FAS Panel Reviews Plans for Gulf Site
A three-member committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is currently investigating possible academic uses for the Quincy Square site formerly occupied by the Gulf station.
The faculty panel plans to review several alternatives to the proposed hotel that Harvard announced last spring. The group will report their recommendations to Dean of the Faculty A. Michael Spence, members said yesterday.
They added that the committee, which was formed in response to the faculty's December request that the University "reconsider" plans to erect the five-story hotel on the site, has already met several times.
The University's plans for the site have come under sharp criticism in recent months, as several faculty members argued that the lot's proximity to Widener and Lamont libraries makes it an ideal location for a new library or office building.
Last week, President Bok stressed that no plans for the site would be final until negotiations with FAS are complete.
At December's faculty meeting, Coolidge Professor of History David S. Landes--now the head of the advisory committee--argued that the now-vacant lot was "FAS turf". The debate over the proposed hotel, he said, was indicative of the University's reluctance to seek the input of its professors in real estate decisions.
Several faculty members remained skeptical yesterday about Harvard's need for a new hotel.
"No member of the faculty with whom I have spoken has heard a single compelling reason or any series of reasons why a hotel should be built there," said Professor of English and Comparative Literature James Engell, who co-sponsored the faculty's December resolution with Landes.
On the other hand, the Quincy Square lot could alleviate the severe crunch in FAS office space, Engell said, adding that the faculty's limited physical resources interfere with efforts to recruit new scholars. Many departments, he said, cannot provide offices for junior professors.
"They might be able to get a locked carrel if they're lucky, but they certainly can't get a study," Engell said.
Landes was not available yesterday for comment.
Psychology Department Chair
Brendan A. Maher and Professor of GovernmentRoderick MacFarquhar, the committee's other twomembers, confirmed that the group had already metseveral times, but declined to comment on thenature of the plans under discussion.
If the University decides to abandon the hotelproject, it is unclear whether FAS will even havethe financial resources to develop the siteitself.
Under the "every tub on its own bottom"principle, the various faculties of the Universityare financially self-sufficient. As a result,building a new facility might require cutting backon existing programs, said FAS Associate DeanRobert A. Rotner.
"In theory, there are resources that could betaken away from something else if the faculty feltthat developing that site was a higher priority,"said Rotner. "We have a variety of differentpossible ways to deal with all our space problems,but it could take a good deal more time and moneythan we have right now."
But Engell said he has not heard anyone saythat FAS lacks the resources to develop the site.
"I've yet to hear someone say 'well financiallyit's impossible' or `financially it's a terribleidea,'" said Engell