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The Admiral and His Captains

By Thcina H. Howlett

Some evening this year, you may visit up-perclass dining room and encounter a strange sight three or four students dressed as if for a fancy affair sitting at a side table with a dignified, gray-haired gent in a business suit. The sophisticated will be sophisticated, not too pretentious. Perhaps a candle two will be burning for atmosphere. The student will be smiling eagerly and leaning forward to soak up the wisdom of their guest-Derek C. Bok president of the University Ironically, this might be one of the few times that you or they see Bok all Year.

The president each semester dinner invitations from undergraduates and has even been known to pull personal stunt of over whelming quaintness several years ago interesting some undergraduates gift of a cake on his birthday with home-baked cookies, for example.

But all of this is pure tokenism. Bok generally epitomizes University and College administration which seems to pride itself on maintaining a vast distance from undergraduates. The motivations range from that of a Bok, a genuinely private person whose legal training prompts him to avoid situations for which he is not formally prepared, to that of other bureaucrats who simply don't think they need to talk to students to do their job well

Following is a brief glossary of some of the people who wield power at Harvard. They will to varying degrees shape your life here, but you may never see them other than at Opening Exercises or Commencement or perhaps once over a candlelit dinner in Lowell House.


President Bok took over from Nathan M. Pusey The worst of the student protests but at a point when it was clear that the President needed more assistance than Pusey had when he tailed to respond effectively to campus unrest Bok turned Massachusetts Hall, traditional headquarters for the University, into a highly bureaucratized network of vice presidents and personal advisors. His system has, by and large, succeeded in moving the University back into smooth waters with Admiral Bok relying heavily on his individual captains to maintain the prosperity and academic success Harvard enjoys

You may encounter Derek Bok one night at dinner, but it will probably be your only sighting.

The Mass Hall hierarchy has a side effect of exaggerating Bok's inclination to avoid public confrontation. You have to get past a lot of offices before you get to the president's door. But for all of his determination to avoid excess public exposure. Bok has felt obligated to voice his opinion in recent years on important campus issues, such as race relations through a series of "Open Letters" to the Harvard community and through his periodic terms as titular head of national university lobbying groups.

Among Bok's most time-consuming activities is alumni fund-raising. He is considered one of the most successful Harvard representatives helping out with the ongoing $150 million capital fund drive, and development officials report that the former dean of the Law School actually enjoys stepping out in front of a crowd on the Harvard Club banquet circuit--as long as he has his speech ready beforehand

Daniel Steiner '54 does not hold one of Bok's vice-president ships, but as general counsel to the University, he probably has the most direct influence of any administrator on his close friend and fellow lawyer.

Brought to Harvard to supervise University disciplinary and legal policy after the student demonstrations of the late 1960s, Steiner stayed on to direct everything from labor relations to the Harvard police. He also remains Bok's trouble-shooters-in-chief for any unexpected confrontations or campus disturbances.

Of the four University vice presidents. Thomas O'Brien, chief of financial operations, has emerged as perhaps the most powerful since he replaced Hale Champion now executive dean at the Kennedy School, in 1977. His Influence stems not from an unusually close relationship with Bok, but from his responsibility for the University's approximately 50 separate budgets, each of which operates independently under a system known as "every rub on its own bottom"

O'Berien's job is made some what more pleasant by Harvard's relative stability even in a period of general recession. Years of cautious investment and generous alumni contributions have provided O' Brien and subordinates plenty of capital with which to support University projects. Not surprisingly O'Brien is rarely found without it smile his face.

Vice Presidents Robin Schmidt and Fred L. Glimp '50 handle government and community relations and alumni affairs and development, respectively. They differ in their relationships with Bok, but each presides over a key area of University policy.

Schmidt shares some of Steiner's closeness with the president, but in his own realm, has suffered a series of failure in dealing with Cambridge's feisty community leaders. In sharp contract, the federal lobbying operation Schmidt also heads has grown significantly in recent years, effectively making Harvard's opinions known in Washington and elsewhere. Schmidt's public relations office appears to be in a state of transition at the moment, with several administrators awkwardly dividing up the role of chief spokesman.

Glimp is perhaps the furthest removed from Bok, and the rest of Mass Hall. His job is to keep the alumni in their current generous frame of mind, and he is apparently succeeding splendidly.

Vice President Joe B. Wyatt is even further removed. He's on his way out, headed for the president's chair at Vanderbilt University. No word yet on who will replace him as the czar of administration, but two of Wyatt's biggest responsibilities--the University's controversial power plant and real estate operation--will have to be the handled in the interim by subordinates.


While Bok and his cohorts work to preserve the prestige and quality of the entire University grad schools and all--Henry Rosovsky supervises the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) the ac ademic meat and potatoes of the place. The EAS consists of the undergraduate departments graduate programs in traditional academic held like English and Biology, and a vast assortment institutions such as museums and research centers. As an educator, therefore, Rosovsky is second to Bok and he reportedly has forged a close working relationship with the president. Rosovsky's stature increased when he turned down the presidency of Yale several years ago to stay on here. For the record the dean's said he wanted to nurse his brainchild, the Core Curriculum riculum Colleagues privately acknowledge that he is gunning for Harvard's presidency, should Bok step aside.

Despite this high official profile. Rosovsky one of the feast organizable Harvard officials because he seems pointedly to avoid contact with undergraduates. He offers guest lectures in his field of economics on occasion, but generally he stays confined within administrative circles just beyond the vision of the public. He participates on the disciplinary Administrative Board and chairs the Faculty's executive council, but decisions by these committees surely affect the College as a whole.

Rosovsky's largest mark on undergraduate life is still the Core, a curriculum now fully in place for freshmen for the first time. Rosovsky continues to supervise the curriculum of broad interdisciplinary courses, directing an ongoing review system that determines which courses are kosher for students' Core diets and which aren't

Sidney Verba '53, the Faculty's associate dean of undergraduate education, has far more direct impact on undergraduate life. His job, which he calls "one of those part-time full-time" commitments, entails tackling a major curriculum issue of two per year with the help of the Committee on Undergraduate Education, a student-Faculty steering committee which recommends curriculum changes to the Faculty, often with impressive success. Former high school class presidents interested in continuing their political careers ought to link up with this committee.

Verba helped institute a series of new rules last year which make it easier for undergraduate to get credit for study abroad and at other schools. Although this ought to be of little concern to incoming freshmen, he also proposed changes which would make the doling out of honors at diploma time a little more equitable. Now that you've read that, block it out of your mind--you haven't even filled out your first study card yet.

This year, Verba says he'll ask his student-faculty committee to begin examining a broad and much-talked about subject teaching in sections. The goal will be, as it was with credit and honors discussions to develop a sensible, unified policy for all departments. Students who don't get to know Verba through his administrative work may end up taking a course from him. He will, in addition to a high-level Gov course, be teaching the Sesame Street-level Government 30. "Introduction to American Government," a traditional favorite among freshmen

The College has its own bureaucratic channels to complement the Faculty's. At the top of this flow-chart is John B. Fox, Jr. '59, dean of the College. A lot of students contend that they understand less about what Fox does than they do about Bok or Rosovsky, who are even more removed from College life. This is understandable because Fox has no responsibility for curriculum issues and only supervises the administration of the College with his team of assistant deans. But don't be mistaken. Fox affects student's lives with activities ranging from presiding over the Administrative Board to chairing student-faculty committees on housing and undergraduate life, to initiating discussions over the demographic disparities in the upperclass Houses.

Archie Epps: the most mobile and affable of the College's administrators.

In contrast, the most recognizable Harvard administrator, who has the most contact with students, is Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III Epps duties are disparate. He Communicates with House chairmen regarding social events. He has established a college funded accounting service for struggling campus organizations. He is the chief administration contact man for the student government. And he regularly attend campus events, ranging from football games to the raucous spring Adams House Ratt Race on the Charles River Students with an idea of concern which seems to go beyond the realm of their senior adviser or senior tutor usually make an appointment with the affable administrator.

S. Allen Counter beginning his second year in the difficult poet of director of the Harvard Foundation for race relations--the compromise result of a 1981 drive among minority students for a separate third world center. A respected neutro biologist Counter nonetheless did not get tenure in the FAS and accepted the Foundation post as a half-time job along with some clinical responsibility at Harvard attitiated Massachusetts General Hospital

The Foundation has yet to assert itself as a moving force in countering racial tension, although Counter has overseen the construction of a student committee system designed to address the problem in coming years. Counter, who complained this past year that he was being blamed by some students for unavoidable delays in foundation activities, has said recently that he will urge undergraduates to play more of a role in leading the organization

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