Kelis may bring all the boys to the yard with her milkshake, but Professor Harvey G. Cox, the now-retired 9th
Kelis may bring all the boys to the yard with her milkshake, but Professor Harvey G. Cox, the now-retired 9th Hollis Professor of Divinity, drew quite the crowd to Harvard Yard last week by unleashing a cow to graze on the big green to mark his retirement.
“There is a long-standing legacy that the Hollis Professor had the privilege of grazing his cow in the Yard,” said Cox’s literary agent Donald R. Cutler. This became the inspiration for this event.
“It was an old, old tradition told to me when I became Hollis professor,” Cox said. Though the right to graze is not explicitly stated in any official document, it was an ancient right starting with the first man to hold the esteemed position.
“Edward Wigglesworth historically did graze his cows where we are now standing,” said Cox during the ceremony.
As the oldest endowed chair in America, the Hollis Professor of Divinity position was funded in 1721 by Thomas Hollis, a major benefactor of Harvard in its early years and the namesake of Hollis Hall and the Hollis library catalog.
According to Plummer Professor of Christian Morals Peter J. Gomes’s speech at the ceremony, the area where Tercentenary Theater now stands was once the college’s pasture, where high-ranking professors would earn the right to let their cattle, then considered a must-have accessory, graze on what Gomes called the “wild backyard.”
“Pasturing cows in those days was equivalent to a parking permit,” stated Gomes in front of the boisterous audience.
In his speech, Professor Cox suggested a return to a more natural lifestyle in the Yard. Students at the ceremony seemed enthusiastic about adopting this idea.
“We should have cows instead of chairs tethered to the Yard,” Bryce J. Gilfillian ’12 proposed.