They Never Left the Harvard Nest
A Look at Some '65 Grads Who Somehow Managed to Stick Around
Twenty-five years ago, Thomas C. Hayes '65 wanted to leave Harvard so badly that he even missed his own graduation.
Today Hayes teaches electronics in the same university he says "thoroughly crushed" him.
"I didn't know where I was going to end up," he says. "I just wanted to get away from the oppression of senior year. [Where I ended up] was a surprise to me."
And Hayes is not the only member of the Class of '65 who has remained at Harvard beyond his undergraduate years. These graduates say that although they have seen the University change tremendously, it is still much the same is it was 25 years ago.
Howard E. Gardner '65, who works at the School of Education, says he stayed at Harvard because he did not want to go home.
"I came from an educationally-deprived area in Pennsylvania--Scranton--the coal-mining region," Gardner says. "My parents were uneducated...college was a total revelation...It was an intoxicating experience [that made it] impossible to go back."
Similarly, Margaret H. Bean-Bayog '65, psychiatrist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, stayed at Harvard because the area was more progressive than her hometown.
"Every time there was a reason to leave, there was a better reason to stay," she says. "[Although] my father and grandfather were professors of medicine at the University of Iowa, I would've been an odd duck there. Women doctors were not common."
"I also stayed because either I was in training or I was in a relationship. I trained for hundreds of years," she adds. "And I like New England. I have 20 years of relationships with people here."
The other lifelong Harvardians express a similarly overwhelming sense of allegiance--either to specific persons or to the institution itself.
James M. Herzog '65, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says his goal after graduation was to be able to make a contribution to Harvard.
"[I hoped that] the pleasure of being at Harvard would lead to repaying it," he says. "I succeeded by being an analyst, a teacher, by being for students and colleagues. And I hope that this will continue to grow."
For Hayes, whose escape from Harvard eventually led him to scoop ice cream for proprietor Steve, "a good fellow," says "good people" brought him back to Harvard.
"Good individuals in the Physics Department kept me here," he says. "And the students are fun to teach. My quarrel is with the teachers. I've given up looking for good institutions."
Gardner bemoans the lack of institutional loyalty. "It's important for some people to stay to maintain an institutional memory or identity," he says. "Harvard represents an institution which has endured and which more-or-less works. [Up to about 30 years ago,] people rarely left their institution. Now there are no institutional loyalties, and Harvard is a victim of this."
Gardner says many academic and cultural trends have made the University a more diffuse place.
"Today the University is more science-oriented," he says. "Research makes Harvard less of the focus, to its loss. It is more difficult to have relationships with professors.
"Most people who were recruited came to Harvard. People considered themselves 'citizens' of Harvard. But today other schools can attract people also."
Harvard and Radcliffe alumni who stayed at the University also comment on the changing composition of the student body.
"Today Harvard is more varied," says Gardner. "There are more Orientals, more Blacks, and fewer legacies...which may be bad for fundraising but good overall."
Hayes and Herzog both find that today's students are both very similar and very different from their predecessors.
Herzog, in particular, says he has taken another look at Harvard since his daughter Eve matriculated.
"The women of today are different from the Radcliffe women of my day. They are Harvard students...belonging to two worlds as opposed to one," he says. "[As first-year students] their allegiance is to the Yard...which is an experience similar to my own."
But although the rules may have changed, Herzog says there are still many similarities between today's undergraduates and those of 1961-65.
"If given a chance, the students are interested in learning everything," he says. "There's a special feeling that one knows how to learn and wants to."
Hayes says that students, then as now, have not been able to enjoy life to the fullest.
"Life doesn't look happy for them, but I may be viewing them in the wrong setting," he said. "They're painfully competitive. They have a reluctance to speak out out of fear of looking foolish. People have a sophisticated glaze that makes it hard to enjoy life."
Bean-Bayog says that women at Radcliffe were "somewhat more protected then." Today, Bean-Bayog says she "feels protective of her students [at the Medical School] who are flooded with ideas and expected to perform [under immense pressure]."
Graduates say University emphasis on teaching has increased.
"We gave the professor the benefit of a doubt," says Gardner. "We assumed that he knew what he was talking about. It was our problem if we didn't get it, our inadequacy.
Now, Gardner says, the University atmosphere fosters good teaching. "[President Derek C.] Bok was good for making people think about teaching. And I think that it's bad form to be a bad teacher," he says. "Bok was more in touch while Pusey was incredibly remote."