Council Committee To Advise FAS Dean Search
Council President Sujean S. Lee ’03 said she will choose the committee’s chair on Wednesday. The other six members of the committee—no more than three of whom may be council members—will be selected by the council’s Student Affairs Committee Thursday.
“This is an excellent opportunity for student input into a decision that will effect the undergraduate community for years to come,” Lee said.
The bill to create the new committee, which the council passed by acclamation, came less than two weeks after Summers sent a letter to Lee and Student Affairs Committee chair Rohit Chopra ’04 expressing his willingness to meet with a council-appointed student committee.
“I see the UC-sponsored group as one among a number of channels for soliciting student input into the search process,” Summers wrote to Lee and Chopra in his letter, dated March 27.
Summers wrote that he would allow the council leeway in its selection criteria and in setting the timetable for presenting him with the committee’s conclusions.
Chopra and Lee said they pushed for student involvement in the search process because of the power that the dean of the Faculty wields over undergraduate life.
Whoever is chosen to replace outgoing Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles will appoint a successor to Dean of Undergraduate Education Susan G. Pedersen ’81-’82, who will also step down this year.
Chopra said Summers’ approval of the committee is particularly significant because Harvard has been more reluctant than many other colleges to give students a formal voice in searches for high-ranking officials.
At Princeton, two students sat on the university’s presidential search committee last year.
Summers’ agreement to consider the opinion of a student committee is yet another example of his willingness to work with the council. He has already met with them twice since he became president last year and is co-sponsoring the council’s annual Springfest this month.
Summers has also set up an e-mail account, email@example.com, for students and other community members to submit their thoughts on the search for the next dean of the Faculty.
In other business, the council narrowly voted to launch a trial period for the long-awaited “U-Card,” which can be used to purchase items from around Harvard Square at a discount, over the objections of members who felt the card would not be popular.
A similar discount card has not caught on in Quincy House, according to council member Brian R. Smith ’02.
“There’s been no demand for the Q-Card, so why should there be any for the U-Card?” Smith said.
But council member Zachary L. Bercu ’04 called the project “an experiment” that “could get freshmen excited” about going out and thereby build social life around the Square.
The council ultimately agreed, by a 17-13 margin, to sell 500 cards for $3 each next fall.
Before the council tackled the dean search and the U-Card, though, a contentious debate over funding for student groups derailed the meeting for an hour.
Council member P.K. Agarwalla ’03, who is treasurer of the Harvard Republican Club, requested an increase to the $400 allotted to the club for its planned “Conservative Guide to Harvard,” one of its publications.
After an hour of debate, during which council veteran Justin A. Barkley ’02 called the grant allottment process “flippant” and “ambiguous” and members of the Finance Committee fiercely defended their procedures, Agarwalla’s motion failed.
The debate—which Lee at one point declared “out of order”—departed in form from the council’s usual proceedings this year, which have largely been free of controversy.
“You could call it the return of debate to the UC,” Smith said.
—Staff writer William M. Rasmussen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.