A series of personnel changes coming in the final stages of a departmental review has caused speculation among faculty and concentrators in the Visual and Environmental Studies Department that the department is on the verge of a significant shift in policy.
In the past week the VES executive committee has informed three members of the department's teaching staff that they will not be rehired after their current contracts expire. Two of the fired faculty have been teaching at Harvard for the past ten years.
Two other members of the VES junior faculty who were eligible for tenured appointments were rehired by the executive committee, but neither received tenure.
Chaired by Kiely
The VES executive committee, appointed last year by President Bok, is chaired by Robert J. Kiely, associate dean of the Faculty. Half of the committee's members have no formal connection with VES.
Sources in the department and close to the executive committee yesterday called the personnel decisions "an across-the-board sweep" of the department's leading teachers.
One source said, "The executive committee would not have made such wide-ranging decisions about current faculty if it didn't have some master-plan of what the department is to look like in the future."
Robert G. Gardner '48, acting chairman of VES, said yesterday that the committee's decision not to rehire the three teachers has no "deep significance" for future departmental policy.
"It is significant in the sense that people you've grown fond of are leaving, but there is no deeper significance than that," Gardner said.
He also said the fact that this is the first major turnover in VES personnel "makes this instance seem all the more shocking, but in reality it makes us much more normal in terms of other departments."
The executive committee will complete an interim report on the future of VES some time this summer, Gardner said. He said Kiely was the only committee member with the authority to discuss the specific matters under the committee's consideration.
Kiely yesterday declined to comment on all matters pertaining to VES.
Eric Martin '58, senior tutor of the VES Department and one of the teachers who was not rehired, said Wednesday one of the "chief reasons" for his dismissal was that he "spent too much time teaching and administrating and not enough time doing my own work."
"Harvard's primary commitment is to advanced research in any given field. Teaching has to take a back seat," he said.
Martin also said the VES executive committee is under pressure to bring "new and more famous people into the department."
Len Gittleman, lecturer on Photography, and Lois S. Charney, lecturer on Visual and Environmental Studies, were the other two teachers who were not rehired by the executive committee.
Alfred F. Guzzetti '64, assistant professor of Visual and Environmental Studies, was offered an associate professorship by the executive committee. Gardner said yesterday that the offer carries with it "strong intimations of eventual tenure."
William P. Reimann, lecturer on Visual and Environmental Studies, was offered a senior preceptorship by the executive committee. The appointment is for an unlimited time, but carries with it no tenure