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The College Pump

Eeded: Ew President


In the spring of 1970 the Fellows of the College began a search for a successor to President Nathan M. Pusey '28, Ph.D. '37. They sent a letter to 30,000 members of the Harvard community asking for help. The University possessed new high-tech machinery that could be given an extensive mailing list and would automatically type letters addressed to individuals and apparently sign them by hand. To Mrs. Carol L. Gibbs '50, this is what the Fellows wrote:

Dear Mrs. Gibbs:

Presidet Pusey, as you kow, has submitted his resigatio from office, to take effect at the ed of the academic year 1970-71. This letter, which is beig set to all employees of the Uiversity, represets, together with letters set to all officers of ad studets i the Uiversity, a first step i what is expected to be a wide-ragig ad itesive search for his presidetial successor.

We are ot, at this time, attemptig to defie i arrow terms a ideal Harvard presidet. We have set o prerequisites as to his academic preparatio, his age, his previous experiece (i Cambridge or elsewhere), his special field of scholarly iterest, his admiistrative accomplishmets, or his social outlook. O the cotrary, we are ow ivitig ad would welcome from members of the Uiversity commuity pertiet commets o all cosideratios of this sort, ad particularly o the tasks which, i your opiio, a presidet of Harvard will or should have to carry out i the comig years ad o the qualities he will eed i order to meet the demads ad opportuities of his role.

We would also hope to have our attetio draw to the ames of specific idividuals to whom cosideratio might be give. We earestly hope that suggestios of cadidates will be accompaied by a statemet of their qualificatios. While it is evidet that oly a ma geerally acceptable to the commuity will be able to do the job facig the ext presidet of Harvard, mere acceptability caot costitute a sufficiet qualificatio. The office eeds a ma of outstadig qualities of itellect ad character. Such me are ofte cotroversial. The process of selectio, therefore, should ot elimiate distiguished me who have bee actively ad effectively ivolved i the sigificat issues of our times.

Presidet Pusey has asked to be relieved of ay share i the selectio of his successor; ad so it will be helpful to have you address your reply to me, i care of the Fellows of Harvard College, Route 38008, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138.

The procedure we have adopted for our search is, to our kowledge, uique i the history of Harvard. By it we hope to mobilize the most helpful ad widely represetative resposes from withi the Harvard commuity. Your help and advice at this importat poit i Harvard history will be appreciated. It would greatly assist us if you were able to respod withi the ext several weeks.

Yours sicerely,

Fracis H. Burr
For the Fellows

To which Mrs. Gibbs replied:

Dear Mr. Burr:

Ideed I do kow, as your letter of April 16, 1970, remids me, that Presidet Pusey ("Ate" to his frieds) has submitted his resigatio.

Please believe that my iterest i the matter of his successor is kee. I additio to beig a employee of the Uiversity I am a Radcliffe aluma ad am married to a Harvard alumus.

Kee also is my iterest i your letter itself. As a member of middle maagemet, i Harvard's Departmet of Utritio, I thik my busiess experiece permits me to say that I am ot ufamiliar with the problems you face with a mailig of this kid ad that I sympathize.

Oetheless, I thik what you eed right ow is a IBM servicema ad some ens for the autotype machie. Ew proofreaders also?

Ca't kock the letter etirely, though. Havig to pause to isert ens oe reads slowly, with the result that the text takes o a haltig poetical cadece. Oe is put i mid of Alexader Pope: "A eedless alexadrie eds the sog,/ That, like a wouded sake, drags its slow legth alog."

Sicerely yours,

(Mrs.) Carol L. Gibbs



The letter to Mrs. Gibbs and her reply appeared in the June 15, 1970, issue of this magazine. The editors were subsequently informed that so far as was known, only two recipients of the letter had been deprived of ens. Speaking of two and deprivation, if you're feeling an isufficiecy of parties to mark the millennium's arrival, the Harvard Faculty Club plans a "Millennium Celebration 2001" for New Year's Eve. It will be just like last year's, says management--only better.

~Primus V