Harvard Law School Makes Online Zero-L Course Free for All U.S. Law Schools Due to Coronavirus
For Kennedy School Fellows, Epstein-Linked Donors Present a Moral Dilemma
Tenants Grapple with High Rents and Local Turnover at Asana-Owned Properties
In April, Theft Surged as Cambridge Residents Stayed at Home
The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
If you're one of the 80 per cent of the Summer School students who are studying at Harvard for the first time, then you'll probably soon encounter a certain personality type that will have great influence over your stay here: the Harvard administrator.
The Harvard administrator is generally intellectual, urbane, aloof, paranoid, businesslike, fashionably liberal, well-dressed, pipe-smoking (if male), and often impervious to student efforts to make him or her see the lighter side of student mischief.
Michael Shinagel, the director of the Summer School, is the man in charge. He is responsible more than anyone else for what you like and dislike about your stay here. In his forties, Shinagel is a former English professor, confessed sybarite, and moustache-sporter.
His office at 20 Garden St. across from the Sheraton Commander is packed with great works of literature, especially 18th century novels.
On his desk are about two dozen pipes. "I have to get my oral gratification some way," he says. His hair is moderately short, graying on the edges and combed back in front. A picture of former President John F. Kennedy '40 with his arms folded and looking somberly toward the ground hangs on one wall.
Shinagel likes his job. He abandoned a tenured position as chairman of the English department at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., to direct the Summer School and Continuing Education programs. "Many jobs define you. What I like about this job is that I define it," he says. "You can do a lot of good for the community and the world."
Shinagel was born in Vienna, Austria, where his father was a successful textile merchant. However, at the age of 4, his Jewish family was forced to flee from the Nazis. They moved to France, where his father was imprisoned in Marseilles by the Vichy government. Eventually, he was released, and the family caught the last Vichy ship to America.
In America, Shinagel grew up in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. His parents both had to work, and Shinagel attended Bronx High School of Science-one of the best public schools in the country.
Shinagel didn't like Manhattan much, and dreamed of the pastoral life. He applied to a special Cornell major in dairy farming, only to go through what he calls an "existential crisis" in a mandatory program the summer before he enrolled.
As Shinagel explains it, he was standing on a huge pile of cow manure in upstate New York on a hot, muggy day with flies swarming around his face. Suddenly, in a moment of revelation, he knew the simple life of a dairy farmer would not be the answer. He finished up his first year at Cornell, and then volunteered to fight in Korea.
While in the army, Shinagel made friends with someone who went to Oberlin College; Shinagel transferred there after two years of service in Korea.
At first, he majored in psychology, but then switched to English when he decided it was more fun to read books than to work in a laboratory testing rats. He did well, graduating in the top ten in his class.
After Oberlin, Shinagel came to Harvard to get a Ph.D, supporting himself through a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and the G.I. Bill. His thesis was about Daniel Defoe; his adviser was two-time Pulitzer Prize winner William Jackson Bate, who Shinagel says helped dispell his feeling that Harvard was a cold place.
Soon afterward he went to Union College, only to be eventually lured back to Harvard when he was selected to his current post over 300 other candidates.
Marshall R. Pihl '55, associate director of the Summer School, also smokes a pipe and keeps several on his desk.
Pihl's shirts and ties are more colorful than Shinagel's although the traditional penny loafers grace his feet like a good Harvard administrator.
Pihl is talkative, friendly, and very interested in his job-to determine academic policy and course offerings and hire Summer School faculty. He likes it so much that he has already decided to pursue a career as an administrator-despite his academic career as an East Asian scholar specializing in Korea.
During the regular school year, Pihl works as a lecturer in East Asian Studies and the senior tutor of Quincy House.
As a senior tutor, Pihl is responsible for making sure students in Quincy keep up their grades and stay out of trouble-a task he says he is particulary suited for, having been forced to withdraw while an undergraduate.
Pihl admits that he made mistakes as an undergraduate. He now looks back philosophically and says, "I grew up; I got seasoned."
But that seasoning has been in the distinctive Harvard tradition. Before coming to Harvard as an undergraduate he prepped at Brown and Nichols, which at the time was located precisely where the building he now works in stands.
The Harvard seasoning has been softened a bit by seven years in Korea. After being forced to withdraw, he was drafted, and while in Korea wrote feature stories for armed services newspapers.
Pihl says he enjoyed writing about the Koreans he met more than writing about American soldiers. The Korean culture fascinated him, and when he reapplied to Harvard and was accepted, he decided to study East Asian civilization-one of the first undergraduates to have done so.
After earning his undergraduate degree, Pihl returned to Korea to work for a magazine of intellectual commentary.
But the oppostion magazine spoke out against the Korean government, and he had to leave that job. He received a Fulbright scholarship and used it to become the first European graduate from Seoul National University.
Pihl eventually returned to Harvard. He says he got the associate directorship of the Summer School partly because Harvard wanted continuity between the College and Summer School policies. Pihl, as a member of the College's Administrative Board, says he tries to provide this continuity.
Pihl, however, is not a compulsive, code-following administrator. "If everybody at Harvard tried to go by the rules, nothing would get done," he says. "Whenever there are rules there are loopholes."
Wayne K. Ishikawa, dean of the Summer School, is the administrator most concerned with students here, and how happy they are.
Ishikawa smiles a lot; his office has a reputation for containing baseball bats, painting easels, and other accoutrements that tend to reinforce the image Camp Harvard.
Often seen wearing a sweatshirt with a whistle around his neck, the relatively young Ishikawa has a while to go before he fits into the classic mold of the Harvard administrator.
Ishikawa resents the Summer School's reputation as Camp Harvard. "Although I understand the appellation, I think it's kind of unfair," he says. "Pre-college students are pretty well screened beforehand and the whole character of the Yard naturally becomes a bit more relaxed with the good weather."
Ishikawa, who completed his doctorate in French last spring, is returning to Harvard for his fourth year. He served as a proctor his first two years. Last year he also planned to serve as a proctor, but received an unexpected promotion when the person originally appointed to the deanship abruptly resigned last May. Pihl offered Ishikawa the job.
Ishikawa will be responsible for organizing mixers, lining up lecture series, and generally spicing up the social life of Summer School students
Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.