Tension High at Faculty Meeting

Landes Initiates Debate on Relations Between Faculty and Administration

Although professors spent most of yesterday's Faculty Meeting criticizing the Corporation's decision to reject their benefits recommendation, the broader issue of Faculty administration relations weighed heavily on the minds of both professors and administrators in attendance.

Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles yesterday acknowledged that the relationship between the Faculty and the central administration had been "somewhat fractured."

And President Neil L. Rudenstine, acknowledging the tension, told the Faculty "we need ways of talking together that are different from the parliamentary procedures of this meeting."

Coolidge Professor of History and Professor of Economics David S. Landes initiated a discussion on the University administration and the soon-to-be-created Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) committee to monitor central administration finances.

Landes, mainly repeating comments he made at the February Faculty Meeting, said Harvard is in the midst of a constitutional crisis.

"There has been a major change in the governance of the University and the balance of resources," Landes said.

But, unlike in February, Landes brought his comments very much into the present, saying he has been told that the central administration's bureaucrats are unhappy with his proposals.

"A silent shift" has occurred in the past 25 years, Landes said, resulting in the proliferation of University administration.

"The central administration is in need of a drastic re-education about the nature of the University and also about their role and also about the role of students and faculty," Landes said.

When Landes first voiced his opinion that the central administration has taxed the Faculty without adequate representation or consultation, many professors distanced themselves from his remarks, and administratorscautioned that his views did not reflect those ofother members of the Faculty.

But Landes and two other professors visited theFaculty Council twice with proposals to create anFAS committee to monitor central administrationfinances.

Their moves have garnered the support of otherprofessors and Knowles' recognition.

Because the Faculty did not have to vote on theissue, it is unclear how many professors identifywith Landes's concerns.

Yesterday one of the professors who accompaniedLandes to the Faculty Council supported him.

"We have the conditions for a constitutionalcrisis in the near future," Professor of Englishand Comparative Literature James Engell told theassembled professors. "I do worry for the futureof [Harvard] if we do not take steps."

Landes' original proposal for the FAS Committeeon Resources was confrontational, according to oneFaculty Council member, but the council engineereda compromise.

McKay Professor of Applied Mathematics AnthonyG. Oettinger yesterday spoke about the need forcooperation between professors and the centraladministration.

Although Oettinger said he did not want toassociate himself with the "general tenor" ofLandes's' remarks, he said professors shouldpartly blame themselves for the current situation.

Professors had too many administrativeresponsibilities two decades ago, Oettinger said,and should be grateful that the centraladministration exists to deal with these matters.

He agreed with Landes that Rudenstine--not hissubordinates--should deal with matters of policy.

Rudenstine appeared to be listening carefullyto the professors' concerns, raising and furrowinghis eyebrows at times, and thanking them forspeaking.

The committee Knowles said he will create inthe next few weeks will be asked "to anticipate,recognize and understand matters of importance tothe Faculty and to the University early enough toallow considered and careful Faculty input tosignificant decisions," according to the proposedcharge drafted by the Faculty Council.

The dean said he hoped the new committee wouldimprove and ameliorate those tensions and wouldwork for the benefit of FAS and the University.

Landes said that decisions of policy need toresult from a cooperative effort of the variousfaculties with the president, the provost, thegoverning boards and the deans.

"They are there to help us, not to tell us,"Landes said. "The Faculty is not made up of fools.We have things to contribute."

The potential Committee on Resources will alsolikely be asked "to identify those issues,projects, proposals and trends that may affect theallocation of significant resources within the FASor between the central administration and theFAS."

Landes called the year-long controversysurrounding changes to fringe benefits, whichconsumed the bulk of the meeting, part of a largerpattern.

Landes again cited the Medical Area TotalEnergy Plant (MATEP) as an example of a centraladministration decision run amok. He said MATEPhas cost FAS $500 million.

Acknowledging that MATEP decision occurreddecades ago, Landes said he cites it because itdemonstrates a problem that still exists.

"This scenario has been reproduced on a smallerscale many times," Landes said. "The currentarrangements invite trouble."

Landes introduced two new issues at yesterday'smeeting.

"There are two parts of the centraladministration which I'm told would be mostunhappy that we might want to know more about howthings work," he said.

He cited the build-up of an internal legalapparatus--instead of outside, independent legalcounsel--as a problem.

"The function [of legal counsel] has changedfrom advice to governance," he said. "The giversof counsel have turned into givers of law."

In addition, he criticized the creation of anextensive public relations department.

"In the past, Harvard officials spoke out ascalled for," Landes said. "Now the masters of spinwant to create work for themselves."

"When Harvard officials pretend to speak forHarvard they are also speaking for us, and theyare spending our money," he said.

Landes said the committee represents a goodfirst step towards giving FAS a voice in thecentral administration's large decisions.

"I think that's going to make a great deal ofdifference," Landes said. "It will keep usinformed and keep the central administration onits toes.