Like other Harvard faculty folks, our mentors at HGSE were expected to publish in the customary refereed journals, which often required them to apply statistical techniques, with or without the newfangled computers. Many needed help in these areas, and they learned quickly that Mike Smith and Dick Light would provide reliable consultation. Mike and Dick were glad to help, but it became an overload.
So they went to Dean Ted Sizer, proposing to supervise a couple of Teaching Assistants, through whom students and faculty in need of help would have to pass to get to Dick and Mike. The Dean agreed and apparently funded the operation out of some discretionary money of his. Then they recruited Herb Simon and me for the new in-house consulting facility. We had an office in the basement of Larsen Hall, where we played gatekeeper-consultant for that school year.

In the event, we found that we could handle something like half of the questions that came to us. When we reached the end of our knowledge, if the client still needed more help, we’d accompany him to Dick or Mike and sit in on their interaction.

Harvard gave me a lot of good instruction. Of all my courses, it was from this little practicum, more than from any other, that I learned the skills and concepts I actually used in later professional life.

The Day I Became A Man

First, you have to understand that my involvement in fancy schools was a big deal to my beloved parents. Especially to Pappy. I hope to live to record properly the miracles and sacrifices that enabled him to become the first college-educated member of his family; it’s a marvelous story.

Anyway, when I asked the folks if they’d like to have lunch at the Faculty Club, their affirmative response didn’t startle anybody.

We goyim need a suitable translation for the Yiddish “kvell.” “To be delighted” inhabits the same semantic continent, but it doesn’t really reflect Mammy’s and Pappy’s intense and obvious pleasure in the Faculty Club ambience. I don’t recall what we ate, but it was better than OK. Then the waiter (with whom I’d conspired, just a bit) approached with the check. Pappy, of course, went for his wallet. The waiter said, “I’m sorry, sir, but your money is no good here.” Then he reached past Pappy to hand ME the check to sign.
’Twas a heady thing, to be all of a sudden an Officer of Harvard University, even at the very lowest rung of that august ladder. One perquisite of officer status, I found, was access to the services of the Faculty Club. Please enjoy the delicious anecdote in the sidebar.
1Okay, so it’s corny, and nobody ever really, officially called it that. And I’m probably the only survivor who ever talks about it at all. But I called it that, then, and I still do. So that’s its name: “Statistical And Computer Consulting Help Available: Researchers Inevitably Need Expertise.”
Ed.D 1967-68: Independent Study S.A.C.C.H.A.R.I.N.E. Reunion in Paris Thesis AAI Disaster
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