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GSD: Round 3

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

THE Graduate School of Design continues to shudder through the 1971-72 academic year. Despite last month's dismissal of grievances brought by three senior GSD professors against Dean Maurice D. Kilbridge, factionalism within the School has scarcely subsided. Continued chicanery in the two-year appeal proceeding of Chester W. Hartman '57--which reached a new nadir last week when the administration admitted it had violated its own ground rules in selecting a committee to hear his appeal and said it would start again from scratch--was matched by the mishandling of the appeal case of another assistant professor, Eliahu Romanoff. Equally dismaying, Kilbridge and his administration have continued to display an insensitivity to problems of the School and the need for open discussion of the issues current at the GSD.

The Hartman case probably shows the Design School at its wrongheaded worst. It is inherently unjust to have one party to a dispute select the committee to adjudicate that dispute; but beyond this, the GSD administration--charged with choosing Hartman's review committee--now concedes to breaking the ground rules for selecting that committee. And the ad hoc procedures it designed last May became necessary after the original grievance procedures--embodied in the Rogers Motion of May 1970--proved unworkable.

Under the adhoc procedures, Hartman was guaranteed the right to submit additional names to a GSD list of nominees for his review committee; he was also told that the review process would begin anew if a committee could not be formed from a preferential list of 20 names. But the GSD abrogated these rights previously guaranteed, and then had the audacity to present Hartman with a five-man committee with the expectation that he would readily relinquish his rights. Hartman called their conduct a new "idiocy." We agree.

Two years of maneuvering at the GSD has now failed to produce a single name for Hartman's review committee. Two years is more than enough to demonstrate that the School is unwilling or incapable of establishing an impartial review committee to hear Hartman's appeal. This latest episode makes it even less likely that responsible faculty members will agree to serve on a GSD-governed review committee. The School should recognize its failure and transfer all responsibility for the Hartman review to an neutral third party amenable both to Hartman and the administration. Perhaps then Hartman's substantive charges that personal and political considerations prompted the termination of his contract in 1970 can finally be heard by the community.

THE Romanoff appeal is a separate but related example of the GSD's inability to establish an impartial review committee under its own aegis. Last week, Romanoff--who had earlier balked at having his grievances heard by a committee chaired by a man who currently teaches one of his former courses--must have watched in amazement when President Bok refused to intervene, and the review committee's recommendation that the case be closed was accepted by the GSD Faculty. We too are amazed. It seems clear that Romanoff had ample cause to fear a conflict of interest existed between members of the committee and himself. That the GSD would dismiss Romanoff's case without first hearing his allegations is absurd. As in the Hartman case the School should again recognize its shortcomings, and seek an outside agent--acceptable both to Romanoff and the GSD administration--to hear his appeal. The Harvard community deserves some resolution of Romanoff's allegations of "serious violations of academic freedom and procedures."

Throughout these proceedings, Kilbridge has continually demonstrated a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to insure a fair review of grievances concerning appointment procedures. Moreover, Kilbridge's attitude with regard to the Hartman and Romanoff cases is mirrored in his divisive and tactless conduct in the aftermath of the Corporation's decision dismissing specific grievances against him. After a bitter fight in the upper echelons of his School, the Dean should have recognized that all was not well at the GSD and he should have attempted a rapproachment with the two dissenting professors who remained at the School. Instead, he took his victory in the grievance proceedings as a cue to crow to the GSD alumni. His letter to the alumni--dated January 6, the same day as the Corporation's decision--praised the fine state of affairs at the GSD; it was hardly a realistic appraisal of a school continually wracked by dissention and mistrust. If indeed Dean Kilbridge insists on remaining at the GSD, we suggest that he at least become more circumspect in his correspondence. The incident illustrates once again his inability to keep the GSD together; we again invite him to resign.

FINALLY, the GSD's relationship with the University community as a whole continues to deteriorate. The adjudication of the grievances of the three professors was conducted in an atmosphere of secrecy inconsistent with the beliefs in free and rational discourse and open and scholarly inquiry that supposedly characterize the Harvard community. The GSD administration continues to turn its back on the community and on its own faculty members; administrators often refuse even the slightest courtesies to reporters. This behavior can serve no useful end; the GSD's problems will remain insoluble so long as it tries to mask them.

It is becoming tiresome to document the woes of the Graduate School of Design. The School itself seems more capable of adding to its difficulties than of resolving them. We urge President Bok to reconsider the opinion he presented in the Romanoff case; certainly the affairs of the several faculties are their own concern under normal conditions, but the special circumstances of the Design School demand remedy that can only come from the outside.

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