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|At Class Day exercises for seniors, dean of students Archie C. Epps III, B.D. '61, presented the Ames Awards--given to students who exhibit outstanding leadership, selflessness, and character--to Sandy S. Chung '98 (left), of Dudley House and Beaverton, Oregon, and Wei-Ming "Bobby" Lee '98, of Pforzheimer House and Plano, Texas. Radcliffe earlier gave its highest undergraduate honor, the Fay Prize, to Rebecca C. Kiley '98, an Afro-American studies concentrator, of Pforzheimer House and Boston. JIM HARRISON|
RANKS OF THE ALUMNI SWELL
At its 347th Commencement, Harvard confered 6,236 earned degrees and 320 certificates before a cheerful, cheering multitude. "First degrees" went to 1,563 Harvard and Radcliffe College students, 70 of them summa cum laude. (Last year, there were 75 summas, 116 the year before; standards have stiffened.) At the top of the class among seniors was biologist Daniel P. Mason '98, of Lowell House and Palo Alto, who had a Harvard career total of 32 As and one A. Living alumni of the University now number 280,000--more or less.
THIS IS THE NINETIES
Harvard issued press credentials to some 15 photographers hired by private individuals to capture junior's or sis's great day on film. Hey, if it works for weddings, why not commencements? These operatives could usually be distinguished from the ordinary working press because they carried both video and still cameras. Official Harvard may frown on the practice next year.
|Eccentric adornments weren't much in evidence this year, but Stephanie Glazerman, M.P.P./U.P. '98, of Cambridge, obliged by wearing a highrise cityscape, complete with bus. STU ROSNER|
A REUNION FIRST
A seventy-fifth reunion occurred for the first time in Harvard history ("and I'm sure it won't be the last," said Harvard Alumni Association president Daniel A. Phillips '60, M.B.A. '63, who acknowledged the gathering at the HAA's annual meeting on Commencement afternoon). Attending from the class of '23 were Elmer Cappers, Albert Gordon, M.B.A. '25, and Sheridan Logan, who has been class secretary ever since he was elected to that post in his senior year. The class's reunion gift was a hefty $3.6 million. (For more on reunion giving, please see "Gifts That Shape the Future," page 83.)
Perhaps most famous for creating Saturday Night Live's Stuart Smalley, a character with an addiction to 12-step programs, comedian and writer Al Franken '73 emceed his class's twenty-fifth-reunion talent show. "Harvard is known for producing lawyers, doctors, business leaders, and scholars," Franken opened. "But not known so much for producing...talent." As proof, the class of '73 hammed it up at Sanders Theatre on the evening of Commencement day for nearly four hours. From songs by Tchaikovsky and Berlin to martial arts demonstrations and a conga line led by classmate Rick Grosvenor costumed as a lobster, the performances ran the gamut from the ridiculous to the sublimely ridiculous. Arguably the show's most oddball and beloved performer was Sarah Ulerick (the 1993 Slug Queen, crowned during an annual festival in Eugene, Oregon), who, looking like a cross between Minnie Pearl and Ivana Trump, performed a clog dance. At the party afterwards, another classmate, former U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, diplomatically described her as "a good sport."
|Rosovsky to Hunt: Now, about that check... JIM HARRISON|
THE WHITE GLOVE TEST
When economist Henry Rosovsky, Ph.D. '59, LL.D. '98, Geyser University Professor emeritus and former Fellow of the Harvard Corporation, retired as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1984, his daughter Judy gave him one rhinestone-studded white glove, à la Michael Jackson, and said that if he would wear it at Commencement that year, she would concede their next 10 arguments. He did; she didn't. No one noticed the glove, says Rosovsky, except Daniel Tosteson '46, M.D. '48, then dean of the medical school, who wanted to know if Rosovsky had dermatitis. University marshal Richard M. Hunt, Ph.D. '60, remembered the glove as it came time for Rosovsky to receive his honorary degree this year. Hunt gave Rosovsky a white glove (no rhinestones) and said that he would donate $1,000 to Rosovsky's favorite charity if he would wear the glove at Commencement exercises. Rosovsky did, and handed the glove to Hunt as he was handed his degree. The check, says Hunt, is in the mail.
PROUD (INSIDER) PARENTS
After conferring degrees on the Business School's rowdy candidates--and pronouncing them "exceptionally ready to lead people and organizations"--President Neil L. Rudenstine waved to the newborn M.B.A.s. Among them was son Nicholas D. Angelica and Neil Rudenstine will have another parental go at Commencement when daughter Antonia M. earns her Ed.D., expected in June 2000. When Archie C. Epps III stepped to the podium during Class Day exercises to present the Ames Awards (opposite), he began by reassuring his son over the public address system: "Josiah, I have paid your bills" (the sine qua non of graduation). He and wife Valerie have son Caleb entering Harvard College this fall. Epps, incidentally, had been elected an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa earlier in the week.
|Photojournalist David Turnley, one of this year's Nieman Fellows, left, with freelance photographer and Harvard Magazine contributing editor Jim Harrison, who has covered Commencement for this magazine for two decades. The Harvard Coop held a retrospective exhibition of Harrison's Commencement work this spring. STU ROSNER|
BRING BACK GEOGRAPHY
Members of the fiftieth reunion class of 1948 packed Science Center B for a symposium on foreign policy, featuring classmates Anthony Lewis, NF '57; Carleton Coon, veteran Foreign Service officer and ambassador to Nepal under President Reagan; Theodore L. Eliot Jr., M.P.A. '56, ambassador to Afghanistan under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter, then dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; and Richard Gardner, ambassador to Italy under Carter and to Spain under President Clinton. Coon blames Harvard in part for the public's general disinterest in things foreign: "President Conant abolished geography at Harvard with the statement that it wasn't a subject of university importance." This attitude trickled down the educational system and led to widespread lack of awareness of the rest of the world. (Gardner stated that 40 percent of U.S. House members elected since 1990 don't have passports.) When asked for a single "pearl of wisdom" by a member of the audience, Coon proclaimed, "Reinstitute geography at Harvard!"
NEXT YEAR, AN OPERA INSTEAD OF A COMMENCEMENT
On Wednesday A. Ryan Leslie '98 punctuated his speech at Class Day (see "For Apolitical Times, Many Politicians," page 51) with a line of song from "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." Next morning David Brunton '97('98), of Cabot House and Goldendale, Washington, delivered the undergraduate English oration, one of the student "parts" traditional to the formal Commencement exercises, and sang lyrics written by his black roommate, Derrick Ashong '97, as part of an original musical that comprised Ashong's senior thesis, the lyrics being, "I need you to see, what it means to be like me." On Friday, at Radcliffe, Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard '48, representing the fiftieth reunion class at the annual meeting of the Radcliffe College Alumnae Association, burst into song no fewer than six times, once with a snatch of a prizewinning Radcliffe number from that era: "They say blue-stockinged lassies is all that we are, / But we've got well-built chassis that are way above par!"