The elite marriage of Harvard and the Kennedy, which gave birth to Camelot almost two decades ago, has produced a prestigious new brainchild: a $12 million graduate school for politicians and bureaucrats.
The John F. Kennedy school of Government, a modern red-brick structure with smoked-glass windows and potted palms, is designed to provide forum for the intellectual pursuit of politics and government administration, university officials say.
"This is Harvard," said one university alumnus. "They're not talking about pushing any old bunch of pols out of here."
Indeed, Harvard President Derek Bok noted unabashedly, the new school will do for government what Harvard's schools of business, law and medicine did for those professions.
"Professional skills must be harnessed in public service of the sort comparable to those required for law or medicine or business," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said. "An unskilled senator or congressman or cabinet secretary is as great a danger to the body politic as an unskilled surgeon is to a patient on the operating table."
To christen the "living memorial" to the late President Kennedy, the guardians of the "New Frontier" reunited here this weekend in an elaborate procession of ceremonies.
There was the "gala celebration," a black-tie affair, last night. In the afternoon there was a massive luncheon of beef, ham, and shrimp salad with hot apple cider laced with rum followed by the Harvard-Dartmouth football game.
There were symposiums and panels "the changing American presidency" and "challenges and opportunities in public service."
There were former Kennedy aides and advisers such as John Kenneth Galbraith, Richard Goodwin and Richard E. Neustadt, and the chronicler of the best and the brightest, David Halberstam.
There were the Kennedys: Edward and his wife Joan, Jacqueline Oanassis and her children Caroline and John Jr.
And of course, there were the speeches.
Over 5,000 persons sat under canoepies on wide green lawn laid down for the occassion. In the background, the emeritus maestro of the Boston Pops, Arthur Fiedler, conducted the Harvard marching band.
"On paper, it will sound too pretentious," wrote former Harvard Nieman fellow, Al Larkin, of this weekend's ceremonies. "In your heart, you know it will work."
But the meticulously organized dedication ceremony almost didn't.
Surrounding the crowd, in its tweeds and flannels and crew-necked sweaters, was what one student called "the rabble."
Threatening to drown out the dedication of this school for the study of democratic principles was a lesson in partical politics and perhaps the real legacy of the Kennedy years.
Chanting, "No blood money" and carrying placards and a banner reading, "Welcome to the Er, Um, Engelhard Apartheid Library," several hundred Harvard students protested the naming of the new Kennedy school library after Charles W. Engelhard, an American businessman who made a fortune in gold in South Africa and who was, the demonstrators claim, leading proponent of apartheid.
In a concitiatory move prompted by Ken. Kennedy, the protesters were allowed to provide a speaker, MarK Smith, a Harvard senior, who told the Cambridge audence that Harvard's connection with Engelhard shows its "callous indifference to the plight of black South Africans."
It was a tense moment.
"We are not trying to attack the Kennedys," said Matthew Rothschild, a protest leader. "We have no bone to pick with the Kennedy family. I think John Kennedy would have supported us," he said from behind the police barricades.
Sen. Kennedy, meanwhile, from the stage, was telling the crowd. "He would have loved the forum so brilliantly created here as a link between Harvard and the ancient Greece and Rome - a crossroads by day and a meeting place by night, and arena for debate where democracy can come alive in the town and university community, a forum where citizens can meet with presidents and kings, or poets debate with secretaries of defense.
"Now at last Jack has come back to Harvard," the senator said. "The work goes on. The dream still lives. The flame may flicker, but it shall never die."