Harvard administrators and faculty at a conference in Iran have proposed the formation of a Harvard-Iran commission to help the country set up a graduate school and research institute.
Richard G. Leahy, associate dean of the faculty for resources and planning and a member of the group, said yesterday the Iranian government has not yet decided whether to accept the proposal.
Dr. Chase N. Peterson '52, vice president for alumni affairs and development and the head of the Harvard group, is now in Teheran, discussing the proposal with the Iranian university's board of trustees.
President Bok said yesterday that the group in Iran is "empowered only to undertake a study with Iran of the feasibility of setting up a university in a remote country of that sort."
Bok said yesterday that "Harvard should not get involved in running a university in another country."
"If the group's proposal does that, they have exceeded the instructions I gave them," Bok said, adding he had not spoken to any members of the Harvard group since the conference began.
Leahy, returned from the conference early, said that the group had not exceeded its instructions. "Our proposal is to study with Iran the ways in which a university could be set up," Leahy said. "Calling it a feasibility study is a good way to put it."
Leahy said the proposed commission would consist of several Harvard administration or faculty members and the same number of Iranian officials.
The commission would advise on location of the school's campuses, its budget, the curriculum and the research opportunities to be offered, he said.
Under the proposal, Leahy said, the Iranian government would fund the new school and the joint committee's work.
Harvey Brooks, dean of the division of Engineering and Applied Physics and a participant in the conference, said yesterday he is "not at all sure" that the proposal will be accepted by the Iranians.
Brooks explained that Harvard's plan allows the commission to determine the university's location, while Iran is already committed to building near the Caspian Sea.
"I am not convinced that they could recruit people for the Caspian Sea area," Brooks added.
Leahy said that the Iranian university will be "along the lines of the Rockefeller Institute in New York. It will mainly offer research facilities and graduate study in a few areas."
"After the university is set up, the Harvard contribution would be in the nature of advice to Iran by individual scholars," he said.