When officials began proofreading the course catalogue last summer, one error may have received more than just a cursory glance from an editor's eye. Amidst numerous misspellings and addenda. Paul C. Martin '51, dean of the Division of Applied Sciences, received an unexpected promotion--to dean of the Faulty of Arts and Sciences.
While the mistake--which was quickly corrected--would usually provoke only passing interest, it took on more humorous overtones this year. Many people on campus, it turns out, actually think the title change may turn out to be accurate.
"He's got 'H' tattooed on his chest in invisible ink," says one Harvard professor, echoing the conventional wisdom about Martin's institutional loyalty. The physicist not only attended the College, but also got his Ph.D. here, and has been at Harvard almost his entire academic life
While he was highly regarded in the field for his work in--among other topics--nuclear, solid state, and low temperature physics, the 52-year-old Martin has drifted in recent years to the administrative side of things, becoming one of the campus's principal administrators for science policy.
Not only has Martin spent the past six years handling the affairs of a division whose more than 40 professors might easily be part of seven or eight departments at another school, he's also effectively become what one official calls Rosovsky's "dean for the sciences."
It is Martin who has carried the ball on most of the science-related questions that have affected the Faculty at large in recent years--from helping iron out its policy on the thorny issues of technology transfer to developing strategies for dealing with the computer age.
Martin, moreover, has played an unusually active role in non-science issues as well. He chaired an influential Faculty committee that examined the status of Harvard concentrations in the 1970s, as well as serving as a lieutenant to Rosovsky in developing the Core.
In general, friends and colleagues describe Martin as an energetic and able administrator who is intensely interested in the nuts and bolts of his job, even down to the tiniest details of how the office word processor works.
He is also said to hold extremely strong views, and to have pushed the division in certain directions, such as hiring more computer scientists. One professor says some scientists in the division have been unhappy over this emphasis at the expense of other fields--such as certain branches of engineering--but adds, "These are the kinds of decisions a dean has to make."
The one factor that people who know Martin believe may hold him back is a lack of the superficial smoothness and diplomacy they say must characterize the dean.
"Paul does not suffer fools too easily or for too long, and he shouts at them," says one professor in the division.
Even one of Martin's staunch admirers, Peter s. McKinney, associate dean of the division, says his boss's straightforward approach has been both "a blessing and a curse."
"It sometimes ruffles a lot of feathers," he explains. "He's not smooth--like when you compare him to Rosovsky."