President Mary I. Bunting of Radcliffe conferred the Bachelor of Arts degree on 290 members of the Senior class yesterday morning, as threatening skies and wet benches forced Radcliffe's 81st commencement exercises into Sanders Theatre.
Eighty-four per cent of the class graduated with honors, the highest number in the College's history. For the first time, Radcliffe graduates received Harvard diplomas, co-signed by President Bunting and President Pusey.
In the commencement address, Adlai E. Stevenson, United States Ambassador to the United Nations warned that "steady intelligence in command of the facts" is all we have to combat "panic reactions" in this time of great social upheaval.
In a speech sprinkled with literary references, Stevenson admitted that this is a world "still very largely run by men," and said that men "clearly have had some difficulty in making up their minds about women and their roles."
But Stevenson warned that society, by restricting women to "the dishes and the diapers," is potentially stifling and inhibiting half its brain power.
"Nowadays trained intelligence is the nation's greatest weapon in the battle for a world fit for people and safe for people," Stevenson maintained. "We have to cherish and expand every 'erg' of brain power we have."
Stevenson said that in these days of scientific and technological advance, "tradition, or habit, or 'conventional wisdom' is not sufficient." He stated that "we can rely on only the rational response of trained minds."
"But after graduation from college," Stevenson observed, "most women have a large and obvious dicontinuity to face." He said that the life of the mind must "coexist with the life of the diaper and the kitchen sink," and asked if the future of yesterday's Radcliffe graduates must be a change "from scholar to slave?"
"Social and individual waste reach a peak," Stevenson claimed, "when the young woman who has it in her to be a brilliant atomic physicist, or a pioneering sociologist, or an historian finds herself in front of the dishes or the diapers."
The Ambassador praised Radcliffe's recently established Institute for Independent study for meeting the needs of such women by "enabling them to carry on their scholastic and professional interests part-time to prepare for greater participation in the post-domestic years."
In a moving peroration, Stevenson reflected on the greatness of Eleanor Roosevelt, and urged every graduate to follow Mrs. Roosevelt's example of "doing everything because it was worth doing; of doing nothing because it would help to enhance her own role."