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Speakers Discuss Radcliffe's Role

Panelists Offer Historical, Administrative Views of College

By Maggie S. Tucker

Speaking at a reunion week symposium yesterday, a noted historian and a Radcliffe administrator discussed the historical and future goals of the College.

Former Director of the Schlesinger library Barbara M. Solomon '40, who has been both a Warren fellow and a Bunting fellow, detailed a history of Ada Comstock's long tenure as president of Radcliffe.

Solomon's reference to various anecdotes about Comstock elicited nods and smiles of recognition from the alumnae assembled in Aggasiz Theater, many of whom were from the Class of '40.

At one time, Solomon said, Comstock wanted to invite Gertrude Stein, an 1897 graduate, to lecture at Radcliffe. But when the College's trustees declined to fund the lecture, Comstock herself managed to find the funds to pay Stein's expenses, Solomon said.

"She had her own brand of activism," Solomon said of Comstock. "She was a vigorous example of participation in public affairs."

Comstock, who negotiated the 1943 agreement between Harvard and Radcliffe colleges that provided for women students' guaranteed education by Harvard faculty, "made every effort to link Harvard to Radcliffe, or filled the void in a way beneficial to both," Solomon said.

Comstock believed Radcliffe existed "to provide women with a Harvard education," and resisted President Lowell's idea that Harvard should dissociate itself from Radcliffe, said Solomon, who was Harvard College's first woman assistant dean.

Vice President for College relations Robin M. Jacoby said that many of Comstock's goals--paricularly guaranteeing a Harvard education for Radcliffe women--have been achieved.

The changes that have taken place since Comstock's day are reflected by the fact hat women students usually now refer to themselves as Harvard rather than Radcliffe students, Jacoby said.

Jacoby spoke of Radcliffe president Linda S. Wilson's vision of "dual citizenship" for women students at Harvard and Radcliffe.

This situation, she said, offered women students "all the advantages that Harvard has to offer and the benefits of Radcliffe as well."

Jacoby said she saw Radcliffe as having the opportunity to enrich the lives of both women and men undergraduates.

"I hope all students will graduate with a clear understanding of the history and role of Radcliffe and of the challenges that it has still to meet," she said.

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