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The Four Years of '58

By Adam Clymer

September, 1954, was not a particularly important juncture in the history of Harvard University. Nor, for that matter, does June, 1958, bear any apparent epic significance for that institution. The only historical period that can be marked by these dates is that of the attendance of the Class of 1958 in Harvard College, and there is little evidence that any great effect can be traced to that circumstance.

But though these dates may be only signposts, they do include many things that did happen at Harvard, and not a few that will seem important when future Samuel Eliot Morisons take up their pens.

Prices of everything in the country have been going up, but the spectacular 56 per cent rise in tuition (it was $800 a year when '58 entered, went to $1,000 for the last two years and will rise to $1,250 next year) was as startling a leap as any. The increases were occasioned by a frantic haste to recoup for faculty salaries the comparative losses they had suffered since before the war, and in each year of '58's residence there was some sort of faculty salary increase, either direct or indirect.

The tuition increases did not pay for all these benefits, of course, and a $45 million gift from the Ford Foundation helped considerably, but it is easier to raise tuition than contributions, and it was made clear that the latest increase was not the last for the near future.

Two Types of Needs

But if tuition increases were the financial matters which touched the students most, it was clear to the Administration that they would not be sufficient to meet the long-range financial needs of the College. These needs were of two types: those caused by present overcrowding--the Houses held three persons for every two they had been built for--and those which would need to be met before the College could expand.

Expansion was a much-discussed subject in '58's sophomore year, with the Administration tacitly adopting the position that the College must take some part of the greatly increased ranks of College applicants of the next years. Some individuals, like Dean Bender, opposed this view, arguing the conflict between quality and quantity, and saying that Harvard's duty was to remain small and excellent.

Though the Administration never put any matter to a faculty vote, the President made it clear that the College would expand by fifteen to twenty per cent in the next twenty years, and said that it had been expanding at this rate for the last eighty without deteriorating. The argument ran that with more applicants, the College could take more without lowering its admissions standards.

Beginning of 'Program'

But when Bender talked of quality, he meant also matters like the Houses, the libraries, sizes of classes, and similar matters that would be injured by reckless growth. These needs were added to those caused by overcrowding (indeed in subsequent publicity a careful attempt was made to confuse them), and the College began to see what it needed in terms of buildings. The President's first public estimate was $40 million, which he announced in April of 1956.

Plans began to shape up over the summer, and by that fall the basic needs for the Program for Harvard College had been outlined. These included not only buildings and new physical facilities, but provisions for endowments of athletics and scholarships, and other requirements.

Announced in November, 1956, and detailed more fully in February, 1957, the Program for Harvard College sought $82.5 million for the College and for some needs in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In the early publicity about the drive, the President insisted that it was intended not just to raise money for Harvard, but to demonstrate the needs of all American higher education. By giving to Harvard, it was practically argued, one supports all American colleges and universities.

To End Next June

The final results of this drive obviously cannot be foretold. The massive gifts ($3-5 million) do not seem to be coming through, and the recession is clearly not helping progress, but contributions seem to be moving along steadily, and next June, when the drive is scheduled for completion, should bring a cheerful result.

Once the Administration believed that it had found the solution to the problem of costs for improvements, it turned to some basic questions of educational policy, to determine what was going to be taught within the new walls.

Here the influence of Dean Bundy becomes strongest. His general idea has been that Harvard students are not working hard enough, and he has tried to devise ways of getting them to work harder and more efficiently. Of course, this has not been a one-man operation, and Bundy has worked through the Committee on Educational Policy, and spent much of this fall soliciting opinion from anyone who cared to give it.

Course reduction started very slowly, and though it has picked up some momentum while '58 has been able to take advantage of it, it is not a widely utilized program even now. Many departments have been very slow to push it, and the publicity on the idea was nonexistent. And further many students seemed very hesitant to accept the responsibility for studying where there would be no grade to reward them.

New Honors Proposals

But in this last year a broad new program began to form, Its underlying idea was that many more students were capable of Honors work than now elected it, and the program passed this May proposed to treat every student as an Honors candidate, at least until he failed to meet certain departmental standards.

The Natural Sciences excluded themselves from this system early, but it covered almost all the fields in the Social Sciences and the Humanities. Basically, it would require graded tutorial in the sophomore year, emphasize more indidvidual work and independent study, and establish more frequent departmental examinations.

The object--a heightened academic pace--dovetailed closely with another way for Harvard to help solve the problem which would be created by increased pressure for college admissions. This was the view that saw the Faculty of Arts and Sciences--both the College and the Graduate School--as an upper-level teachers' college, a Ph.D. mill to supply the nation's college instructors.

Expansion threatened a bigger, more impersonal College, and one way the Administration hoped to deal with this danger was by a strengthening of the House system. One method would be to reduce overcrowding, and figures like Elliott Perkins '23, Master of Lowell House, insisted that overcrowding should be reduced before College enrollments swelled. Another was to re-examine the basic amount of soul-searching about this issue.

Among the substantive changes in the operation of the House system were the House sections held in Winthrop, a new science "tutorial" in Kirkland, a senior thesis "forum" in Lowell, and, of course, the much talked-of "Ford money." "Ford money" meant an allotment of $1,400 last year and $2,400 this year, given to each House, to be used to promote the intellectual and cultural activity within the Houses. Some money was devoted to contests, small dinners, or even building renovations, and to inviting distinguished guests to live in the Houses for a time--some who came here were author John P. Marquand '15, poet Robert Frost '01, writer Edmund Wilson, poet Marianne Moore and British civil servant Sir C. P. Snow.

Constant Discussion

The reexamination continued, and certainly no definite answers were reached (the Houses often had trouble spending anywhere near all of their Ford money). But with an eighth House under construction and a ninth and tenth to come, it seemed clear that the discussion was far from concluded.

It would seem that these developments--along with the creation of the College Scholarship Service, and the growing interest in urban renewal around Cambridge--were the matters of University policy which had the clearest portents for the future.

To them might be added, speculatively, two more. One was this year's campaign for joint membership in Harvard-Radcliffe organizations, a plan to give Radcliffe student equality within Harvard organizations. After considerable delay and mutterings about Radcliffe's independence, whatever it is, the Annex acceded to these pressures and approved the change in policy. The long-term implications of this event were clouded, and while they might lead to nothing less trivial than a 'Cliffie president of the Lampoon, the change might turn out to be an important step toward the realization that Harvard College is coeducational, and that Radcliffe might as well give up.

The other matter is football. '58 had heard all sorts of rude things about Harvard football before it entered, and after UMass dumped the Crimson in 1954, is was ready to believe them. But then three big wins, over Princeton and Yale (13 to 9 in a thriller in a rainswept Stadium) in 1954, and over Princeton in 1955 made things look better. But that rainy, 7-6 victory over the Tigers was the last Big Three victory '58 would witness as undergraduates.

Just as '58 returned from its junior year Christmas vacation, one startling change was made as Lloyd Jordan's contract was bought up by the University. Nobody ever made it very explicit as to why Jordan was fired, but the two main interpretations were that he sounded off against Ivy code admissions regulations, and that his teams did not win. The University said he was fired as a "poor teacher," but did not define what a good teacher was.

After a two-month search, the University plucked John M. Yovicsin, the young (and successful) coach at Gettysburg, and hired him to replace Jordan. Yovicsin's first team was badly hobbled by injuries, yet won three games, gave Princeton a bad scare before bowing, 28 to 21, but just did not have enough for Yale. The result was a humiliating 54-0 beating in New Haven.

Yovicsin Popular

Yovicsin, himself a very attractive figure as a football coach, is still learning about this very complex University. As a coach, he would obviously like to have football players here, but he cannot want them as much as the alumni do, or he will conflict with Ivy standards. His job is football, and since this is the activity in the University that gets the most frequent public attention, he never has a chance to learn the job quietly and privately. His every move is in public. Yet, popular with his players and with undergraduates generally, Yovicsin seems to be adjusting to Harvard very well, and may fulfill the great predictions made for him by Dick Harlow, the old Crimson coach who recommended him for the post.

If these were the portentous events during '58's tenure, they were certainly not the only ones to create serious interest. Perhaps the first weighty matter that seemed pressing when this year's seniors came to Cambridge was the question of academic freedom and national security.

Most immediate to most undergraduates was the uproar over the appointment of J. Robert Oppenheimer '26 as William James Lecturer.

Oppenheimer spoke as scheduled, and despite an April snowstorm drew an overflow crowd to Sanders. Threatened student pickets failed to materialize and the series continued without incident and with dwindling attendance, as the theoretical physics of the lectures failed to excite large crowds for all eight lectures. Oppenheimer did, however, live in Adams House and met and talked with many undergraduates during his stay, creating at least as much interest in this way as the Veritas boys had in theirs.

The other "great issue" was the Memorial Church controversy this spring. While the terms of the dispute have been aired at practically excessive length, it is interesting to try to gauge the depth of feelings involved. This was as emotional an issue as has hit Harvard in '58's stay, and it seemed that the President seriously misjudged the depth of feeling on this explosive issue, both among Faculty and students. The issue that people were thinking about--the extent of the University's interest in and commitment to religion--was never really brought into the open.

Instead, a matter on which few had any difficulty in finally reaching an agreement--details as to the uses of Memorial Church--was argued, because this was the only matter that could be directly brought into the open. Whether there will be any clear tests of other issues seems doubtful, and the fact that the President is considerably more interested in religion than perhaps a majority of the other members of the University may not really become a subject for debate. The people who oppose his stand are not going to deny him the right to a personal opinion, and, as one rather pompously put it, "We haven't caught him in any overt act" to advance his religious ideas within the University. It is a question for the future as to whether the President's ideas lead in his mind to University policies that will be-4This visit to President Pusey in Massachusetts Hall by a group of prominent members of the Faculty clearly emphasized that the recent "religious controversy" involved a conflict much deeper than a short, hot squabble over the use of Memorial Church.

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