Radcliffe To Retake College Spaces
Admissions, dance to move
Student theater groups, however, will be allowed to continue using a refurbished Agassiz Theatre—averting exacerbating the shortage of on-campus theater space.
As a result of Radcliffe’s decision, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is beginning to plan for the relocation of admissions office and the roughly 600 students who are involved in dance.
Radcliffe plans to use the space to house the offices for their newly reinvigorated fellows program.
The impending displacement stems from the October 1999 merger agreement between Harvard and Radcliffe.
The agreement guaranteed that buildings owned by Radcliffe College would be “assigned to the benefit of Radcliffe Institute,” but added that Harvard could retain occupancy of Byerly Hall and the Rieman Center until 2005 and 2006, respectively.
Although Radcliffe’s decision to invoke its right to reclaim the property does not come as a surprise, Faculty officials said finding suitable space for the displaced organizations remains a daunting task.
FAS spokesperson Robert Mitchell said that administrators are working toward acquiring adequate locations for both the admissions office and student dance organizations. However, he declined to comment on specific locations under consideration.
FAS Associate Dean for Physical Resources David A. Zewinski ’76, who is primarily responsible for finding new locations, declined to comment yesterday.
While both Director of Admissions Marlyn McGrath Lewis ’70-’73 and Office for the Arts Director (OFA) Jack Megan said they are confident that adequate space can be found, they acknowledge it will not be an easy task.
“We don’t know what the plan is,” McGrath Lewis said. “I am quite sure that there is not a plan yet. We are on a list of question marks.”
McGrath Lewis said her office has presented FAS with a number of considerations in finding a potential space.
“Attractiveness, pleasantness and agreeableness are all considerations,” she said. “We are in the business of recruiting the best in the world, and we need to put our best foot forward.”
McGrath Lewis said Hemenway Gymnasium, which was considered as a potential relocation site before Byerly Hall’s lease was extended by Radcliffe in 2000, may again be a possibility.
“[Hemenway Gymnasium] could be made very agreeable, but I don’t know if it’s still on the list,” she said.
The dance programs have also started considering their options.
Elizabeth Bergmann, director of the dance program for the OFA, said she has visited four possible sites to house the dance program. None, however, currently fit the dance community’s needs.
“Any space we take over will require renovations,” Bergmann said. “There is no way around that.”
Radcliffe’s need for additional space precipitated its decision not to renew FAS’ leases on the two buildings.
After an extensive physical planning process undertaken by Radcliffe last fall, a plan was developed to maximize the institute’s space.
“Their recommendation, which we heartily endorse, is to make Radcliffe Yard the center of all intellectual activity,” said Radcliffe Executive Dean Louise Richardson.
“Our plan is to house the [Radcliffe Institute] fellows in Byerly, and Rieman Center will be used as a meeting center,” Richardson said. “We want to bring the physical space in line with the intellectual space.”
Richardson, though, said she is keenly aware that Radcliffe’s advancement comes at a financial cost to both Radcliffe—because of revenue lost as a result of the termination of FAS’ leases and planned renovations—and to FAS.
But she added the academic benefits far outweigh the financial burden.
“We are not a business; we are an academic institute, and that was the basis of our decision,” Richardson said.
The move is also likely to come at a cost for College students.
Shelby Braxton-Brooks ’03, an active participant in Harvard’s dance program, is concerned about the implications of the relocation.
“Since my freshman year, dance has made such big strides,” Braxton-Brooks said. “If the administration doesn’t find suitable space, a lot of progress may be halted or stunted completely.”
Bergmann said she does not believe that the dance program is in jeopardy, but said that she shares Braxton-Brooks’ reluctance to leave the Rieman Center.
“I am sorry to see it go because it is such a perfect space for dance,” Bergmann said. “I think it’s the best place in town, and I hope that it can be replaced.”