Letter from Harvard President Nathan Pusey to Dean Franklin Ford





February 18, 1969

Dear Dean Ford:

I write in response to the communication which you recently forwarded to the President and Fellows from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences conveying the Faculty's several recommendations concerning the ROTC programs at Harvard.

The Harvard Corporation sympathizes with and commends the desire of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to elevate, sustain and control the academic quality of its curricular offerings and to safeguard its appointment procedures. Insofar as the Faculty's vote of February 4, 1969, sent to us, relates to these issues we wish to assure the Faculty we shall endeavor as quickly as we can to negotiate with the various military services in an effort to have changes effected to meet the Faculty's desires. We are hopeful that agreement can be reached in regard to the issues of academic credit and teaching appointments since we believe the military services will recognize that the Faculty should control its own membership and course offerings.

I should like to say further that the Corporation notes with satisfaction that a very large majority of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences opposed a motion seeking completely to exclude ROTC programs from this community. Mindful of the lessons of history and acutely aware of the dangers to a democratic society in the existence of a corps of exclusively professional officers, the Congress established the Reserve Officers Training Corps on a continuing basis when it became apparent that this country was destined to maintain a large military capability for the indefinite future. In the Corporation's view it would be shortsighted in the extreme if academic institutions were now to withdraw their cooperation from the ROTC program because of repugnance to an unpopular war.

Harvard University will therefore continue to cooperate in the ROTC program if a new arrangement can be concluded satisfactory both to the services and to us which will meet the issues of faculty control of curricular offerings and academic appointments. The University will also continue to encourage those of its students in its various schools who wish to do so, to prepare themselves for military service by this means.

Several points in the Faculty's vote raise questions in our minds. The vote implies that the Corporation exercises supervision of the catalogue of courses offered by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences whereas it is our understanding that this responsibility rests with the Faculty itself. On the other hand, the allocation of space in University buildings is the Corporation's rather than the Faculty's resportsibi1ity, and the vote on scholarships, if intended to relate to students of other Faculties, seems also to us to make a recommendation which extends beyond the responsibility and the authority of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. But these, we take it, are not the major points. With the Faculty's understanding of its responsibility for the quality of its own curricular offerings and its teaching appointments we are in full agreement.

In the best interests of our students, of our own academic programs, and of our country we shall do what we can to find a way to meet the basic questions raised by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences concerning the ROTC programs at Harvard.


Sincerely yours,   


Nathan M. Pusey


Dean Franklin L. Ford
5 University Hall