Happy New (Academic) Year
The drought that fastened its grip on eastern Massachusetts during this hot summer may not be abating, but the calendar moves inevitably forward—toward the resumption of academic activity in a new school year.
Members of the College class of 2020 are expected on campus with their families during move-in day on Tuesday, August 23. Their new rooms become available at 8:00 a.m., so expect upper-class proctors and peer-advising fellows, suitably attired in class T-shirts, to be waiting at entry doors, at an uncustomarily early hour, with festive balloons, doughnuts, juice, and coffee—to fuel the schlepping of belongings upstairs.
Among events scheduled so far (intermingled with a freshman briefing on liberal education, with senior faculty members; conversations about subjects ranging from community values to sexual consent; and a faculty lecture on academic integrity and the honor code) are these highlights:
- Freshman Convocation, Tercentenary Theatre, Tuesday, August 30, convening at 2:00 p.m. (processions from entryways at 1:15), with expected remarks by President Drew Faust, Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Michael D. Smith, Harvard College dean Rakesh Khurana, dean of freshmen Thomas Dingman, Emma Woo ’17, Pusey minister in the Memorial Church Jonathan L. Walton, and Harvard Alumni Association president Martin J. Grasso Jr. ’78. Followed by class photo, Widener Library steps, 3:00.
- Morning Prayers, Wednesday, August 31, 8:45 a.m. Holden Chapel, Harvard Yard (note the location this fall; Memorial Church is closed for renovations). President Faust will speak.
- Classes begin, Wednesday, August 31
- Morning Prayers, Thursday, September 1, 8:45 a.m. Holden Chapel. Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer professor of Christian morals and Pusey minister, The Memorial Church, will speak
The convocation and first few days of morning prayers afford Harvard leaders the opportunity to address themes of interest in a year of likely continuing focus on inclusion, diversity, and related matters, against the background of racially charged national events and the U.S. presidential election. Faust addressed the first two subjects in her term-opening morning prayers address last September. Walton led the College’s recent working group on diversity and inclusion, and discussed its findings in this Harvard Gazette interview. During the year, on this and other campuses, students protested about diversity and inclusion, and the community struggled to come to terms with sexual assault and the social role of final clubs.
Beyond the scheduled opening exercises, many of those issues are likely to arise anew, informally and perhaps even formally. (A dozen members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences have brought forth a resolution challenging the College’s sanctions on membership in gender-exclusive final clubs and other organizations, on the grounds that they inappropriately constrict students’ freedom to associate with groups or causes; that may proceed to an FAS debate and vote.)
During the term, look for:
- an update on the $6.5-billion Harvard Campaign, which had, at last formal report (in mid 2015), garnered gifts and pledges of $6 billion and is believed to be far above that total now; and
- the annual report on investment results for the University endowment (Harvard’s largest source of operating revenue), which has been in the midst of a significant change of management and direction, and now faces another leadership transition and a very challenging investment environment.
Faculty and staff members, students, and visitors will find a continued frantic pace of campus construction—and possible further announcements about planned work in Allston, perhaps including visible work above ground level on the $1-billion new home for much of Harvard’s engineering and applied sciences faculty.
Exhibitions of note:
- The Harvard Art Museums debuts Vision and Justice and Modern Art and Modernity on August 27.
- Houghton Library is one of three venues for a Greater Boston exhibition of illuminated manuscripts, debuting September 12.
- And in a considerably lighter vein, “Remorseless Irony and Sarcastic Pens: The Story of the Harvard Lampoon” (yes, including the infamous centerfold of Henry A. Kissinger ’50, Ph.D. ’54, L ’55) remains on exhibition in the Pusey Library gallery.
And the Crimson footballers resume home play against Rhode Island at the Stadium on Friday evening, September 16, at 7:00 p.m.
Find a full guide to seasonal events in Harvard Magazine’s Harvard Squared calendar.