Director of the Office of Human Resources Diane Patrick said yesterday she will leave Harvard for Washington D.C. if her husband, Deval Patrick, is confirmed as assistant attorney general for civil rights.
Patrick's departure would be devastating to an office which, prior to her tenure, has seen six directors in six years.
Patrick, whose husband's appointment was announced by President Clinton last month, said she could not officially announce her departure until he is confirmed. But she added that she is optimistic about her husband's prospects.
"My husband's confirmation hearings have not yet happened but we are optimistic that he will [be successful]," Patrick said.
Although Deval Patrick would be needed in Washington, D.C. as soon as he is confirmed, Patrick said she will remain in the Office of Human Resources as long as possible to ensure a smooth transition for her replacement.
Patrick's office has authority over many matters of concern to Harvard's employees, including labor relations, training and the administration of benefits.
Since her appointment to the Office of Human Resources in June of 1992, Patrick has gained the respect of Harvard administrators and some workers as a competent manager who brought direction to a historically listless office.
Before Patrick became director, the office had been something of a black sheep in Harvard's central administration. In fact, control over the office was shuffled from the auspices of the vice president for finance to that for administration in May 1991.
Vice President for Administration Sally H. Zeckhauser, who hired Patrick, yesterday said the director's departure would be a loss to the office, but a boon for the Patricks.
"What's very good news for the country is bad news for Harvard," Zeckhauser said.
But Zeckhauser emphasized that Patrick will remain in Cambridge until the spring semester ends in order to smooth the transition and to allow overlap withher successor.
"She'll be here to the end of the academicyear," Zeckhauser said.
Zeckhauser said Karen Wilcox, a consultant withthe Boston firm of Isaacson Miller, will behelping her to coordinate the search for Patrick'splacement. Wilcox also helped with the search forPatrick in 1992, Zeckhauser said.
In a phone interview yesterday Wilcox confirmedher involvement with the search, but said she hadnot yet met with Zeckhauser to discuss details forhiring.
A job posting in Friday's Gazette, which wasthe administration's only notice to the Harvardcommunity of Patrick's probable departure, listed"a sense of humor" and "tenacity" as "essential"for the job.
Zeckhauser said the search will targetindividuals both in Harvard and on a nationallevel who combine management and planning skills.
"In my mind, we're looking for a strong managerwith a sense of strategy, knowledge of an academicenvironment and a decentralized background,"Zeckhauser said.
Patrick said she will assist Zeckhauser in whatis bound to be a difficult transition for theoffice.
"I think change and transition is alwayshard," Patrick said. "With the knowledge thatthere has been a lot of change in the history ofthis department, Sally Zeckhauser and I areworking together to make a smooth transition."
Both Patrick and Zeckhauser said a smoothtransition is essential to the success of projectssuch as the controversial Benefits Review TaskForce, of which Patrick is a member.
"There are lots of projects ongoing," Patricksaid. "We hope to make sure that they don't go offtrack."
Patrick said she has no specific plans for ajob transition in D.C. Her experience as a privateattorney and as University attorney in the generalcounsel's office at Harvard will help her land anew job.
"I have not taken any steps to look foralternative employment in Washington," Patricksaid, "but I have lots of possibilities with mybackground as a lawyer.