Four Years of Harvard History: A Timeline

Crimson FILE Photo

Key players in the Harvard-Radcliffe merger - including then-president Neil L. Rudenstine, far right - pose for a photo in April 1999



South African president and co-recipient of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize Nelson Mandela receives an honorary degree before a 25,000-person crowd in Tercentenary Theatre. The ceremony, the third of its kind, joins Mandela with George Washington and Winston Churchill as the only men honored with a degree conferment not directly linked to Commencement or the celebration of a University anniversary.

Harvard officials announce a $9 million, 20 percent increase in financial aid that will result in at least $2,000 more in direct aid to nearly half of all undergraduates. The change follows policies announced by other Ivy League colleges during the previous nine months.


Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) institutes “fly by” lunches. PB&J just like mom used to make.

Quincy House announces universal key card access. In the coming months, Cabot, Dunster, Lowell and Winthrop do the same.


The Undergraduate Council announces the discovery of $40,000 in a forgotten account due to poor accounting procedures in the past. The council then pledges $25,000 in a heroic but unsuccessful attempt to win the student body a student center.

Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III announces that he will step down from his post after a 28-year tenure. Later, Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 says the position will not be filled, and that Epps’ duties will be redistributed among three associate deans.


Bolstered by a bull market and a strong economy, Harvard announces it will add $95 million of endowment money to its operating budget for 1999.

Former Harvard Republican Club President Noah Z. Seton ’00 and campus liberal Kamil E. Redmond ’00 forge a political partnership to win the helm of the Undergraduate Council. The Seton-Redmond ticket narrowly defeats the “Healthy Harvard” ticket led by T. Christopher King ’01, who makes national headlines when he argues that religious discrimination might have contributed to his defeat.



The AD club announces a closed-door policy for all non-members. The club’s graduate board cites a return to tradition but also acknowledges concern over legal liability. In the next few months, the Delphic, Owl, Phoenix and Spee clubs institute similar policies.


The University announces that it will spend $4 million to restore Memorial Hall’s signature tower, destroyed by fire in 1956. The decision draws criticism from student group leaders who call for the construction of a full-fledged student center instead.


In a much-talked-about “Rally for Justice,” about 350 students protest outside University Hall as the Faculty votes to dismiss D. Drew Douglas, Class of 2000, who pled guilty in the fall to charges of indecent assault and battery. The protest, organized by the Coalition Against Sexual Violence, the Living Wage Campaign and Students Against Sweatshops, also called for a stronger University stance against sweatshop labor, alleging that some apparel manufactured with the Harvard name was produced by companies using sweatshops, in addition to advocating for a minimum living wage for Harvard employees.

Hours after the Faculty vote, a Harvard-affiliated woman is raped in Byerly Hall. The building’s security system is discovered to have been broken for over a year.

The Harvard women’s hockey team defeats the University of New Hampshire 6-5 in overtime in the AWCHA national championship game. The win gives the team its first national title.


Professor of pediatric medicine Judith S. Palfrey ’67 M.D. and her husband John G. “Sean” Palfrey ’67 M.D., are named the new Masters of Adams House, replacing longtime opponents of randomization Robert J. Kiely ’60 and his wife Jana.

The Charles River gets a B- grade from the Environmental Protection Agency, a grade that, though disconcerting, is a marked improvement from a D grade in 1996 and a C in 1997.

Longtime Cambridge political fixture and Mayor Francis H. Duehay ’55 announces that he will retire in January 2000 following a 36-year career on the School Committee and the City Council. During his career, Duehay dealt with a variety of problems, including racial unrest and student protest in the 1960’s and the local housing tumult that followed the end of rent control in 1994.

Harvard and Radcliffe officials announce the full merger of the two institutions, with Radcliffe to become an institute for advanced study. Radcliffe-affiliated student groups express concern over their future and Harvard’s commitment to female undergraduates.


The University announces a complete restructuring of the Harvard University Police Department as part of a plan to implement a model of community policing. The department fires seven lieutenants, hires several new administrators and adds more that a dozen new officers—several on bicycles—to the force.

The Boston Globe reports that former Dean of the Divinity School Ronald F. Thiemann’s abrupt resignation the past fall was prompted by the discovery of pornographic material on his University-owned computer. Thiemann remains a tenured professor but goes on sabbatical until 2000.

Associate Director of Financial Aid David P. Illingworth ’71 is named a new associate dean of Harvard College. Illingworth assumes the overall responsibility for student extracurricular affairs while associate deans Thomas A. Dingman ’67 and Georgene B. Herschbach are focus on housing, athletics, advising and health services and finance, technology and classroom space, respectively.

Associate Professor of Government Peter Berkowitz’s teaching career at Harvard ends, following President Neil L. Rudenstine’s spring 1997 decision to deny him tenure. Berkowitz had filed a high-profile formal tenure complaint, accusing the University of failing to follow its own procedures when considering him for tenure. A grievance committee charged with reviewing Berkowitz’s complaint found it to be “clearly without merit.”


Harvard agrees to pay the City of Boston $40 million over 20 years in lieu of taxes, ending a two-year town-gown battle following the 1997 disclosure that the University had been secretly purchasing land in Allston.

Lewis announces that the maximum size of blocking groups will be halved from the current cap of 16 to eight, starting with the Class of 2003. Lewis stands by his decision even after first-years present him with a petition, signed by nearly half the class.

The Rev. Billy Graham, 80 years old and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, speaks to a standing room-only crowd at a Sunday morning service in Memorial Church.


The historic merger between Harvard and Radcliffe colleges becomes final with the formation of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

In a dark wood-paneled, plushly carpeted room at the Harvard Club of New York, President Neil L. Rudenstine announces that the University’s capital campaign has raised $2.3 billion. Though the campaign is still short of its stated goals for the University’s library system and its endowed professorships, overall it is three months ahead of schedule and $225 million ahead of its goal.

The University signs an agreement with the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers to provide greater compensation for nominally part-time or “casual” employees who work full-time hours. Over 400 employees will be affected.

Harvard hosts an international education summit featuring meetings between seven presidents from China’s leading universities and five from American universities.


The Crimson reports that for the past two months, Edward Francis Meinhert Jr., an Extension School student, posed as a transfer student in the College’s Class of 2002. Meinert joined a variety of extracurriculars, never disclosing the fact that he was a former student at George Washington University and was facing a federal prison sentence for fraud.

B.J. Averell ’02 sneaks onto a Delta Express jet in a futile attempt to get home in time for Thanksgiving, after he learns the airline had given away his seat. Averell is arrested by Logan Airport security officials, and his story makes national headlines. All charges are eventually dropped but Averell remains a campus celebrity, hosting his own variety show in the spring.

After his Mather House room had been targeted repeatedly in acts of homophobic vandalism, K. Kyriell Muhammad announces he would resign as resident tutor at the end of the term.


Fentrice D. Driskell ’01 wins the Undergraduate Council’s top spot, along with running mate John A. Burton ’01. The election also slashes the council in size and defeats efforts to increase the $20 student termbill fee, proceeds of which go directly to the council.



The troubled history of the Harvard Institute for International Development comes to an end after a University task force recommends its dissolution.

The days of the Bow and Arrow Pub and the Mass. Ave. Dunkin’ Donuts are numbered, as they are forced out of their building, owned by the Harvard Coop.

The Crimson reports that Burton stole campaign materials from the office of the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters’ Alliance. In an episode which draws national headlines, the council later rejects two articles of impeachment and votes not to remove Burton from office.


In a distinctly non-liberal-arts move, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences announces that it will begin assembling a program to give undergraduates the skills needed to become high-profile Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.


The Cambridge City Council passes an order supporting a “living wage” of $10 per hour for all Harvard employees at its meeting and threatens that town-gown relations may become strained unless the University acts soon. In May 1999, the council mandates that all city employees of firms contracted by the city must be paid at least $10 an hour.

FAS completes negotiations with the Institute of 1770 to take over ownership of the Hasty Pudding building. FAS will foot the bill for massive renovations to the dilapidated building—by some accounts, likely a $5 million undertaking.

About 30 members of the Progressive Student Labor Movement occupy Byerly Hall for six hours to attract the attention of visiting prospective first-years and promote their campaign for a living wage at Harvard. Members refuse to heed requests by the Harvard University Police Department that they leave the building.


After 15 months of forceful student pressure, Rudenstine announces that the University plans to extend health care and job training benefits to virtually all Harvard employees, but will stop short of enacting a living wage.

Academy Award winners and native Cantabrigians Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Class of 1992, speak at a living wage rally.

President Neil L. Rudenstine announces that he will leave Harvard at the end of June 2001. His resignation comes at the conclusion of a successful six-year capital campaign, the chief accomplishment of his tenure.


A Yard vigil is held to protest two violent incidents against Harvard students, which are later classified as hate crimes. A 25-year-old Cambridge man is charged in one of the attacks.

Shrewd investing, the Internet economy and a strong commodities market combine to create a record $4.8 billion surge in Harvard’s coffers, bringing the endowment to more than $19 billion.


Vice President Al Gore ’69 and Texas Gov. George W. Bush debate at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Ralph Nader speaks at the Institute of Politics and protests his exclusion from the event at UMass.

The University releases an internal investigation of the worldwide college apparel manufacturing industry, finding conditions bleak for workers.


Members of the Class of 2002 vote in their first-ever presidential election, one that ends in an impasse. Thirty-six days later, after hearing more about aging Florida voters, chads and the intricacies of judicial voting processes than should ever be desired, Gore finally concedes the election to Bush, a graduate of the Harvard Business School. The fiasco over, the nation breathes a sigh of relief.


Institute of Politics Director David H. Pryor dissolves the IOP’s 30-member student governing body without prior notice, saying the old leadership was inadequately inclusive.

Shira Palmer-Sherman ’02 is hit by a car in the Square, dying later in the month from her injuries. Hundreds of mourners attend a memorial service for her two months later.



University Hall’s first major renovations since 1896 are completed. The building is now handicapped-accesible and its central Faculty Room is refurbished.


A survey conducted by The Crimson finds that 46 percent of Harvard students “binge drink”—one point higher than the national average—but the frequency of that drinking is much lower than on college campuses nationwide.

A handful of Living Wage Campaign members fight cold wintry rains and icy sidewalks in a series of unannounced visits to the homes of four top administrators. Student protestors deliver handmade Valentine’s Day cards to lobby for a $10.25 minimum wage for Harvard workers—a figure that the Cambridge City Council had adopted as the official Cambridge living wage.


Film star Jane Fonda gives $12.5 million to endow a Graduate School of Education center to study how gender affects children’s development and learning.

Lawrence H. Summers, at one time the youngest-tenured Harvard professor and former U.S. secretary of the Treasury, is named the next Harvard president, effective in July. Summers’ first visit to Harvard is greeted by a loud PSLM protest. Throughout the next several months, Summers quietly meets with student groups and eats in Harvard dining halls. Summers’ selection, first reported by The Crimson, was the result of a protracted lobbying campaign by friends and colleagues.


The Massachusetts Beverages Control Commission suspends The Crimson Sports Bar’s liquor license for 18 days—three days for each count of serving minors.

Dissatisfied with the University’s progress on the living wage issue, about 50 members of PSLM occupy Mass Hall. The PSLM sit-in lasts 21 days and attracts worldwide support from labor leaders. It is the longest protest in Harvard history. A Crimson poll finds that, while most students appear to support paying all workers a “living wage,” many do not support PSLM's tactics.


PSLM ends its occupation of Mass. Hall. The University agrees to revisit its contracts with unions, suspend expansion of outsourcing and establish a committee to recommend changes to the wage structure.

Harvard’s plan to redevelop the Arsenal complex in Watertown draws criticism. The city claims that the University’s tax-exempt status will cost it tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue. The University claims it will pay a “generous and appropriate fee” in lieu of taxes. Busloads of school children stage a miniature protest.

The “BJ Show,” a variety show organized by campus semi-celebs B.J. Avarell and B.J. Novak, is hosted by national semi-celeb and former “Full House” star Bob Saget. The show features numerous genitalia jokes, the voice of Aladdin, the Disney cartoon character, and tomfoolery the likes of which haven’t been seen in these parts since the previous year’s “BJ Show.”

The American Repertory Theatre (ART) hires director Richard Woodruff to replace Robert Brustein as head of the theater company. The ART is known for its director-centric focus and its quirky, colorful adaptations of classic plays.


The nation mourns after two commercial planes fly into and demolish the twin towers that made up New York’s Word Trade Center. Nearly 3,000 civilians lose their lives, and the U.S. government begins a war against Taliban and al Quaeda forces in Afghanistan, who are blamed for the attacks.

News that Harvard receives funds from the bin Laden family makes national news. Sheik Bakr Mohammed bin Laden, Osama bin Laden’s brother, made two gifts totaling $2 million to the University to fund fellowships for the study of Islamic culture. Harvard officials, responding to attacks, stress that the University will cease using funds if any explicit link to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization are found.

In a rally organized by the newly formed Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice, about 500 students demonstrate outside of Widener Library for a peaceful response to the terrorist attacks.

Harvard announces the value of its endowment slipped in the last fiscal year for the first time in 17 years, from $19.2 billion to $18.3 billion. Harvard Management Company, the organization that invests the endowment, cites the economic downturn and decline of the stock market as causes for the drop.


House Masters extend the hours of official parties in House dining halls by one hour, to 2 a.m., on Friday and Saturday nights, as long as alcohol is not served.

Summers is officially installed as Harvard’s 27th president at a grand academic ceremony in Tercentenary Theatre, before an audience of 5,000. In his inaugural speech, the capstone to two days of festivities, Summers emphasizes the importance of undergraduate education and the development of a Harvard campus in Allston.

Filling the vacancy left by the departure of Harvey V. Fineberg ’67, President Summers announces Steven E. Hyman as the University’s next provost. His appointment is seen by many as reinforcing Summers’ priorities about science, as Hyman was the director of the National Institute of Mental Health.


A fire at the Eliot House grille forces the evacuation of hundreds of students from Eliot, Kirkland and Winthrop Houses. Though the fire causes significant smoke damage in the tunnels and closes the grille until February, there are no injuries.

Nathan M. Pusey ’28, Harvard’s 24th president, dies at the age of 94. Serving during the 1950s and 1960s, his administration led the University’s first major fundraising campaign and also focused on undergraduate education. His presidency ended in controversy as a result of the 1969 break up of the University Hall takeover.

Don C. Wiley, Loeb professor of biochemistry and biophysics, is declared missing after police find his abandoned rental car on the Interstate 40 bridge over the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tenn. Wiley was last seen on Nov. 15 at a dinner at the Peabody Hotel, where he was attending the annual meeting of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientific advisory board.

For the first time since 1913, the Harvard football team finishes its season with a perfect record, defeating Yale 35-23 in New Haven to win the Ivy League championship.

In a speech delivered before 6,000 at the Gordon indoor track and tennis facility, Former President Clinton stresses the need for greater awareness of the dangers of nations’ interdependence in the modern world.


A year after being shut out of the Rhodes Scholarship competition for the first time since 1930, Harvard nabs five of the 32 spots awarded this year—the most of any college—bringing the total number of Harvard Rhodes Scholars to 300.

Sujean S. Lee ’03 is elected the president of the Undergraduate Council. Lee’s victory, along with running mate Anne M. Fernandez ’03, marks the first time an all-female ticket has won a popular presidential election.

Five weeks after he vanished, police find Professor Don C. Wiley’s body floating in the Mississippi River, 320 miles downstream from Memphis. His death is later ruled an accident, quelling previous speculation about suicide.



President Summers meets with Fletcher University Professor Cornel West ’74 in an attempt to keep the prominent Afro-American studies professor from leaving Harvard and returning to Princeton. West’s allegation that Summers questioned his scholarship at an October meeting makes national news.

Suzanne M. Pomey ’02, who served as producer of last year’s Hasty Pudding show, and Randy J. Gomes ’02, who assistant-directed the Man and Woman of the Year shows, are charged with grand larceny after allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the group the previous spring. Both Gomes and Pomey later plead not guilty to charges of larceny.

The Enron controversy spreads to Harvard as Corporation member Herbert S. Pug Winokur ’64-’65 receives a subpoena from the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for his connection with Enron’s collapse. He was then the chair of Enron’s finance committee.

Universal keycard access is extended to 2:30 a.m. on a trial basis for the spring term after a decisive House Master vote.

K. Anthony Appiah, a leading member of the Afro-American studies department, turns in his resignation to University officials and announces he will leave Harvard for Princeton next fall, raising concerns that other stars of the department will follow his lead. Appiah cites personal reasons for his departure.


After an 11-year tenure as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Jeremy R. Knowles announces that he will leave Harvard at the end of the academic year.

Beloved Associate Professor of Linguistics Bert Vaux e-mails “two or three dozen” students alleging that he is being illegitimately shut out of the tenure process due to lack of respect within FAS and the linguistics department for his field of specialty.

In a choreographed protest that blocks traffic and is intended to show support for increased wages for University workers, nine supporters of higher wages for janitors are arrested.

A contract settlement—ensuring that all janitors will receive at least $11.35 an hour and raise wages steadily over the next three years—is reached. Both sides claim success with the agreement that brings to a close six weeks of heated negotiations.


After meeting with President Summers during his office hours to discuss the future of Latino studies, two Latino student group leaders allege that Summers is unwilling to address their concerns.

The number of required Core classes is lowered by one after a unanimous Faculty vote. Students now have the freedom to take more electives, including freshman seminars.

Undergraduate Council President Sujean S. Lee ’03 says the allegation that Summers is opposed to hip-hop artists headlining Springfest is unfounded. Rather, Lee says Springfest planners want music suitable for all ages since the event is now for the entire University community, as it is co-sponsored for the first time with the Office of the President.


Black and Latino student groups from throughout the University gather more than 400 signatures in an attempt to convince West to remain at Harvard. West considers a Princeton offer to join its faculty.

Winokur announces he will resign from the Harvard Corporation at the end of June because he feels the Enron scandal is diverting attention from Summers’ agenda for Harvard and from the work of the Corporation and the University.

Former Secretary of the Treasury Robert E. Rubin ’60 is named the newest member of the Harvard Corporation, replacing Robert G. Stone Jr. ’45.

Cabot, Currier, Dunster, Kirkland and Lowell Houses all announce the appointment of new Allston Burr senior tutors.


Thirty-nine Harvard professors join a Harvard-MIT petition that calls for the University to divest from investment in Israel until it ends its occupation of Palestinian territories and stops human rights abuses.

Geisinger Professor of History William C. Kirby is appointed the next dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He replaces Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles.

Renowned evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould dies of cancer at his home in New York at age 60, a few days before a final exam for one of his classes.

Following a yearlong controversy about grade inflation, professors unanimously adopt a new 4.0 grading scale and restrict the proportion of honors awarded each year to 60 percent. The Class of 2005 will be the first to feel the effects of these changes.

Commencement speaker Zayed M. Yasin ’02 is embroiled in controversy after The Crimson reports he would speak about the concept of “jihad,” as applied to graduating seniors’ lives. A week later, Yasin agrees to drop the word jihad from the speech’s title, although it remains in the subtitle, and agrees to add a sentence condemning violence in the name of jihad, which includes a denunciation of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.