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Griswold Urges Harvard to Support Fields Ignored by Federal Programs


Following are statements by Erwin N. Griswold, dean of the Harvard Law School, on the balance among the various fields of learning which results from federal aid to universities, published in his 1961-2 report to President Pusey.

In his annual repot, Griswild also:

* stated that the "Harvard Law School must constantly think of the future. If it stands still, it will surely fall behind."

* said, in reference to foundations in the field of public affairs, that the School needs resources for "new sorts of work to be conducted at and under the direction of the School and its faculty members, without the tyranny of large administrative structures or of separate project grants"--it needs, in short, "free funds for research."

* warned that the endowment held for the Harvard Law School has dropped from 3.4 per cent of the endowment of Harvard University in 1946 to 2.7 per cent today, and called this decline, something which cannot be indefinitely continued without seriously impairing the school and its contribution to Society."

In your report to the board of Overseers in January, 1962, you referred to the study which was made in 1960-61, and distributed to members of the faculty and governing boards, entitled Harvard and the Federal Government. And you referred to this matter again in your address to the Harvard alumni association on the afternoon of Commencement Day in 1962.

The study showed that in during 1959-60 "Harvard received more than $13 million from the government, of which $11,860,000 was solely for research purposes." In the single year 1960-61, the amount received from the federal government was more than $21 million. Of this amount $10 million went to various departments of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, chiefly in areas of the natural sciences.

The Medical School received approximately $7 million from the government, representing more than 50 per cent of its gross income of $12 million. And the School of Public Health received nearly $2 million in a budget of a little more than $5 million was received by the Medical School, and related areas, from the federal government.

The study referred to showed that "By 1962 it is estimated that the federal government will have contributed nearly $14 million to the construction, modernization, and remodeling of research facilities which will be owned and operated by the University." Virtually without exception, these facilities are of course in the fields of the natural sciences and medicine.

In your report to the Board of Overseers, you referred to the "concern lest the availability of large sums for research in the sciences disturb the traditional and, we feel, desirable balance among fields of learning." I know that much thought and attention have been given and are being given to this matter. I have no criticism or complaint about what has been done. Nor am I unduly encious of those whose work has been strengthened because of the needs of the government. I would not hold back medicine and the natural sciences if I could

But I do think that the time has come when the University, if it is to remain truly a University, should begin to take affirmative steps to redress this imbalance, and to find ways and means to bring substantial new strength to the fields of the social sciences and the humanities.

It is a question of focusing interests and marshalling resources. If the University is to accept large sums from Government for the support of work in the natural sciences and in medicine--and I think it should--does it not thereby obligate itself to develop support of somewhat the same order for other fields of learning which do not currently attract government largesse?

Of course I am not thinking of the law alone, but of economics, government, history, classics, literature, fine arts, languages, philosophy, education, design, public administration--all the areas of knowledge that go to make up a great university. These should not simply be left to their own devices and their frugal fate. There is, I venture to suggest, a positive duty to strengthen them, through the development of the University's resources and potentialities, on a basis which will not be too disproportionate to the vitality which has been pumped into the natural sciences and medicine out of resources made available by the Federal Government.

The Cambridge Electron Accelerator is said to have cost more than all of the equipment theretofore available at Harvard for work in the natural sciences. At Stanford University work is beginning on an accelerator project which will cost $114 million, or about as much as the entire Stanford endowment. These things are not bad, striking as they may be. But they do present very real problems to any university which wants to be or to remain a center for the development of truly universal knowledge.

At Stanford this question was discussed by a panel of six professors under the title "The Humanities and the Sciences,"' published in the Spring, 1962, issue of Stanford Today. As this discussion shows, there is no dichotomy between the humanities and the sciences. They, including the social sciences, are complementary. We must build them all together. If resources for some are available from the Government, that is only the more reason for finding other means of providing comparable support to the others.

Nor do I propose that support for the humanities and the social sciences should be sought from governmental sources. Harvard is, or has been, a "private" Uni- versity, and has derived strength and has been enabled to provide leadership from that fact. There are reasons, too, why support in the social sciences should not come from the Government, State or Federal.

Support from such sources is likely to be oriented or restricted, and successful research and development in the humanities and the social sciences needs to be free from orientation and directional control far more than is true with respect to similar efforts in the natural sciences or in medicine.

This is a large order, I know. Nevertheless, it may be the real challenge of the universities, especially the "private" universities, in this now lengthening postwar period. We must, of course, be grateful for the developments in the natural sciences and in medicine, though both confront us with great problems in other areas.

Despite their achievements, and our reliance on them for effective defense--if only through developing that equilibrium of forces which has been called the balance of terror--it seems unlikely that the natural sciences alone will be able to save this beleaguered planet. We need, too, all the arts of understanding, of human relations, of persuasion, of negotiation and adjustment, of dealing with variables far more numerous and complex than those with which the natural sciences deal, or which are capable of resolution by computer.

In his Phi Beta Kappa address at Harvard last June, Gerard Piel said: "But all too suddenly and unprepared, we have come to a fork in the road. The progress of which I speak has disclosed the noblest and most generous ends to human life and has placed in our hands the means to accomplish them here on this earth. In the command of those same means, progress has also given the power of irrevocable decision to our historic capacity for cruelty and folly."

How can we develop the best probability that we will take the right fork in the road, and keep on it? Of course there is no easy answer, and it will surely take the best efforts of countless men in many fields a long period of time. But we clearly need the humanities to develop the spirits of these men, and the social sciences to develop their understanding of the human problems and their skill in dealing with these problems and with their fellow men.

Surely the law, as the most organized and best developed of our means of ordering society, has an important place in this grand task. And surely, too, lawyers, at every level will play their part in developing and carrying out the needed adjustments. It need only be asked, for example, how many of the men carrying out current disarmament and nuclear discussions are law trained. Does that not serve to show that the best training in our law schools, the best research in our law schools, are steps along the way, perhaps important or vital steps, to the peaceful world we all so devoutly seek

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