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The Fainsod Report

By T. S. Eliot

(The Faculty will convene in a special meeting next week to consider the findings of the Fainsod Committee, which released its report last Friday. The Committee-officially titled the Committee on the Organization of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences-was formed last January after the Paine Hall sit-in.

The report attempted to "recommend changes in the operation of the Faculty" and "to devise ways in which students can play a significant and responsible role in reaching decisions."

"How far we have succeeded is for both the Faculty and the students to decide," it says.

The text of the report-which has been slightly edited to shorten its length-will be reprinted in two sections today and tomorrow. Today's section covers the restructuring of the Faculty. Tomorrow's will discuss student involvement in the decision making process.)


What shall I cry?

The first thing to do is to form the committees:

The consultative councils, the standing committees, select committees and sub-committees.

One secretary will do for several committees.

What shall I cry.

WHY THIS committee and this report? One must begin by distinguishing proximate explanations from more deep-lying considerations. Harvard. like many other universities throughout the world, has been caught up in a wave of student unrest, which, though primarily inspired by dissatisfaction with the state of society, has also raised basic questions about the purposes of universities. their place in the social order, and their governance. Nor has the mood of dissatisfaction and self-questioning been confined to students. Faculties too have been brought face to face with the same range of problems. The result at Harvard, as elsewhere, has been to precipitate a reconsideration of the whole question of decision-making within the University and its faculties. The existence of this committee may be viewed as a partial response to this challenge, at least as it affects the Faculty of Arts and Sciences . . . .

As is perhaps inevitable in any committee representing diverse views. agreement on recommendations has not always been easy. All of us have tried to find common ground wherever possible. but we have also proceeded on the assumption that each member was free to dissent from the committee's conclusions whenever issues of principle arose. All of us who lived through the agonies of the events of last April have been made poignantly aware of the fragility of the University, and we share a desire to do everything in our power to build a community which will command the loyalty of faculty, students, and administration, as well as of the alumni and the governing boards.

Our purposes in this report have been twofold:

(1) to recommend changes in the governing arrangements and procedures of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences which will better equip it to cope with the problems of change and adjustment which lie ahead;

(2) to recognize that students have an important stake in the operation of the Faculty and the survival of the University, and to devise ways in which students can play a significant and responsible role in reaching decisions.

How far we have succeeded is for both Faculty and students to judge.

I. Some Fundamental Assumptions

HE BEGIN with fundamentals. Before one can define how a university or its faculties should be governed, agreement must be reached on the purposes which a university exists to serve. A university performs many functions. It undertakes to fulfill important community, national, and even international needs. It may by its admissions and scholarship policies open up new opportunities for minority groups. It may be a battleground of competing political creeds and generate ideas which both buttress and undermine the existing power structure. But above all else it exists as "a place to advance knowledge and to assist students to share in and help create that knowledge." (The Report of the President. Yale University: 1967-68, p. 37.) Unless its governing arrangements nourish, sustain, and promote that central purpose, they cease to express the long-term interests of the institution which they were created to serve. The measure of effective governance in a university is not the number of committees it proliferates or the faculty and student time consumed in service on them, but rather the extent to which it liberates the energies of both faculty and students for creative scholarly achievements and the advancement of knowledge on every front.

This conception of a university dedicated to the pursuit of learning and scholarship has recently come under sharp attack. Radical crates reject the very notion of disinterested teaching and learning, describe universities such as Harvard as compliant instruments of a corrupt society, and seek to transform the university into a revolutionary spearhead for achieving a just social order. Other student critics, who do not share these assumptions, nevertheless feel themselves alienated by the academic culture dominant in the Faculty. reject much of the university curriculum as irrelevant to their interests, see the governing arrangements of the university as characterized by authoritarianism, and press for a restructuring of the university to make it more sensitive to their needs. Some argue that, since they have a fundamental stake in the quality of their education and university decisions deeply affect their lives, they are entitled to have a substantial voice and vote in virtually every aspect of the affairs of the university, including the choice of faculty and the establishment of standards and requirements for degrees.

We too are aware that the curriculum and governing arrangements of the University are imperfect and warrant critical scrutiny by students as well as by faculty. We also recognize that students have a vital stake in the life of the University and that as members of the University community they are properly entitled to participate in shaping its purposes and activities. Because we believe that learning and scholarship must be the prime goals of the University and because we think that students have as great a stake as the Faculty in the realization of these goals. we also feel a particular need to explain why we reject the analogy between the electoral practices of a democratic state and university governance and believe that an uncritical application of egalitarian theory in the universities is likely to damage the interests of students as well as the university of which they are a part. It is a shallow view of democracy to assume that every person has a right to participate equally in every decision that affects his life. To argue thus is to assert that there is no place in a democratic society for the authority derived from professionalized training, knowledge and experience. A democratic community which ignored these claims would not merely stand condemned for its obscurantism; it is unlikely that such a community could long survive.

So too with the university as an institution. The case for vesting faculties with the final responsibility for appointments, curriculum, and degree requirements rests on their professional qualifications and on the fact that they must live with their decisions over many student generations, rather than over a short time span. To emphasize this is not to derogate the abilities or the perspicacity of students, nor is it to reject the need for a student advisory input on the curriculum and related matters through new or improved channels. But faculty and students are not equals in training, knowledge, and experience. To ignore greater educational qualifications and long-term professional commitment to scholarship in the shaping of educational policy is a sure road to disaster. All this is not to imply that faculties are infallible or that student testimony on teaching ability, course content, and degree requirements does not have great value. It is simply to stress that what distinguishes faculty from students is greater professional training, competence, and experience, and it is the weight of these qualifications which make it essential that the Faculty continue to exercise predominant authority on issues of scholarship and instruction.

Having stated our view that the Faculty cannot abdicate its responsibilities in the academic realm without doing serious harm to the educational cause, we would also emphasize that there are aspects of university life where students should have larger responsibilities. In the area of social rules, student organization, and extracurricular activities, matters of primary concern to students. the student voice should be strengthened; students should enjoy as much autonomy as possible in regulating their affairs outside the classroom. Some of our problems undoubtedly come from not having recognized this earlier. Students as well as faculty share a proper concern with the involvement of the University in the problems of society: their views on how to regulate it merit the most careful attention.

We recognize above all that students have an entirely legitimate interest in the quality of their education; their suggestions on how to improve it deserve the most thoughtful consideration by the Faculty. We believe that the Faculty should welcome student assessments of teaching and courses, encourage student initiative in suggesting ways of enriching their educational experience. respond to students when they have grievances, take corrective action when that is indicated, and provide explanations when student suggestions are not found to be feasible. We are persuaded that present arrangements for exchanges of ideas between students and faculty on matters of common educational concern leave much to be desired: later in this report we will offer specific recommendations which we hope will improve existing channels of communication and lead to their creation which they do not now exist . . . .

III. The Structures, Procedures, and Decision-Making Processes of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

The Role of the Dean

AS NOW organized, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is a large and unwieldy body. The Dean of the Faculty, as we noted earlier, is charged by the Statutes of the University with responsibility "for the proper preparation and conduct of its business." As the Report of the Dunlop Committee pointed out, "For many years the responsibility and span of authority of the Dean have been very large and have been growing." That Committee "compiled a list of 117 offices, departments, activities and staff under the cognizance of the Dean." Clearly the Dean shoulders a very heavy burden.

Since we have not made a careful study of the operations of the Dean's office, it would be presumptuous of us to offer recommendations bearing on its organization. We have been made aware of a variety of proposals designed to lighten the Dean's burdens. Some, such as those advanced by the Dunlop Committee, would provide him with more functional assistance, to deal with such subjects as budgets, personnel, the curriculum, fund-raising, governmental relations, student affairs, and the like. Others, including one emanating from a member of our Committee, would provide three area Deans (or Associate Deans) for the Humanities, the Social Sciences, and the Natural Sciences, who would serve perhaps on a part-time basis as academic deputies of the Dean of the Faculty within the sphere of decision-making which he delegated to them. Still other more drastic proposals would break up the present Faculty of Arts and Sciences and replace it by three faculties of Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences.

While we have encountered relatively few members of the Faculty who support the last proposal. suggestions that the administrative load of the Dean of the Faculty might be substantially lightened by the appointment of area Deans have come to us with much greater frequency. But fears have also been expressed that the creation of an additional layer of deans would delay and impede rather than facilitate decision-making. Our own disposition is to believe that decisions on the organization of the Dean's office ought best be left to the Dean who presides over it. Individual Deans will vary widely in their administrative styles and working habits. and we think it unwise to prescribe organizational blueprints for them.

There are larger questions involving the relations of the Dean to his Faculty which perhaps deserve to be aired at this stage of the report. What should the role of the Dean be? Virtually all members of the Faculty would join in the view that the Dean should regard himself as the voice of his Faculty, executing its decisions and representing its needs and opinions to the President and the Governing Boards. But what if his own Faculty is seriously divided Should he feel free to take initiatives that may be divisive and risk repudiation by the Faculty in the event that he is unable to rally a majority to support his views?

There are no simple or easy answers to those questions. No Dean can discharge his functions effectively unless he enjoys the confidence of his Faculty and the support of the President and the Governing Boards. His constant challenge is to build a consensus to which both will subscribe: his dilemmas arise when the consensus breaks down. If he adheres to a program in which he believes, but which is not supported by the majority of his Faculty. he faces a continuing crisis of confidence. If he bows to the opposition and becomes the administrator of policies which he does not really support, his service as Dean is bound to become increasingly frustrating. The only solution is for Dean and Faculty to join in a patient and unremitting search for common ground and the accommodations which avert internal cleavages and mitigate differences between the Faculty and the Administration. It remains our conviction that in the course of this search the Dean's first obligation is to represent his Faculty to the President and the Governing Boards and to report their views to the Faculty.

The Breakdown of Traditional Procedures

Historically, the Faculty has transacted most of its business through the departments, its standing committees, and its select committees established to deal with special problems. With some striking but on the whole infrequent exceptions, the recommendations emerging from these bodies tended to be accepted by the Faculty with little challenge or debate. As the business of the Faculty increased in variety and complexity, the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP), which was originally established to deal with problems of undergraduate education, was increasingly used by the Dean of the Faculty to discuss and make recommendations to the Faculty on matters of more general concern. In effect, the CEP began to evolve into a combined Dean's cabinet and Faculty steering committee. While the CEP at no point exercised exclusive jurisdiction over the Faculty docket, it did give preliminary consideration to many matters which were later brought to the floor of the Faculty, and its recommendations or imprimatur on Faculty legislation were rarely overruled.

The consensual framework which made such results possible registered the fact that there were no important disagreements between the Dean and the CEP. on the one hand, and the body of the Faculty on the other. It also reflected a view then widely prevalent in the Faculty that Faculty meetings were to be limited to academic business and that political controversy should be pursued elsewhere.

The latter assumption in particular became increasingly untenable as the Faculty faced such inescapable issues as the draft, recruitment, ROTC, the demands of Black students, Harvard's community responsibilities, proposals for courses with a radical perspective, student requests to attend Faculty meetings and participate in Faculty decision-making, and, perhaps most difficult of all, the disciplinary problems growing out of the McNamara, Dow, Paine Hall, and University Hall disturbances. The response of the Faculty was perhaps predictably diverse. Some resented what they regarded as the intrusion of political issues into Faculty debates and deplored the Faculty's inability to limit its discussions to traditional academic questions. Others say many of the issues posed in these discussions as not only inescapable but highly relevant to the University's business and its relations to the outside world. Political disagreements in the Faculty necessarily came to the fore and could no longer be contained within the familiar routines of Faculty decision-making. The Faculty's repudiation of some of the Administrative Board's disciplinary recommendations after the Paine Hall incident and the rejection of the CEP motion on ROTC emphasized the widening gulf between the traditional sources of legislative guidance in the Faculty and faculty opinion as reflected in some of its votes. As was perhaps inevitable in the circumstances, the legislative initiative passed to the Faculty floor; the result at a number of meetings was such a profusion of competing motions and amendments as to leave many of the participants frustrated, bewildered, and confused. The series of emergency Faculty meetings held in the aftermath of the seizure of University Hall continued the pattern of legislative improvisation, but perhaps more important, they registered the efforts of caucuses representing differing faculty groups to reach out for faculty cohesion and solidarity in the face of a crisis which threatened the life of the University.

It is difficult to foresee at this stage whether the embryonic party system which emerged in the Faculty during the crisis will continue into the future. Clearly, the kinds of issues posed by the events of last year are with us. They will not go away, and the Fac-

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