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From her newly created post as director of public service programs, Shelly L. Taylor '83 will assist the College's several understaffed student community service organizations, student officials said yesterday.
Taylor, who assumed her duties September 1, has been able to fill an administrative void that has hampered the College's three community service bodies and the programs of the student-run Phillips Brooks House, according to PBH officials.
Taylor's main task will be to ensure that both the PBH program and the Harvard ones--the Freshman Urban Program, the Harvard Outdoor Program and a House-based neighborhood program--run smoothly.
Because she was hired by, and works under, Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57, Taylor is also expected to be an important advocate for increased financial support for these programs, the PBH officials said.
"We have been trying to get support for years now," said Greg A. Johnson '72, graduate secretary of PBH. "This is an attempt by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to supply us with that."
As an undergraduate, Taylor danced with City-Step an founded the Cambridge Youth Enrichment Program, a learning program for students aged 9 to 13.
Although plans to establish Taylor's position began several years ago, some administrators recognized the need for increased supervision at PBH after two near-tragedies this summer.
In mid-July, a PBH van with a legal capacity of 15 students--reportedly packed with almost twice that number of summer campers--flipped over a guardrail on the Massachusetts Turnpike. About one week later, a Harvard Shuttle Bus being driven by PBH ignited only minutes after the student driver had pulled over and told the passengers to disembark.
PBH has billed these events as aberrations, but Taylor said, "No one at PBH has denied the need for more support--though not necessarily sup vision."
Taylor, however, also said she did not think the accidents this summer were clearly the result of understaffing problems. "They were accidents, and not necessarily the result of a lack of supervision," she said.
Taylor said she thought the fire in the shuttle bus--a Harvard vehicle that the University regularly lends to PBH--was an extraordinary situation that could not be anticipated even by a well-staffed organization.
In regards to the earlier accident, on the Mass Pike, Taylor said she thought this was a personnel issue. The driver of the van, Alexandra T. Ramos '89, has been charged by police with "operating to endanger," and her case is now pending.
PBH President Shawn A. MacDonald '88 said he thought the new position was a step in the direction of alleviating the understaffing problem his group now faces.
Although Taylor is the first official to work at PBH--officially a student-run organization--and be paid by the University, MacDonald said he did not think her presence would pose a threat to the group's independence.
Preserving independence is "something we will keep in mind, but she in no way [makes executive decisions] for PBH," MacDonald said.
Immediately before coming to Harvard, Taylor worked in New York City at the Visiting Nurse Service, a service for the elderly. She has also worked for the Cambridge Housing Authority and as staff director for Cambridge City Councilor and State Representative Saundra Graham.
Taylor said yesterday that her job is "so far so good," and that she is working extra hours "trying to develop those kinds of relationships that will foster communication and alert people that the position exists."
Although Taylor said her "ultimate objective" is to attract more students to community service, she said her immediate goal is to "make sure those people who are now doing community service are getting the best experience possible."
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