The pomp and circumstance of this week's reunions and commencement, with its renowned speakers, perfectly mowed lawns, beer trucks, and lobster dinners, will pale in comparison to the events University officials are currently planning for Harvard's 350th anniversary next September.
Harvard officials hope speeches by President Reagan, a member of the British royal family, President Bok, and a "Spectacular" in the Stadium on the last night will highlight five days of celebration beginning on September 3, 1986.
Plans for the event, which have been under consideration since 1978, also include 60 to 70 University-wide symposia on current research and needs at Harvard, several concerts by world-famous cellist Yo Yo Ma '76, plays at the Loeb and Agassiz Theaters, and special commemorative displays at University museums and libraries.
University officials expect to shell out $2 million for the entire proceedings, although they will receive $1 million back in ticket sales, Financial Vice President Thomas O'Brien said.
The week's activities are both aimed at "having fun" and at "taking a look at the opportunities and challenges that exist for higher education in the future," according to Thomas W. Stephenson, coordinator of the 350th celebration. He added the University will not emphasize the past accomplishments of Harvard.
"We do not want to make this a self-laudatory occassion," he said.
Invitations to the events will be extended to all Harvard Faculty, students, and staff, and all "neighbors in Cambridge," according to Stephenson, who said the University expects between, 30,000 and 40,000 people to attend the five-day celebration. Only elected class representatives of Harvard College and the 10 graduate schools will be allowed to stay in the 12 undergraduate residential Houses during this period, he said.
In keeping with the tradition set at Harvard's past major anniversaries--then President Franklin D. Roosevelt '04 spoke at Harvard's Tercentenary in 1936 and Grover Cleveland at the 250th in 1886--University officials are "confident" that Reagan will attend in 1986, but will not know for certain for over a year because the White House does not schedule the president this far in advance.
A recent brouhaha has erupted over whether Reagan will receive an honorary degree if he speaks at the 350th anniversary, but President Bok has said that the University has not yet decided whether it will award honoraries at that time. In the past the University has not awarded honoraries to all presidential guests at anniversary celebrations. At Harvard's three-day celebration of its 300th birthday in 1936, the University awarded $2 honorary degrees.
University officials are also confident that a member of the British royal family will represent the "mother country" at the celebration, but plans are still uncertain, Stephenson said, adding that Harvard was hopeful that the representative would be a member of the Queen Elizabeth II's immediate family. He would not say which royal family member the University preferred to have attend.
Twenty-five to thirty thousand people are expected to attend an extravaganza in the Stadium on the final night of the celebration, which may be orchestrated by Tommy Walker, who designed the opening and closing ceremonies at the recent Los Angeles Olympics, according to Stephenson.
Walker's plan, which will be considered next month, may include fireworks, laser beams, and music, according to David A. Aloian '49, executive director of the Harvard Alumni Association.
In addition to the commemorative medals, clothes and other merchandise that will mark the occassion. Aloian said, there will be four "official" books: A history of the last 50 years, a special edition of the now existing color picture book of Harvard, a series of historic essays by alumni entitled "College the Yard," and a book call "Glimpses of Harvard."
The University is not scheduling any more Harvard-wide events after the week-long anniversary, although it is possible that the College and 148 Harvard Clubs around the world may be conducting some additional activities, Stephenson said.
A major fundraising effort will not be conducted in association with the 350th anniversary, according to Free L. Glimp '50, vice president for alumni affairs and development. But Glimp said the celebration may increase fundraising by "making alumni feel even better about the place." Harvard recently completed successful five-year, $350 million donation drive.
Aloian, Glimp, University Marshal Richard M. Hunt, Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs John Shattuck, and Secretary to the Corporation Robert Shenton comprise the Steering Committee in charge of running the anniversary.