The departure of Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 is a tremendous loss to the students and staff of Harvard College, and the manner of his leaving is unsettling and distressing (Editorial, “Lewis Deserved Better”, March 18).
Everyone knows that Dean Lewis is completely dedicated to the interests of undergraduates, and that he has tirelessly sought to improve all aspects of their lives, from academics to athletics to the arts. What everyone doesn’t know is the extent to which he is admired by his staff, the deans, masters, senior tutors and freshman deans who have worked with him on everything from academic policy to mental health crises in the houses.
When a superbly competent, dedicated, well-liked dean is so summarily let go, because he has clear ideas about the well-being of the whole student, and perhaps because he is a leader as well as an administrator, it bodes ill for our university. Whatever process of reorganization of undergraduate education is now developed, it will have to be carried forward by a College staff disillusioned and unhappy about the sudden departure of the chief who brought them on board, and whose sense of mission about the College has always been contagious. Harvard College is a poorer place for Dean Lewis’ departure, and doubly poor for the way in which that departure has been brought about.
March 18, 2003
The writer is the Allston Burr Senior Tutor of Mather House.