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It was a blockbuster year for Tufts and the world—and not just because of the British Invasion and plunging necklines. The Experimental College offered is first mind-expanding courses. In Washington, the Civil Rights Act advanced the dream of racial equality. The soon-to-be-legendary Sol Gittleman first set foot on campus as an assistant professor of German. Across the pond, a young soccer fan—Jonathan Wilson, the future novelist and Tufts English professor—wrestled with anti-Semitism and his father’s decline. And on College Avenue, the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development was born.

Bob Dylan failed to show up for his concert at Cousens Gym on March 7, 1964, disappointing some two thousand fans. The reason for his absence is unclear, but the artist was undergoing a creative transformation that year. Already famous as a singer and writer of protest folk songs, he came out with a new album in August, Another Side of Bob Dylan, that puzzled his audience with its more personal, less political focus.

When the beloved classical pianist Arthur Rubinstein received an honorary doctorate from Tufts at 1964 commencement, he was seventy-seven years old and still performing, renowned for his musical exuberance and daring. His philosophy was that “if you play with a feeling of ‘Oh, I know this,’ you play without that little drop of fresh blood that is necessary.”

The Beelzebubs, Tufts’ newly formed male a cappella group, released their first album, Brothers in Song, in 1964. They went on to collegiate fame in the 2000s, competing on NBC’s The Sing-Off, recording the voices for the Warblers on the Fox show Glee, and providing inspiration for the movie Pitch Perfect.

Wren Hall, featuring suites for Tufts undergrads, was built in 1964 on the downhill side of campus as a men’s dorm, but now students of both sexes live there. According to the website wikimapia, the building’s design—in which suites are “staggered between half flights of stairs” without “halls in the traditional sense”—was supposed to make it “riot proof.”

Many new doctors today begin their career reciting the modern Hippocratic Oath, written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, who would become dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. They pledge, among other things, to “remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.”

The commencement speaker for the Class of 1964 was the MIT physicist Jerrold Reinach Zacharias. He had worked on the Manhattan Project but was most famous for his efforts to enliven physics education in the post-Sputnik era, replacing rote problems with hands-on experiments and a chance to wrestle with challenging concepts. President Kennedy credited him with starting “a revolution in science teaching.”

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