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Harvard's Expansion to Kennedy Library Will Physically Split International Studies

By Michael C. Winerip

The new Harvard academic office building planned for construction together with the Kennedy Library will not be an international studies center as originally intended by the University administration.

The rationale for raising 60 per cent of the funds which are still earmarked by Harvard for constructing its facility was centralization of the University's diverse regional study centers. But now it appears that most of the Government and Economics Departments along with the Center for International Affairs (CFIA) will be at the Charles River site--without any unifying academic purpose for the building.

A recent survey of key faculty and administrators by The Crimson shows that the proposed movement of the CFIA from Divinity Ave. to the Kennedy complex would in fact physically split international studies at Harvard leaving the Middle Eastern, Russia. West European and East Asian Centers located northeast of the Yard.

But the administration insists on moving the CFIA to maintain a pretense of an international flavor in the proposed building.

The survey also shows that the Economics and Government Departments are unenthusiastic about moving to the proposed river site, and will go mainly because they are being told to do so by the administration.

What emerges is a picture of University expansion, adding 2.2 acres of prime land near the Square, without any present compelling reason for the proposed construction.

The full story starts in 1965 when the Massachusetts legislature gave the federal government land for building a Kennedy Library complex. Architect I.M. Pei developed a plan dividing the 12.2 acre Charles River site--now occupied by the Bennett-Eliot MBTA Yards--into four sections--5.3 acres for the Kennedy museum, archives, plaza and Institute of Politics; 3 acres for related facilities; 1.7 acres for street improvements; and 2.2 acres for Harvard construction.

However, none of the construction under this plan can begin until the federal government completes an Environmental Impact Statement on the effect of the Library on the Harvard Square area.

Harvard is entitled to its 2.2 acres thanks to an agreement reached between the Kennedy family and the University in the mid-sixties. In exchange for the gift of land, Harvard promised to erect an academic building on the site in conjunction with the rest of the complex which will be funded by the Kennedy Corporation.

If the environmental statement is favorable and construction gets the go-ahead, Harvard will spend over $10 million to purchase the land and build its academic facility. Yet little has been said about Harvard's plans for its building.

The media has described Harvard's facility as the Kennedy School of Government, a convenient label because of the Kennedy name. In reality few faculty members belong exclusively to this school, but are members of the Economic and Government Departments with joint appointments to the School of Government.

To support their position advocates of the new building have downplayed expansion and stressed both a need for centralizing the Government and Economics Department and the benefit of having faculty concerned with international affairs in the same place.

However, the primary impetus for this building comes from University administrators who see the Harvard portion of the Kennedy Library site as the last chance for significant University expansion in a tightening Cambridge land market.

In deciding which departments would be at the river site, academic priorities such as creating a center for the study of international problems and other faculty concerns are being sacrificed by the administration.

The University politics behind plans for the new building are complex. The architects have not yet presented Harvard with the interior designs for the academic facility, but the issues and faculty sentiment have already begun to crystallize.

At one point there was considerable faculty initiative for building a center for international studies. The group, including Robert R. Bowie, then director of the CFIA, was awarded $2.5 million by the Ford Foundation in the early sixties for a Center of International and Regional Studies. The plan included the East Asian Center, the Russian Research Center, and the Middle Eastern Center, as well as the CFIA, in a new building next to Littauer. But the whole project was left up in the air when the administration decided to build the Science Center on that site.

In late 1966, President Pusey decided to use Harvard's portion of the newly proposed Kennedy Library complex to house the international studies center. "Our urgent present need," he wrote at the time, "is a new building large enough to adequately house international and regional activities and to enhance their inter-communication.

In addition to the regional study centers, he proposed including the international research programs of the Economics and Government Departments and the Kennedy School of Government. As late as 1970-71, during the final fund drive for the facility at the Kennedy Library site, the building was described to donors as an "international studies building."

The $3.3 million netted from these drives and the $2.5 million from Ford are now sitting in the coffers, waiting to be used to help cover the $10 million cost of Harvard's building. Nevertheless, the $5.8 million raised specifically for an international studies center will not be used for that purpose.

Of the four original research centers, only the CFIA will be located on the Kennedy Library site. Lack of space in the planned building due to cutbacks in the building's scale and the decisions of some key regional research centers to stay out of the facility have radically altered the nature of the proposed facility.

The administration did not ask the Middle Eastern Center located at 1737 Cambridge St., to be part of the Kennedy site. The Center's head, Nur Yalman, expects the group to move into the vacated CFIA building or build its own center.

Adam B. Ulam, director of the Russian Research Center, also located at 1737 Cambridge St., told administrators he prefers the group's present location to the Kennedy site. "We have our own library and we're comfortable. It's old, hard to clean and the dusts gets in, but I don't like sterile antiseptic places anyway."

Robert Vernon, director of the CFIA, the one international group that is still included by the administration for the proposed river facility, says that the CFIA has been responsive to the commands of the University to move from its present Divinity Ave. location. However, he also says the most important interaction for the CFIA comes with the West European and Japanese faculty.

And it appears neither of these groups will be housed in the Kennedy complex. Western European Studies, located in its own building near the Divinity School, has voted a resolution not to move unless it can have the same facilities that it has now--an unlikely prospect in light of the distinct, secluded atmosphere of the present building. While cautioning that it is too early for a final decision, Stanley Hoffman appears skeptical about the new building: "We met with Pei and told him we did not want a Pentagon. If by some miracle he does come through, then we would move."

The other group important to the CFIA includes the Japanese scholars. Yet the East Asian Center will not be moving, electing to remain with the Y'en Ching Library on Divinity Ave. In addition, the proposed Japanese Institute will someday be located near the Y'en Ching, according to University officials. In short, the CFIA would be at the opposite end of the campus from its two most vital "research allies."

The academic building on the Kennedy complex will not be a center for international studies, though it will centralize the Economic and Government Departments substantially, leaving out only professors tied to regional centers.

But even with this centralization advantage, neither the economic nor government head shows any eagerness about moving.

Professor James S. Duesenberry, chairman of the Economics Department, admits the department is not very happy with its present situation, where the economics faculty is spread throughout the University. But he says if he were faced with the decision of whether to retain the present situation or go to the river site, he would personally opt for staying.

"I'm most afraid of getting into a tightly planned situation which makes a set of assumptions about space, and leaves no room for flexibility or overflow. We would not be getting as much of the kind of space we want," Duesenberry said last week.

"So far I have taken a mildly muttering stance--we have displayed a non-enthusiasm. It might be possible that the Economics Department could stay out of this, but it seems we must go with the Kennedy School of Government," he said.

Professor Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., chairman of the Government Department, regarded the decision to move his department to the Library site as a fait accompli. "Nobody is really enthusiastic about going--the location is bad because it is further from the Yard and Widener and there will be more tourists in the area, but we will abide by it."

Whether the stance is muttering or resigned, it is clear there is no significant faculty initiative for the move, despite the chance for centralization of these two departments.

Richard G. Leahy, associate dean for resources & planning, is the administrative head of the planning committee for the proposed Harvard building.

He says he is having problems coming up with a title for the center, rejecting the "Kennedy School of Government" label. "There will be large numbers from the Economics and Government Departments interested in non-U.S. problems, but it is not primarily an international area site," he said.

"There is no educational philosophical framework. It's a confluence of parts of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Kennedy School of Government--some economics, government, and political sciences with an international flavor."

At this time the building itself is not primarily a response to any present real or perceived academic needs of Harvard University but is important as a means for the University to get hold of an additional 2.2 acres of land.

"Having that much land is a possibility that we will never see again," Leahy says. "We were beginning to spread out too much, endangering our pedestrian oriented campus. The Kennedy site is a good location for us at the waist of the University."

By moving the economics and government departments to the river building Harvard would probably free Littauer for use by the Law School. Leady says the 1737 Cambridge St. building, cleared of most of the research center members, could be converted back to apartments for married students, providing additional revenue for the University.

If the Kennedy complex is blocked next fall by an unfavorable environmental impact statement, the University's right to purchase the designated 2.2 acres would be in question. Harvard has not purchased the land--as things now stand the land has been promised to the University by the Kennedy Corporation, which bought it from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Lawyers involved say it is too early to know if the 2.2 acres purchased by the Kennedy Corporation would remain valid if the environmental statement prevented construction of the complex on the rest of the site. And even if the Kennedy Corporation's claim to the 2.2 acres were upheld by a court, the Corporation might not be required to sell the land to Harvard.

Harvard will clearly get the property if the Kennedy Library is built, and this fact is crucial in understanding the Harvard administration's desire to see the Memorial built on the present Bennett St. MBTA site.

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