When a young faculty couple took over the head residentship of Comstock Hall last fall, their arrival marked a sharp departure from the white-haired house mothers who have traditionally graced the demitasse tables of the Radcliffe Quad. When the David B. Bevingtons move in to Moors Hall next September, the Cliffe community will be able to welcome them with greater equanimity. "The Browns have been a big help to us," Bevington observed. "We're glad not to be pioneers."
Following in the footsteps of the Donald R. Browns of Comstock, the Bevingtons will inevitably be the subject of comparisons with their next-door neighbors. The newcomers give every indication of measuring up favorably to their well-liked predecessors, and indeed there are many similarities between the two couples.
Lik the Browns, the Bevingtons are an attractive young couple in their mid-twenties. A handsome man with sandy brown hair, Bevington has been recommended for appointment as an Instructor in English, to be effective July 1, and he will receive his Ph.D. this month. He is a non-resident tutor at Kirkland House. His wife, a pretty brunette, has her Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Radcliffe and is now working toward a Doctorate in Education at the School of Education, where she is a teaching fellow.
Although new at the job of head residents, the Bevingtons are by no means strangers to the Harvard-Radcliffe community. Mr. Bevington graduated from Harvard in 1954, where he was affiliated with Dunster House. His wife, formerly Margaret (Peggy) Brown, received her A.B. from Radcliffe in 1956, and was treasurer of the Student Government Association. Both majored in English and literature as undergraduates. (A literary map of the British Isles hangs on the living room wall of their present apartment at 141 Oxford Street.)
The Bevingtons met each other at rehearsals for the Lowell House Opera. "I was playing viola and my future wife was playing second fiddle," Bevington reminisced. They were married after Mrs. Bevington's junior year.
But despite her years as a 'Cliffie, Mrs. Bevington admits that she will have to reacclimate herself to dormitory life. "I lived in a cooperative, Edmunds House, after my freshman year, which I spent in Whitman," she said. But the only thing that really worries her, Mrs. Bevington admitted with a smile, is "the problem of having a maid come in everyday to vacuum and dust. It seems somewhat a luxury and even an invasion of privacy." "We're afraid of being spoiled," her husband interjected, teasingly.
Bevington is seemingly undisturbed about the prospect of living in a dorm with 110 girls. He and his wife have served as tutor affiliates of Moors and are a familiar sight at Tuesday night dinner. "The more we go, the more at home we feel," he noted.
Familiar with eating at both Harvard and Radcliffe, Bevington noted with regret that at Radcliffe, where student waitresses are anxious to clear the tables in a hurry, the girls are less likely to linger over their meals in serious conversation--"education through free-wheeling discussion," he termed it. "One of the most wonderful things in the Harvard House system is mealtime," he stated. "I usually find I stay an hour for lunch, and that's good. The level of discussion in Harvard Houses is apt to be very high."
Bevington recognizes that the presence of resident tutors in the Houses stimulates intellectual conversation, and he has high praise for the Moors' tutor affiliate program. He would like to see the dormitories adapt more of the practices of the Houses, and he admits that one possibility would be affiliation of dorms and Houses, such as has taken place between Com-stock and Winthrop, and Holmes and Quincy.
But he quickly squelched the rumors that a merger of Kirkland and Moors may be in the offing. "Nothing seems to be moving ahead on it," he said. "The first two House-dorm affiliations came quickly; then the wheels ground to a halt. Dunster and Lowell have said 'Never.'"
A second possibility, and a more feasible one, he feels, would be for the Radcliffe dormitories to adopt on their own some of the intellectual activities that the Houses offer. He would like to see each dorm build up a staff of non-resident tutor affiliates, not necessarily all from one House, and he thinks the dorms could benefit from such Harvard institutions as concentration tables and dorm review sessions for general exams.
Bevington, who will have tutees both in Moors and Kirkland next year, is a firm advocate of mixed tutorial groups. He quoted William Alfred as saying, "If you get a group of boys together, they all go to sleep on you. If you get a group of girls together, they take notes." Bevington will be directing at least one senior honors thesis in Moors next year.
Before taking up residence at Moors, where 100 feet of bookshelves are being installed at their request, the Bevingtons will spend the summer in England, with a week or so on the Continent. While in England, the Bevingtons plan to do some writing and studying, as well as traveling. Bevington said, "I've got to read a lot of Henry James," then corrected himself, "I want to read a lot of Henry James."
In discussing his future responsibilities at Moors, Bevington stressed that he is not breaking his ties with Kirkland House and will maintain offices at both places. "I try to get down to meals at the House about four times a week, and I don't see why that should change," he said. Then he added wryly, "I may spend more time at Kirkland--might want to get away from Moors."
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