Money Matters Cause Delay in Final Resolution

Linda S. Wilson was supposed to be Radcliffe College's final president.

A final merger deal between Harvard and Radcliffe was expected to take 30 to 60 days, Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine said when the two institutions announced their intention to unite in April. At that time, he claimed only "purely technical" details remained before he would welcome the new Radcliffe Institute to the University.

But while no ideological rifts emerged over the summer, sources say continuing conflict about the deal's details stretched final negotiations to four months, as lawyers and administrators spent weeks pouring over financial statements and preparing the agreement's language.

And so when Wilson stepped down July 1, Schlesinger Library Director Mary Maples Dunn assumed a title she never expected when she agreed to be the Institute's first dean: Radcliffe College President.

Administrators now say Rudenstine's initial estimate was overly optimistic.

Legalities aside, the final deal was delayed even into July by a series of financial skirmishes, such as who would pay for repairs to the leaking Byerly Hall roof.

"In the end [President Neil L. Rudenstine] said, 'We're not going to nickel and dime this,'" says one source, noting the University ultimately agreed to cover the cost. "He made it clear that the new Institute would not suffer financially on any of the disputed issues."

And administrators had to wade through a series of murky matters about undergraduate and fundraising jurisdiction, left unresolved last spring.

For instance, Harvard has been prohibited from soliciting donations from alumnae who graduated before 1976. While some Harvard officials had hoped the ban would be lifted with the full merger, they agreed over the summer to continue to treat pre-'76 alumnae with a hands-off policy.