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Features | The Campaign Celebration

With a Little Help from Harvard's Friends

7.1.00

On Saturday morning, May 13, the dull gray of the sky over Cambridge brightened the white dogwood beside the Faculty Club, colored more deeply the pink tree peonies at Loeb House, gave an extra sheen to the purple rhododendron blossoms unfolding behind Memorial Church, and rendered the reconditioned lawn of Harvard Yard an even more dazzling emerald. The campus was in the peak of spring perfection--appropriately so, on the day of celebration for the University Campaign, whose benefactions, totaling $2,653,396,000, have done so much to renew Harvard's facilities and the astonishing array of research and teaching conducted within them. Surveying the scene, Robert G. Stone Jr., Senior Fellow of the Harvard Corporation, national cochair of the campaign, and fundraiser nonpareil--unmistakable in his trademark gray pinstripes and Harvard-arms tie--pronounced, "We made it, with everybody's help. I'm glad it's over!"

The celebration had actually begun the night before, at a dinner in Annenberg Hall recognizing the John Harvard Fellows. Fundraising on the modern scale depends on those able and willing to make large gifts. The University Campaign received 498 gifts of $1 million or more--399 from individuals and families, 99 from foundations, corporations, and other organizations--totaling $1.8 billion, or 68 percent of the receipts. In conferring the honorary John Harvard Fellowships, the University saluted 635 people--individuals, couples, family members, and family foundations--for their especially "profound commitment to the betterment of higher education and society, and in gratitude for your generosity to Harvard." During a meal of loin of veal, roasted shallots, asparagus, red potatoes, and butternut squash, the honorands were addressed briefly by President Neil L. Ruden-stine and Stone, and at greater length by the Reverend Peter J. Gomes, Plummer professor of Christian morals and Pusey minister in the Memorial Church.

The next morning, the sun put in its only appearance of the day minutes after 9 o'clock, shining briefly behind Memorial Hall's tower, itself restored by the campaign. It warmed the striped tent between the Science Center and Harvard Yard, rousing the donors, governing-board members, professors, and development staff who breakfasted and picked up their registration materials within, signaling that the day's events were about to begin.

The first order of business was President Rudenstine's address in Sanders Theatre. On May 14, 1994, with a $652-million "nucleus fund" in hand and a daunting $2.091-billion goal looming, he had galvanized the campaigners in the most personal of ways. "The first time I really saw Harvard was in September 1960," he began then. "I arrived as a graduate student on a brilliant autumn day, ready to study Renaissance literature" after military service. "I sat more or less motionless for two or three hours, perched on the edge of one of those high parapets that flank the front steps of Widener, looking out over Sever Hall, Memorial Church, University Hall, and the buildings beyond. Those hours on Widener's parapet began my own romance with Harvard"--a romance that started "as a form of intoxication," but "also contained the sense of something inevitable." In coming to Cambridge, Rudenstine said of his student days, "I realized that if I failed to keep a rendezvous with this University, I would always feel as if I had been unwilling to test myself against the very best." He extended that personal epiphany to Harvard itself, challenging friends and campaign volunteers and staff to enable the University "to become, in the years ahead, all that we know we must become in order to remain true to our fundamental purposes, and to ourselves."

The challenge having been more than met, Rudenstine's address this May--some 40 minutes long, delivered from the bare stage of Sanders Theatre--began in humor and relief. It ended with the president's customary note of boundless personal optimism and, quoting that great limner of Harvard, David McCord, a stirring evocation of progress from darkness into light--a favorite metaphor for the fundamental role of universities and higher education. The text is reproduced beginning on page 44.

Rudenstine noted that the campaign had exceeded its goal by an amount that would itself qualify as an ambitious target for all but a few of the world's educational and cultural institutions. Beyond that, he left the details of what the campaign had wrought to a lushly illustrated report, A Vision of What a Great University Ought to Be, distributed at a gala dinner Saturday evening. The 92-page book highlights signal accomplishments: more than a quarter-billion dollars raised to endow undergraduate financial aid and graduate-student fellowships in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; significant numbers of new professorships in faculties ranging from the Graduate School of Education to the Law School; new or refurbished facilities for scholars and students in the College and virtually every school; massive investments in libraries and information technology throughout the University; and flourishing academic initiatives, from interfaculty collaborations to new ways of examining the world from Asia to Latin America. The report also sketches Harvard's priorities for the immediate post-campaign period: more funds for financial aid; large investments in scientific research, in both the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the medical and public-health schools; and ever deeper involvement in information technologies and global and international scholarship. (For a copy of the book, write Harvard University Development Communications, 124 Mount Auburn Street, 3rd floor, Cambridge 02138; call 617-495-1636; or send your request and address by e-mail to sgannon@harvard.edu.)

Following the president's address, the audience dispersed to classrooms in the Science Center, the Sackler Museum, and around the Yard for the first of three rounds of symposiums on topics of scholarly and institutional interest, featuring as panelists expert faculty members, alumni, and friends of Harvard. Brief reports of the discussions begin on page 50.

At midday, in need of food to complement their intellectual nourishment, the guests reconvened at three separate lunches. Those gathered in Annenberg Hall heard Jeremy R. Knowles, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, express relief that, for the first time in years, he could speak to an audience without asking for money. After listing some of the important ways in which the "young Athenians" and "not-so-young Athenians" within his faculty would benefit from the campaign, the dean invited his audience to "bask a little" in the glow of their good deeds for Harvard.

Speaking at Loeb House, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Class of 1960 professor of business administration, surveyed the changing world of commerce, as "dotcoms" and their related service and technology enterprises ("dotcom-ers") take on the rest of the world: the off-line, brick-and-mortar "wanna-dots." Making an observation that might apply equally to the University's situation and prospects, Kanter noted that the improvisational vitality and evangelical zeal of the dotcom leaders still needed to be married to the institutional knowledge, historical base, and organizational grounding of traditional enterprises.

And at the Charles Hotel ballroom, Stephen J. Gould, professor of geology and Agassiz professor of zoology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, propounded a Darwinian view of life by explaining the disappearance from baseball of the .400 hitter. Put aside the assumption that life on earth is a progression toward human perfection, he said. Embrace instead the notion that variation is the nature of that, and other, games--which leads to reformulated questions and new perspectives. Lessons for Harvard's future were left implicit.

Then it was back to class, for the remaining panel discussions, on subjects ranging from aging, the arts, and entrepreneurship to higher education and the unintended effects of "democratization." The threat of rain remained nothing more than that. Ditto for any student protests as part of the "living wage" campaign (see page 82). Police by the dozen were on hand throughout the weekend, uniformed and in plain clothes, in case confrontation blossomed with the spring flowers, but the only incident anyone noticed was a couple of leafleteers outside Memorial Hall before the Friday dinner--and they left at 6:15, pleading a dance engagement.

So, well schooled and undisrupted, the celebrants crossed the Charles and descended upon the Albert H. Gordon Indoor Track and Tennis Center for the concluding event of fellowship, the University Campaign Celebration Dinner. Within, a faux boulevard of benches, street lights, ficus trees, and archways crowned with appropriate emblems ("1994," "1999," "Harvard") divided the reception area from the dining tables. When it was time to be seated, a spirited trio of undergraduates, the Herald Trumpeters, took command, mastering the track's acoustics with Harvardiana Fanfare (1993), arranged by Allen Feinstein '86, and Fanfares for the Harvard Herald Trumpets (1994), by Ivan Tcherepnin '64, A.M. '69.

The tables themselves bore simple bowls of vivid fresh tulips, napkins tied in silver braid and ivy leaves, and, at each seat, a hardbound keepsake copy of the Vision campaign report. A videotape of campaign highlights played on huge screens at either side of the stage; during speeches and musical entertainments, the speakers and performers were projected live, so everyone in the hall could follow the proceedings.

The evening's oratory was brief, emphasizing the speakers' sense of having participated in an effort that yielded personal rewards commensurate with the institutional ones. Provost Harvey V. Fineberg toasted Harvard's "patriarchs," and introduced Robert Stone, citing his unending willingness to take up "the reins and responsibilities of leadership." Stone expressed his joy in seeing the people who "helped us exceed the dreams we had at the beginning of this campaign to make the University the standard of higher education" worldwide.

The Harvard Jazz Trio played American popular songs during the meal (chilled spring soup with crème fraîche and mint, beef tenderloin with potatoes and sautéed spring vegetables, and a dessert riot of berry tart, chocolate coconut macaroon, and a pâté of three chocolates).

Rita E. Hauser, a national campaign cochair, confessed her inability to choose between describing their intellects and the sense of fun they share with friends, and so simply called Neil Rudenstine and Angelica Zander Rudenstine "two of the most splendid people any of us have ever known."

Thus introduced, President Ruden-stine ended the formal proceedings as he had launched the campaign six years earlier--on a personal note that would resonate all the more nine days later when he announced his decision to retire. "We have had a marvelous time," he said. "Angelica and I horrendously underestimated" the friendships and relationships that would be established in the course of the fundraising effort. They now sought ways--short of another campaign, to be sure--to sustain that "great joy" in the future, keeping together the "intellectual and human and friendship power" that the campaign had forged.

That said, Rudenstine focused attention on the members of the University community who had to that point been underrepresented during the day: the students. Up the center aisle, beating out a rousing tattoo, came the Harvard University Drumline, in black shoes, black jeans, black T-shirts (with "THUD" in huge yellow letters on the back), and sunglasses; had this suddenly become Harvard State? They were followed by the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones, in a torchy rendition of "There Will Never Be Another You"; the Harvard Jazz Band, with an extended arrangement of In the Mood; and, before a Harvard University Band-led singing of "Fair Harvard," a penultimate offering of "What if God?" by the Harvard College Kuumba Singers, with the simultaneously subversive and reassuring lyric, "What if God is unhappy with the way we live?/What if He is not pleased with the way we give?"

And then it was over. A beaming Thomas M. Reardon, vice president for alumni affairs and development, gave and accepted congratulations, as did William H. Boardman Jr., associate vice president for capital giving--Harvard's two senior development officials at the end of the world's most successful fundraising campaign. Rudenstine, energized and indefatigable, shook hands, patted shoulders, and whispered thank-yous. A dozen hours after the sun had lit the new copper crockets atop Memorial Hall, the time had come to disperse into the quiet and misty darkness around Harvard Stadium.?