Jeremy Knowles, Was 72

We used to say that Harvard must have a secret school for deans, where they were trained in the arts of tact and diplomacy. Dean Knowles was our favorite example. Though some of us students were doing our best to add to his problems with our endless agitation for this reform or that one, he was unfailingly gracious and charming with us. This is the story that I best think captures the man—witty, modest, a little stuffy, and utterly British:

The visitor comes into the Dean’s offices a few minutes early. Dean Knowles himself is there, descending from a ladder set up in front of an impossibly old and imposing grandfather clock. “Let it be known,” he says, “that the Dean winds his own clocks.”

Jeremy Knowles, former Dean of the Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, passed away yesterday, at the age of 72.