Merger: A Relationship Still Unresolved
In September it looked like merger was going to be the dominant issue of the year: that the tangle of Harvard-Radcliffe relations was finally going to be resolved. But nothing has happened since then. The present merger agreement is still up for review, and there is still an ad hoc committee reviewing it, but besides those givens the situation remains unchanged. So it appears that this spring there will be at least some public interim reviewing of the corporate structure of Radcliffe College.
The issue of corporate merger has little to do with admissions or sex ratios, and it is in the hands of a nine-member group of administrative higher-ups called the Harvard-Radcliffe Joint Policy Committee. The committee met occasionally throughout the summer and early fall, and apparently reached some sort of decision in September on what it would recommend to the Corporation and the Radcliffe Trustees. Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, said in September that the committee would issue a set of merger recommendations in mid October.
Those recommendations are still in the works; Steiner says he has been delayed in drawing them up and that they will come out sometime this spring.
The corporate relationship the joint policy committee is dealing with is a complex and not very permanent one. Under a 1974 compromise merger agreement. Harvard got all of Radcliffe's tuition and fees money and in return assumed the costs of Radcliffe's operations, but Radcliffe kept its own separate administration, admissions office and endowment. All of Radcliffe's students are now under the administration of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which puts Radcliffe in the curious position of being a college without any students or real administrative power in the University.
A full merger seems inevitable given the awkwardness of the present situation, because it would eliminate Radcliffe's powerlessness over the students it admits. But there is a substantial anti-merger faction, consisting of some Radcliffe administrators, alumni and undergraduates. They argue that a full merger would mean a swallowing-up of women in an overwhelmingly male institution; Radcliffe, they say, can continue to function usefully as a women's institution in a male University.
Judging from statements by administrators and joint policy committee members during the fall, the committee will not recommend a full, immediate merger this year. It is, however, likely to call for some sort of modification in the present arrangement that would pave the way for increased incorporation of Radcliffe into the Harvard administration--a change that would make merger much more palatable to its opponents.
Radcliffe will probably retain control over its property and endowment, so the kind of change the Joint Policy Committee could make would be new Harvard jobs for Radcliffe administrators or places on Harvard governing boards for Radcliffe alumni. But whatever the Strauch Committee does will have a major effect on the corporate structure of Harvard and Radcliffe. Equal-access admissions will probably mean a single admissions office, which would make the pressure for full corporate merger even greater.