The retirement from the Harvard Corporation this week of Albert L. Nickerson '33 opens up one of the University's most important posts, and the manner in which it is filled this spring could be an interesting indicator of which direction Harvard is moving.
Nickerson, the oldest of the five Fellows of Harvard College, was chairman of the board of Mobil Oil and served on the Corporation since 1965.
The Corporation, made up of the five Fellows, President Bok and Treasurer George Putnam '49, theoretically runs the University; it is the nominal owner of all Harvard property and rules on everything from appointments to finance to educational policy. It is the oldest corporation in the country.
The members of the Corporation have traditionally been fiftyish men, Northeastern financial barons. Lately its composition has changed a little--the Fellows are a little younger now, and the two most recent appointees are the first career academics on the Corporation.
A top-level four-member committee--made up of Bok, Putnam, Francis H. Burr '35, senior fellow of the Corporation, and F. Stanton Deland '36, president of the board of Overseers--will choose Nickerson's successor, probably by late spring.
Since the committee has not met yet, it's pure speculation what it will do. Some educated guesses, however, are: The new Fellow will probably not be a woman or an academic; he will be an alumnus, most likely in his forties; and he will have strong ties to the business world.