Today is the 385th Harvard Commencement, so the yard is draped with banners, ceremonies have sprung up all over campus, and the Houses are serving the annual luncheon feast featuring the typically rubbery/frozen chicken.[1. When multiple parents mentioned the frozen-ness to me, I pointed out that as the chicken warmed, the texture deteriorated. Pick your poison, I guess.]
My good friend Mark Hempstead received his degree at Lowell House, my alma mater. Suz and I walked over there midday hoping to see him receive his degree[2. GSAS students affiliated with a house as tutors often choose to receive their degrees at the house, since the GSAS ceremony is huge and fairly impersonal. I mean, as a Computer Scientist I don't really know many Romance Linguists, so I'd rather receive me degree in a smaller setting surrounded by fellow tutors and undergraduates that know me. Definitely my route next year.] After a few moments of poking around, looking for the distinctive pink Ph.D. robes, we called him and found the Lowell SCR sequestered in the courtyard of the Masters Residence, enjoying their meal (which didn’t seem to include the frozen/rubbery chicken) out of site of the undergraduates and their parents. Ah, Lowell House! I saw Channing and should have stuck around to say hi to people like Dr. Pechet, but former House Master Professor William Bossert began the toasting, followed by current House Master Professor Diana Eck, and Suz and I figured it was time to beat a path to the exits. At Lowell that sort of toasting can go on for a while.
Later today, on my way to the office for a few hours of emailing and work-type activities, I noticed a group of green-clad protesters outside of Johnston Gate chanting:
Harvard is not poor!
Layoffs are what we hate!
Certainly these guys were buoyed by a nice sense of timing. There’s still a sense around here that the quiet that typical follows Commencement will be the point at which the University quietly announces further staff cuts and other cost-cutting measures. However, I have heard the odd and encouraging word decapitalization being thrown around recently, so maybe that’s a good sign? Should be an interesting summer, at the least.