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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

Keeping Track

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The nitty gritty of honors requirements usually provokes only expletives from undergraduates, but at Tuesday's Faculty meeting the subject made for a rather high-minded discussion fraught with eloquent rhetoric and literary allusions.

The debate was over two proposals, one that would make honors dependent on an average of every grade a student receives, and another that would determine honors by averaging the student's 24 best grades. Current rules peg honors to two-thirds of a student's non-concentration courses.

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Maybe it doesn't pay to live in Cambridge after all. A Saudi Arabian sheik, who previously doled out lavish cash gifts to several Florida cities and offered a Pennsylvania town $3 million to vote against President Reagan in 1984, never showed at a meeting scheduled with Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci last week.

The sheik was supposed to present the mayor with $150,000 for the city's Boys' and Girls' Clubs.

Refusing to take the snub lightly, Vellucci sent a letter to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and several Massachusetts congressmen protesting the poor treatment the city received from Sheik Mohammad Fassi.

Vellucci also plans to urge Saudis living in Cambridge to write their government "demanding an apology, because they still have to live here."

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Law School Dean James Vorenberg Monday took the first step toward a major overhaul of the Law School's curriculum.

Vorenberg has appointed a seven-man committee to follow up suggestions made in the Michelman report, which last year called for an increased use of clinical education in legal training.

The Report was part of a nationwide trend among law schools away from doctrinal studies and toward practical training.

Vorenberg called the committee appointments "an important step" in evaluating the Law School's program as a whole.

* * *

A recent survey of undergraduate life conducted by the University reveals a trend of increasing satisfaction with Harvard and the Houses.

Undergraduates rated various aspects of student life better than in three similar surveys conducted within the last decade, the survey of last year's seniors and randomly selected sophomores and juniors shows.

Tempering the growing satisfaction with Harvard overall, however, was sharp criticism of tutors and other advisers, who students characterized as less helpful with both academic and personal problems than in previous years.

Harvard this week made public College-wide averages of answers to many of the questions asked in the 73-question survey, which garnered 825 responses.

* * *

University officials last week successfully smoothed over one of the many squabbles they have had with the city of Cambridge by agreeing to study the historical significance of several Harvard-owned buildings.

City officials have maintained that about 80 such buildings--including Eliot, Winthrop, and Lowell House, Old Quincy and Old Leverett--are being insufficiently preserved and should be placed in the National Register of Historic Places.

In the past, Harvard administrators have objected to such an action, but they now have agreed to set up a "preservation planning office" to look into the question. The Massachusetts Historical Commission has agreed to postpone ruling on the matter for two years to allow completion of the study.

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In its first substantive action, the new Undergraduate Council voted unanimously Sunday to establish awards honoring Faculty members for exceptional dedication to teaching.

A senior professor, junior professor and graduate student will receive the honors at a testimonial dinner later this year, according to the plan which will now be formalized within the council's academics committee.

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President Horner announced last week that repair work on the water-damaged Quadrangle Recreational Athletic Center (Q-RAC) will begin soon, and those sections not damaged will reopen by the end of the month.

The decision to begin work and to open portions ends two months of negotiations about the fate of the three-year-old complex, which was shot down in June when administrators noticed some flaws.

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