Radcliffe College merges with Harvard

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Radcliffe College and Harvard University announced Tuesday the two schools intend to merge, ending Radcliffe’s 120 years as an independent undergraduate institution.

Radcliffe will become the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, a non-degree-granting hub of Harvard University on equal footing with the Divinity School and the Law School.

The Institute will “sustain a commitment to the study of women, gender and society,” according to a press release. But leaders have not yet clarified whether women’s issues will remain Radcliffe’s exclusive focus.

Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson announced Tuesday she will step down from her post at the end of June. Wilson has been Radcliffe’s seventh president.

Director of the Schlesinger Library and former Smith College President Mary Maples Dunn will become the interim head of Radcliffe, serving until Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine appoints a permanent dean.

While Tuesday’s announcement is not binding, a detailed legal document is still in the works.

Among those principles is an agreement that female undergraduates will now be admitted to Harvard College, not Radcliffe.

The signing of a legal contract at an unspecified future date would end Radcliffe’s status as an independent institution. Since 1977, Radcliffe has maintained its own land, endowment and an administrative structure answerable only to its self-perpetuating Board of Trustees.

Under the new proposal, all of that will change. Radcliffe’s Board of Trustees will cease to exist, and its land and buildings will be folded into the University.

As a hub of the University, the dean of Radcliffe will not have the formal consulting power regarding the welfare of undergraduates that Wilson has enjoyed as president.

The president of Radcliffe currently serves on the Faculty Council and is permitted to attend full faculty meetings. Wilson’s input also must be considered in the selection of House Masters.

-by Rosalind S. Helderman & Adam A. Sofen, Harvard Crimson

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