President Bok's decision this week to allow Eliot House to accept an alumnus's offer of support for an ambitious arts program seems to have plugged for the moment a small leak in Harvard's "every tub on its own bottom" method of fund-raising.
The University has always insisted that its constituent parts go out and raise their own money, but the roughly $20,000 annually promised to Eliot House exposed some ambiguity in the policy. While Houses have as a matter of course accepted small donations for specific purposes, the size of the Eliot House venture provoked an immediate uproar.
The strongest objections to Eliot's plan came, expectedly, from the masters of the other Houses. They claimed to have unearthed an old Corporation rule prohibiting individual Houses from soliciting or accepting large sums of money.
Alan E. Heimert '49 said he was unaware of any rule prohibiting the acceptance of unsolicited gifts, and Bok, who said he was similarly unaware, approved the gift. Sources said the donor, Alan J. Newmark '50, a New York attorney, was unwilling to give the money to the College as a whole.
But Bok's ruling, although coupled to commitments to help raise money for comparable programs in other Houses, leaves unresolved the serious questions of resource allocation raised by the Eliot gift. For if Houses are now to be allowed to initiate their own programs, the older, more established Houses would have an edge in tapping their alumni for funds.
To help find the answer, Bok also urged that a new policy on such gifts be developed.