Dean Rosovsky last Saturday became the first high-level Harvard administrator to publicly favor merger of Harvard and Radcliffe, but not without a little prodding from representatives of the Harvard College Alumni Fund.
Rosovsky, responding to alumni questions at a symposium for fund representatives, said that merger "is the only way for us to proceed."
"The separation between Harvard and Radcliffe is artificial and causes administrative complications. I don't see any reason why men and women are separated," Rosovsky said.
If for no other reason, Rosovsky's public call for merger is noteworthy because Harvard administrators aren't prone to speaking out without a committee report in hand.
But for all the oohs and ahs that Rosovsky's statements may have initially caused, most of the bite was taken out when he assured the alumni that he does not favor decreasing the number of undergraduate men.
Rosovsky's candid remarks about merger and his hesitency to consider alterations in male enrollment are typical of the attitudes of many Harvard administrators, alumni and faculty members: They aren't really concerned about the technicalities of the corporate relationship between Harvard and Radcliffe, but are more wary of efforts to equalize male-female enrollment by decreasing the male population here.
This attitude was underscored repeatedly by members of the fund, who were in town last weekend to kick off the annual fund drive. Rosovsky's were practically the only statements made about merger, and even they came in response to questions about the threat of a drop in male admissions.
Rosovsky's statements and President Bok's subsequent less definite version of them point to very limited alternatives for the future of Harvard-Radcliffe. Unless the administration and alumni make a startling switch it seems inevitable that Radcliffe will be swallowed up and Harvard will inchingly increase the numbers of women it admits by cramming more students into Harvard Square.