They Never Left Harvard

For Some, Reunion Means Returning to a Campus They Haven't Seen for 25 Years. Others Still See the Campus Every Day From Their Office Windows.

Classmates such as Robert E. Cook, Howard Georgi, Peter B. Zimmerman, Harry R. Lewis and Nancy E. Kleckner won't have far to travel to their 25th reunion.

They are already here, having returned to Harvard to pursue their careers and carry on their lives.

Some of these alums from the Class of 1968 have come back to teach, like Lewis, who is McKay professor of computer science. Some have come back to manager, like Vic A. Koivumaki III, who as executive director of the Harvard Law School Association and secretary for alumni affairs is responsible for linking up Law School graduates.

Some, like Cook, have come back to do both. Cook is Arnold professor of dendrology and director of the Arnold Arboretum.

"When I was an undergraduate I saw Harvard with one set of eyes," says Cook, "and when I was a professor I saw things with another set of eyes, and now, as an administrator, I see things with a third set of eyes."


"And right now I see a place that has maintained its intellectual diversity while pushing itself to maintain a level of greatness," Cook says.

Kleckner, professor biochemistry and molecular biology, never really left.

She studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after graduating from Radcliffe, and then returned to this end of Cambridge, only to remain permanently.

"Harvard has one of the best departments in the country in my field," she says. "And it was easier to stay here than to look for a position somewhere else."

Like Kleckner, Assistant Professor of Statistics Alan Zaslavsky came to Harvard through graduate studies at MIT.

"It was totally coincidental," he says. "I never would have believed that I would ever be back here when I graduate 25 years ago."

Zaslavsky says that the strong connections he had formed with members of the faculty brought him back here, in addition to the prestige of the institution.

Lewis concurs that, when offered a position on the faculty, "the chance to work at one of the premier institutions in the nation is fairly irresistible."

"It's like what a lot of students say about accepting Harvard's offer of admission over those of other schools," he says. "When Harvard wants you, you don't turn them down."

Alumni also cite the "unique opportunities" Harvard affords to members of its community as incentives to return.