Education: Citizen President

Soon after the announcement that the gaunt, gangling chemistry professor was to be their new president, two members of the Harvard faculty gloomily sat down one day in 1933 to talk the matter over. "Well, after all," said one, trying to cheer himself up, "Charles W. Eliot was a chemist, too." "But," countered his colleague, "Eliot, you see, wasn't a very good chemist—and this boy is."

As the years passed, "this boy" was to prove that being a good chemist was not necessarily a handicap for a Harvard president. James Bryant Conant was soon just as much at home presiding over the...

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