Making Harvard Modern: The Rise of America's University

By Morton Keller; Phyllis Keller | Go to book overview
Save to active project


W hen Conant left the presidency in 1953, Harvard was still under the sway of its traditional soft-shoe, old boy administrative style. Pusey felt no great obligation to modernize governance. To the end of his presidential days, he relied on an almost ostentatiously small staff. When he came to work each morning, he opened his own mail. Here as elsewhere, older folkways stubbornly endured.

An Empowered Elite

Pusey's closest associates in the 1950s were two very different breeds of cat. One was personal assistant William Bentinck-Smith '37, an affable, cool-minded former journalist with a facile pen (something the president lacked). Bentinck-Smith was Pusey's amanuensis and a close adviser on a variety of alumni and policy matters, very much as Calvert Smith had been for Conant in the 1940s. “I worked for him for eighteen extraordinary years, in a relationship of mutual trust and intimacy, Bentinck-Smith recalled. 1

Pusey's (improbable) other close confidant was Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean McGeorge Bundy. If Pusey was as much a product of middle America as a Harvard president was likely to be, Bundy was as close to an aristocrat as America was likely to produce. He was a scion of the Boston Lowells, self-confident enough to have gone not to Harvard but to Yale. Rumor had it that the Corporation put pressure on Pusey to make Bundy dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Fellow Roger Lee told the president-elect in the summer of 1953: “only if a first-rate administrator is available and thoroughly briefed before the opening of college will you yourself be free to deal with the many policy questions which will naturally arise with a change in the presidency.” Pusey


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Making Harvard Modern: The Rise of America's University


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 578

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?