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An Assistant Professor's Appeal Drags On at the Design School

By Daniel Swanson

The academic year just past brought many far reaching changes to the Harvard community. A new President took office and began to mold the University in his own image. Protest, centering around the war and Harvard's ownership of Gulf Oil stock, disrupted the normal routine of the community.

But one thread of consistency ran through the 1971-2 academic year: Chester W. Hartman '57 still had not received a hearing of the grievances he brought against the Graduate School of Design over two years ago.

Hartman, formerly an assistant professor of City Planning, had his contract terminated in June 1970 by Maurice D. Kilbridge, dean of the GSD. He has long since become happily ensconsced at Berkeley, and has no desire to return here, but he still wants a hearing of the substantive grievances he lodged against the School.

Hartman charges that his contract termination was prompted by personal and political considerations. Active here in what some would call the New Left of planning, he was vocal in his negative views of the University's plans for the surrounding community. He suspects that those views, and not any question of professional expertise, were behind his dismissal.

The GSD acknowledged his grievances and said it would move to have them heard by an impartial committee. To this end, the GSD Faculty in 1970 passed the Rogers Motion, a set of procedures to govern the appeal process, and established the Rogers Committee to oversee the implementation of those procedures. But after several months, the procedures proved unworkable. The first of many delays in the appeal process began as the Rogers Motion was reworked into ad hoc procedures designed expressly for Hartman's appeal.

In May 1971, the ad hoc procedures were instituted, and Peter P. Rogers, associate professor of City Planning, began attempting to persuade five professors from outside the GSD to serve on the appeal committee. Rogers eventually succeeded in filling the committee in January 1972, but Hartman promptly challenged it in its entirety.

Hartman charged that two of his rights under the ad hoc procedures had been violated in the committee's selection. In February, Rogers admitted that Hartman's challenge had been correct, and announced that the Rogers Committee would again attempt to form a committee following the ad hoc procedures. Hartman was "pleased" that the GSD recognized its errors, but expressed dismay that "they plan to go through the same drawn out process again."

Throughout the entire proceeding, Hartman had consistently maintained that the ad hoc procedures were basically unfair, a condition he said explained why the Rogers Committee was finding it difficult to get faculty members to serve on the appeal committee. He continually called for new appeal procedures, claiming that it was unfair for one party to the dispute--the GSD--to choose the appeal committee. He wanted a neutral body to select the committee and coordinate its procedures.

The Rogers Committee seemingly failed to consider Hartman's objections, for a GSD Faculty meeting March 3 again voted for its preferences in line with the ad hoc procedures. This time the committee was selected much more quickly: Rogers announced by the end of March that five people had agreed to serve.

Hartman had a simple explanation for the reason the second committee was formed so quickly: he revealed that four of its members had been on the first, discredited, committee. He again challenged the entire committee, charging that it was a product of "discarding the former and admittedly unfair procedure while retaining its result." He again reiterated his demand that revamped appeal procedures be established.

The Rogers Committee ignored his protestations and Hartman brought his appeal directly to GSD Faculty members on an individual basis. Two Faculty meetings failed to deal with Hartman's objections, and he contemplated a law suit.

But he simultaneously followed the dictates of the ad hoc procedures, which permit each side to challenge a member of the committee. Both Hartman and Kilbridge exercised their challenges, and the Rogers Committee brought the appeal committee membership back up to five within a week.

As May turned into June, it appeared that Hartman finally had a committee, although its composition was far from his liking. The committee met once and selected one of its members--Donald G. Anderson, professor of Applied Mathematics--as its chairman.

Anderson said at the beginning of June that the conflicting summer schedules of the committee members would prevent a coordinated examination of the Hartman case immediately and that a decision would probably not be reached until some time in the Fall. In an unintentional echo of Hartman's appraisal of the grievance procedures. Anderson said that the committee's work would involve "a long, drawn out process."

The future of the appeal process remains unclear. Hartman may balk at having his case heard by the present committee and opt for legal proceedings immediately. On the other hand, he may repress his objections and elect to wait until the committee reports before possibly going to the courts.

Probably the greatest tragedy of the entire affair is that, thus far, consideration of Hartman's grievances has been lost in the morass of procedural considerations surrounding the committee's formation. It has not been the best of years for the Graduate School of Design, and the fact that Hartman's case has lingered on for over two years, and shows no sign of being resolved in the near future, has not enhanced the School's reputation.

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