IN THE TASK of selecting a new dean for one of Harvard's graduate schools, President Bok needs all the help he can get. Each year brings more and more pressure to bear on these schools, from internal groups and from the outside world.
That makes Bok's reluctance to give students a voice in the selection of a successor to Law School Dean Albert M. Sacks hard to justify. Students met with Bok last week to urge that they be allowed to help nominate and interview candidates for the post. Bok told the students they were free to write letters to him with their opinions, but he said he feared student interviews would scare away potentially qualified candidates.
Law students have not asked to determine who replaces Sacks; the final choice is Bok's alone. But a new dean will be responsible to many groups on campus--these students among the most important. There's no reason why an official who will have to face students' questions every day on the job should not be asked to face those questions on one occasion before his selection.
Bok should let students participate in the selection process, instead of passively waiting for student letters. A significant student voice at this critical stage would help insure a more open Law School administration over the long run.