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Candidates Find Science a Common Ground

Board of Overseers Elections

By Tara A. Nayak

There aren't a whole lot of things that the Alumni Association and Harvard-Radcliffe Alumni Against Apartheid (HRAAA) have agreed on in recent years.

HRAAA, a pro-divestment activist group, has tried to change Harvard's South African investment policy by nominating its own candidates to the Board of Overseers in recent years. In the process, it has on several occasions squared off against the Alumni Association, which nominates Harvard's official slate of candidates.

But already this year the two groups have met and agreed to stop the negative campaigning. Now, it seems that the two have agreed on something else--the need for scientists on the 30-member Board.

The candidate slates nominated last week by both the Harvard Alumni Association and Harvard-Radcliffe Alumni Against Apartheid (HRAAA) reflect a trend toward boosting the 30-member Board's cast of scientific experts.

Two candidates from the Alumni Association's eight-person slate and two from HRAAA's five nominees are involved in science or medicine, constituting the highest proportion of scientist candidates in recent years.

Judy Lieberman '69, a HRAAA nominee who is assistant professor of medicine at Tuffs University, says she thinks she was chosen partly because of her involvement in science.

"There are few people from science and medicine, which are an important part of the modern university." she says. "And in the Harvard governing boards, in particular, there's the feeling that there's not adequate expertise in that."

But Lieberman says she would do more than just offer scientific expertise to the Board.

"I think that in terms of realizing the goals of Harvard, which I see as fostering excellence in education, Harvard traditionally has taken a somewhat narrow and politically biased view of what constitutes intellectually legitimate research. It doesn't include the Left," Lieberman says.

She says "the faculty should be more diverse in background and political persuasion," and thinks the different professional schools need to put more emphasis on ethics.

And Lieberman pointed to the lingering issue of divestment as an place where "Harvard should set an example of moral behavior."

"Harvard shouldn't give the message that maximizing income is the only goal of an institution in society," she says. "Harvard's rigidity is not setting a good example."

But Alumni Association candidate John A. Armstrong '56, who is IBM's vice president for science and technology, sees the Board's role a little differently.

Armstrong says the Board's strength lies in the "outside views" represented by its members, and says it would be "a mistake to overstate the Board of Overseer's influence."

"But I'm pretty sure it's helpful from time to time to the president and fellows and deans to have the support of an inside group," he adds. "It's an important body, but it doesn't run the University." University."

He does agree with Lieberman about the need for science expertise on the Board. Armstrong said he would like to contribute to ongoing discussion of the place of science--and particularly applied sciences--at Harvard.

"There's considerable thought being given to Harvard's role in science and technology," he says, "and I would like to participate in that debate."

Armstrong said the University is "constantly assessing the degree of science and technology education appropriate for the educated person."

"Harvard can play a larger role there," he said. "The whole areas of the impact of science and technology on society, and the impact of the scientific discipline on technology and industry, are of enormous importance."

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