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Most of the staff of the Harvard Magazine including the editor and managing editor may leave the publication if the University does not take action to ensure the magazine's independence from the University, Phillip M. Cronin '53, president of the board of directors for the magazine, said yesterday.
At issue is a recent move by the University which, in effect, fired Henrey E. Russell Jr. '65, director of advertising and acting business manager of the magazine, by removing him from the magazine payroll without consultation of the magazine's board of directors.
"The staff has indicated to me their intense displeasure with the situation." Cronin said. "I don't think there is any chance they will stay if it is not corrected."
The directors and staff feel this action is not within the power of the University and that it will hinder the editorial independence of the magazine, he added.
Harvard Magazine has always been a separate entity from the University, with its own incorporation and an independent board of directors.
The University has, however, always subsidized the magazine's deficits, and last June assumed direct financial control of the publication to finance the new policy of free subscriptions to all alumni.
While it is not within the University's power to hire and fire magazine staff, it is within the scope of the University to decide who is on the payroll because of the University's financial control of the magazine, Hale Champion, financial vicepresident said yesterday.
"The distinction is ridiculous," Cronin said. The action taken against Russell could just as easily be taken against the editor he added.
Cronin said that when the magazine board of directors agreed to the University's taking direct control of its finances, it did not realize that the University would use the power to control who was on the staff.
The University is not abusing its power but merely "watching its financial responsibilities," Champion said.
The board of directors "has been meeting right along with" Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, to discuss the relationship between the magazine and the University, he added.
Cronin said, however, that the directors have not met with steiner since early November, and were never consulted on the decision to remove Russell from the payroll.
John T. Bethell '54, editor of Harvard Magazine, said yesterday that he was consulted just prior to the decision and he was against it.
Cronin said that there must be an understanding reached whereby the University recognizes Harvard Magazine Inc. as a separate entity. The power to hire and fire staff must belong solely to the board of directors in order to preserve the editorial independence of the magazine, he said.
Bethell would not comment as to whether he would actually leave the magazine staff, saying however that a "workable solution" must be reached
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