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Who Is This Man Hugh Calkins?

The Corporation's Newest Member -- Why I He Here?

By James M. Fallows

"The Corporation didn't just need a new member - it needed a new kind of member to help cure its image problem."

"Move to a vacuum," Rogers told him, "and set up your lightning rod there."

Part I

(Earlier this spring, the CRIMSON planned to publish a special biographical supplement on the members of the Harvard Corporation. Staff exhaustion in the last few weeks has forced us to postpone the supplement. The following is a slightly-updated condensation of one of the pieces originally scheduled for the supplement, on Corporation member Hugh D. Calkins '45.

This article is the first of a two-part series. Today's installment tells about Calkins' role on the Harvard Corporation and his roots in Cleveland. Tomorrow's installment will deal with his campaign for the Cleveland School Board, how his views on education affect his opinions about Harvard, and how one Corporation member lives at home.)


ONE of the more interesting cultural phenomena of the last month has been the sudden rise of Hugh Calkins as a Harvard political celebrity.

A month ago, few Harvard undergraduates had ever seen Calkins. He was just one of the Corporation's Fellows then, and like the other Fellows--Burr, Nickerson, Marbury, and Kane--he was virtually invisible to most students here.

In a month of Crisis at Harvard, however, Calkins has been hard to miss. Taking up the gap left by President Pusey's artless press releases in the first few days of the strike, Calkins has seemingly turned himself into a one-man public-relations agency for the Harvard Administration.

All the other members of the Corporation have joined in concocting the Corporation's masterfully-timed announcements and press releases. But none of the others has been as physically evident on the campus as Calkins has.

In the first week of the strike, Calkins talked about dissent and ROTC and all the other issues for two straight nights on television. He ate breakfast with students in the Houses and told them about ROTC. When he saw posters in the Yard giving some students' version of what he said, Calkins trotted over to the CRIMSOM to type out a reply and explain why the poster version was a distortion.

With a somewhat disturbing energy and bounce, Calkins has spoken in House dining halls and appeared with SDS members on panel discussions. A few other Corporation members have tried the same thing on a smaller scale. But now, at the beginning of May, there are probably no more than five or six undergraduates who could give an accurate description of what any of the other Fellows looks like.

Who is this man Hugh Calkins, and why is he now so present on our campus?

IS HE, as some radicals have suggested, an Administration Superman, the only Fellow shrewd enough to put up a good front in debates? Is he, as two bemused Faculty members said last week, jockeying for a bigger position in the Harvard administrative world? Or is he, as all his statements certainly imply, a true liberal who is sincerely doing his best to reason with the students?

Has he come here to win friends? To save the college? To make political capital in his home town of Cleveland?


There have probably been few men who have come to the Corporation with their symbolic roles more clearly defined that Calkins' was last year.

Ever since Senior Fellow Thomas Lamont died in April, 1967, the Corporation had been hunting for a new member. The selection often takes a year or two, but it usually begin early enough so that when the oldest Fellow resigns at the traditional age of 70, his replacement is ready.

Lamont's death, however, caught the Corporation without a nominee. For most of last year, the Corporation limped along at three-Fellow strength, since Fellow William Marbury was sick in Baltimore. Several of the Fellows offered public speculation during the year on what kind of a man the new Fellow would be. Kane said that maybe the Corporation might add a scientist or doctor. Another member said that someone from the West might be good.

The Fellows' speculation hinted at an idea that must have been obvious to anyone watching the Corporation last spring. Harvard did not just need another Fellow member to beef up the Corporation's membership. It needed a new kind of Fellow to offset the Corporation's Eastern-financier image, which was already coming under attack last year.

The Corporation's members must also have realized that Lamont's successor gave them a rare chance to fight their image problems. Lamont was a Wall Street banker, director of the Morgan Guaranty Trust. Compared to him, almost any new members the Corporation chose would look like a step away from the Eastern financial establishment. The only possible exceptions would be Rockefellers or Mellons, and the Corporation reportedly offered the post to David Rockfeller. But if he did get the offer, he turned it down, and the Corporation eventually turned to Hugh Calkins.

In his initial publicity, Calkins appeared to be a surprisingly long step away from Lamont and his Wall Street banks. He was from Cleveland, not from New York or Boston. In his early 40's, he was by far the youngest member of the Corporation. And his record on the Cleveland School Board gave him strong credentials in standard liberal causes like improving ghetto education.

CALKINS was also grossly out of place on the interlocking-directorate charts that some radical students had prepared to show how the Corporation dominates American business. Calkins' only tangible business involvement was his role as director of a Rhode Island manufacturing company. He later said he took the job to help a friend whose company was in trouble.

But if Calkins was a symbolic change in the venerable Harvard Corporation, his first few months in office offered little concrete evidence of steps away from traditional Corporation policy.

He gave a speech in October calling for a new foundation to channel investment funds to struggling ghetto businesses. But he immediately said that he agreed with the standing Corporation policy of keeping Harvard's money where it would bring the best return.

In speeches and in private talks, Calkins has said that the Army should get out of Vietnam. But he also says that the Corporation will not take a formal stand against the war; and it was his Corporation that SDS accused of distorting the Faculty's ROTC resolution.

Calkins also tried to make himself available to students. On his Monday trips into Cambridge for Corporation meetings, he would usually arrange talks with undergraduate groups. He talked with students and explained his classically liberal views on the war, on dissent, or running the University.

But the more he talked, the more students began to realize that the young Calkins' liberalism was not very much different from the things the old Corporation said.

Harvard was still not going to tell the country to end the war. Harvard would not pour its money into Roxbury or pull its money out of military-supply industries. Calkins was not going to invite a few of his student friends to sit with him on the Corporation.

There has been one big change, of course. Calkins has taken the trouble to explain the policies to students, even if the policies themselves are unchanged. For students who never really believed that the Corporation was a functioning cog in the military-industrial complex, Calkins' effort was enough.

For others, Calkins and his cooperation were not enough. When the anti-ROTC campaign began early this fall, several leaflets accused the Corporation of "appointing 'lawyer' Calkins in a sham attempt to make the board look more 'liberal.'"


IN HIS recent appearance at Harvard, Calkins has often given the impression of being Representative Mid-western Man. He constantly punctuates his speeches with references to conditions back home in Cleveland. Some of his television talks here have left audiences wondering if Calkins is able to think about Harvard events without translating them into Cleveland-school-board analogies.

Calkins exudes the same Midwestern air in his frequent testimony before Congress. When he talks to Congressional committees investigating new educational bills, Calkins likes to speak with the voice of grass-roots America as he tells of his experiences in Cleveland.

It is a little surprising to find out that Clevelander Calkins is a thoroughbred product of the Eastern educational establishment. He was born in Newton in 1924, and he went to Exeter before coming to Harvard.

As an undergraduate here, he served briefly as president of the CRIMSON in 1942 (a year when the paper had three presidents). He graduated magna cum laude in the now-defunct field of mechanical engineering, and went off to join the Air Force.

After ending his Air Force career in 1946, Calkins returned to Cam- bridge to go to the Law School. He was president of the Law Review, and graduated with enough honors in 1949 to win a job as clerk to Learned Hand, then the chief judge in New York's Circuit Court of Appeals.

A year later, Calkins stepped up to the Supreme Court and clerked for Justice Felix Frankfurter.

Then, in 1951, Calkins moved to Cleveland. Some of his political associates there, with a note of civic deprecation, say they still do not understand why Calkins left Boston, Harvard, and the East for industrial, unattractive Cleveland. As a bright young man who had just been a clerk for a Supreme Court Justice, Calkins could easily have stepped on the escalator to success in law or government.

His explanation of why he decided to move sheds interesting light on Calkins' present and future plans. When he was still in Law School, Calkins says, he began to look around the country to see where he would like to make his career. The years of clerking in New York and Washington were only temporary--he wanted to make a long-term choice of where he would make his home.

While he was trying to decide, Calkins talked with James Grafton Rogers of the State Department. Rogers told Calkins to get away from New York and Washington. They were not the best places for upwardly mobile young lawyers, Rogers said. Instead, Rogers offered Calkins some advice modeled on his own experience. The real secret, Rogers said, was to move out to some Midwestern state, become a local celebrity, and eventually return in glory to Washington.

Rogers had followed just such a policy. He had left the East and gone to Minnesota, where he "set up his lightning rod" as expert on foreign policy. When the State Department decided that it needed a man from the Midwest Rogers was the logical choice.

If you want to influence the nation's policy, Rogers told Calkins, move away from the centers of power. Go to a place where there's a relative vacuum, and make a name for yourself.

Calkins got the message. He has solidly established himself as a leading public figure in Cleveland, and he says his Midwestern expertise adds impact to his Congressional testimony.

The next logical step is the Rogers-like return to Washington. Calkins does not talk in detail about any political plans he may have. Some of his Cleveland cronies do. They suggest that he may run for Congress soon, or perhaps try for the mayoralty. Both reports could be simple rumors; but it seems clear that Calkins' steady rise in Cleveland politics will lead to bigger things.


CALKINS spent his first few years in Cleveland earning a position as partner in the Jones, Day, Cockley, and Reavis law firm. He started work for the firm in 1951 and was made a partner seven years later. Along the way, he married a Radcliffe alumna in 1953 and joined a host of civic activities in Cleveland and his suburban home of Shaker Heights.

Aside from his role in local good-government organizations. Calkins' first real fame came in 1960, when he was appointed deputy director of the President's Commission on National Goals.

The Commission was one of the last acts of the Eisenhower Administration, and it was charged with coming up with a set of targets and guidelines for the nation's next decade of development. The deadline for its report was January, 1961.

William P. Bundy, later of the State Department, was the Commission's director. Calkins says that Bundy asked him to be his deputy "after he tried several other people and found that none of them could do it."

In its year of study, the Commission was supposed to find answers to questions like 'how can individual well-being, health, and initiative be nurtured without too much central control and authority?" and "How can the United States, now leader of the world , meet the Communist challenge while working toward a better life for all?"

The section of the report that undoubtedly influenced Calkins the most, however, was its study of American school systems. After his work with the Commission was done, Calkins returned to Cleveland and began a long campaign to improve the city's schools.

In 1961 and 1962, Calkins gave speeches urging Ohioans to pay more attention to their schools. Through 1963 and 1964, he directed a sweeping citizens'-committee study of some of the detailed problems the Cleveland schools faced. And in 1965, he won a seat on the Cleveland School Board in the hardest-fought school board election that most Clevelanders can remember.

(Tomorrow: Calkins' campaign for the school board, and how his views apply to Harvard; at home with the Calkinses; how Hugh Calkins slipped into the Harvard power elite.)

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