This is how close I came to derailing Charles’s career. Charles graduated from Harvard College—and Harvard Medical School with honors. This was enough to alert the deans of the schools to the possibility that Charles could be a candidate for one of the faculty positions.
No one, however, became a faculty member at Harvard without a thorough assessment of the spouse. Therefore, Charles and I were invited to dinner at the Harvard Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We were met by Dr. Frankie and Dr. Davidson. It was Dr. Charles Davidson who took the lead in interviewing me. “And where did you go to school?” he asked. I proudly told him that I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. At this, I noticed that he rose taller in his chair. “And you knew the Dean of Women at Berkeley?” “No,” I told him. “You didn’t know the Dean at Berkeley?” he repeated. Again I told him “NO” and added that I was a good girl. No one saw one of the deans without there being some problem or issue.
It was later that I learned that Dr. Davidson’s mother was the Dean of Women at the University of California at Berkeley. I am not sure that he liked my answer and it began to sound unlikely that Charles would receive a faculty position at Harvard.
At any rate, Charles didn’t think, at that time, that medicine had the answers to disease and he wanted to further his education in biochemistry and genetics.
We moved to Palo Alto, California, where Charles became a post-doctoral fellow working with Dr. Arthur Kornberg, who won the Nobel Prize for his work later that same year. So it didn’t really matter whether or not I knew the name of the Dean of Women at Berkeley.
By: Natalie Radding
(published in Whitney Word-Vol. 33, No. 1-February 2017)
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