June 29, 1944: Harvard President James B. Conant and Reginald Fitz, President of the Alumni Association, led the graduates down the steps of Widener Library. With combined military and academic ceremonies illustrating – as Pres. James B. Conant remarked in his report to the alumni – “the effect of total war on a university dedicated to the arts of peace,” Harvard observed its 293d Commencement. In all schools of the University, President Conant conferred only 251 degrees, the smallest number since 1875.