Albert M. Sacks' appointment yesterday as permanent dean of the Law School is the first significant decision made by President-designate Bok since he relinquished that post himself four months ago.
Although appointments such as the Law dean are technically within President Pusey's domain until his retirement next month, no one in the Administration tries to hide the fact that now it is Bok who makes the appointments and policy decisions which will directly affect the composition and direction of his administration.
Within the next few weeks. Bok will announce the bulk of his administrative staff. He must also decide how to handle the resignations of the University's deans in June.
University protocol requires that the deans tender their resignations when a new President takes office. It is then up to the President to decide whether to accept the resignations, but usually if any changes are made, the President eases the dean out of office in a round-about, informal manner.
Bok has indicated he will make no changes in the deans, however. He said he has "complete confidence" in the present deans and would not want to have to select any new deans after a short time in office.
As far as Bok's administrative staff is concerned. Faculty sources say he will start out with four vice-presidents, two less than the number recommended by the University Governance Committee in March.
Bok has reportedly made offers for three of the vice-presidencies. None of the men offered positions have any Harvard administrative background, sources say.
Bok is also seriously considering the possibility of naming a Provost to alleviate part of the burden of his office.
"I remain very much attracted to the idea of having a Provost," Bok said when discussing the Law deanship last month. But, he added, he will probably hold off any decision about a Provost until he has been in office for six months to a year.
Some Faculty members maintain that the delay is aimed at relieving pressure on Bok to make Dean Dunlop Provost. Dunlop has been widely mentioned as the most likely candidate for Provost, but Bok may feel that someone with Dunlop's confidence and power may undercut his own power during the first months of office.
There is also the problem Bok would face in finding a replacement for Dunlop as Dean of the Faculty. Dunlop is a member of so many committees and wields so much power within the Faculty that Bok's desire to stabilize Faculty politics may override the temptation to make Dunlop Provost.
Bok cited three reasons for postponing a decision about a Provost. "First," he said, "I will be better able to see precisely what responsibilities a Provost should take from me after I've been in office for awhile. I have to decide how I am going to be spending my own time before dividing responsibilities.
"Second, I will be in a better position later to judge exactly what kind of skills and background will best complement my own background. And third, through close personal working relationships my knowledge of the people in the University who could fill the role of provost will be vastly greater."
Bok speculated that someone outside liberal arts may best complement his law background. He thus reinforced his freedom of choice in naming a provost, if indeed he decides he wants one at all.
In handling the selection of the Law dean. Bok made clear his desire to give all appearances of student involvement in the selection of University Deans.
The irony of this particular case lies in the fact that the entire thrust of the procedure of sampling student and faculty views was aimed at determining only whether there was serious opposition to the obvious choice for the post.
Law School faculty members and most Law students would have been mildly astounded if the dean had been anyone other than Albert Sacks. Nonetheless, Bok was careful to solicit-through President Pusey-the assistance of the School's student-faculty Governance Committee, and he specifically asked its help in establishing the most desirable qualities for the new dean.
Bok said a six-hour conference he had with the committee in April was "no more or less" influential in his final decision than discussions with Law faculty members. But because of the perfunctory air which often pervaded the selection process, it is difficult to judge just how much weight student opinion really carries with Bok.
Perhaps the true test of Bok's commitment to student views will come when he has to make a major appointment which has no heir apparent. It is only clear now that he is willing to break the Pusey mold of the past decade and at least give the students the feeling that they have something to do with Harvard's decision-making process.