Dean of the Faculty

The Dean's role has changed tremendously under Harvard's last four Presidents. What function will Bundy's successor perform?

McGeorge Bundy resigned Dean of the Faculty of Arts , he vacated a position in prominence only to the Fourteen months have now since Bundy's departure; no has been named; and as the enters its third semester a dean, the question remains,

not an unimportant question. for the University's internal past Deans of the Faculty of Sciences have exerted fully as power as the president; since resigned, internal affairs have on momentum he supplied. President Pusey and Edward S. Mason have at different times served as acting dean neither in any real sense "replaced" Bundy. In this "acting-only" capacity, for example, Meson was understandably hesitant about broad planning in educational policy--a field of obvious importance and a primary responsibility of the Dean of the Faculty.

It has also been difficult for Pusey to serve as acting dean, which he will continue to do until appointing Bundy's successor. Both Dean of Faculty and President are full time positions; the dean must moreover act as spokesman for the Faculty before Harvard's administration, a difficult task for a dean who, as president, is head of this administration.

As Faculty spokesman, the dean has a vital role in the line of communications between Faculty and administration. Because the dean controls the Faculty's budget, he plays an analogous part in the financial organization of the University. Control of the budget-deciding which projects are to be financed--is an extremely effective device for shaping educational policy.

Deans have prepared the budget since the late '20's, and always held whatever power stems from speaking for the Faculty. But interpretations put on the office in the past 40 years have varied widely, and there are no set limits on responsibility and authority for any new dean Pusey might appoint.

In the past, these limits have depended on the personal relations between dean and president and on how much attention the president devotes to the problems of the College, rather than those of the University or the University's dealings with the rest of the world. College-oriented presidents, particularly those on poor terms with a dean they have inherited and cannot unseat, have tended to restrict the dean's authority.


Some sort of dean, however, is always necessary, even if he serves mainly as a figurehead for the Faculty. Moreover, there is in any university a vast amount of administrative work which a Faculty dean could conveniently perform.

It was the growing amount of this work which led President Charles W. Eliot 1853 to talk more and more in his closing years in office of the need for a "robust" dean, rather than a spokesman-figurehead, and since that time, the problem has always been, as it is now, just how much power to give the dean.

The last man Eliot appointed to the deanship was LeBarron Briggs, one of the most capable and respected men in the Faculty's history. And had Briggs and Eliot left office at the same time, as did President Conant and Dean Paul Buck 42 years later in 1953, the development of the office of Dean of Faculty might have been different. For Briggs could easily have started a tradition of capable and efficient deans.

But Briggs remained in office while Abbott Lawrence Lowell, against whose reform proposals Briggs and Eliot had plotted, became president. Lowell wanted to take a hand in college affairs and disliked Briggs personally; Briggs commanded the virtual adoration of alumni and students and was far too popular to remove. Lowell's course of action was classic; he moved Briggs upstairs to the third floor office space in University Hall now occupied by the freshman deans and cut him off from all important decisions. The two continued this way for 16 years, until Lowell finally was able to appoint his own man, C. H. Moore. He later replaced Moore with Kenneth Murdock, currently the director of I Tatti.

Lowell was always the dominant force in college decisions--men still in the Harvard administration remember whole weeks when Moore spent as little as an hour a day in his new office. The president would at times present his administration with faits accomplis of the most far-reaching sort--such as decision for the House plan--something his two predecessors would not have even considered.

Nevertheless, both Moore and Murdock, and particularly the latter, performed their duties capably, and under them the deanship gained in influence until under Murdock it became fective administrative unit.

Then a new president, James , succeeded Lowell and his dean. The relation between and president was back where been 25 years before; one was stuck with another's there was personal friction to The influence of the dean .

Between Conant and Lowell was a fundamental difference consequences shaped Harvard what it is today. Lowell had be in the College. almost a decade, realized he Close to the end of this first bitter dissension over the hiring professors produced a nature petition requesting the of a fact-finding committee. quelled the revolt, but turned away from the from, indeed, even the University entered the national stage on he was to play the part of an can spokesman for higher In control of the University he obscure but capable 41-year-old professor, Paul Buck.

Buck was an effective with wide authority. He was dean to interpret the office in a resembling that which Eliot had suggested. Briggs' work under Eliot, he first dean to serve for any time whatever under the had appointed him. The of this fact is suggested by the of Buck's predecessors' and his record makes the importance relation incontestable.

The effects of the Buck far-reaching. The year before office, the Faculty Committee cational Policy had been acting through it Buck was initiate a host of new policies. of the most significant came only in round-about all can be traced back to the CEP-which amounted to the same thing. For example, the first concerns of the CEP possible disintegration of the arts curriculum because of drain on Harvard personnel. established a few survey course serving the core of a liberal arts tion; and out of the discussions subject emerged the idea of .12McGeorge Bundy