Belfer the Center


Speeches by Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R--Tenn.) and President Bok and music provided by the Harvard Band will celebrate today the dedication of the Kennedy School's new $7 million Belfer Center for Public Management.

Nine-hundred people are expected to attend the 11 a.m. ceremonies, according to organizer Bayley F. Mason '51, Associate Dean for Alumni Affairs and Development.

The five-story center, on the corner of Eliot and John F. Kennedy Streets, features the plush, 175-seat Harry Starr Auditorium, the 80-seat Edwin H. Land Hall, the Alexander Graham Bell Hall, and the Belfer Center's version of the ARCO Forum, dubbed "Town Hall".

All week workmen have been putting final touches on the building, which will expand the K-School's facilities by almost a half.

The Belfer Center will house eight executive education programs, three research centers, and several administrative offices.

Footing more than half of the bill for the Center are three major donors: principal donor Robert A. Belfer, president of the Belco Petroleum Corporation, Washington attorney Frank A. Weil '53; and the Kresge Foundation.

"Some people say that education is better when everyone is in sack cloths and ashes. That's fine when you are reading Plato by yourself," says Mason. "But you can't teach in facilities that are not up to speed...You can't get 50 students to interact well without good facilities."


One reason the Belfer Center was built was the rapid growth of the Kennedy School.

"The Kennedy School has been the only growth industry at Harvard," Mason stated. "We had to have new space right away."

In the past five years, enrollment has risen from 275 students to more than 600, the number of faculty has doubled, and participation in the "Executive Program" has quadrupled, according to Mason.

Although the total number of degree students and faculty has recently leveled off, Mason points out that the K-School has struggled to meet the existing demand for space. The K-School had been forced to rent space along Mt. Auburn Street and elsewhere.

"You can't have a research center with half your center working above a shoe store on Mt. Auburn Street and the other half in the Signet Building," Mason said. For example, the Energy and Environmental Policy Center, which move to the Belfer along with the Center for Business and Government and the newly founded Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy, had satellite offices across from the post office.


Two floors are also given over to what officials call the K-School's fastest growing component, the Executive Research Programs.

These seminars, one week to three months long, will this year train more than 500 executives from all levels of government and the private sector, up from 400 last year.

These programs serve two very important functions for the K-School, according to Assistant Dean and Director of Executive Training and Program Development Peter B. Zimmerman '68. They help to educate the faculty and they provide an avenue for putting into practice what is taught at the school.

"We have a lot to learn from these people," Zimmerman said. "They are a powerful influence in telling us what the real world is like."

Furthermore, Zimmerman stated, "We hope to influence the norms and behaviors of things out there. These are the right people to be teaching if we are serious about affecting government."

The increased role of the executive research programs represents a sea change from analysis to management at the Kennedy School. It is no accident that "all of the activities [at the Belfer Center] fundamentally relate to issues around which public managers work," Zimmerman said.

"Over the last several years public management has become a central focus of the Kennedy School," Zimmerman said, "The number of people in research and in public management [at the K-School] is certainly greater than it was six or seven years-ago," he added.

"In an open letter released yesterday, Dean Graham T. Allison Jr. '62 Maled, "The central issue on the intellectual agenda of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government is Public Management."

"With the dedication of the new Belfer Center, Harvard's School of Government takes a major step toward enlarging the inheritance from experience available to public managers as they face society's greatest challenges," he concluded.

Still Spatial Problems

But the Belfer Center has not been the answer to everyone's dreams at the K-School.

Librarians continue to face a space crunch, according to a member of the library staff who asked not to identified. The registrar's office and the food service, Soupcon, apparently took away needed storage space from the library.

"The library staff in general feels we have gotten second shrift. We are put under pressure to keep growing, but given no place to put the stuff," said the staffer. "They have no real concept that the library is a growing thing."

The Institute of Politics (IOP) has also lost two offices in what is now the passage between the old and new wings. But IOP financial assistant Mary McTigue said this week, "There is not a general feeling that we have been cheated."

"Not a lot of room for us to expand," McTigue added, "but we are not in need for more."

Build More

With the Belfer Center built, attention is now focusing on a Harvard-owned crater behind the K-School which may be used for additional office space, though it is currently a matter of debate just whose offices will be moving in.

"We will surely gobble up some of that new building when it's built," said a K-School administrator who wished to remain anonymous.