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President Conant's Full Report to Overseers


"New gifts for special purpose bring with them new responsibilities. Sometimes these responsibilities are such that the University accepts them with a heavy heart and some reluctance; in rare cases it refuses them altogether. But the recent Nieman bequest, though it places an additional problem at our door, can only be regarded as a great challenge to this particular academic community. We are asked to expend the money in such a why as to 'promote and elevate the standards of journalism,' using journalism in the widest sense of the term. The provisions of the will are very broad; there are no restrictions on the methods to be employed in accomplishing the desired end. After careful consideration and consultation with a number of journalists, the Corporation has decided that initially the income of the fund shall be used for fellowships which would enable men in newspaper work to come to the University for a period of study. These 'in-service fellowships' will carry stipends sufficient to make it possible for the holders to obtain a leave of absence from their regular work without too great financial loss.

"The fellowships will be open to those who have been in journalistic work for at least three years. It is hoped that a considerable number of able men of experience from all over the country will be applicants. The holder of such a fellowship would, of course, be invited to Cambridge only if he had a clear idea of the line of study he wished to pursue. Thus, a man interested in becoming an expert writer on finance, for example, might choose a year's work in economics; another with the prospect of a career as a foreign correspondent might wish to study history; or an editorial writer might desire to take advanced courses in several fields. There would be no new courses of instruction offered for these men; through a group of advisers they would be put in touch with the various existing courses and possibilities of study. It is proposed, furthermore, to have this group meet together from time to time in order to share their experience, and it is hoped that various men of eminence in the journalistic world will come to Cambridge for a few days now and then to hold conferences with the Nieman Fellows.

"To carefully selected men there fellowships should provide an opportunity to develop their talents during a period of study. The presence of a small group of practical and experienced newspapermen in residence is sure to enrich the Harvard community. The plan is frankly experimental. The exact path of development cannot now be traced. Since no building is involved and no additions to our staff are required, the scheme is flexible and if found impractical can be modified or indeed abandoned in favor of some other project which may seem more promising. We are, however, embarking on this enterprise with high hopes, confirmed by the favorable opinion of many journalists, editors and publishers who have been consulted. I believe that through this new undertaking Harvard may have the privilege of making a useful contribution to contemporary America, by cooperation with certain members of the fourth estate."

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