Radcliffe Alumnae Evaluate Their Alma Mater

1953 graduates have mixed feelings about the merger

Courtesy OF 1953 radcliffe yearbook

Members of the Class of 1953 greet a Radcliffe first-year.

With its 1999 merger with Harvard, Radcliffe was forced to reinvent itself.

Many alumnae watched with curiosity as the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study took shape out of the college they had once known.

Three years after the merger and the Institute’s birth, most alums have come to value the Institute, some converted by the compelling arguments of Radcliffe Institute Dean Drew Gilpin Faust.

Others, however, feel disenfranchized by the disappearance of their alma mater and reject the Institute as a viable replacement for Radcliffe College.

Women from the Class of 1953 contacted by The Crimson offered a variety of perspectives on the merger and their relationship with the new Institute.

Holly Butler ’53

Butler entered college from New Orleans, La. She married her husband, a Harvard graduate in the Class of 1951, the summer after her junior year.

Butler studied English in college.

Did you maintain contact with Radcliffe after graduation? Through donations, reunions, etc?

I didn’t go to my own reunions until 25th, I went to [my husband’s] reunions and saw my classmates at them. Then I realized what I’d been missing.

Did you ever expect Harvard and Radcliffe to merge?

I thought it was probably inevitable. Especially after co residency came in.

What do you think of what Radcliffe has become—an institute for advanced study?