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Job perk: graze your cow in Harvard Yard
September 14, 2009 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Harvard theologian grazes his cow in the Yard. Harvey Cox, recently retired as Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard, has exercised his customary right as holder of the oldest endowed chair in America to graze a cow in Harvard Yard. It's hard to tell who had a more unusual day: the professor, author of influential books like The Secular City and The Feast of Fools, or the cow, named Faith for the day, on a day visit from her home at The Farm School in Atholl, Massachusetts.
posted by Rain Man (43 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's only one L in the US Athol.

And when I was a kid in college, we used to speculate about how awesome it would be if any of the professors whose chairs entitled them to graze their cows in the Yard did so. Of course the ultra-awesome Harvey Cox made it happen. YAY!
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:21 PM on September 14, 2009


what
posted by cjorgensen at 7:27 PM on September 14, 2009


Okay, Sidhedevil, let's get the ell out of there, then!
posted by Rain Man at 7:31 PM on September 14, 2009


Just incidentally, the occasion will mark the publication by HarperCollins of Cox’s latest book, The Future of Faith.
IvyBlue?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:33 PM on September 14, 2009


Just what Harvard needs, more bullshit.
posted by exogenous at 7:36 PM on September 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


When I grow up, I'm going to go to Bovine University!
posted by Abiezer at 7:42 PM on September 14, 2009 [6 favorites]


ugh, another stunt grazing.
posted by boo_radley at 7:44 PM on September 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Then you grazed up at me
And the answer was plain to see
'Cause I saw the light in your eyes
posted by Tube at 7:53 PM on September 14, 2009


Ya cahn't pahrk the cow in hahvard yahrd!
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:58 PM on September 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


Yeah... gotta love how the Boston Globe is totally unskeptical of the privilige. Why would there be nothing in writing? It's not like they didn't have writing or the delivery of letters between London and Cambridge back in those days.

Also unintentionally hillarious is the Divinity School:

"Thomas Hollis would be astounded by the breadth of Professor Cox's interests as the ninth holder of the Chair in Divinity, which Hollis endowed in 1721. Though, no doubt he would be pleased."

Right... there could be no possible doubt that a Baptist from 1721 would prefer that his endowment be used to actually train ministers to teach Christianity and by that I don't mean a version of Christianity thatholds the doctrine of the Pauline epistles is not a necessary part of Christianity.

I mean, he might not have a problem with it. But it seems pretty strained to say there's "no doubt" he'd be pleased.
posted by Jahaza at 8:03 PM on September 14, 2009


Well if we want to go down that road, I bet Thomas Hollis would sure be pissed off a bunch of rebels overthrew the good rule of the King.
posted by geoff. at 8:13 PM on September 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


How much pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer do they use on the lawn?
posted by plastic_animals at 8:15 PM on September 14, 2009


Endicott "Chub" Peabody, Harvard grad and a remarkable man, was Democratic governor of Massachusetts i1962-1964). While he was governor, the local Republican joke was:

Q. What two towns in Massachusetts are named after the Governor?

A. Peabody and Athol.
posted by rdone at 8:16 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wasn't the punchline "Endicott, Peabody, Marblehead and Athol"?
posted by Bromius at 8:28 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I spent the night in Athol once. I was driving from my mom's house in Maine to my home in Northampton, MA, and got caught in a wicked ice storm/blizzard. We - my girlfriend and I - pulled off Rte 2 when we realized that what we were driving on was not snow, but ice. The nearest place to sleep was the King Philip Motor Inn. They had one room left. We ate grey steak (I think it was beef) in the restaurant and slept in an underlit room (the kind where you're glad it's underlit, because it keeps you from seeing things you really don't want to see) with a chair shoved under the doorknob. This was 1992 or thereabouts, so perhaps things have improved. In any case, we were delighted and relieved to see the morning dawn clear and warm enough to melt some of the ice on the road, and I've never been so happy to see Greenfield.
posted by rtha at 8:33 PM on September 14, 2009


This sort of thing is not unknown over the other side of the pond either:

The Backs is the name given to the strip of land on the opposite side of the river to King's and its neighbouring colleges. The area behind King's is called Scholars' Piece. This area is home to a herd of cattle, an unusual sight in the centre of a city.

King's College, Cambridge

I love all these old traditions (and associated stories).
posted by djgh at 8:41 PM on September 14, 2009


Imagine what WBCN would have done with a this in the 1970s -- a cow from Athol grazing in Harvard Yard?
posted by grounded at 8:53 PM on September 14, 2009


So this Harvey Cox ... he's a Hindu, yes?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 9:06 PM on September 14, 2009


Imagine what WBCN would have done with a this in the 1970s

Okay, in the 1970's I went to high school with Harvey Cox's son and the Duke of Madness's daughter. (D of M was a BCN deejay.) Not that this is really to the point, but I was pleased to see about the cow.
posted by alms at 9:06 PM on September 14, 2009


The local Athol kids just love modding the town-boundary signs with a can of spraypaint: "Entering rAthole".
posted by Camofrog at 9:14 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beats putting the cow on the roof of the Rotunda.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:20 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


we used to speculate about how awesome it would be if any of the professors whose chairs entitled them to graze their cows in the Yard did so.

Of all the exciting things that a student could wish for, this one really must rank pretty low on the scale.

Was it because you were deprived of tipping opportunities or something?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:28 PM on September 14, 2009



Ya cahn't pahrk the cow in hahvard yahrd!


I was just gonna say, a "cah" is not a cow.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:48 PM on September 14, 2009


we used to speculate about how awesome it would be if any of the professors whose chairs entitled them to graze their cows in the Yard did so.

Of all the exciting things that a student could wish for, this one really must rank pretty low on the scale.


Well I would imagine there would also be a bra bomb involved at some point. And that the student would then, as the end result of a wacky scheme, defeat the crusty old Dean and achieve a really wicked boner.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:56 PM on September 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


(There's actually this really funny book about the history of college pranks called "If at all possible, involve a Cow." Somewhere I still have a copy belonging to the editor of a college humor magazine I used to write on, even though I wasn't really in college at the time.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:59 PM on September 14, 2009


Cow fraternities now typically frown on grazing rituals.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:24 PM on September 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


jahaza: there could be no possible doubt that a Baptist from 1721 would prefer that his endowment be used to actually train ministers to teach Christianity? (and by that I don't mean a version of Christianity that holds the doctrine of the Pauline epistles is not a necessary part of Christianity).

You say that like it's a bad thing. In any case, I think he'd be cool with it. From the Globe article:
Hollis was a Baptist and thus a dissenter from the Church of England. ... He gave his money to the institution stipulating there be no doctrinal requirements for the post.
posted by msalt at 11:22 PM on September 14, 2009


prefer that his endowment be used to actually train ministers to teach Christianity?

HDS is a divinity school, not a seminary. Why would he have even the slightest expectation that ministers would be trained rather than theologians? That'd be like leaving an endowment to a civil engineering department and expecting architects or construction workers to be trained.
posted by explosion at 3:55 AM on September 15, 2009


there could be no possible doubt that a Baptist from 1721 would prefer that his endowment be used to actually train ministers to teach Christianity? (and by that I don't mean a version of Christianity that holds the doctrine of the Pauline epistles is not a necessary part of Christianity).

Historically, Baptists were very much into freedom of conscience and the priesthood of all believers. It's only modern Southern Baptists who have managed to reverse that and instead have doctrine dictated by a committee and freedom of conscience being sufficient to get your church kicked out of their "Convention".
posted by hydropsyche at 4:50 AM on September 15, 2009


Christ, what an Athol.
posted by Kwanzaar at 5:12 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Lambs Graze in Green as Ewe2 Exercise Rights
posted by kmz at 5:32 AM on September 15, 2009


This isn't a stunt grazing - it's a serious exercise of his right. If it was never written down, it's even a customary right, and those have to used or you lose them.
posted by jb at 7:04 AM on September 15, 2009


I spent the night in Athol once. I was driving from my mom's house in Maine to my home in Northampton, MA, and got caught in a wicked ice storm/blizzard. We - my girlfriend and I - pulled off Rte 2 when we realized that what we were driving on was not snow, but ice. The nearest place to sleep was the King Philip Motor Inn.

The KP is in Phillipston, actually; Athol proper doesn't have any lodging of any sort. Considering your circumstances, I think you made the best of the situation.
posted by Lou Stuells at 7:15 AM on September 15, 2009


How much pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer do they use on the lawn?

Apparently not a lot.
posted by AwkwardPause at 8:23 AM on September 15, 2009


Move along, this is not the cow you're looking for.
posted by Standeck at 8:31 AM on September 15, 2009


I'm looking forward to seeing the MIT response to the cow grazing.
posted by Nelson at 8:51 AM on September 15, 2009


The KP is in Phillipston, actually;

Ha! The blizzard was so bad we couldn't eve see where we were!
posted by rtha at 9:05 AM on September 15, 2009


You didn't miss much!
posted by Lou Stuells at 9:38 AM on September 15, 2009


There's only one "L" but there absolutely is "no Faulk in Athol."

(sorry ... could NOT resist)
posted by aldus_manutius at 9:46 AM on September 15, 2009


In a similar vein:

a former roommate told me a story once about some other ages-old university, where in one class, prior to beginning a test, one of the students spoke up to the professor: "Sir, I request and require cakes and ale." He then pointed to a clause he'd just found in the original students' handbook from 16- or 17-whatever, which stated that prior to beginning exams, students "may request and require cakes and ale". The professor shrugged and sent someone to a corner deli for Twinkies and a can of Budweiser or something.

But then the next time the student was in his class, the professor handed him a notice saying that he was writing up the student for "failing to appear in public without his ceremonial sword".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos. in 1998, they were telling a version of that story on the campus tour at Harvard.
posted by Jahaza at 11:09 AM on September 15, 2009


Snopes on the "cakes and ale" story, which goes at least back to the 1950s.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:45 PM on September 15, 2009


"Harvard theologian grazes his cow in the Yard."

"Sir, I request and require cakes and ale."


For similar trivia/ephemera, I recommend The College Pump || Harvard Magazine.
posted by ericb at 11:21 PM on September 15, 2009


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