Pusey Reports on the University: No More Ivory Towers

"Fortunately, difficulties of the unsettling kind now being experienced on many college campuses have remained relatively minor here. I should like to think this is an indication of the exceptional good sense of Harvard men and women. But who can tell?"

(The following are excerpts from President Pusey's annual report to members of the Board of Overseers. Space does not permit us to include the entire 52-page report.)

THE ACADEMIC YEAR 1967-68 will surely prove to have been one of the most difficult in the history of higher education in America though possibly there were years comparable in difficulty, on a minor scale, in the 1830's. Unpleasant, demanding, and accusatory attitudes were in evidence on many campuses. The sobriety of the scholar and the would-be scholar, celebrated in all previous ages, seemed simply to vanish. In some places the spirit of reasonableness, and the desire to achieve understanding with common courtesy, traditional hallmarks of the academic life, were actually sneered at and condemned. In many places discontent flared and strong passions tended to drive out good feelings and careful thought. Manners suffered. It was indeed an extraordinary year. And the end is not yet.

It is not easy to see why these lamentable lapses occurred, and continue to occur, on college campuses. Some say it is because the present generation of young people, raised aloft on an unprecedented wave of idealism, understandably react negatively when frustrated in their desire to achieve instant reform. But this cannot be an acceptable or sufficiently mature stance in men and women of college age. Nor do the young alone have reason to feel put upon. It takes no youthful perception to see that there is much in this period about which to be both worried and discontented, even angered. All of us are tormented by the war in Vietnam and its recalcitrant opposition to repeated efforts at solution. None of us is unaware of or unmoved by the manifold troubles which confront us at home and the apparent inability of established institutions to make adequate quick response. There can be no question here of a generation gap.

But the majority--happily--do not consider that such perplexities warrant departure from good sense coupled with civility, or condone insistence on having one's way regardless of others' rights and feelings. A sufficient explanation will have to be sought elsewhere.


Perhaps, as some commentators suggest, we are moving through a turning point in history in which old ways of doing things are breaking up. Perhaps we are experiencing shattering fundamental changes the significance of which cannot yet be even dimly discerned. Some would like to have us believe this; but such explanations seem to me overdramatic. Nevertheless, unable to offer a better reason, I must at least concede the possibility that our colleges and universities are only among the first of institutions to be shaken by an all-encompassing sea-change now occurring around the world. Though I hope not.

Whatever the portent, things were different in the academic world last year--different and difficult--and they continue so this year. The ivory tower has become a laughably grotesque symbol of the contemporary institution of higher learning. What do we do in such troubled circumstance as we are now experiencing? I suspect the path of prudence for those of us in positions of responsibility for academic institutions is simply to stay alert, to keep mindful of our distant goals, and in a tumultuous sea, to navigate as best we can. Fortunately, difficulties of the unsettling kind now being experienced on many college campuses have remained relatively minor here. I should like to think this is an indication of the exceptional good sense of Harvard men and women. But who can tell? Nevertheless, looking back on the past months, I can affirm in making another report, as my predecessors have done many times before, despite an increase in anxiety and unease, through another year the multiform basic work of the University went strongly ahead. Also, as is characteristic of any lively institution, questioning and re-examination of objectives and procedures went on, accelerated by events within and without the University. . . .

THE EVIDENCE of fresh interest in urban problems visible in virtually every department of the University last year culminated in May with the appointment of a University-wide Committee on the University and the City. Its mission was not to study cities abstractly or in general terms, but to inquire specifically how this University is relating to its own immediate environment. Is our relationship with our environment constructive or destructive? Is the University behaving as a good and responsible neighbor? What sorts of things can universities in general and this University in particular properly do to help in the solution of our community's immediate needs? How can we avoid duplication, waste or misdirection in our efforts? What might we do--without betraying, or at least injuring our capacity to forward our essential tasks of teaching and advancing knowledge? Pursuing this thought, have we come to a time when we must consider altering and enlarging our conception of the University's role?

A by-product of this effort has been the compilation of an inventory of the many community-related programs now being conducted by the various faculties of the University. It is an impressive list of 160 different projects, amounting to an annual expenditure of more than $12 million. Since the information had never before been made available, it may at least serve the purpose of letting one part of the University know what other parts are doing in the field. Hopefully better coordinated and more effective programs may result. But together the inventory and the committee's report, both of which are to be made public today, may serve an even more important purpose.

The committee was made up of one member from each of the University's nine major faculties. Its hardworking, concerned and able chairman was Professor James Q. Wilson, the representative on the committee of the Faculty or Arts and Sciences. he was especially well qualified for this assignment because of the familiarity he has gained in recent years with at least some problems of cities through his own empirical research and writing. The committee's report includes a fresh attempt to say what a unversity is and to suggest what such an institution's role should be today. It also seeks to throw light on the complexity of the wider community in which this University finds itself. It deals with university degree programs and the community; university organization and community issues; university policies toward the community in such matters as real estate, housing, planning, personnel, and so on; university facilities and the community; and university finances and the community. In presenting facts and issues the report supplies information much needed for intelligent re-examination of a relationship which we have perhaps been too inclined to take for granted--a relationship which we must now, working with others, seek to improve as best we can. I commend this important document to your thoughtful attention. It is my hope also that it will be discussed this year in each of the faculties. . . .

STILL ANOTHER noteworthy development of the past year was a dramatically increased effort in all parts of the University to make it easier for students from various disadvantaged groups, especially disadvantaged black students, to attend this institution. This was not a wholly new development. The College has been working with mounting vigor for more than a decade to find and admit more students of promise from urban and rural wastelands. The Law School, the Divinity School, and (in cooperation with Yale and Columbia) the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and also the Business School, have in recent years conducted summer programs for disadvantaged minority groups of college age to identify students capable of doing advanced work and to encourage them to embark upon graduate and graduate-professional studies. Last summer a parallel Faculty Audit Program brought 25 teachers from predominantly Negro institutions here for summer study and observation. But the heightened interest shown throughout the University last year in attracting more disadvantaged students was sufficiently great to constitute virtually a basic change.

The Business School committed almost $100,000 of its scholarship funds to help black students in a resolve to admit between 25 and 30 in the enter- ing M.B.A. class this past fall. Since we are prohibited by Massachusetts law from obtaining photographs or asking any questions pertaining to race or religion of applicants for admission, precise information is not easy to come by, but there can be no doubt that the number of students from disadvantaged groups, especially black students, shows a marked increase this year in this and in other departments of the University. It is interesting, too, that faculty members of the Business School have been conducting a course for black businessmen in Roxbury and that others have been active in helping black citidens to set up businesses.

"Who ever saw a more stirring exhibition of sheer manliness and skill on the part of young people than that put on by our football team in the closing minutes of its final game of this past fall? Here was at least event in which all Harvard men could unite in enthusiasm and lifting of spirit!"

Last April the Graduate School of Design established a "task force," a part of whose function was to encourage more members of minority groups to come to the School and so to enter the design profession. Scholarship funds in the amount of $25,000 were set aside to assist the effort. Other funds were provided to aid members of the faculty to travel to southern colleges, and to other places where their help had been requested with urban problems, where they might have a change to acquaint disadvantaged students with the nature, opportunities and challenges of the design profession.

Some faculties raised funds both among themselves and outside to provide opportunity here for disadvantaged students. Two faculties established Martin Luther King, Jr. student aid funds. And almost all the faculties revised and accelerated their recruitment procedures to find and bring students from disadvantaged areas. The number of black students in the Law School has risen appreciably in recent years. Now an increased effort is being made there to attract from disadvantaged areas black students who give promise of returning to those areas to put their new-won professional competence to work to help their friends and neighbors.

The School of Education sees clearly the need to help provide Afro-Americans, Puerto Ricans and Mexican-Americans for positions of leadership in the nation's schools. Last year it raised more than $60,000, much of it from its own members, to further a new effort toward this end. It undertook a very successful recruitment drive, using black students and alumni, in Boston, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit. The result is that black students are conspicuous by their numbers in this year's entering class. And concerned as never before by the fact that minority groups have produced far too few doctors and dentists, and aware of the resulting shocking discrepancy between the health of whites and non-whites, the Faculty of Medicine last year voted to undertake a nationwide search to find more well-prepared black students. They also resolved to help them, when found, to make up academic as well as financial deficiencies, and are now seeking arrangements with the Colege to offer courses for those who will need additional preparation. They hope to enroll at least 15 additional students from disadvantaged backgrounds in each class beginning next autumn.

Parallel efforts made by the various faculties to attract black faculty members to their ranks met with less success, for the supply of qualified black academics is far below the current demand. It appears increasingly probable, therefore, that we shall make our most significant contribution in this area in the years immediately ahead by concentrating on attracting on attracting promising students particularly at the graduate level. If we succeed well here we shall, of course, ultimately increase the supply of black teachers available for both graduate and graduate professional study.

ONE MORE topics given wide discussion last year was how to provide more opportunity for students to have an appropriate role in decision making. Today's students are in the main a highly serious a lot who have been increasingly eager in recent years to be treated not as inferiors but as younger colleagues working in a common enterprise. In many instances, particularly in the more advanced programs of the graduate-professional schools, there can be no doubt they are.

For example, many of the older students in the School of Education working for advanced degrees have already been well launched on their careers before coming here and have had valuable experience in the field wrestling with complicated educational problems. The Faculty of that School would be strangely negligent if it did not find ways to hear what students have to say on questions of mutual concern. The roles of students and faculty are different, and responsibility for personnel and programs, fixed firmly in a faculty, cannot be delegated. Nevertheless it is a happy and timely development that all the faculties in the University are finding new ways to work more cooperatively