IBM 7090 and is organized to provide a university-wide research service for anthropologists, economists, chemists, mathematicians, historians, linguists, medical scientists and any others who may wish to use it, while at the same time, members of the Center's staff will be seeking to find new ways in which machines of this kind can be made to serve the interests of universities, governments, and business...
The academic year 1961-62 was the tenth year of Dean Greep's leadership of the School of Dental Medicine, and the twentieth since the institution of the new program with its high faculty-student ratio under which the students follow for the first two years the same general curriculum as students in the Medical school. Slowly the graduates of the School of Dental Medicine are establishing a proclivity for experiment within their profession. It is the School's conviction that it is only as this is done that there will be any hope of effectively contending with dental disease...
Dean Greep point out in his report that during the past two years more research was performed at the Forsyth Dental Infirmary (now filling the role of an affiliated teaching institution for the School of dental Medicine) than in the previous 46 years of the School's history.