From the snowy day ten months ago when Albert L. Nickerson '33 announced his plans to retire as a Fellow of Harvard College, University officials looking for his successor saw caution as the better part of corporate valor.
The new Harvard Corporation member, one senior official said, should have "business talents and connections like Nickerson [the retired board chairman of the Mobil Oil Corporation], be that person man or woman."
In the past such business ties have not been a rarity for people on the seven-member Corporation, which collectively owns the physical property, receives and manages gifts and income, and directs the day-to-day affairs of the University. The president and treasurer of Harvard sit on the panel ex officio with five Fellows.
Extraordinarily, Nickerson's departure left the Corporation with no businessmen; of its four remaining Fellows, two are lawyers and two are academics.
The lengthy search for Nickerson's successor ended early this week, and the choice of Robert G. Stone '45, a Greenwich, Conn., man closely connected to the New York City business and financial communities, surprised few.
While the 350-odd names originally submitted for the position included "a lot of good women," none of them were "very well worlds," Harvard Treasurer George Putnam Jr. '49 said this week.
Putnam said this absence of business acumen was supplemented by a second consideration. The recent election of Helen H. Gilbert '35 as president of the Board of Overseers eliminated pressure to appoint a woman as Fellow, he said.
Stone's credentials in the world of finance, Harvard, and the upper class run quite long. At Harvard he presided over the Owl Club and was captain of the heavyweight crew. He currently chairs the board of the West India Shipping Company and the General Energy Corporation.
In addition, he has directorships with at least eight companies and has held numerous positions on Harvard alumni and fund-raising organizations. His entry in the Class of 1945's 25th Anniversary Report notes his membership in 12 clubs.
Stone's diverse connections give him a fairly busy life. As his wife, Marion Rockefeller Stone, said early this week, "He's director of so many companies. He's always jazzing off somewhere."