Ernest R. May, professor of History, has been named Dean of Harvard College. He replaces Fred L. Glimp 50 who this summer resigned as dean to assume a post as administrative head of a charity fund in Boston.
May, a specialist in diplomatic history, has been a member of the history department since 1954; he became a full professor in 1963. Unlike most past deans of the College, he has not previously been primarily an administrator-his only work in that capacity was as Allston Burr Senior Tutor in Kirkland House from 1959 to 1966.
In early July, Glimp announced that he was resigning from the deanship he had held for two years in order to become executive director of the Committee of the Permanent Charity Fund. At the time, he said, "This just looked like too exciting a thing not to do even though I had mixed feelings about leaving Harvard now or at any time." In recent years, the $70 million fund, which is one of the nation's two largest community foundations, has concentrated on supporting projects to attack urban problems-a trend Glimp said he plans to continue.
Dean of the College is in effect the number three position-after President of the University and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences-in the administrative hierarchy which reaches down to undergraduates.
As dean, May plans to emphasize improving communications among various members of the University, especially on matters of curricular reform and the role of the Houses. "One has to do what one can. This place is in some danger. It is the greatest university in the world, but there is danger of its not remaining so," he said, explaining his reasons for assuming the deanship.
"If we have a year like last year, a certain number of Faculty members will be leaving-that's the worst danger we have to apprehend," he said.
Though May has not yet set any limit on how long he will remain as dean, he said he does not plan to stay in the job indefinitely. "My commitment is to teaching and research, not to administration," he said.
Before and during last April's upheaval, May was associated with the so called "conservative" caucus of the Faculty, but he feels that this will not hamper him in his work as dean. The two Faculty caucuses were "really more procedural than substantive." he said, arguing that in the end the Faculty as a whole was in agreement on most of its votes of last April.
At present he has no specific ideas on how to cope with possible recurrences of last spring's disorders. May said, except to find out what reforms are desired and then try to help implement them. "If there's a real basis for student discontent, it probably doesn't lie in the kinds of things we were talking about last spring." but more in educational issues, he said.
"If the large majority identify with the institution, feels it's theirs, they will in various ways oppose attempts to tear it up," May commented.
May is the first non-graduate of Harvard College to become college dean. He received both his A.B. and I'h.D. from U.C.L.A. He has authored or edited several books on American Foreign policy and general American history.
Glimp's decision to resign predated the April upheaval, he said at the time, "in fact I'd rather not leave Harvard now, but the new position is not the kind of thing that pops up every year."
In fact, Glimp said, he had decided to accept the charity fund post-vacated by the sudden death of Wilbur J. Bender 27, a former dean of the College and Glimp's mentor at Harvard-on the morning of April 9. Less than two hours after he returned to his Harvard office that morning he was ejected from it by the first wave of students occupying University Hall.
Glimp said he agreed with the methods used for handling the April crisis, and that, while he disagreed with several important Faculty decisions during his years as dean, those disagreements did not prompt his resignation.