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UHall: A certain amount of politics

By James I. Kaplan

What Dean Rosovsky calls them is "career civil servants"--perhaps an acknowledgement that so many University Hall administrators were here way before he started and will last far after their current chief returns to the faculty ranks. When John T. Dunlop was dean of the Faculty from 1970 to 1973 he kept a tight watch on individual fiefdoms; one member of his staff recalls "he knew where every box of paper clips was and who paid for it." Under Rosovsky the number of deans and assistant deans has proliferated--and each one has a good deal more autonomy than in the past.

For some of the young career men and women, Rosovsky's expanding bureaucracy has provided a battleground for a particular type of heroism. The case of Robert E. Kaufmann '62, assistant dean of the Faculty for finance, is a good example. A record-holding varsity swimmer in his College years, Kaufmann has worked only for Harvard since two years after leaving the Business School in 1964. He has seen tours of duty as director of admissions and senior tutor of Leverett House--among other posts. Since Rosovsky's appointment as dean in 1973, Kaufmann has been charged with whittling the Faculty's $2-million deficit down to nothing. And, if preliminary projections for academic year 1976-77 hold up, Kaufmann, with the aid of Rosovsky and the heads of the 30-to-35 largest departments, will have accomplished his mission.

That feat may have been the most important of Rosovsky's term so far--by the spring of '73 the Faculty deficit had expanded so greatly that the terrifying (for University administrators) specter of paying off bills through liquidation of endowment was a real possibility. Taken to an extreme conclusion, the situation meant the end of the Faculty in, say, 2075.

Nonetheless, Rosovsky made erasure of the deficit one of his two prime goals in office early on--the other was the reform of undergraduate education--and for his role in persuading departments to cut administrative and fringe costs, stop adding to faculty and even abstain from filling positions, and cutting energy bills, Kaufmann has been well rewarded. Some UHall sources say he is now Rosovsky's most trusted adviser. Next year Kaufmann will move up in fact if not in title: he may have a seat on the Committee on Houses and Undergraduate Life (CHUL) and will devote more time to long-range problems, such as how the Faculty can finance high-cost research projects in an age of dwindling government, corporate and foundation grants. Melissa Gerrity, an assistant to Rosovsky who works with Kaufmann, has "learned the ropes," he said recently in an interview, and move up to handle day-to-day budget matters.

In microcosm, that's sort of the way things work in UHall. The set-up contrasts greatly with the organization across the Yard. President Bok's Massachusetts Hall administrators have made their mark somewhere else: Stephen S.J. Hall, recently resigned as administrative vice president, in corporate business, Financial Vice President Hale Champion in public finance, General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54 in government, Charles U. Daly, vice president for government and community affairs, in politics. With the possible exception of Steiner, these men are at Harvard for only a few years. A UHall administrator says pointedly, "Jobs as Faculty administrators are not a stepping stone to something else outside the University," and that too is a big difference from Mass Hall, where Champion and Daly could hold posts in a future Carter administration. Such a move might seem a step down at UHall, Dunlop's example notwithstanding--not that a politician could find much use for a UHall administrator.

All that loyalty to the institution seems admirable and can only be met with a complaint stemming from the same source: commitment to mobility within the Faculty implies less commitment to external goals--even those that other administrators and occasionally the federal government consider overriding, such as affirmative action. The Faculty's recent improvements in minority hiring are small--only 4 per cent of junior faculty appointments were of minority group members last year. The matter of emphasis is different, and results in tension between Walter J. Leonard, the University's affirmative action coordinator, and Phyllis Keller, assistant dean of the Faculty for academic planning.

Keller, another close member of Rosovsky's "kitchen cabinet," seems to view what some call the "scholarly integrity" of the Faculty as the priority in hiring, while Leonard apparently views the recruitment of more women and minority faculty to meet hiring targets as the foremost goal of the program. The differences have led to private--and occasionally public--charges by Leonard that the Faculty is backsliding in its affirmative action efforts, that it is not giving sufficient support to recruiting and publicizing job openings, and that the Faculty's usual hiring "standards" are only one more way to enforce academic orthodoxy and ignore the University's affirmative action commitment.

Administrators in UHall have wondered why Bok does not stifle Leonard and support the dean of the Faculty. This issue surfaced most recently with Leonard's charge that Rosovsky's failure to post publicly the job opening for associate dean of the Faculty--filled by Charles P. Whitlock, now dean of the College--violated federal law. Some sources speculate that Bok supports Leonard as far as the latter's criticism goes in pushing the Faculty to a stepping up of its minority hiring pace. According to this theory, Bok cannot formally intervene in the dispute between one of his administrators and the Faculty. But the continued presence of Leonard, and the persistence of his attacks, lend support to this argument.

A certain amount of "politics"--UHall administrators describe it as far less than "tension"--is built into the concept of career administration: all members of the bureaucracy depend on Rosovsky's approval to advance in the ranks and to hold "line responsibilities" regardless of title in the hierarchy. Rosovsky himself has done a good deal to encourage this tendency, either deliberately or unconsciously. Rosovsky prefers to utilize his own staff in academic and budget matters--Kaufmann, Keller, and John B. Fox '59, assistant dean of the Faculty for academic administration--rather than use the College dean, Whitlock, and other deans. Promotion of Fox to the dean of the College post over Archie C. Epps III, dean of Students, and Alberta Arthurs, dean of undergraduate affairs, is only the latest indication of Rosovsky's dissatisfaction with the performance of the personnel on UHall's first floor.

A lot of Rosovsky's displeasure is rooted in problems of housing and the College dean's inability to solve questions of student gripes about overcrowding, transfers policy and the House selection process short of involving the dean of the Faculty himself. What Rosovsky's ultimate solution is for undergraduate housing is not known. But whatever it requires, sources say, the muscle for its enforcement can only come from a figure like Fox, whom House masters will know is speaking for Rosovsky. Although suspected of conservatism in general, and special insensitivity towards Radcliffe problems, Fox was chosen specifically as a "hard ass," one administrator says.

Fox's appointment ran into various kinds of masters' opposition, some thinking him not distinguished enough to run the College office, others lobbying against him because they had conflicts with him in the past about undergraduate education. But administrative sources say Rosovsky is making a short-term versus long-term trade-off. He has bartered immediate controversy, never very strong concerning administrative appointments anyway, for the belief that Fox will ultimately make decisions and give hard answers to the housing mess.

Some UHall sources criticize Rosovsky for blaming Whitlock, pointing out that the dean of the College's responsibility carried no budgetary power with it and thus, getting the group of House masters into line behind any proposal proved exceedingly difficult. Those same sources wonder if Fox, support from above or not, can overcome the problem inherent in his new job: a lack of discretionary power stemming from a position without curricular or budgetary responsibility--a position that most universities call "dean of students."

Fox, judging from private conversations with UHall administrators, was really the only choice. L. Fred Jewett '57, dean of admissions and financial aid, had more seniority but from the time of Whitlock's reassignment in late April made it clear he wanted to remain in Byerly Hall to polish his policy of equal access admissions. Edward T. Wilcox, director of General Education, also had served in Harvard administration far longer than Fox's ten years, but he too declined to be considered for the post. That left Epps, and few took his candidacy seriously for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was his current distance from administrative decisions and his mishandling of the Administrative Board when he chaired that body in the late 1960s. Then, too, there was Arthurs--and her short history at UHall opens up an entirely different problem.

Even before Arthurs made her move from dean of Radcliffe admissions to UHall last year, there were a few snags. Temporarily out of a job because of the Strauch Committee Report--which commanded a merged admissions office with one dean--Arthurs, in line with the report's recommendations, bargained for another job. That was all right, but the upshot was that her original request was pared down through negotiation to about half what she wanted. Even at that, she still had sizable formal responsibilities: the Office of Career Services and Off-Campus Learning and the Bureau of Study Counsel were to report to her; pre-med and science advising as well as general monitoring of the House tutoring system were in her domain. Since the conflicts over housing and the status of the freshman year remained unresolved, then as now, that too seemed a potential future field of interest for Arthurs.

But something has occurred this year to sour that a bit. Arthurs declines to comment, but apparently she has received much less responsibility than her job outlined. The reasons for this are not clear: the guess of sources range from "UHall just did not need another dean," to more hostile speculation, such as "Arthurs was forced on UHall by the Strauch Committee and Mass Hall." At any rate, the first floor of UHall looks like a boondoggle right now--there are three deans when one or two could do the job. It is ironic that if Arthurs did all that was assigned to her the dean of the College would not have enough to do.

General Counsel Steiner has one assistant in an office that is now regarded as a major nerve center at Mass Hall, handling the growing volume of federal legislation like the recently passed Buckley Amendment, opening student files, and various titles, labor disputes and law suits. The dean of the College has a mass of deans and assistant deans under him, often formally repeating functions that are limited to housing, counseling and disciplinary groups like the Administrative Board. Budget cuts, which Faculty academic departments suffered through in the last few years, didn't fall heavily on the College dean's office. It expanded numerically in the face of austerity for everyone else.

Whatever else may be true about the office of the dean of the College, there is probably no more respected administrator to students and subordinates than the current dean, Whitlock. Finally, his past conflict with Rosovsky may be based on a difference of emphasis: trained as a clinical psychologist, and one of the first instructors in Harvard's "encounter groups" course, Social Relations 1200, in the late forties, Whitlock is a firm believer in the importance of tutoring and counseling systems to students. Rosovsky attaches much more importance to faculty teaching; higher education in his view centers around the lecture hall.

But rumors of Whitlock's hesitance in taking on his new assignment as associate dean of the Faculty, in charge of coordinating Rosovsky's task forces on undergraduate education, seem pretty unfounded. Whitlock now says that if "I had to deal with House transfer policy again, I'd end up at McLeans"--and on the pending reform Whitlock and the dean of the Faculty see eye-to-eye, at least on the strategic level. Both want to implement task force recommendations starting next year, after sifting through them, on a bit-by-bit basis. They want to avoid presenting grand plans such as those that went down to defeat in past years at Yale and Princeton because of Faculty opposition to specific sections of each plans. If this approach works, Whitlock may emerge as the man who aided most in what another administrator says is one of Rosovsky's fondest wishes: to restore the importance of undergraduate teaching.

The Faculty's other associate dean in academic matters, Francis M. Pipkin, although a friend of Rosovsky's, is clearly not a member of his innermost administrative circles. As head of the CHUL, Pipkin presided over that body's waffling and disagreement, never giving much leadership. He concluded his tenure by giving the unwanted chairmanship back to Rosovsky. On other matters, his record is similarly ambiguous--his work in the tightening of honors standards was foremost, but every amendment he produced to plug the original legislative holes seemed to open several new ones.

Pipkin says attempting to get faculty approval for curriculum reform is "like herding a flock of cattle." He and other administrators characterize faculty conservatism as "negative recalcitrance"--a minority opposition to reorienting toward more undergraduate teaching admixed with plenty of apathy. Many UHall administrators seem to agree that limited reform is in the air, but at best it is a type of reform that is unthreatening to traditional senior faculty prerogatives. An administrator notes that legislation allowing students credit for summer courses taken elsewhere under certain conditions--passed last year in the Faculty Council--might never have succeeded if brought before a full Faculty meeting, where the move could have been thwarted, as some conservative faculty members may have viewed it as a threat to Harvard's sense of prestige vis-a-vis other universities. Remembrance of the late sixties and the "troubles," as one administrator calls it, prevent too much faculty enthusiasm for change.

The changes that have come about or are now being planned by Rosovsky--like the budget cuts and a new emphasis on teaching--are the products of persuasion, not top-down commands. Kaufmann says that "a senior faculty can ruin a dean of the Faculty," and other administrators agree that their role is advice and service and possibly even leadership but certainly not conflict. The faculty and its administrators seem to have an unspoken agreement which is, on the faculty's side: "Do what is necessary to change us in accord with external imperatives, but keep our basic power and structure intact."

Rosovsky says the UHall administration is a "family"--he does not add, because he does not need to, that the senior faculty is its first cousin. Like every family, the faculty and Faculty administrators quarrel, as they may well do over reform of core curriculum and General Education next year. But like many families, they can, for the moment, share basic assumptions about themselves and their relationship to the world outside.

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