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The Administration: VI


By carefully culling illustrations of incompetence, it is easy to attack any bureaucracy. But there is a brutally final test that may be applied to any university: What does the Faculty think. In the short run, the Faculty either dismisses errors with a tolerant shrug or remembers them with growing anger and resentment; it regards an administration as essentially reasonable or else it labels the bureaucracy as inflexible and impervious to reason.

In the long run, Faculty opinion determines whether junior members are willing to stake their academic future on their University, or whether they go elsewhere for jobs. As the Faculty's attitudes spread to the academic community outside the university, it becomes correspondingly easier or harder to recruit scholars to posts within the university. When junior Faculty depart for other scenes, and when it becomes more difficult to fill senior positions, a university is in trouble.

President Pusey's effort to draw closer to his Faculty by serving as Dean reflected the imperative need for understanding between Faculty and Administration. But Mr. Pusey's assumption of the double burden of Dean and President placed a crushing burden on his shoulders: in the two jobs, 159 departments, committees, and assistants report directly to him. McGeorge Bundy spent long hours filling the Dean's job, and Mr. Bundy, it was said, made decisions so fast that one never saw the problems. President Pusey does not have this knack for lightning commitment, and as problems have piled up, the Faculty has become increasingly disenchanted with the President's administrative technique.

Nor does the President have either Mr. Bundy's remarkable gift for the fluent phrase or the former Dean's skill in guiding meetings. In meetings of important committees, even those which he chairs, he tends to remain silent, letting discussion find its own direction--and less charitable members of the Faculty have concluded that he does not follow issues, or else that he is not interested, or perhaps that he is unwilling to participate in argument.

Even when the President devotes a great deal of his time to a subject such as expansion, he seldom convinces the Faculty that he has considered the problems--many Masters, for example, feel that he has never given a fair hearing to the arguments against expanding. It does not matter how many hours are spent on a question if those around feel the decision has not been taken in awareness of the issues.

It is the task of the Dean to take the initiative and supervise recruiting of Faculty--a job that the over-worked President has been unable to assume; it is also his task to represent the Faculty, and this he can scarcely do if he is not one of the Faculty. A Dean cannot end the hostility that has flared between Administration and Faculty, but he can serve as a bridge, to reduce abrasion and conflict.

Those who have sought to fill chairs which have recently come vacant know that Harvard no longer has the power it once held; those who have watched men desert the ranks of the junior Faculty are aware that, to some, Harvard seems to have little future. Creating a new Dean cannot solve the Administration's problems, but it is a first step, most important because it would signify awareness of the immediate problems that must be met. President Pusey has said that he will choose a new Dean of the Faculty "some time this side of the indefinite future." His University cannot wait that long.

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