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Thomas O'Brien has been appointed financial vice president, replacing Hale Champion, who resigned in January to become Undersecretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
O'Brien has served as acting financial vice president since Champion left.
O'Brien, whom Champion appointed in 1971 as his assistant, said yesterday he is "very pleased to be able to serve Harvard and serve with President Bok."
Bok noted in the announcement released yesterday, "We're delighted to have Tom continue on this capacity. He has gained valuable knowledge of the University's financial administration and has earned the unqualified and enthusuastic support of his associates."
Under Champion's management, the University altered some of its budgeting and accounting methods. O'Brien said his chief priority will be to ensure that the system better serves the deans and financial officers at the various schools, "providing them with the level of information and detail they need.'
Although the search committee considered more than 600 applicants for the job, including many from outside Harvard, O'Brien's familiarity with the University's financial system made him "the most logical candidate," George Putnam Jr. '49, Harvard treasurer, said yesterday.
Putnam added that when a candidate is qualified, Harvard tries to promote from inside because it is "good for morale."
Daniel D. Cantor, director of personnel administration and a member of the search committee, yesterday said O'Brien "possesses the kind of background and expertise that we need," adding that the appointee has demonstrated his ability to manage the job in the eight months since he took over from Champion.
The search was "very extensive, we combed and probed to get as broad a field as we could get," Cantor said.
The committee solicited names of qualified women and minority groups members for the post, but all the final candidates for the job were white men.
One financial source said last week O'Brien was Champion's chosen successor. Putnam yesterday said that he knew of no official support for O'Brien on Champion's part but said he guesses "Champion would approve. O'Brien had been his right-hand deputy."
In addition to smoothing out the internal financial operations within the University, O'Brien will participate in a reevaluation of Harvard's long term economic strategy.
The ad hoc committee that designed the University's current policy in 1973-74 was reactivated this fall, and O'Brien will work closely with these advisers.
Every university has suffered a decline in the real value of its portfolio and Harvard must look at tuition income and financial aid needs to determine "how to strike a balance in being fair to the current student body while protecting the needs of future students," O'Brien, a former assistant professor of Economics at Brandeis University, said.
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