Light on the Hill, Volume II

Miller, Russell


ALTHOUGH THE ROLE of the College of Special Studies generally remained the same until 1976 as it had been for more than twenty years, the character of the programs associated with it had changed radically by the 196os and 1970s. The evening division which had been a major activity in the 1950s was phased out because of declining enrollments brought about by steadily rising tuition fees. Only two evening courses were being offered in 1972. As the affiliated schools dropped out of Special Studies one by one, the administration of Tufts overseas programs took their places. They were of sufficient importance and complexity to require that Kelley be made Director of Overseas Programs as well as Dean of the College of Special Studies. The first Coordinator of Overseas Programs (Associate Dean Willa Folch-Pi) was appointed after his retirement from the deanship in 1976.

Study abroad, on a very modest and highly selective basis, had been a part of the American experience since the early nineteenth century. Some even returned with degrees earned at foreign universities. The idea of a "junior year abroad" had begun to spread in institutions of higher education by the late 1930s but was interrupted by World War II. It was after 1945 that such an activity reached significant proportions, and in the 1950s and 1960s had become the "in thing" for college and university students all over the nation. The tide had swept over Tufts as it did elsewhere and had resulted in the creation, in the twenty years or so after 1960, of over half a dozen programs sponsored by the institution or some parts of it. Not all survived, and even though some never got off the drawing board,


they were never officially cancelled and remained, on paper at least, as university offerings.

The initiative for what became the first of a whole series of programs abroad under Tufts sponsorship was taken in 1960 by Van L. Johnson, chairman of the Department of Classics. Plans for a classical year abroad, in collaboration with the Vergilian Society of America, were outlined the same year, the program to begin in September 1961, with headquarters at Cumae, Italy. The full-year program, devoted to a study of Greek and Roman antiquities, was begun under the supervision of Johnson and Pellegrino Sestieri, director of an Italian museum who was responsible for courses in archeology. Their work was supplemented by visiting lecturers. After the program got under way the teaching personnel were drawn not only from Tufts and other American institutions but from local (Italian) sources, and changed frequently from year to year. The program, open also to students from other institutions, and to graduate as well as undergraduate students, was pronounced an academic if not a financial success in the spring of 1962 and the executive committee of the trustees voted "to continue the present program . . . without limit of time." Twelve students from eight American colleges and universities were enrolled the first year. At first, part of the Villa Pignatelli Museum was leased from the Italian government but in 1963 new quarters had to be used after the villa was needed by the government for other purposes. So the headquarters of the program were transferred to Naples. Tufts personnel were intrigued to discover that the family crest in the Largo Ferrantina palace, built by Napoloen and the second home for the program in Naples, contained the head of an elephant. This was immediately associated with Jumbo, the university mascot, so the locale was considered peculiarly appropriate. Providing adequate student and faculty living accommodations was a problem faced almost every year, and almost endless negotiations were constantly under way to make satisfactory housing arrangements. A few students lived with Italian families but this was not generally successful for a variety of reasons.

The idea of a year abroad for faculty as well as students was so appealing that in 1964-65 music, sociology, and Italian language and literature were added to the offerings in classics. Albert Ullman was the first to represent Tufts on the instructional staff in sociology, and William J. King in music. The Italian language and literature courses were supervised by Seymour O. Simches, who proposed a master's program in Italian Studies as part of the Tufts in Italy program as well as an undergraduate major in Italian.


There was a corresponding increase in enrollment, with a student population of twenty-six that year, of whom fourteen were Tufts students. Enrollments ranged from seventeen in classics to one lone student from the Department of Music. Enrollments fluctuated unpredictably; in 1965-66 there were only eighteen students, fifteen of whom were in the Department of Classics. President Wessell began to be concerned that year about the relatively small enrollment and recommended a more aggressive recruitment drive. In that year also, the sociology program had to be suspended because of lack of qualified applicants and lack of a professor to teach the courses. It was resumed two years later. A summer school in Naples was approved for 1966. Enrollment had increased to forty-seven in 1966, and fine arts was added that year. In the final year of the program (1967-68) the enrollment was thirty-five, seventeen of whom were Tufts students. By 1967 doubts began to be raised about the program because of the financial drain it entailed, so the decision was made to phase it out. It had become entirely too expensive to operate. It was a deficit operation in all but one year of its existence. However, an affiliation was worked out with the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome for those who were interested. One of the major expenditures, besides the building up of an overseas library collection, was travel for the faculty and their families, with a maximum of five departments involved in all.

With the first flush of success of the Tufts in Italy program a Tufts program in Tubingen, Germany was begun in the academic year 1964-65. It was at first limited to no more than twenty students at the graduate (master's) level, and was sponsored by the Department of German. Students were recruited from other colleges and universities besides Tufts. As originally conceived it consisted of a summer on the Medford campus, a year in Tubingen, followed by a thesis defense in Medford. Each graduate student was responsible for his or her own transportation. Arrangements overseas were made to enroll in the regular academic curriculum of the Eberhard-Karls Universitat, founded in the fifteenth century and located in the state of Baden-Wurttenberg, in the duchy of Swabia. The graduate program became a two-year sequence, with the first in Tubingen and the second on the Tufts campus. Kaspar O. Myrvaagnes, a Tufts faculty member, was the first departmental representative overseas. One of his responsibilities was to arrange for suitable housing. Effective in 1967-68, a junior-year undergraduate program was added on the initiative of Sol Gittleman, then the department


chairman (and later the university provost and senior vice-president). It was intended for Tufts students only, with the university financially responsible for round-trip transportation. Six students were enrolled that year. Of the eight students in the program in 1973-74, four were undergraduates and four were graduate students.

A Tufts in Paris program, limited to fifteen students and intended primarily for French majors, was established on the initiative of Seymour O. Simches, chairman of the Romance Languages Department. It began operation in the fall of 1965 with an enrollment of thirteen juniors. M. Michel Fabre of the University of Paris, with teaching experience at Wellesley and Harvard, was selected to oversee the program. All courses in French civilization and literature were taught by professors at the Sorbonne and the University of Paris. Students resided with French host familities, and were responsible for their own transportation to and from the United States, although partial subvention was eventually arranged. Enrollment within a year rose from twelve in 1966-67 to twenty-four. By 1976-77 the program had grown to twenty-eight students.

Unlike Tufts in Italy and some of the other overseas programs, this one was at first limited to students registered at Tufts, but by 1973-74 two of the ten students were from other institutions. Most of the formal study in the one-year program was limited initially to the Sorbonne but, beginning in 1969, was extended to other institutions, including the various divisions of the University of Paris, where they were enrolled as non-degree students. Like most of the other overseas programs, students were able to enjoy the cultural amenities surrounding them.

The American group came through the student riots of 1968 unscathed, and there was no serious interruption in their academic schedules. However, about a dozen American student were sufficiently influenced by the Paris student upheavals to want to establish communes and set up their own classes.

Fabre withdrew officially as director in 1975, after a decade of heading Tufts in Paris, because of increased academic activities of his own. The successor was not satisfactory and remained only one year. She was replaced in 1977-78 by Virginia H. Lenski, an American citizen who made the French language her specialty and was an advanced degree candidate in Paris. She had a much better grasp of the Tufts educational system than did her predecessor, and knew her way through (and around) the intricacies of the University of Paris as well. If her appointment had not been made it had been recommended that a faculty member from the Medford campus be assigned to Paris to oversee the program. The program was also broadened


to include students majoring in the social sciences (particularly international relations) as well as in French, providing they were competent in the language. There was even a suggestion that Tufts in Paris might be extended as an exchange program in view of the fact that University of Paris charges were much lower than those paid by Tufts students. The differential could be used to provide scholarships for French students.

The creation of a program in London sponsored jointly by the Departments of Drama and English, and on the initiative of Kalman Burnim, then chairman of the Drama Department, followed on the heels of the programs established in Paris and in Tiibingen. It was originally envisaged as a "Junior Year in London" and became the most numerously populated of all of Tufts' overseas programs. As contrasted with those in Paris and Tubingen, it had no official affiliation with an overseas university until the early 1980s. The trustees approved the program in the winter of 1966, contingent on an enrollment of at least thirty students. It began operation in the academic year 1967-68, with a registration of thirty-three, headquartered in the Reynolds Hotel, a small residential facility in South Kensington.

The one-year program was open originally to both junior-year undergraduates and graduates from Tufts only, but after the first year was opened to students from other institutions as well. Fifteen of the forty students enrolled in 1973-74 were non-Tufts. A wide range of courses was offered by six faculty members headed by James Forsyth, resident dramatist at the Old Vic, who had been artist-in-residence at the Tufts Summer Theater in 1963 but had had no experience with overseas programs. One feature was a workshop in directing and acting conducted in cooperation with the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. All of the faculty, including Sherwood C. Collins of the Tufts Drama Department, who served as the first resident adviser, taught part-time. Collins was the only American on the staff. The program was believed to have been the first overseas venture of its kind offered by an American university. The two Tufts departments sponsoring the program ordinarily alternated faculty resident responsibilities from year to year. In 1967 Anthony Cornish, a prominent British playwright and director, became the director of the program, and in the winter of 1968-69 was a visiting director in the Tufts Arena Theater.

Typical of the spectrum of course offerings were those in 1969-70, in which two Tufts faculty members were among the participants (Harry Ritchie of the Drama Department and Michael Fixler of the


English Department). British specialists offered courses in Form and Idea in the Drama, Theater Architecture, Medieval English Drama, and seminars in the Dramatic Poetry of T.S. Eliot, and Special Problems in the Acting and Directing of Classical Drama. With a comparatively small group, seminar-type instruction and independent study were provided. A normal student load was four courses each semester. Course offerings varied slightly from year to year, depending on the talents and interests of the faculty that were available. By the late 1970s course offerings were broadened to include fine arts, history, international relations, music, and political science, all taught by a British staff. There were also numerous theater parties, museum excursions, field trips in England, and at least one trip to the Continent provided. Tufts faculty ordinarily taught at least one course in the program in addition to their responsibilities as residents from year to year.

Tuition charges and other fees, like those in other Tufts overseas programs, were the same as in Medford; however, students in the London program were at first responsible for the expenses of their round-trip transatlantic transportation. Round-trip air transportation was included in the total fee, starting in 1974-75. The total cost (tuition, room and board, and health insurance) increased from $4,016.50 in 1970-71 to $6,548 in 1977-78 for each program. All participants in overseas programs were eligible for the same financial aid as in the United States.

After searching for some time for more convenient and spacious accommodations and a closer tie-in with British academic and student life than was provided in the Reynolds Hotel, Tufts worked out an affiliation with Westfield College of the University of London. Tufts in London, like all of the overseas programs for which the institution was responsible, had its share of problems. Like them, it was in theory supposed to be self-supporting, but expenses mounted beyond budgetary estimates. The financial state of the university, especially in 1968-69, necessitated severe restrictions, and it became necessary to make several cutbacks in the program staff. As a consequence, many appointments of British scholars had to be cancelled and Tufts personnel substituted. Another difficulty was the balance between the number of students in drama and in English. English majors were far outnumbered by drama majors almost every year, and much friction developed between the two departments. As the director of the program in London expressed it, they were "not ideal bed-fellows in offering a London programme." There was fear by the English Department that it would become "only a drama


program." English majors came from a much larger department and seemed to have less personal commitment to the program. It was alleged that faculty representatives of the English Department did not share in either extensive student counseling or exhibit as much enthusiasm as those in drama. Further, there seemed to be to those interested primarily in drama a disproportionate emphasis on courses intended for the English major in view of their much smaller number. The program director suggested that it would be improved if it became a joint offering of the Drama, Fine Arts, and Music Departments, with encouragement given also to history majors.

Another complication over which the program had but little control but which adversely affected many of the students' finances was the devaluation of the pound sterling in 1967 which reduced the value of student accounts by several hundred dollars. The fact that the students in the Tufts in London program lived and had most of their classes in a shabby hotel was a perennial source of dissatisfaction shared by Tufts faculty as well as students. They comprised, as one observer put it, a "little America," and many of them felt cut off from British students and British life.

There were three overseas programs in operation by 1966, and a fourth one (Tufts in London) had been projected; one in San Juan, Puerto Rico, had been proposed. The latter was to have been based at the University of Puerto Rico and open to juniors in the social sciences competent in Spanish, as well as language majors from other institutions besides Tufts. No action was ever taken by the faculty on this proposal, made in 1966. One reason was possibly the articulate opposition of a member of the Spanish segment of the Romance Languages Department who objected because pure Castilian Spanish was not spoken in Puerto Rico.

Doubts began to be raised by the trustee Executive Committee about the advisability of letting foreign programs proliferate at such a rate, but the momentum continued unabated. Three years after the Puerto Rican program had been proposed the possibility of an overseas program in Ireland was suggested (by a member of the English Department), but never progressed beyond that stage.

One overseas program that was actually worked out in detail and was approved by the faculty and trustees in 1969 was Tufts in Mexico. Intended to have been both a Spanish language and literature program and one appealing to majors in the social sciences, it was to have operated through the National University in Mexico City. The students were to have resided, as in the case of Tufts in Paris, with private families. The program, to have gone into effect in 1970, attracted only six students, so it was suspended indefinitely. However,


the idea was not abandoned completely, for in 1977 the Director of Overseas Programs and representatives of the Romance Languages Department recommended the establishment of a Tufts program in Spanish in either Mexico City or in Madrid. The University of Barcelona was the site actually chosen. A program drawn up largely through the efforts of Dean Folch-Pi was approved in 1978 and opened the following year. In the mid-1980s it was at its full capacity of twenty-five students but difficulties had surfaced because Catalan was being used rather than Castilian, the standard Spanish language.

The earliest contacts between Tufts students and Africa had been in 1961, when the university initially provided partial funding for one student annually in the national program known as "Operations Crossroads Africa." Tufts became a cooperating institution in 1962 and four students from the institution participated the following year, and five in the summer of 1965.

The first program in Africa sponsored directly by Tufts was started in 1970, when three Afro-American students enrolled at Tufts were accepted for independent study in Africa under the auspices of the Afro-American Institute and were studying at two African universities. Heartened by this apparent interest, a part-time member of the Jackson administration (Diane Christensen), developed a one-year program in West Africa limited to Tufts and Jackson students but with no specific departmental sponsorship. A program was approved by the faculty in 1971 and arrangements were made for students to enroll in the University of Ibadan (Nigeria) or the University of Ghana (Legon). Eight students were enrolled during 1971-72, four at each university. However, interest in the program declined, and it disappeared in 1973.

A new overseas venture, "Tufts in Education in England," a combined program forjuniors and seniors involving the Departments of Education and Child Study, was approved in 1973. The momentum for the program was generated by Peter C.M. Raggatt of the Open University in England who was a visiting faculty member in the Tufts Summer School in 1973. He served as the program director in England. Stephen S. Winter, chairman of the Department of Education, visited in 1976 and reported a uniformly positive reaction to the program.

Known as the "Alsager Program," it began operation as a one-semester offering in February 1974, and involved the investigation of an open-classroom teaching experiment used by many British elementary schools. The schedule called for eight weeks of course study, six weeks of internship in one or two schools, and a final week of summary and evaluation. The program was headquartered at the


Alsager College of Teacher Education near Crewe in Cheshire. In 1975 the number of British teachers colleges was drastically reduced, and the Crewe College of Education was merged with Alsager to become "Crewe and Alsager College." Seven students - most of them from the Department of Child Study - were enrolled when the program began. It was open to applicants from other colleges and universities. There was only one non-Tufts student in the spring of 1976, of the seven students enrolled. The program was phased out in 1978, enrollment averaging only about half of what had been hoped for each year.

The numerous overseas programs offered opportunities primarily for upperclass undergraduates to widen their personal horizons and to enrich their educational experience. Many dozens took advantage of them. Whether overseas programs and the contacts made enhanced or detracted from Tufts' reputation or had any effect at all, is a moot question. This does not take into account individual contacts of a personal, social, or scholarly nature. But it can be assumed the very existence of such programs produced even limited visibility for Tufts. For the vast majority of students the overseas experience proved an exciting and positive one, as the numerous unsolicited letters bore witness. Contact with an unfamiliar environment and culture alone added another dimension to student experience. The Tufts in Paris program was the first to solicit student reactions and evaluations in a formal way, and the consensus was generally favorable. However, reasonably complete student assessment of all programs was lacking because no uniform or systematic machinery for obtaining student input was ever adopted.

The programs inevitably created a mixture of problems because of their very nature, and were student-centered as well as administrative. With the possible exception of Tufts in London, all of the programs were relatively small, and some struggled to stay in the black. In some, such as the London program, students were occasionally outnumbered by those from other schools, and it could well be asked how such a situation directly benefited the institution. Many students enrolled for less than the full academic year intended, and the question arose of the educational value of such brief encounters with other cultures. There was the lurking feeling that many students turned their overseas opportunity into tourist-like junkets rather than serious academic efforts. Administration of the programs raised problems relative to personnel, lack of control and supervision, advising, academic standards, and the proper fulfillment of degree requirements. These problems were particularly acute when personnel not directly connected with Tufts or familiar


with its operations or expectations, were put in charge. Release of regular faculty for a year or more to participate in the program was often impractical or even impossible. Further, the process of merely transporting faculty and students to a new locale did not in itself provide the unique educational experience desired. To complicate matters, most non-Tufts directors such as those in London and Paris until the mid-1970s, served not only part-time but had other professional or academic interests and obligations of their own. Students often complained of their lack of accessibility and failure to devote sufficient time and attention to student problems. Some found courses, especially those geared to foreign students like themselves (as in Paris), too elementary and insufficiently demanding intellectually.

One of the most baffling problems created by the foreign programs was the translation of European grades into approximately accurate Tufts equivalents. The results were, frequently, bad cases of "grade inflation" when transferred to Tufts transcripts. Such grades were usually transmitted directly to the Registrar without any opportunity for the departments involved to review them. An additional difficulty arose with the evaluation by European instructors of independent study projects or other courses which required no written examinations. Lack of familiarity with the Tufts grading system on the part of European personnel was a complicating factor.

Tufts faculties were slow to become directly involved in reviewing the adequacy of foreign programs and setting or reviewing standards. They were left very much to fend for themselves. There was no financial reporting or accountability to the various faculties, and accounting practices often left much to be desired. There was an especially noticeable problem of jurisdiction and evaluation of the work of a student not majoring in the department sponsoring a particular program. It was not until after 1975 that faculty machinery was established to review systematically all overseas programs. The Curriculum Committee of Liberal Arts and Jackson established a subcommittee on foreign programs in 1977, with representation also from the Educational Policy Committee.

Although Tufts' foreign programs were occasionally visited by departmental colleagues and a Tufts faculty member was in residence in some of the programs, there was no overall review until 1976. The arrival of a new president (Jean Mayer) made the timing especially opportune. A special eighteen-person faculty committee was created by Bernard Harleston, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and was headed by Graham Wootton of the Political Science Department. Their mandate was "to review and evaluate our existing overseas


programs and to develop proposals for other possible arrangements that will encourage students from other disciplines to consider study abroad."

Wootton made an on-site visit to all but one (in Cheshire) of the overseas programs then in operation. Dean Harleston accompanied him on his first stop (London) but had to return to the United States because of other commitments. In all, the special committee met thirteen times, the last in the summer of 1977. Both their deliberations and Wootton's overseas visits were supplemented by interviews with numerous students who had been or were currently in one of the programs. The sixty-six page confidential report, prepared largely by the chairman, was given limited circulation in the summer and early fall of 1977. During the 1980s the existing programs continued to be reviewed, and the revival of defunct programs or the introduction of new ones were suggested from time to time.

  • Light on the Hill, the second volume of the history of Tufts University, was published in 1986, covering the years from 1952 to 1986. This doucument was created from the 1986 edition of Light on the Hill, Volume II.
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 Title Page
1. Setting the Stage for the Second Century
2. Long-Range Planning
3. Bricks and Mortar 1952-1967
4. The End of Theological Education at Tufts
5. Ever-Widening Curricula for Liberal Arts and Engineering
6. Jackson College: A Search for Identity
7. Defining the Role of the College of Special Studies
8. The Arts and Sciences Faculty I
9. The Arts and Sciences Faculty II
10. The Central Library
11. The Changing Character of the Student Body
12. Fraternities and Sororities at Tufts: A Cyclical History
13. A Beehive of Activity: From Trustees to Students
14. From Wessell to Hallowell
15. The Hallowell Administration: Years of Trial and Tribulation
16. The Hallowell Administration: Continued Trial and Tribulation
17. Educational Ventures, Successful and Otherwise
18. The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
19. Medical and Dental Education I
20. Medical and Dental Education II
21. Taking Stock of the University in the 1960s and 1970s
22. The Mayer Administration: A Preliminary View
23. The Mayer Administration: Consolidation and Expansion