Emeritus Professors Continue Work, Return from Retirement to Teach

Fay Came Out of Retirement On Two-Day's Warning to Give History 132 for Langer

Old soldiers may fade away, but emeritus professors keep right on working. This year, Sidney B. Fay, '96, professor of History, emeritus, came out of retirement on two-days notice to give History 132 when William L. Langer '15, Coolidge Professor of History, was called to Washington.

Of the nearly 100 living Harvard emeritus professors, more than half are still engaged in teaching, writing, or research, and many are still actively connected with the University.

One Friday afternoon last October, Fay, then 74 years old and retired four years, was asked by a Corporation member to teach History 132 again. Fay answered that he would be delighted to do so, and at 9 a.m. the next Monday, he began to lecture where he had left off years before.

Thought Teaching Over

Fay taught History here until 1946 and then at Yale for one year until 1947, when he thought his days of formal teaching were over. He began to devote his time to reading and study which enabled him to alter his History 132 lectures of today from the ones he used to give.


Fay said yesterday that he had added talks on imperialism and the impact of science on Europe.

When Fay first gave History 132, he reported it was less intensive than now since most undergraduates took five instead of the present four courses. The course then covered continental European History from 1815 to the present, while today it only runs to 1914.

Probably because of the lack of young teachers during World War II, Fay taught beyond the retirement ago of 66. In 1911, the Corporation voted that all faculty members of unlimited tenure, when they reach that ago "after long and faithful service," shall be given the title of professor emeritus.

By Corporation Request

In certain cases, however, the Corporation asks a faculty member to teach until he is 70 years old. In emergencies, such men as Fay, Julian L. Coolidge '95. professor of Mathematics, University Professor Roscoe Pound, and the late Alfred North Whitehead have been asked to teach even beyond the age of 70.

All faculty members, upon retirement, receive a pension from the University. During his tenure, every professor contributes five percent of his salary toward his pension; the University adds another seven and one half percent.

Coolidge, who is the former master of Lowell House, came back during the war to teach freshman Mathematics for several years. Since his retirement in 1940, he has also written several mathematical treatises, "The History of Conic Sections" and "The Mathematics of Great Amateurs," which deals with the achievements of men who were famous in another field and only debbied in math as a pastime.

The most famous of all emeritus professors is Charles Townsend Copeland '82, Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, emeritus. Today, at 91, "Copey" is a College legend. A teacher here from 1893 to 1927, Copey today just reads and takes occasional walks. On his 90th birthday last year, John Mason Brown '23, Walter Lippman '10, and many others paid tribute to him as their teacher and inspiration.

Three Forbes

Three Forbes are on the list of emeritus professors. Alexander Forbes '04, professor of Physiology, emeritus, said he has "moved from the Med School to the Bio labs." He is at present doing research to find certain relationships between the retina and color vision. Forbes is also working at Pershing Hospital in Framingham on anesthesia and narcosis. He "appreciates very much the opportunity to keep on working here."