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100th Anniversary Issue

Centennial Harvests:

Harvard in Epigram

The College Pump

The Readers Write

The Undergraduate

Harvard Portrait

Bulletin Boards


A New Era: 1898-1918

Boom and Bust: 1919-1936

War and Peace: 1937-1953

Baby Boom to Bust: 1953-1971

Century's End: 1971-1998

Other Links:

Century Mark

Centennial Sentiments

Harvard Magazine

Illustration by Mark Steele

I have learned as much from Charlie Brown of "Peanuts" as I have learned from Perseus.

— Professor of psychology Jerome S. Bruner, Ph.D. '41, S.D. '97, November 28, 1959

Illustration by Mark Steele

The Russian sputnik is the result of the American policy of preferring fatheads to eggheads.

— Professor of history Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. '38, November 29, 1958

Illustration by Mark Steele

Near Harvard Yard I used to eat in a cafeteria where the food was very cheap but not very good. I would sit at a long public table where on many occasions there also sat the philosopher Bertrand Russell. One day I did not contain my curiosity. "Mr. Russell," I said, "I know why I eat here. It is because I am poor. But why do you eat here?" "Because," he said, "I am never interrupted."

— Publisher William Jovanovich, G '41-'42, February 25, 1967

Brave New World

We live in a world of guided missiles and misguided men. — Critic John Mason Brown '23, April 19, 1958

The century during which the Chinese had to learn to live with our Western world is past. Now we both have to learn to live on the same planet. — Professor of Chinese history John K. Fairbank '29, LL.D. '70, October 25, 1958

I am worried about our tendency to over-invest in things and under-invest in people. — Professor of economics John Kenneth Galbraith, February 21, 1959

Our new way of getting rich is to buy things from one another that we do not want at prices we cannot pay on terms we cannot meet because of advertising we do not believe. — University of Chicago president Robert M. Hutchins, LL.D. '36, April 4, 1959

In foreign policy it is better nine times out of ten to sit still than to do the brilliant thing. — Foreign correspondent Cyrus L. Sulzberger '34, LL.D. '57, April 18, 1959

When people seek freedom, they are always impatient. — United Nations diplomat Ralph J. Bunche, Ph.D. '34, March 19, 1960

I just don't believe that our western society can maintain itself as a beleaguered citadel of opulence in a world of poverty. — Professor of population policy Roger Revelle, March 20, 1965

Man used to be a dreamer, but never had the technology to carry out his dreams. Now he has the technology, but has lost his dreams. — Associate professor of church and society Harvey G. Cox, Ph.D. '63, February 11, 1967

The Establishment isn't what it was, when Harvard University joins the boycott of non-union lettuce. — The Boston Globe, January 4, 1971

Culture and Knowing

If military strength is a nation's right arm, culture is its left arm: closer to the heart. — Composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein '39, D. Mus. '67, October 24, 1959

New knowledge has been feared as the destroyer of man's innocence and his virtue, as an incitement to pride and insubordination, and as subversive of public order and social good. It is, of course, guilty of all these charges. — Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer '26, S.D. '47, October 22, 1960

The majority in public life at all levels still tend to talk of culture as if they were telling an off-color story. — Journalist August Heckscher, A.M. '39, July 6, 1963

Ideas are too important to be left to mere intellectuals. — Historian Daniel J. Boorstin '34, LL.D. '93, July 6, 1963

The arts are always in trouble. It is their nature to be in trouble. — Poet Archibald MacLeish, LL.B. '19, Litt.D. '55, March 7, 1964

Women and Men

I'm earning my Ph.D. by the sweat of my frau. — "J. Fortescue Perley III, 4 Grad.," February 21, 1959

I am a geneticist with nest-building experience. — Radcliffe president Mary I. Bunting, LL.D. '73, June 11, 1960

The process of acquiring a trained mind takes place best in an environment where there is no awareness of sexual distinctions. — Professor of government and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences McGeorge Bundy, LL.D. '61, June 11, 1960

The college girl of 1961 won't model herself on anyone who has rejected good family life or who has rejected intellectual life to be a housewife in suburbia. — Mary I. Bunting, December 9, 1961

The Radcliffe experience is shaped by the man, or men, one loves, whether they are shaggy, suave, or austere. — Author Nora Sayre '54, April 21, 1962

The relation of Harvard to its women is similar to that of the missionary to his heathen. And your feelings, if you're a woman who has made it [here], are often similar to those of the heathen imported for cultural development to imperalist shores--a mixture of gratitude, awe, doubt...and resentment. — From How Harvard Rules Women, published by the New University Conference, 1970, May 24, 1971

Higher Education

It is a mistake to think that the primary job of education is to make people happy. The job is to make people think. — Professor of retailing Malcolm P. McNair '16, November 8, 1958

The free search for knowledge costs money. — President Nathan M. Pusey '28, Ph.D. '37, LL.D. '72, May 2, 1959

No one should be allowed to go to college less than 500 miles from home without good reason. — Professor of social sciences David Riesman '31, LL.B. '34, LL.D. '90, June 6, 1959

The average doctor of philosophy is a model of compulsive cautiousness. — Professor of psychology B.F. Skinner, Ph.D. '31, S.D. '85, November 7, 1959

The professor who is really his own master is the only professor whose mastery matters. — McGeorge Bundy, January 14, 1961

If people want glorious and happy weekends, they shouldn't come to college. They should join a labor union. — Professor of Greek literature John H. Finley Jr. '25, Ph.D. '33, L.H.D. '68, November 9, 1963

Like most academics, I have spent half my life taking examinations, and the other half giving them. — Professor of physics Gerald Holton, Ph.D. '48, February 1, 1964

Examinations...may be used to measure not only the quantity of learning but also the quality of teaching. — University professor Paul H. Buck, Ph.D. '35, Litt. D. '46, February 1, 1964

Bull in pure form is rare; there is usually some contamination by data. — Educator William G. Perry Jr. '35, A.M. '40, February 1, 1964

The supposedly natural order of things is that if you are distinguished enough, you neither need learn anything about teaching nor teach anyone less advanced than a post-doctoral fellow. — David Riesman, October 24, 1964

College is at bottom more important than graduate school, not because it teaches more, but because it chiefly helps implant the vivid mood by which work and life melt together into a joint privilege. — John H. Finley, November 28, 1964

The Academic Enterprise

I find that the three major administrative problems on a campus are sex for the students, athletics for the alumni, and parking for the faculty. — University of California at Berkeley president Clark Kerr, LL.D. '58, November 29, 1958

I would certainly warn anyone not to enter teaching if he plans to do so because he thinks the people in it are so nice. — David Riesman, March 21, 1959

Mumford Jones
There is so much bustling and scurrying [at Harvard], that the scholar who wants to do some quiet thinking is almost forced to apply for a leave of absence and go somewhere else. — Professor of humanities Howard Mumford Jones, Litt.D. '36, September 24, 1960

We [university presidents] spend so much time justifying what we are doing that we don't have time to do what we're justifying. — Yale University president A. Whitney Griswold, LL.D. '50, February 17, 1962

Our colleges will be measurably better the day deans become the clerical servants of the faculty. — Author John Ciardi, former Briggs-Copeland assistant professor of English composition, April 21, 1962

Whatever you may have heard about the economic views of some professors, I can assure you that the Harvard administration at budget-time is an unshakable bastion of orthodox economics. — Professor of Arabic Hamilton A.R. Gibb, May 4, 1963

We have once again sought to act on the basis of stern suspicion with respect to prospective income and what one always hopes, but can never be sure, will prove an exaggerated foreboding regarding possible expenses. — Professor of history and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Franklin L. Ford, Ph.D. '50, June 8, 1963

Old professors never die,
They just become emeriti.

— Professor of philosophy Henry M. Sheffer '05, Ph.D. '08, January 9, 1965

Our aspirations for Harvard's central services are modest. To paraphrase a former coach from New Haven: we aim to keep students and faculty sullen but not mutinous. — President Derek C. Bok, J.D. '54, LL.D. '92, to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, October 11, 1971

At Harvard they humanize scientists; at MIT they Simonize humanists. — Statesman Adlai E. Stevenson, LL.D. '65, March 1972

Today's Youth

Young Americans exist. They must be educated. Whether or not we're pleased with them is irrelevant. — Historian Herbert Wing Jr. '10, September 24, 1960

[This] generation, thank God, has a vocal and entirely warranted disrespect for sacred cows. It's unsporting to kill the poor creatures, who are marked for extinction anyway, but it's legal to run them ragged. — Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Francis Keppel '38, November 6, 1965

First students discovered that non-violence didn't work. Then they discovered that violence didn't work. Now they're about to discover that apathy doesn't work. — Junior Fellow Edward Tenner, December 7, 1970

The Center of the Universe

Harvard's crimson banner is a red flag to everyone else, for no one likes to concede superiority. — Editor Thomas Griffith, NF '43, May 23, 1959

I would rather live in a society governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston 'phone directory than in one governed by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty. — Pundit William F. Buckley Jr., June 11, 1960

Many are culled; few are chosen. — Journalist Charles L. Whipple '35, concerning College admissions, July 2, 1960

Washington has become a town where Yale locks are good but only Harvard keys will open them. — Senator Kenneth B. Keating, LL.B. '23, April 15, 1961

Yes, I admit my son did go to Harvard and my daughter to Radcliffe. But am I responsible for every single thing my children do? — Critic Orville Prescott, January 12, 1963

If you leave Cambridge and during your absence become the first man on the moon, and then assassinate Khrushchev, on your first day back you could meet someone in the Yard who would look at you and say: " I understand you've been out of town." — Professor of political economy Carl Kaysen, Ph.D. '54, February 15, 1964

These excerpts from epigrams published between 1958 and 1974 were chosen with the help of Ledecky Undergraduate Fellow Tara B. Purohit.

Picture Credits: MacLeish, Bill Tobey; Bundy, Harvard Archives; Finley, Harvard News Office; Bok, Tim Carlson.

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