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The homecoming to Memorial Hall brought back a mixed bag of memories for the Class of 1965 yesterday as they gathered for the official welcome to their 25th reunion.
"Good thing we're not going to register for an exam," one classmate quipped to another as they entered the cavernous Civil War memorial.
The gathered alumni were officially greeted by the chief executives of both Harvard and Radcliffe, who, each at roughly the rate of one year per minute, tried to teach the 800 people assembled the history of their respective schools since the class was last in Cambridge.
President Derek C. Bok, whose address was frequently interrupted by bemused faces and at time uproarious laughter, spoke much of the strides toward diversity the campus has seen since the mid 1960s, both in the student body and the faculty.
Despite "whatever your secret fantasies about what coeducational residence is like," he told the audience, who had lived in single-sex dormitories, the major result of co-ed housing has been the building of lasting friendships between the sexes.
Bok also noted the increased racial and ethnic diversity at the College, although he warned that there is still room for approvement.
"We feel very fortunate in light of some of the ugly incidents that have occurred on other campuses," he said. But, "beneath the surface is a lack of real comfort in relationships between these groups."
Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson, who said that this was the first reunion she had ever been part of, sought to assure the alumni that despite its union with Harvard, Radcliffe remained independent in many important respects.
"Let me tell you, Radcliffe is alive and well and living in Cambridge," said Wilson.
Harvard and Radcliffe have made great progress towards gender equality, she said, noting that under Bok's tenure the number of women professors at Harvard has increased from one to 38. But she qualified her praise by cautioning that there is still much to be done.
"We celebrate the progress that has been made," said Wilson, but she added. "Without some impatience and persistence, we cannot make the progress we need."
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