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Harle Montgomery Reflects

Tucked among the greenery on Hanover's Rope Ferry Road, the Montgomery House is the physical manifestation of the Montgomery Endowment, established in 1977 through a gift from Kenneth F. Montgomery '25 and his wife, Harle. The house is a gracious home-away-from-home for Montgomery Fellows, the world-renowned thinkers, writers, and artists brought to Dartmouth by the endowment for residencies of varying lengths.

Harle Montgomery
From left: Montgomery Fellow Romila Thapar, Harle Montgomery, and Susan DeBevoise Wright in the Montgomery house in October. (Photo  by Joseph Mehling '69)

Initially, the idea for the Endowment grew out of a conversation with Dartmouth's 13th president, John Kemeny, says Harle Montgomery. "When Ken asked what the College needed, John Kemeny replied that a residence for long-term visitors would be important. Without hesitation, Ken said Dartmouth would have it. Then followed months of thinking about and expanding the potential of the promised gift. We discussed with friends and family the possibility of a program that would seek out important stimulating people who could be in residence for a semester, a year, whatever. He or she could teach a class, give a lecture, and interact with students on a personal basis," says Harle.

For nearly two decades, the Montgomerys oversaw the endowment together, creating a program that continues to bring the world's best and brightest to Hanover. Included among the Montgomery Fellows are luminaries such as historian Michel Foucault, filmmaker Ang Lee, and playwright Wendy Wasserstein, to name just a few.

Since Ken's death in 1996, Harle has maintained her active support of the endowment, serving as a member of its steering committee. "To me, Ken is still with me in everything I do," she says. "He was so enthusiastic, like a little kid, full of joy and excitement. It's just a delight to continue, and I try to make decisions that would please him.

"I was particularly enthusiastic about Githa Hariharan and Romila Thapar because I've spent some time in India," says Harle, "and it seemed to be an area of the world we in the West—in the United States—know very little about. We all need to broaden our horizons."

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Last Updated: 5/30/08