Harvard yesterday broke with a 71-year-old tradition by endorsing women applicants for the Rhodes Scholarship, restricted by law since its founding to candidates who exhibit "qualities of manhood."
The Fellowships Committee, having received applications from women for the first time, selected three out of six women applicants to represent Harvard in the nationwide competition.
The number of men selected at yesterday's annual Rhodes endorsement meeting is not tabulated but Katherine A. Hutchins, director of Fellowships, yesterday said approximately 70 per cent of the 116 men who filed preliminary Rhodes applications were chosen.
The women selected are Dale S. Russakoff '74 of Lowell House and Birmingham, Ala., Emily A. Fisher '74 of Dunster House and Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and RoAnn Costin '74 of Lowell House and Nahant.
Signs Attracted Applicants
Applications from women were prompted this year by assistant senior tutors in several of the Houses who posted signs early last week informing women that the committee would accept their applications.
Hutchins said she instructed tutors in all Houses to post the signs after she received telephone calls from several tutors who asked if applications from women would be accepted.
Hutchins would not say who authorized her to process applications from women.
As the director of fellowships, she has no official voice in the committee's decision to endorse candidates for the Rhodes.
Francis D. Fisher, director of the Office of Career Services and Off-Campus Learning (OGCP), said early last week that the office has no official policy on women applicants for the Rhodes.
"We merely process any applications we receive," he said.
The scholarship is restricted to men according to the provisions of a legacy set in 1902 by Cecil Rhodes, founder of the trust fund supporting the scholarship. The requirements for eligibility are incorporated into a statute of the British Parliament and any changes in those stipulations must be approved by an act of Parliament.
The 13-member Harvard Fellowship Committee--composed of an assistant senior tutor from each House--was aware of the restriction but deliberately chose to violate it, Hutchins said.
Harvard's endorsement is only the first in a long series of endorsements a candidate needs to win a Rhodes. Both a state and a regional committee must approve the applicant before his or her name can be forwarded to the trustees of the scholarship fund in England.
In endorsing a woman, Harvard follows a precedent set by the University of Minnesota, which endorsed Eileen Lach in 1972. Lach was disqualified at the state committee level.