New Design Dean Faces Deficit, Seeks Changes

Rowe Sees Shift Toward Advanced Programs

When President Neil L. Rudenstine began his search for a new dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Garbe Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Peter G. Rowe came immediately to mind for the job--of helping him find the best candidate.

"I found myself working very hard to find him a dean," says Rowe, chair of the school's department of urban planning and design.

But after looking outside the school for a dean unsuccessfully, Rudenstine then turned to three inside candidates. In March he tapped Rowe, a former director of Rice University's school of architecture, to replace Gerald M. McCue as dean of the Graduate School of Design.

Rowe, who will take office July 1, inherits a design school that grew in resources under McCue but now, according to the new dean, faces "potentially serious" financial difficulties.

"McCue was the most entrepreneurial dean the school has ever had," he adds. "We've come from a period of intense fundraising and growth and...we still have deficit."


While Rowe, 46, says he plans to put more emphasis on scholarship and research at the school, he must also face the nit-and-girt issues of the school's deficit and financial aid woes.

"One of the big problems we've got to deal with somehow is unmet student financial aid," says dean-designate Rowe from his third floor office in George Gund Hall.

"The amount of student aid we offer definitely affects the types of students we get," Rowe says.

According to McCue, the Design School's deficit will exceed $200,000 this year. The deficit is considered small--the school's budget hovers around $13 million--but Rowe says the deficit could hurt the school if it persists.

"I'm concerned because the quality of life of the school is clearly wrapped up in the deficit," says Rowe, who left Rice for Harvard in 1985.

Rowe suggests that more aid from the University to the Design School might be needed to close the deficit.

"I think, at least from the vantage point of this office, more help from central administration would be greatly appreciated," Rowe says.

Just how these financial questions will affect the Design School's academic planning process is uncertain.

But the discussions on academic planning, underway at all nine graduate schools, could affect the school's curriculum significantly.

Those discussions, Rowe says, may lead to a shift in emphasis from first architectural degree programs to more advanced post-professional degree programs.