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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Thomas S. Lamont

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Thomas Stilwell Lamont gave much more than money to Harvard. Between his graduation in 1921 and his death this week he made large financial contribution. But more important, he was dedicated to the University and he tirelessly devoted his time and perceptive counsel to improving it.

A member of the Harvard Corporation since 1952, Lamont put his financial acumen, his administrative knowhow his enormous circle of friends, and his unflagging energy at the service of the University. Many Faculty members and administrators were accustomed to receiving letters from him containing a newspaper clipping, a digest of a conversation between Lamont and one of his prominent friends, or, most often, a question.

Lamont considered himself a gadfly; his friends at Harvard agree that he had a marvellous ability to ask needling questions. But they invariably add that he was always genial and good-natured and that his probing resulted in fresh insights and understanding, not antagonism.

Lamont was interested in everything that concerned Harvard, but he concentrated his attention on a number of special areas. For many years he was deeply concerned with Harvard's libraries, and he was a generous and continuing contributor of books as well as money. He always insisted that the University must be a bastion of civil liberties, and he did not hedge on this conviction even at the height of the McCarthy era.

The Lamonts have served Harvard for generations. Yet even in comparison with the other members of his family, the contribution of Thomas S. Lamont can only be regarded as extraordinary.

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