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Monro Defends College In Peace Corps Effort

By Michael S. Lottman

Dean Monro Yesterday defended Harvard against criticisms lodged by a Peace Corps official against the big universities involved in the Corps training program.

Lawrence Dennis, associate director of the Corps, said in a recent New York Times article that the Peace Corps has received the best cooperation from the smaller colleges, not from big universities holding large federal research contracts.

"At the beginning, some of the faculties saw the Peace Corps as just another subject for research projects and some administrators saw the Peace Corps as just another source of federal grant funds," Dennis charged.

Monro said yesterday he "saw no reason to think the criticisms were directed at Harvard. The Peace Corps people are quite free to tell us directly, and we would expect them to."

In the Times article, Dennis praised the work of several small institutions, notably Northern Illinois University and Texas Western College, because they "turned themselves inside out for the Peace Corps; they're not blase." He would not identify the larger institutions he considered less enthusiastic.

"We've had professors get up and deliver the standard lecture on the Stamp Act, as thought it had anything to do with the volunteer's needs," Dennis said of the quality of training at some of the bigger schools. "The volunteers won't take any baloney. We're trying to get our training away from the standard lecture approach."

"This clearly couldn't mean us," Monro said yesterday. "We had a quite different program. We would never feel sensitive about our program unless we heard directly from the Peace Corps.'

High Cost of Training

Dennis and other Peace Corps officials have been concerned about the high cost of the training program. The average expenditure for training has run between $900 and $1000 per volunteer, and costs have been even higher at some institutions, officials said.

"This is a fair concern for the Peace Corps to worry about," Monro said. "The Corps has an inevitable responsibility to train volunteers effectively at the least cost to the tax-payers."

Monro said he too thought the training programs last summer were expensive. But, he said, "it was important to train a lot of people in a hurry last year. The colleges put together programs in a great hurry." This "crash program" approach was naturally expensive, Monro claimed.

The Dean said he has been working with Corps officials on ways to use the college' training facilities less expensively. Among the suggestions Monro has made are programs patterned after University extension courses and ROTC operation.

Regular Summer Courses

Monro ha also suggested that the Peace Corps use regular summer school courses instead of special institutes whenever possible. The 'Peace Corps "should take full advantage of ongoing situations, instead of planting institutes at colleges," Monro said yesterday. He pointed out that most training programs, including the Harvard one, were set up with separate living quarters and separate faculties.

The Peace Corps has increased its surveillance of college-run training programs, officials said. It has put greater stress on language instruction and volunteer indoctrination.

Peace Corps officials also said in the Times article that charges for overhead tended to increase at institutions which already had major federal contracts. They cited (but not by name) colleges which charged the government for overhead costs equaling up to 50 per cent of the direct expenses. Furthermore, officials noted, several institutions have recently contended that federal grants are actually costing them money, because of the extra paperwork involved.

Little Discussion With Corps

This evidence might seem to point to Harvard, but Monro said the University charged the standard government figure for overhead, and that there was little discussion of the question with Peace Corps officials. The Bureau of the Budget in 1959-60 ruled that Harvard would be justified in asking 23.5 per cent of direct costs for indirect expenses.

Since March, 1961, 14 American colleges have trained 729 volunteers, of whom 520 are overseas. The Peace Corps hopes to have 2,000-2,500 volunteers overseas or in training by mid-1962.

The Corps' next problem, Monro said, will be to decide how much training should take place in this country, how much overseas, and how much at the jungle camp in Puerto Rico.

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