Interim Administrators Address Class of 2010

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Interim President Derek C. Bok addresses students and parents of new Harvard undergraduates. His first term as President was 1971–1991.

Harvard undergraduates and administrators welcomed the newly-arrived Class of 2010 to campus yesterday with songs and with comments about the difficulties of diversity, the need for healthy amounts of skepticism, and the benefits of branching out at college during Opening Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre.

After a performance by the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, Master of Lowell House Diana L. Eck spoke about the need for the Class of 2010 to go beyond its diversity and become truly pluralistic.

Eck said that Sept. 11, 2001—five years ago today—had forced Harvard to “become ever more aware of the deep chasms that divide our society.”

“How will you deal with differences” between religious, ethnic, and other groups at Harvard, she asked. “These are the problems and challenges of the world today, and we can address them right here at Harvard.”

Interim Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles—serving until a replacement for former Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby is found—then addressed the students on the need for skepticism in an academic setting.

Knowles pointed to a time when he was 12 and told his mother that scientists had determined that launching an object into space would be extremely difficult and that sending a man to the moon would never happen.

“Two weeks later, Sputnik was launched, and my mother never believed me again,” Knowles said.

He also told students that, no matter how busy they become, they should keep in touch with their parents.

“To the Class of 2010, be generous to your parents, be skeptical of everyone else, and watch out for anyone who talks rot,” he said.

In the final address, Interim President Derek C. Bok, who replaced outgoing University President Lawrence H. Summers this summer, spoke to the Class of 2010 about branching out, both through academics such as core courses and extracurriculars such as community service.

“You may never again be surrounded by so many interesting people,” Bok said.

—Staff writer Evan H. Jacobs can be reached at ehjacobs@fas.harvard.edu.