The Goal: 'Move the Administration Closer to the Faculty'
To: Chuck [Daly]
From: Robin [Schmidt]
Subject: Internal Relations
I wish this note were going to be better organized, better thought-out and shorter. It concerns some perceptions and ideas I've been thinking about for six months, but I have not yet given them enough attention so that I feel entirely comfortable with the conclusions. Nevertheless, because they fit in with what you're working on, here are some thoughts for whatever use you can make of them:
The suggestions in the memo are on target. In operation, they will help achieve the goal of better communications in the family.
Another major and more specific goal that should be aimed at is to somehow move the Administration closer to the faculty--particularly the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. I am certain we have a problem there, capable of becoming major. I am equally certain it will never be totally solved, but I do think the relationship can be bettered. I also feel Derek [Bok] will never achieve his major objectives without the active and majority help of the faculty.
First, let me list the problems as I perceive them, and as I think they are perceived by the faculty. (I make no comments on the validity of the faculty perceptions. In fact, many of them are so petty that they seem to me beneath consideration. In a way, that is perhaps why I have waited this long to try to take them out and look at them. Nevertheless, as some kindly philosopher or something once stated, truth is merely the perception of truth most of the time.)
First, and most important, there is Derek.
1. He is non-College. Nothing can ever change that, but it is a subtle but real differentiation made around here.
2. He is a professional dean, not a scholar as it is defined by tenured types in arts and sciences.
3. He is mighty young, and hasn't yet really won his spurs. I keep getting the feeling that [President emeritus Nathan M.] Pusey was viewed as a stern Puritan who could raise money and handle things. The fact that he failed in crucial times at the latter was the beginning of a malaise which was transferred to his successor.
4. He is "changing things." In a dyed-in-the-wool conservative place like Harvard, that alone is enough to cause torchlight parades. I refer to things like House tenure, reference to multi-disciplinary programs, new ideas for education. (The latter offers an interesting case: Derek purposely left Henry Rosovsky out of his annual report so Henry wouldn't have to take the rap but that omission when speaking of scholarly matters was viewed by many faculty as an unpardonable breach of whatever and a touch of high ego besides.)
An extension of Derek is his administration as embodied in the Mass Hall gang.
1. They, for the most part, are also non-College. Worse yet, they are also non-Harvard. What greater sin could one commit in Lilliputia?
2. They are too "corporate." I'm not sure what this means, but part of it is a vague reaction to viewing things solely in a business sense as opposed to being sensitive to the special concerns and needs of a scholarly operation. I'm sure we could cite several for-instances if need be.
3. There are too many of them. "We always got along okay with just a few people draining off our dollars in Mass Hall before; why have we suddenly become General Motors?"
4. The shrinking $ for academic pursuits are somehow the Administration's fault. After all that's the only reason they're here anyway--to free us for our research.
All of these points are closely related, but there are subtle differences in each case. Beyond these, there are external factors which help reinforce and focalize these concerns.
1. The unsettled, changing nature of the society. Everyone is po'ed at everyone else and everything. While the scholars would tend to take a longer view and be less concerned than say the workers, they are not immune.
2. For Harvard University as a whole, and professors in particular, there exists what we used to call "the nobody loves me's." I am sure the faculty would call it "anti-intellectualism." We can see it in such areas of society as disenchanted students, angry congressmen, disappointed parents, Gallup polls, etc. The professor sees it in shrinking grants, criticism from know-nothing politicians, nasty radicals who are rude about the rules of scholarship, etc. I have always found that the other side of a giant, arrogant ego is a painful desire to be petted and stroked. Where else would that apply more? (Except perhaps on Capitol Hill, but there they have to get used to having a shoe clerk tell them what dumb jerks they are every two years.)
3. Money. Again, they are no more immune than the rest of the country. I am sure faculty wives are just as vociferous about the weekly trip to Sage's as the ladies are in Southie, if somewhat more genteel. Beyond this there are such vital matters as pensions, grants, foundation support, taxes, and the cost of sending children to school.
* * *
If all, or part, of this has any validity, then we should take special pains to analyze our program continually to see if it is proceeding toward easing these problems and concerns. This suggests some of the following:
1. That he continue to take particular concern over the faculty and analyze his activities and schedule in relation to it.
2. That we emphasize communication of his scholarly messages and concerns over the more businesslike communications.
3. That we identify faculty opinion leaders and seek their opinion and counsel on a regular basis, and before releasing our more important messages.
4. That Derek take it on himself to be the spokesman outside for scholarly concerns, such as our idea on graduate education and research.
5. That Derek make conscious use of Henry Rossovsky [sic] and others of the faculty when presenting various ideas, particularly the more controversial ones. I know he does this already with the various committees etc., but we should probably consider the communication aspects of each one individually.
For the V.P.'s:
1. That we keep the Harvard College thing in mind, and use Chase and Dan when it is a propos.
2. That we keep the scholarly concerns in mind and use opportunities for you and Hale to speak to them.
3. That we continue to head off some of Steve's [Steven S.J. Hall, vice president for administration] pronouncements which ignore these concerns.
Beyond this general approach, I think it would be useful for you and me and anyone else you think would be helpful to talk about some more specific actions, particularly with regard to Derek. Could we, for instance, set up a little homework system for Liz [Keul, President Bok's personal secretary] where he would routinely send a short note to faculty members when they do something of note or distinction? Could we take empty lunch hours and get him at the long table at the Faculty Club, perhaps with one of the v.p.s? are there special faculty occasions where he could do a drop by and show the flag? Would it make sense for Derek or his v.p.s to drop in on departmental meetings from time to time for the announced intention only of getting to understand the problems better? Should any of our departments be consulting more regularly with parts of the faculty? Is it possible to make random phone calls from time to time to various faculty members just to find out what's on their mind.
I realize this could be a full time job for Derek. I also know he has all those other problems to deal with. But may be with a little planning and use of a small amount of time, we could really have some impact on relations with the faculty.
And, as I said before, I think that rapport is important to the accomplishment of his goals.