Religion scholar to exercise traditional grazing rights with ‘Pride’
By Sam Allis
Globe Columnist / August 30, 2009
[Harvey] Cox, the celebrated Harvard religion professor, was the Hollis Professor of Divinity from 2002 until his retirement this past June after 44 distinguished years at Harvard. (He is now the Hollis Research Professor of Divinity.) The Hollis chair was endowed in 1721 and first occupied by Edward Wigglesworth the following year.
It is the oldest endowed chair in American higher education, and, more germane to this story, traditionally came with grazing rights in Harvard Yard for the cows of chair holders. Wigglesworth and his son who succeeded him exercised those rights.
During the late afternoon of Sept. 10, Cox will do the same and bring a Jersey cow named “Faith’’ from The Farm School in Athol into the yard to graze. The cow’s name is really “Pride,’’ but as that is first among the seven deadly sins, she will go by “Faith’’ for the day to occasion his retirement from teaching and the release of his new book - wouldn’t you know it - “The Future of Faith.’’
“I’m reclaiming a tradition that almost got lost,’’ he said last week on the porch of his summer house in Woods Hole. “Why can’t we have cows grazing in Harvard Yard? People started saying to me, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ I finally said to myself, ‘I’m going to do it.’ ’’
At 4:30 that day, a ceremony will be held honoring Harvey along the steps of Memorial Church facing Widener Library. Peter Gomes, Harvard’s preacher, will preside and orate. Cox will say something. But I’m guessing all eyes will be on Faith, who will be chewing her cud behind a rope on one of the two grassy hillocks on either side of the church steps.
Cox, Faith, and entourage will then process to the Divinity School, where they will arrive at a green behind Andover Hall for more ceremony, a reception, and, to crown the day, the milking of Faith by Bradley Teeter, Farm School manager.