Critics of College admissions policy rely upon a "naive interpretation of Harvard admissions history," Dean Bender has charged in his annual report to the Dean of the Faculty.
Bender lashed out at two groups of Faculty members, both led by physical scientists, who last year proposed additional entrance requirements and changes in College admission literature. The first group had advocated establishing achievement requirements in science, mathematics, and foreign languages for all potential freshmen. The proposals, the Dean wrote, were "characterized by a curiously unscientific approach to the problem." In defense of the current admissions requirement, Bender pointed out that additional prerequisites might lead to "a serious decline in the quality of the Harvard student body."
"College admission requirements may have some influence, good or bad, on the secondary schools, but the Admissions Committee doubts that Harvard's requirements can be a proper or effective lever for high school reform," Bender stated.
Bender likewise defended "Rollo," the admission booklet which another Faculty group has criticized for its emphasis on "the outmoded concept of liberal education as the function of the College."
The Dean pointed out the "extraordinarily rapid increase" in the ability of entering students, despite the lack of overall improved academic performance. With large numbers of high-quality rate applicants, the "academic center of gravity of the class has been raised" since most of the bottom quarter has been eliminated. The Class of '62 is "the ablest ever," he commented.
Bender emphasized the need to consider problems brought about by the narrowed spread of abilities within a class.