The first Faculty meeting of the year kicked off without a regular staple: cookies to complement professors’ tea and coffee.
“This is the first time in modern times with no cookies,” Faculty Council member Harry R. Lewis ’68 said as he held a white mug of tea. “We are sharing the pain with the undergraduates.”
“As part of our cost-cutting efforts, we’re doing our little part here in our Faculty meetings, saving about $500 per meeting for cookies and coffee,” Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith explained during the meeting.
But few professors were there to be disappointed as the meeting was more sparsely attended than usual, with several of the front rows almost entirely empty. But one absence in particular stood out: that of former University President Charles W. Eliot, Class of 1853.
His portrait, that is.
While Lewis presented the proposal to change the name of the Extension School he slipped in that Eliot’s portrait was no longer was perched above University President Drew G. Faust’s head as she spoke.
“[The Extension School] was created by President [Abbott Lawrence] Lowell, who looks down on these proceedings benignly from his customary perch in the corner of the room,” he said. “I think perhaps he looks a little less stern today, but I think that may not be because of the matter I bring before you—but for once he doesn’t have to stare at President Eliot across the room.”
“For some reason he has disappeared from his customary perch above the President’s head,” Lewis added, as Faust looked up and around in confusion and seemed to mouth to this year’s parliamentarian Thomas F. Kelly, “What?”
At the end of the Faculty meeting, after Lewis stood up to mention that the day marked the 100th anniversary of Lowell’s inauguration, Faust asked, “Which reminds me: Where is President Eliot? Where has he gone?”
“I can kind of answer that,” Smith replied. He explained that as of now, Eliot’s portrait is still in the art museum to be shielded away from a leak in the ceiling that has been in the process of being repaired.
“I like the principle of presidents being well taken care of,” Faust said.
Earlier in the meeting, the Faculty approved Kelly’s appointment as parliamentarian, a faculty member responsible for making sure that the monthly meetings are run according to standard rules. She informally welcomed Kelly to the position, saying, “Up here, Tom. I’ve been up here 15 minutes by myself, and that’s quite enough.”
Kelly—a Music professor who will now help conduct Faculty meetings as parliamentarian, as he did for former University President Lawrence H. Summers—gladly listened to choral music performed by the Harvard Radcliffe Collegium Musicum before the Faculty meeting. So though the meeting lacked cookies for the first time in recent memory, it also boasted recorded music, another recent first.
“I think there have been talks of having live groups here, but it was decided not to do that because people might feel like they had to sit down,” said Kelly, who noted that the music was Smith’s initiative. “Part of the point of having the music is that people should talk to each other.”
—Staff writer Bonnie J. Kavoussi can be reached at email@example.com.
—Staff writer Lauren D. Kiel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.