Open the Process
IT seems the Harvard Corporation will remain the oldest corporation in the Western Hemisphere, especially with all the time it takes choosing new members. Bok & Co. still haven't found a successor to Andrew Heiskell, who resigned more than a year and a half ago, and now they have to find another board member to replace Treasurer Roderick M. MacDougall '51, who died last month.
We have called repeatedly on the Corporation, Harvard's seven-man governing body, to appoint a woman or minority who is genuinely in touch with Harvard's 167,000 alumni and students. Such a choice will add a crucial viewpoint to the University, especially when it must deal with pressing issues ranging from minority faculty hiring to admission of Asian-Americans. Now, the Corporation has two empty seats it can use to bring in a woman or minority and end its existence as an all-white male committee made up of representatives from the old boy network.
WHILE the process of choosing successors must be watched carefully, it's important not to lose sight of a more significant issue: University governance. Right now, the Corporation has the sole power to choose its own members, without having to consult alumni, students or faculty. It's time the University opened up its selection process, so the Corporation "is not just a completely closed, self-reproducing committee," as Overseer Peter H. Wood '53-54 said last week.
The Corporation's ways--established when Harvard was a small college in the wilderness--need to be reformed, as they seem painfully inadequate for the modern world. The University is now a multifarious community made up not only of undergraduates and faculty, but of graduate and professional students, clerical and technical workers, and alumni. Some system must be created that can incorporate the views of all these constituencies when changes in Harvard governance occur--as in selecting new Corporation members.
THE alumni should be able to vote directly for at least one of the seats currently open. Perhaps a good first start can be made by allowing the Board of Overseers--as the voice of alumni--to vote on new Corporation candidates. Forums can also be held to measure the attitudes of the other members of the Harvard community. If the University is truly to live up to its principles, it can bring about democracy in its own backyard by opening up its governance process to the numerous group that make up Harvard.