Radcliffe Alum Group Ponders Change in Name
The Radcliffe College Alumnae Association (RCAA) will take steps to remove the "college" reference from its name and become simply the Radcliffe Association, the RCAA president confirmed yesterday.
The group's roughly 30,000 membership includes all women who graduated from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges until 1999. This year's graduating female seniors will be the first class to graduate from Harvard College alone and will not automatically become RCAA members at Commencement.
RCAA President A'Lelia P. Bundles '74 said that since the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study will not be granting degrees, the group is looking for a way to involve individuals who are associated with Radcliffe in other ways.
RCAA's current bylaws state that two thirds of the organization's members--roughly 20,000 people--would have to approve changes to the group's name or charter.
In April, RCAA's board of management will finish drawing up a new set of bylaws that would grant it name changing powers, making an organization-wide vote unnecessary.
The bylaw revisions will have to be approved at RCAA's annual meeting in June.
Once the board of management has the power to change RCAA's name, Bundles said the group would change its name to the Radcliffe Association.
"The board of management has preliminarily discussed the feasibility of changing our name to reflect our future constituency and current reality," Bundles said. "To change the charter, i.e. the name and purpose, we need to change our by bylaws."
Bundles said that RCAA is currently a "membership governance body" where members themselves have to vote on changes to certain key parts of the group's charter.
But the proposed changes to the RCAA bylaws would make the group a "board governance body," Bundles said and give the management board itself the power to alter its name and purpose.
"The reason we'd like a bylaw change from membership to board membership, is that with 30,000 members, it's impossible to get the necessary votes to conduct business," she said.
Bundles has said that the group is looking for ways to clarify its relationship with the new Radcliffe, not to mention ensure its survival now that the group will no longer have an automatic crop of new members every year.
"We want to welcome fellows, or other people, we want to be able to reflect our past but open our arms for other people in the future," Bundles said. "We propose to change our name to the Radcliffe Association."
Bundles emphasized that the proposed name change is in its preliminary stages, and that the group will be looking for input from alumni.
"This is preliminary. Our plan is that this information will be mailed to everyone after [the April] meeting," she said. "We really value the input of our alumnae, want them to be partners in any changes that we make."
Bundles said the board of management has been working at revising its bylaws as a whole in recent months.
"There are all these references to Radcliffe College, and those have to be changed to the Radcliffe Institute," she said. "There is no longer a Radcliffe College Board of Trustees, and the text needs to reflect that."
But some alumnae said at the possibility of a new name for RCAA.
"It makes me very sad. I cannot imagine any other woman of my generation who wouldn't feel the same way," said Elizabeth R. Fishel '72.
Diana E. Post '67, who currently serves as second vice president of RCA, said, "I think that there is a great deal of sadness, but mostly related to what happened to the College."
"Will the new Institute take our loyalties or not? We'll see. We'll also see who will join Radcliffe Association," Post continued.
Radcliffe College's merger with Harvard, negotiated last spring, sent shock waves through the ranks of Radcliffe College alumnae, many of who expressed disappointment at not being included in the process and at the College's ultimate absorption into the ranks of Harvard.
Mary Maples Dunn, acting dean of the Radcliffe Institute has said even close to one year after the merger announcement, many alumnae still do not understand the details or implications of the merger.
She has been crisscrossing the nation in recent months to explain the merger to regional alumni groups.
Dunn has said that RCAA, which has traditionally been funded in full by Radcliffe College, should not worry about continued financial support from the Institute. But she has said the Institute will expect the support of Radcliffe College alumnae in return.
Bundles said yesterday that she hopes the proposed RCAA name change will meet with less emotion and confusion than last year's merger with Harvard.
"The name has a lot of pride and sentiment, and we take that very seriously. It's not to be altered lightly," she said. "But I hope the alumnae will support this, so that we can grow as an organization."