Hustling to Make a Name At the K-School

The University's Rising Star

The Gods of Bureaucracy, perched on their Olympian mount of red brick and glass, are smiling these days: the green nectar of endowment booty and warming ambrosia of national attention have made their second year in the new Kennedy School of Government both successful and satisfying. And despite the administration's insistence that the school is entering a period of reevaluation and decelerated expansion, the mere mortal cannot help be awed by the ambitious plans for future growth. In fact, the maturation of the school is not only on the mortal's mind, but it dominates the conversation of the insiders as well. Ira A. Jackson '70, associate dean of the K-School, puts it this way: "We are switching from overdrive into third or fourth gear." But they must be doing it in a Mazerati--old programs are still growing and new ones are in the works.

More than 400 students are enrolled in programs which handled fewer than 150 in 1976; a faculty of 20 has grown to 50. On July 1 the City and Regional Planning Program (CRP), now at the Graduate School of Design (GSD), officially brings its troupe of 240 policy makers-to-be and 17 professors to the corner of Boylston and Memorial Drive. The K-School's network of specialized research centers relentlessly churn out remedies for the nation's ills, and more research groups are planned for the future. The program of practitioner-training seminars, perhaps the school's favorite son among all of its prodigies, is also hitting the growth spurt of the Wonderbread years. In particular, the Senior Executive Fellows program (SEF) slotted for next fall, has many a K-School coordinator gleefully scheduling batteries of seminars and luncheons.

The plans for SEF illustrate the major philosophical development of the academic year, says Graham T. Allison '62, dean of the K-School; leaders at the school have reached a clear consensus that more attention must be given to public management, both in graduate programs and through endeavors such as SEF. Jackson explains frankly, "We now recognize that our principal weakness is in public management and that our principal requirement is to train people to be good government managers."

SEF will train 50 members of the federal government's newly created Senior Executive Service, a corps of 8000 super civil servants plucked from the swamp of Washington bureaucracy by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. For 13 weeks Laurence E. Lynn Jr., professor of public policy and director of the Public Policy Graduate Program, and Hale Champion, the K-School's new executive dean, will reveal to their charges the long-forgotten charms of the balanced budget and efficient administration. In just a few weeks the K-School will begin its fifth summer of three-week executive programs for officials on the state and local level as well as those in the federal government. According to Allison and his colleagues, such programs give the scholars an opportunity to test their theories immediately; their students return to state houses and public agencies across the country, not to dormitory rooms.

Allison is quick to add that the new concentration on public management entails academic research and teaching as well as practical training. In particular, the Energy and Environmental Policy Center, sparked by the work of professors Thomas C. Schelling and William Hogan and lecturer Daniel Yergin, has emerged as a respected voice in the field of conservation and in the world-wide competition for petroleum. Expansion doesn't stop there--Allison proudly details the plans for study groups on health policy and management and relations between government and business management. Funds for these projects are still forthcoming, but no one seems very worried. "We already have the intellectual horsepower," says Jackson, adding that at least the Health Policy program will commence in September.

The year's single biggest piece of news, and certainly the most unnerving for the K-School masterminds, was President Bok's invitation to the CRP to move in with Allison and his extended family at the K-School. Admittedly flustered by the prospect of over 250 new boarders, the K-School dean conceded several months ago, "At first blush, our reaction was, 'Look, we're full up. We don't need this.'" However, between the time Bok suggested the transfer in November and his formal announcement in February, both Allison and his counterpart at the GSD, Gerald M. McCue, had come to accept enthusiastically the President's proposition. Philosophically, all participants in the operation now agree that the activities of CRP had grown to resemble those of the K-School more than those of the GSD. Moreover, the move will allow McCue to refocus his programs on more traditional physical planning and will give the neophyte architects in Gund Hall more badly needed studio space.

Allison promises to emerge from the administrative confusion of the transfer with not only a practical means of integrating CRP into the K-School's two graduate degree programs but also with a reevaluation and possible adjustment of his institution's efforts to teach public policy. "For ten years we have been dealing specifically with public policy. It's a perfect time to step back and see just what we have accomplished and how we might go about it better," he explains. Faculty committees have for several months been examining this problem and will submit their findings to Allison in the next two weeks.

Housing for the growing K-School clan will require completion of $6.25 million fund drive now underway. If the money is raised by January 1, construction of a new wing will begin on schedule with late 1982 as the goal for completion. The addition, an annex which will extend toward the Square and hook left along Eliot St., will have room for several of the new research groups, the SEF program, and some of the activities of the Institute of Politics. "We know where the money is out there; we know which bushes to look under. It's just a matter of getting out and looking," says Jackson.

Meanwhile, K-School fund raisers, led by new associative dean for resources, Bayley F. Mason '51, have not failed to maintain the traditionally successful search for endowment funds. The creation of the Baker and Weatherhead chairs, at $3 million apiece, two of the six professorships the K-School will devote specifically to public management, highlighted an eventful year of financial Easter egg hunting.

With all of this activity, Allison's main fear is that the school will tear itself apart by racing in too many directions at once. "We must maintain a center of gravity, our core concerns in teaching, research and executive programs," he says, adding that "There are so many problems in government and management and so many people out there who want us to address them that we end up having to turn them down very often." Allison recalls a governor who was so impressed with the K-School's executive training programs that he wanted to charter a special one, just for his state's employees. "It would be nice if we could accomodate everyone, but we simply can't keep up with the demand," says Allison.

The K-School can afford a collective smug grin. Sought out for its academic and training resources and frequently in the headlines as a forum for political events, it is one of Harvard's flashiest showpieces. Many observers wonder where the school derives its near-frantic desire for expansion and improvement. Who sets the pace of the Kennedy School? What keeps Allison and Co. hustling?

One answer is the myriad of governmental challenges facing the nation today. But by listening to administrators and professors and reading their self-evaluative pieces in the glossy K-School Bulletin, it is clear there exists another motivation: the K-School is still concerned about proving itself as an institution worthy of the respect reserved for Harvard's ancient graduate programs in areas such as medicine, law and business. The one quote repeated religiously in promotional literature and even in conversation in the cheery Forum only confirms this combination of healthy envy and overwhelming ambition: "Our aim is to become in this generation a Harvard Business School for government." Andrew Heiskell, Time, Inc. heavyweight and the newest member of the Harvard Corporation, coined the over-used phrase, but the K-School leadership has taken it to heart with a fervent earnestness. The blueprints for success lie only a few hundred yards away on the other side of the Charles, and the K-Schoolers are determined to follow their model as soon, and as well, as possible.