Eight Years Later, Smooth Sailing for Dean Kidd

Kidd streamlines office, pushes communication in first term

Associate Dean of the College Judith H. Kidd still has cardboard boxes on the floor of her University Hall office.

They contain the vestiges of her time as director of Phillips Brooks House (PBH).

And while visible, they’re pushed aside, ignored in favor of the overflowing tray of student affairs business, which sits on her desk. She only gets to the contents of that tray, she says, after business hours, when meetings have ended and most students have headed to dinner.

Despite the workload, she speaks enthusiastically of her new job. She settled in quickly and made rapid strides to accomplish her goals.

But those cardboard boxes probably contain memories of a very different beginning, when she arrived at Harvard and PBH more than eight years ago.

Her first year as associate dean seems tame compared with the volatile situation Kidd originally encountered, when she was installed as head of public service in 1996.

Seven and a half years later, Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 named Kidd an acting associate dean after a dramatic restructuring of the College bureaucracy last spring. In her temporary post, she remained director of PBH.

Then Kidd became a full-time dean in November, ceding the responsibilities of her initial Harvard position.

Finally secure in her office in University Hall, Kidd has streamlined and clarified the procedures of the student activities office and looks ahead to institutionalizing change in the extracurricular system.

“This is the right job at the right time,” Kidd says. “I’m not going anywhere.”

A PERILOUS START

Kidd first came to Boston in the 1980s to take a job at Boston University. After a stint as manager of corporate contribution at Bank of Boston, she continued meshing business and public service. In 1992, she became vice president of development, and later acting co-chief operating officer, at a non-profit called CityYear. The organization seeks to bring together diverse groups of young adults for community service projects.

While there, Kidd established the fundraising department of the non-profit. “Judith was a consummate professional,” says Charlie Rose, vice president and dean of CityYear. “She really helped CityYear go from a start-up to building an institution.”

Kidd presided over an increase in the CityYear budget from $2.47 million to $14.55 million, due in part to a $7-million grant from the brand-new government Americorps program.

But as CityYear grew, its record-keeping practices lagged far behind. In 1995, accounting discrepancies led the government to recall $250,000 it had granted the program.

“The bookkeeping was totally inadequate,” says Kidd, who had to re-document all of the hours paid for by government funds.