Commencement Confetti

An omnium-gatherum of notes and statistics, vital and otherwise


Professional bomb-sniffer Tara, a two-year-old golden/lab/vizsla from Holland, made organizers breathe easier by checking out Memorial Hall just before the dinner there for honorands on June 8 (scallop-and-shrimp salad, then horseradish-encrusted filet of beef with a mushroom port sauce, accompanied by a Bach cello suite performed by Bong Ihn Koh ’08). She also sniffed Memorial Church and the dais before the dignitaries arrived Commencement morn.


That’s how first marshal Caleb I. Franklin ’05, of Leverett House and Los Angeles, affectionately characterized his classmates in his remarks at Class Day, on June 8. Harvard granted degrees to 1,590 of the wicked and sick, part of the 6,580 degrees and 224 certificates conferred overall. “I’d like to ask everyone to keep Harvard in their hearts,” said Franklin, “because the Harvard College Fund will keep you in their hands.” Do good in the world, enjoined Class Day speaker Tim Russert of NBC, and be quick about it. “You have only 2,300 weeks before you’ll be eligible for Social Security.” At the traditional church service next morning, the Rev. Mark D.W. Edington, associate minister in the Memorial Church, told seniors the good news: “I’ve given a lot of time and study to reviewing the list of graduates from the classes of 1705, 1805, and 1905….If you study the names of the graduates in those classes, you know what you find? Not a single memorable name among them.…Three classes of ’05 already ahead of you, and still the bar is set pretty low. You should have little difficulty becoming the most distinguished class of ’05 in the history of Harvard College.”

Caleb Franklin, first marshal of the class of 2005
Photograph by Jim Harrison


Former CIA director John M. Deutch, Institute Professor at MIT, was the Phi Beta Kappa orator. In a powerful June 7 speech, he became the first person at an official Harvard podium to call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. He wants the troops out “as soon as possible.” (His speech will appear in the September-October issue of this magazine.) Robert Creeley ’47 was to be the Phi Beta Kappa poet, but he died in March. Porter University Professor Helen Vendler read four of his unpublished poems.

On Commencement morning, a Dixieland band performs outside Memorial Church when the seniors go marching in.
Photograph by Jim Harrison

Lisa Puskarcik, of Youngstown, Ohio, left, Erika Hammond of Brooklyn, sport spectacles given them by their Quincy House roommate Lindsay Jewell.
Photograph by Jim Harrison


Public service was a recurring theme of the fiftieth reunion. A questionnaire circulated to class members last fall attempted to establish the importance of public service in their lives, which, in a nutshell, has been substantial (see the class report for details). During the reunion, classmates mounted a symposium in Sanders Theatre, “Varieties of Leadership in the Service of the Public.” A second symposium, a bit like a Quaker meeting in format, invited anyone to “share on an aspect of public service for three minutes.” Francis H. Duehay ’55, of Cambridge, had arranged for part of the class gift to go to the Phillips Brooks House Association, the public-service organization for undergraduates, and at a formal dinner on June 6, he announced that classmates had raised more than $1.65 million for the PBHA Centennial Campaign, which he co-chairs and which has a goal of $7.25 million. Duehay served almost 30 years on the Cambridge City Council, several times as mayor or acting mayor. He was often a town-gown bridge-builder. In thanks, the Harvard Phi Beta Kappa chapter elected him an honorary member. 


At a thirty-fifth-reunion panel on “Listening to Midlife,” Mark Gerzon ’70, of Boulder, Colorado, said, “Having raised three sons and now two grandsons, it’s like having two careers: one is full-time and the other is consulting. I prefer the consulting.” Introducing the featured speaker at Saturday morning’s “Meeting with President Summers,” reunion co-chair Joshua Tolkoff ’70, of Brookline, Massachusetts, drew rueful chuckles when he noted that Summers (MIT ’75) was the first Harvard president younger than the class, “which allows us the possibility to give advice.” “I shall try my very best to adopt the attitude of a humble youth toward his elders,” Summers replied. “It’s a role that may not come entirely easily.”


Class organizers of the twenty-fifth reunion requested no press coverage of their assemblies, to avoid inhibiting the free expression of ideas. The editors of this magazine imagine that 1980’s symposiums and other undertakings were harmless, but cannot be sure of this.


Amherst's Loss: Donald F. Brown '30, Ph.D. '55, started at Amherst in 1926, but flunked Greek his freshman year and got bounced. He went to Boston University for a year and then transferred to Harvard, from which he was graduated cum laude in psychology. He spent five years giving vocational guidance to Harvard undergraduates. Then he became an archaeologist and later a professor of anthropology at BU. He made three expeditions to southern Italy to discover the ancient Greek city of Sybaris (where the living was sybaritic), and he writes in his fiftieth reunion class report that he "outlined the buried cityxby test boring some years before a university museum announced its outlining and hence discovery of the same city in the same place." He points to his yearbook photograph.
Photograph by Jim Harrison


Professor Frederick H. Abernathy directs processional traffic into Tercentenary Theatre from a platform at the southwest corner of University Hall, providing a genial play-by-play of the action. As the grand parade approached, Abernathy advised the students lining the route that it is customary for students to applaud the president. As that eminence approached, followed by various dignitaries and the faculty, Abernathy said, “Here comes the president, hatless and shaking hands with students—an interactive president.” (He was not shaking hands: far too time-consuming; unhip besides. He was giving “props”—knocking fists with students in proper recognition of their achievement.) When Professor John Stilgoe passed, Abernathy said, “Here comes a wounded scholar. He gave out too many Cs.” (He did not. Stilgoe tripped over his dog and broke his arm.)

Dog-lover John Stilgoe
Photograph by Jim Harrison



“On behalf of our University, and speaking as a citizen, I want to thank you and I want to thank your families for your service,” President Summers told the seven members of the senior class about to become military officers at the ROTC commissioning ceremony on the steps of Memorial Church June 8. “Please know that your University is proud of you, that your University affirms the importance of the service to our nation that you are to perform….” Lieutenant colonel Brian L. Baker, professor of military science and head of the ROTC program at MIT that Harvard students attend, told the gathering, “I can imagine a day when [Harvard] will allow us to post a captain and a sergeant on campus once again, sometime in the future.” He presented an Army citation and an award to Summers. “You are a true patriot,” he said as he affixed a lapel pin that reads “Patriotic Civilian Service.” A red-tailed hawk attended much of the ceremony, perched on the church’s golden weathervane.  

Among the seven seniors commissioned on June 8 were, from left, 2d Lt. Daniel Kanivas, of Quincy House and Scarsdale, New York; 2d Lt. William F. Conners, of Eliot House and Wolcott, New York; 2d Lt. Elliott N. Neal, of Lowell House and Linn Creek, Missouri; Ensign Stephanie H. Hendricks, of Eliot House and Haverford, Pennsylvania; Ensign David G. Patterson, of Lowell House and New York City; and 2d Lt. Sean D. Wilson, of Mather House and Shelter Island Heights, New York.
Photograph by Jim Harrison

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