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Nathan M. Pusey '28, the 24th President of Harvard University, will resign his position in June of 1971.
Pusey has been President of Harvard since 1953.
"In the hope that you will grant me the privilege of early retirement at the end of the next academic year, I write now formally to ask that you turn your attention to the task of choosing my successor," Pusey said in a letter to the Corporation-Harvard's second-highest governing body. Pusey would have reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 in April 1972 and could have remained as President until 1973.
In a regularly-scheduled meeting yesterday, the Corporation agreed to Pusey's request.
"It speaks with clarity, brevity and perception and with his innate sense of time and history," said R. Keith Kane '22, Senior Fellow of the Corporation, of Pusey's letter. "It reflects a man of strength and self-discipline-a man of character and courage."
"It seems to me, as I indicated to you last year, that the next change in presidents of Harvard should occur fairly soon, preferably near the beginning of the fresh chapter rather than three years from now," Pusey said. "If this can be arranged, my successor will have an opportunity to help design and order the new developments of the era ahead as well as effect their fulfillment."
For the full text of Pusey's letter see elsewhere on this page.
The next president will be chosen by the seven-man Corporation, and must by the charter of the College be approved by the Board of Overseers.
"As I shall soon be retiring as a Fellow of Harvard College, the responsibility of organizing the procedures that will lead to an election by the Corporation will rest on the next Senior Fellow, Francis H. Burr '35," Kane said.
Burr said that the Corporation will "welcome suggestions" from all interested Faculty, students, almuni and employees.
Pusey has been a college president for 25 years-16 of them here. He became President-after nine years as president of Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin-when James Bryant Conant resigned in 1953 to become United States High Commissioner in Germany.
A specialist in general education, at Lawrence College Pusey set up a required course for all freshmen in which through the study of "great original works which have affected civilization and still affect it," students were brought in contact with the five major fields of learning: the social sciences, philosophy, the natural sciences, religion and the arts.
In his biography for the Anniversary report of the Class of 1928, Pusey wrote, "Liberal education is my chief concern. That young people growing up should have liberating intellectual experiences seems to me more important in any year than who should be president, though I recognize there may-be considerable irresponsibility in the attitude."
Pusey is the first President of the University to be born west of the Mississippi. A native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, he studied English and Comparative Literature at Harvard under the late Irving Babbitt, graduating magna in 1928. He received his A.M. from Harvard in 1932 and his Ph.D. in 1937.
Pusey served as an assistant in History here in 1932, and then, after a short stay at Lawrence as a tutor, he taught at Wesleyan University from 1940 to 1944 as a professor of Classics, although he also instructed Naval V-5 students in Physics. In 1944 he was elected president of Lawrence.
After ten years at Harvard, Pusey spoke of his misgivings at Leaving Lawrence- "the personal joy and pleasure of being in a small community were not dismissed lightly."
Adjustment to Harvard
"The President must have so many focal points of concern that no one problem can occupy him for too long," he said in 1963. The CRIMSON that year commented: "Pusey has adjusted gradually to these diversified pressures, but adjustment has forced him to abandon the intimate contact with college policy, faculty, and student body which he had at Lawrence."
"When I first came to Harvard," Pusey said in 1963. "I had been warned how long it takes to get anything done here. So many people get involved in a project that years will go by before something is actually finished."
In his letter to the Corporation yesterday, Pusey said. "I have learned in 25 years as a college president that a considerable interval (not uncommonly the administration of a university between something like ten years) is required in the undertaking of a major project and its achievement."
When Pusey came to Cambridge tuition was $800; in September 1964 it was $1760. In September, 1971 it will be $2600. Pusey urged the tuition increases from the beginning largely because of his determination to increase Faculty salaries.
Most of the increases depended in part on the Program for Harvard College-a short-term capital funds drive launched by Pusey that raised $88 million by early in 1960-the greatest material achievement of the first ten years. Pusey called the statement in which he announced the success of the Program "the most momentous announcement which has fallen to my lot."
In the quest for additional funds he turned more and more to the Federal government for assistance but admitted that "government encroachment on Harvard's treasured independence has been a major worry of mine."
Like former President Conant. Pusey refused to accept any classified research.
In 1963 Pusey saw problems in maintaining Harvard and Radcliffe as separate institutions, in part "because of a change in the mores" of the undergraduate group. He said then that "men, and women too, must have an opportunity to be alone sometimes," and that this would only be possible if the separate identities of Harvard and Radcliffe were preserved.
Relations With Radcliffe
During all the discussion last year that led to the proposed merger of the two institutions-tentatively scheduled for July 1, 1970-Pusey said little beyond his oft-quoted statement that there could be no coeducational living without merger. But Mary I. Bunting. President of Radcliffe, said last night that "Pusey had always been a friend to Radcliffe," and that his statement last fall was actually "an effort to accelerate merger."
"He had a very clear feeling that Harvard should take just as much responsibility for the education of women as of men." Mrs. Bunting said.
Shortly after being elected President of Harvard. Pusey was faced with the problem of dealing with Sen Joseph R. McCarthy's attacks on Communism.
In 1954 McCarthy telegrammed Pusey and demanded action in the case of Wendell M. Furry then associate professor of Physics. Furry-accused of being a member of the Communist Party in 1938 and 1939-had been investigated by special Faculty and Corporation committees in 1952 and 1953 and found guilty of "grave misconduct."
The Corporation decided not to dismiss him, however, because the "grave misconduct" had been committed some nine years earlier.
In his reply to McCarthy Pusey said, "Harvard is absolutely, unalterably and finally oposed to Communism." and that, so far as he knew, there were no Communists on the Harvard Faculty.
In April of 1954 Pusey endorsed a "Joe Must Go" campaign aimed at deposing McCarthy.
"The idea that a scholar must be free to follow his own hunches in pursuing his special studies is not the whim of some modern educator." Pusey said in 1954. "It is of the greatest importance that he know whatever he finds and reports will not penalize him as a man."
Last May, after the April occupation of University Hall by over 250 students and the April 10 police bust in Harvard Yard, the Freund Committee-appointed by Pusey to "investigate possible misconduct of members of the University teaching staff" during and after the occupation-was criticized by many as the first such probe since the McCarthy era.
"If there is anything demonstrably false in our recent experience." Pusey said in his annual report this January, "is that tactics of violence can be productive of good, that 'they get results'."
Pusey called the year a "dismal" and "costly" one for Harvard.
He questioned the validity of the Faculty's action against ROTC and said that, despite the "extremely unrepresentative impression given by a few self-righteous zealots," most Harvard students are "thoughtful and concerned individuals" who "care deeply and sensibly about Harvard."
Under the circumstances. Pusey said, the decision to call in police was "the least bad" of the available alternatives.
Pusey also predicted severe fiscal problems: "Costs continue to rise. Income will surely be harder to come by. Competition for federal funds will become more intense at a time when science and universities are both declining in public favor."
"The time has come for a renewed effort which will enlist the energies of many younger Harvard men," Pusey said in his letter to the Corporation.
"President Pusey did much before he came to Harvard and has done much more while he has been here," Kane said yesterday. "Harvard and education are in debt to him for his service to them."
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