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RICHMOND, VA.--If you had asked me while I was at Harvard exactly what it was that Dean Dunlop did. I would have answered that he wielded enormous power. That was the thing about Dean Dunlop; he was always wielding enormous power. If you had pressed me further--yes, but exactly what does he do?"-- I might have had more trouble. One reason was that he was always off in Washington, presumably wielding enormous power, whenever I called him to ask what he'd been up to lately.
As I think back on it, in fact, it seems to me that the real thing about Dean Dunlop was that he was always good for a remark which could bring conversation to a dead halt. "I never saw a white man until I was 14 years old," he once remarked over a Purdue Boilermaker at the Faculty Club. Another time I heard him smiling into a telephone, "I want the President of the United States to issue that statement after the conference, not before. Get that straight!" And, I am told on good authority, he once greeted a room full of senior faculty members, who had come to see him abuzz over questions like the role of stoichiometry in the modern university, etc., by saying, "Can we keep this short? I was up all night finishing Phase II."
Now Dunlop is off to Washington, where it seems likely he will wield enormous power as head of the Cost of Living Council. One imagines the jolly press conferences a year hence in which Dunlop will tell the nation that the price of hamburger has risen only 40 per cent instead of the expected 80. When somebody is wielding enormous power in Washington, it is much easier to detect it than at Harvard, because the folks there are generally either blowing people up or at least robbing them blind.
Other Harvard deans, of course, have wielded enormous power. Which brings me to my point. When I graduated from Harvard in June, everybody warned me that I would now become more conservative, take up wearing suits, smoking Jamaican cigars, and frequenting the Junior Chamber of Commerce. While none of these things has happened, there must be some truth in what they said, because here I am writing an article which suggests that Dunlop's resignation offers Harvard a golden opportunity to give McGeorge Bundy his old job back.
There is a selfish motive in all this. At Harvard I used to hear about McGeorge Bundy and his enormous power, but none of it affected me. Bundy was either helping to plan wars or giving grants to people I didn't know. In fact, at Harvard I felt quite safe from McGeorge Bundy.
Since June, here in the real world, I have felt a growing unease at knowing that Bundy is at large as head of the Ford Foundation. Who knew when Bundy might not let a grant to someone to do something that might affect me? I couldn't help thinking that his grants would be as well thought-out as his wars. So now I am pleading to my alma mater, Take Mac back.
BY ALL ACCOUNTS. Bundy was an excellent and effective dean of the Faculty, one who wielded enormous power. Of course, he made a few mistakes: The story goes that Carpenter Center was designed to be built at 888 Memorial Drive, but that, when someone asked Bundy where it was supposed to go, his mind was on other things. He stuck his finger at random on a map of Harvard and said, "Put it there," and they did. One imagines John Kennedy asking Bundy to suggest a place where the U.S. could demonstrate our firmness to the Communists and Bundy randomly selecting Indochina on a wall map.
History shows that Bundy has not been very good at anything since he left Harvard. However, having gotten into the habit of wielding enormous power, he has not been able to shake it, much to the regret of many people who did not ask him to wield it and who have not particularly appreciated the results.
So I am asking Harvard to show a little charity, not so much to Bundy as to the rest of us. Reverse the Peter Principle and take Bundy back to the only job he can really do. Let him wield enormous power over such questions as the anti-spider campaign at the Geology Building and cost-defectiveness in Faculty Club horsemeat-procurement policies. The odds are, I suspect, that I (and a lot of others) will somehow benefit. At the very least, I will be so relieved that I might give an enormous sum to the Harvard College Fund.
Garrett Epps '72 is a former President of The Crimson a reporter for The Richmond Mercury.
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