The End of a College: Radcliffe to Merge With Harvard

Radcliffe College and Harvard University are announcing today that the two schools intend to merge fully, ending Radcliffe's 120 years as an independent undergraduate institution.

Radcliffe will instead become the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, a non-degree-granting "tub" of Harvard University on equal footing with the Divinity School and the Law School.

The Institute will "sustain a commitment to the study of women, gender and society," according to a press release. However, leaders have not yet clarified whether women's issues will remain Radcliffe's exclusive focus.

Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson is also announcing today that she will step down from her post at the end of June. Wilson has been Radcliffe's seventh and final president.


Director of the Schlesinger Library and former Smith College President Mary Maples Dunn will become the interim head of Radcliffe, serving until Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine appoints a permanent dean. A special committee, which one source has said would include at least some current members of the Radcliffe Board of Trustees, will assist in the selection and confirmation of the Institute's first permanent dean.

While today's announcement is not binding--a detailed legal document is still in the works--it sets forth a series of general principles that have been agreed upon by the two institutions after more than a year's worth of closed-door negotiations.

Among these principles is an agreement that female undergraduates will now be admitted to Harvard College, not Radcliffe.

The signing of a legal contract at an unspecified future date would end Radcliffe's status as an independent institution. Since 1977, Radcliffe has maintained its own land, endowment and an administrative structure answerable only to its own self-perpetuating Board of Trustees.

Under the new proposal, all of that will change. The Board of Trustees will cease to exist. Radcliffe's land--more than 20 acres of prime Cambridge real estate--and buildings will be folded into the University. Harvard's use of the Quad for undergraduate dormitories will continue.

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