Something about tubs, swimming and the Library

More Orientation (Sept. 1 – Sept 12)

            The more time we spend on campus, the more we learn – even before we entered a classroom. No wonder we need three weeks of orientation, but I wonder if that was enough. We visited several schools on campus – officially or unofficially – including the business school, design school, divinity school, Kennedy School of Government, Law School and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Throughout the visits, we heard one familiar refrain, “every tub on its own bottom,” which, according to the Harvard Guide means, “used to describe the decentralized organization and financial arrangement of Harvard’s principal academic units: nine faculties overseeing Harvard’s 12 schools and colleges and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Each unit is headed by a Dean, who is appointed by the President, and each is directly responsible for its own finances and organization. The University administration supports the activities of the academic units and other operations on a University-wide basis.”

            That means in laymans terms that every department is responsible for itself. The business school raises money for the business school. The med school for the med school and so on. And trust me, it is a lot. Which is why the business school, on its own can have a campus bigger than half of the country’s HBCUs and its own $3 billion endowment. I also got, in visiting the schools, a great sense of accomplishment and excellence. Each one, by their own account, is doing the most exciting work on campus. Each one, by their own account, is the finest school in the world, with the best resources, students and faculty. One of the Kennedy School’s biggest “concerns?”

            Which faculty members will leave to work for an Obama Administration if the Democrat wins the White House.

            We also spent some time learning about the Harvard Library system. There are some 100 libraries on campus. Most of us will use either Lamont, the 24-hour library or the massive Widener Library. Widener has an interesting history. It opened in 1915 in honor of Harry Elkins Widener, a 1907 Harvard grad and book lover. Harry died on the Titanic and his mother donated $3.5 million to build a library in his name. Legend has it that as part of the donation, Mrs. Elkins required that every student of Harvard know how to swim so as not to suffer the fate of poor Harry. At least that is what those kids on the Harvard Tour told us. Harvard did at once require all students to learn how to swim, but it had nothing to do with Harry. It was later overturned anyway because of ADA concerns. Regardless, I am taking a swim class next semester.

 

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Published in: on November 1, 2008 at 11:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

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