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IT HAS BEEN nearly two year since Fred L. Glimp assumed the post of Dean of Harvard College: two years which have not been easy ones for Harvard or, one imagines, for Dean Glimp. As dean, he has often been the man in the middle, caught between the Faculty and students, or between the governing boards and Faculty, or between other of the factions which have sprung up at Harvard in recent years.
From the middle, he has attempted to mediate, insofar as his position allowed, the differences threatening to tear the College apart. He has spent long hours--more than most other administrators or Faculty -- in private and public discussion with students. All but those whose views were most diametrically and bitterly opposed to Glimp's emerged from such discussions feeling that the dean understood their opinions, even if he could not share them, and that Glimp considered his own views--as well as those of the students--open to continued discussion and debate.
Yet in the final analysis, such mediating efforts did not prove sufficient to avert the crisis of last April. That this was so should be no reflection on the ability or good faith of Dean Glimp, but rather a comment on the enormity of the demands placed upon universities such as Harvard in this era, and on the limits of universities, as complex organizations, to respond to demands as quickly as some might wish.
In times which see the U.S. government waging a hateful was abroad while the domestic political community is torn to shreds, it appears that, for some students, the university must become the one pure haven in an impure society. Others would make it a battlefield for tooth and nail combat in a kind of dress rehearsal for the larger revolution. At the same time, still other students and faculty factions stand almost as steadfastly opposed to such demands.
To work out a satisfactory resolution of these strong pressures may be impossible for any institution, and particularly for a University which has so seldom faced such strong internal political pressures. Bureaucratic rigidities long predating Dean Glimp's tenure hamper the task of adjustment; he has played some small role in loosening such rigidities. And if threads of the much-vaunted Harvard community still exist after the turmoil of last April, it is in part due to his continuing efforts at mediation. These efforts may well be missed; one can only hope that Harvard will find another man to take on the exacting role which Dean Glimp fulfilled so well.
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