Women's Colleges Reflect on Merger

At a community meeting last October, an alumna suggested with enthusiasm that Radcliffe's future could look a little like that of Pembroke, the formerly all-women's college that merged with Brown University in 1971. In 1981, Pembroke reopened its doors as the Pembroke Center for the Teaching and Research of Women.

But not everyone was pleased with that vision for Radcliffe's future.

"No one ever hears of Pembroke," Radcliffe Dean of Educational Programs Tamar March responded with dismay after the meeting.

Now that Radcliffe has announced that it intends to merge fully with Harvard and from the new Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, women's colleges and centers around the country are sizing up what Radcliffe's reincarnation as an Institute might mean for them.

One of Radcliffe's key focuses will be on "Women and society," which means that the Pembroke Center may be overshadowed by its larger and richer sister in Cambridge.

"We're so tiny compared to them, and our budget is tiny compared to what they're going to be," said Barbara J. Anton, coordinator of alumnae affairs for the Pembroke Center.

The Pembroke Center is currently finishing up a fundraising drive designed to fund a $3 million endowment.

The new Radcliffe Institute, by contrast, will start operating with $350 million in the bank.

And while the Pembroke Center sponsors the research of only three post-doctoral scholars whose work centers on an annual theme--this year they're looking as aesthetics'--the Radcliffe Institute will support a network of scholars affiliated with each of its four research institutes.

Radcliffe may hope to use its new clout as an Institute to convince alumnae anddonors that the move is a wise one, a task Antonsaid Pembroke is still finding challenging.

"Some of the alumnae are still angry about [themerger], because they feel like they lost somuch," she said