If someone ever gets around to publishing the secret tapes of President Derek Bok's office conversations, they will probably confirm what everybody has always thought; that Bok is a boring man.
Maybe it's not his fault. He's basically a friendly, liberal guy who in his four years here hasn't yet made his mark, but there hasn't been all that much for him to do.
Bok remains a mystery to most undergraduates. It's not surprising--you usually won't find him next to you in the Freshman Union asking questions about the courses you're taking. That can be expected--Bok has to spend too much time beating the bushes for money, and fighting off the feds (who he claims interfere too frequently with the running of his university) to throw around a couple of frisbees in the Yard.
But just because the president isn't the life of the University doesn't mean the rest of the administration's cast of characters sit in a quiet corner and shun publicity.
For instance there is the case of Radcliffe President Matina Horner, a veritable woman without a country. Ever since they began pulling the undergraduate rug from underneath her through a series of Harvard-Radcliffe mergings that has reduced Radcliffe to a couple of letterheads and a post office box, Horner's day-to-day role in the University has been a puzzlement. What ever it is, she plays it with gusto, and she is one of the more accessible administrators in the University.
Then there is Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Henry Rosovsky. He'll probably have more say over the next four years of your life than any other administrator. Master of the Faculty and keeper of its budget in a school where teachers call most of the shots, Rosovsky must be brilliant and a politician at the same time. He fulfills both roles well and has the esteem of even the most jealous colleagues. This year will definitely be Rosovsky's most publicized, with Doris Kearns coming up for tenure and his all-important educational task forces due to start reporting their findings.
But the center of the excitement around here are Bok's vice presidents, who literally manage the University. You can say one thing about these bureaucrats--they are anything but faceless.
Take Stephen S.J. Hall, vice president for administration. He is someone who is in a position usually blessed with total anonymity in a university--yet at Harvard, Hall just can't keep himself out of the news. He is front-page copy almost weekly. Whether mis-ordering storm windows, authorizing bursar cards that would require palm prints to cut down on the number of people passing them around, or airing dirty linen in the faces of other administrators, Hall is constantly at center stage--he's the Mrs. Malaprop of bureaucrats.
Then there is Charles U. Daly, vice president for government and community affairs, part-time Kennedy confidant and full-time Jimmy Breslin intimate. He's Harvard's link with chic, Bok's ear to the Congressional floor, and a possible advance man for Ted Kennedy in his 1976 presidential bid. Daly has been pre-occupied of late with trying to keep the Kennedy Library, a ten-year-old proposed project, in Cambridge. Whether he succeeds or not, he has obscured both John F. and Jackie Kennedy (quite a task) as the central figure in the library tug of war.
Harvard's other power broker, Hale Champion, financial vice president, is like one of those wealthy industrialists who's always doing things but manages to keep his name out of the papers. If it's big and ambitious at Harvard, Champion is usually behind it.
The administrators who you are much more likely to come in personal contact with, though, are those in the Freshmen Dean's Office, who are responsible for choosing your roommates, scheduling freshman week, and for making the year a little bit easier. You may also meet the Dean of the College, Charles P. Whitlock, the man in the hierarchy who oils the everyday creaks of the school.
It is difficult to conceive of the power that could be wielded by somebody with the hazy title of general counsel to the University. But Daniel Steiner '54 (one of the few Harvard men in Bok's administration--Bok didn't go here either, graduating from Stanford) stays on top of so many issues around Harvard, from labor troubles to lawsuits, that his expertise makes him valuable to all the other administrators. He's the key cog, but much more of a manager than a player.
There are a couple of other important people at Harvard, but for the most part they are either ahead or behind you. Fred Jewett, dean of admissions, has already exhausted his say on your stay at Harvard, and Dr. Chase N. Peterson '52, vice president for alumni affairs and development and Harvard's top fundraiser, leave you alone until you graduate.
Above all of this, exercising much more than just pro forma power, is the Corporation, a group of men who have made it in the upper circles of the proper Eastern establishment. Every week they meet and decide the course of the University. It could be a big job, except the course never changes--it's strictly a matter of keeping you on the wheel and not letting go.
For most of you the next four years will be marked by a profound lack of interest in the administration. But sometime or another you may have a gripe with the University. Whether the problem be an unjustified tuition raise or a simple room change, if it involves bending the rules then you'll probably wind up in Massachusetts or University Halls, the homes of the Harvard administration. And when you get inside it pays to know who has the power to bend them.
The Corporation's never changes-it's strictly a matter of keeping you on the wheel and not letting go.
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