The letters of acceptance mailed in the spring of 1959 bore the post-mark "Our task is still to build." Originally the motto of the Program for Harvard College, it has since come to reflect the atmosphere of growth to which the Class of '63 has been exposed.
The Class was selected from the largest number of applications in the University's history and lived in a yard which was beginning extensive renovations of its dormitories. The dorm improvements were only the beginning of what was to start an unprecedented spurt in both building and academic changes.
During the time that '63 was in residence the University either completed, began, or announced plans for Leverett Towers, the Holyoke Center, Loeb Drama Center, the Geological Laboratory, William James Center for Behavioral Sciences, dorms for married students, the Kennedy Library, the Countway Medical Library, and a tenth House to be built as soon as the appropriate land is purchased.
The Class of '63 was caught in the middle of several trends, trends which show every indication of being more clearly defined and directed than any any previously.
Most remarkable, perhaps, has been the tendency towards more individual instruction and research. While the University still remains an exponent of the comparatively impersonal lecture system, the years since '59 have resulted in changes which have directly affected those graduating this year.
The introduction of both extensive non-honors tutorial and tutorial in the sciences reflected the University's concern that more students should be able to avail themselves of the University's offerings.
Cloistered View Dispelled
It had long been held that the so-called Ivy-League schools had presented to students a false, cloistered view of the world; a favorite line has always been college students, particularly those at Harvard, have no conception of what lies outside the college community. With the rapid introduction to government service of several faculty members over the past few years--as advisers, officials and planners--this concept has lost much ground.
During the years of the Class of '63, student participation in political affairs also increased considerably; the debates which centered around such groups as Core, SNCC, Tocsin, and the Civil Rights Coordinating Committee were attended by more enthusiasm (and more students) than ever before. The phenomenal number of students who took part in the Peace March to Washington last spring represented this new political involvement.
Harvard student politics was, however, in a fairly shoddy state when '63 arrived in Cambridge; the student council had fallen into disrepute and its effects on the administration and students were minimal. The situation was brought to a head in 1961, and revolved around accusations that council president Howie L. Phillips '62 had been using his student council presidency to further his already prominent career in Young Republican Circles.
Student Council Abolished
In the subsequest of charges and counter-charges, the student council was finally abolished by a student referendum and resurrected as the Harvard Council for Undergraduate Affairs. The movement, led mostly by members of the Class of '63, resulted in the election of Cornelius J. Minihan '63 as chairman and the eventual re-ascendancy in prestige and effectiveness of the council. For the first time in recent memory, HCUA reports are now taken seriously, and the University has acted seriously on the reports of inadequacies in proctoring, food, and especially ticket allocations for football, hockey, and swimming events.
Yet despite an increased emphasis on academic achievement and greater interest in college activities, the Class of '63 has demonstrated a remarkable advance in its interest in the community surrounding the University. From its previous high of 730 members, Phillips Brooks House has jumped this year to 850, and reports that more members of a senior class than ever before are giving service to the community.
The years since 1959 have also seen more cooperation between administration and students, not only in the greater receptivity to student council suggestions but also in the willingness to give greater support to undergraduate organizations. For the first time, the director of the band received a salary from the University; new magazines such as the Harvard Review received full administration support and even sported a letter from President Pusey welcoming such additions to the Harvard community.