More than 950 alumnae/i, fellows, faculty, students, University leaders, and friends came to Radcliffe Yard to celebrate 15 years of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and 135 years of Radcliffe. Radcliffe Day 2014 was an opportunity, said Radcliffe Institute Dean Lizabeth Cohen RI ’02 “to reflect on the past, savor the present, and imagine the future.”
It was a full day, including the presentation of the Radcliffe Medal to Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, for both her scholarship of 19th century America and her leadership of Radcliffe and Harvard.
The medal was presented at a lunch that included remarks by Dean Cohen, President Faust, and former Harvard President Neil Rudenstine, who spoke of recruiting Faust to Harvard. The citation Dean Cohen read when she presented the Medal, described President Faust as “a historian who is making history.”
President Faust, the first woman president of Harvard University and the Lincoln Professor of History, was the founding dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her formative leadership built on the rich traditions and important legacies of Radcliffe College and the Bunting Institute to establish a vibrant scholarly, scientific, and artistic community that inspires great aspirations and enables great achievements.
President Faust’s speech upon accepting her Radcliffe Medal was a reminder that progress is not inevitable, especially with regard to gender, and that the struggle for equality and justice must continue: She said that “as we celebrate 15 years of the Institute, building on the 120 years of Radcliffe College and The Annex that preceded it, let us not forget the work still to be done, the responsibility we have inherited.”
In a testament to the Institute’s broad range of intellectual commitments and its diverse community, Radcliffe Day also featured three panel discussions. The topics—like the Institute itself—incorporated the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Participants in the panel included College graduates, Institute fellows, and the Harvard faculty.
The morning panel, “From Civil War to Civil Rights: The Unending Battle to Vote,” was a tribute to President Faust’s scholarly accomplishments and personal values. It was an exploration of why and how the world’s greatest democracy has long struggled over which of its citizens can vote.
The second panel, “Gender and the Business of Fiction,” engaged two writers, a publisher, and a critic in a discussion about who reads, who writes, who reviews, what counts as literature, and how gender plays a role in the answers to these questions.
In the third panel, “What is Life? The Science and Ethics of Making New Life in the Laboratory,” the five panelists explored how recent discoveries and advances in the biological sciences raise new ethical questions.
Photos by Tony Rinaldo