In an effort to keep track of the ongoing conflict between Dean Howard Hiatt and some School of Public Health faculty, the school's Alumni Council plans to discuss the issue during a mid-November meeting in Boston, Dr. Paul Torrens, president of the Alumni Council, said yesterday.
Torrens and the 14 other members of the Alumni Council will meet monthly in Boston until the conflict is resolved, Torrens said. He added that the council may urge President Bok or Hiatt to take specific action if reconciliation is not forthcoming.
"We're constantly monitoring the situation through several dozen contacts throughout the university and the city. I personally am in communication with 36 monitoring points," Torrens said.
Torrens said that the Alumni Council is not attempting to stir up turmoil, but is "trying to keep track of the situation at the school of health."
The Alumni Council will not support a contemplated $42 million fund drive for the school until Hiatt and the dissident faculty come to "concrete, just terms," Torrens said.
The Alumni Council first became involved in what Torrens has called "guerilla warfare" between Hiatt and his faculty when Torrens, acting on behalf of the Alumni Council, wrote Bok a letter criticizing his "chiding, chastising, and frankly, belittling treatment of the faculty."
Torren's letter referred to an Aug. 24 statement by Bok in which Bok declared his "full and renewed support" for Hiatt against the criticisms of 17 senior faculty members of the School of Public Health who petitioned Bok for Hiatt's resignation.
The dissident faculty members have accused Hiatt of neglecting faculty input into schoolwide policy decisions and general neglect of "the collegial process."
"The faculty and the dean must come to terms if any fund drive is to be successful. Otherwise we're in an embarrassing position when we solicit contributions and contributors ask us what's going on," Torrens said.
Hiatt's proposed fund drive has been in the works for about a year. Torrens said that Hiatt asked the Alumni Council to back his efforts.
"It's vague," Torrens said of the proposed fund drive. "We aren't clear on how the money will fit into the future blueprint of the school; we need to know where the school's going and what the money's for," he said.
When he spoke at the American Public Health Convention in Los Angeles on Oct. 16, Torrens said that the Alumni Council would meet regularly in Boston despite assurances from Hiatt that he was already making progress towards resolving the malaise.
Hiatt would not comment yesterday on the Alumni Council's decision.
However, one faculty member, who wished to remain unidentified, said yesterday "I laud the Alumni Council's decision. Someone has to do something, and brown paper bag luncheons are not enough.