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Museum Fires 8 Staff Members

Personnel Criticizes Dean Knowles

By Alessandra M. Galloni

The dean of the Faculty fired eight staff members at Harvard's Semitic Museum yesterday, setting off a string of criticisms about the administration's recent review of the museum and its personnel.

A committee report earlier this month recommended cutting the museum's staff to reduce a cumulative $1 million deficit and linking the museum's use more closely to academic needs.

"I much regret that in having to deal with the imbalance in the museum's financial condition, some changes in structure will have to occur," said the dean, Jeremy R. Knowles, in an interview yesterday.

The decision was made despite a letter sent to Knowles Monday by the eight staff members protesting the report's recommendations and the composition of the review committee.

They charged that the eight-person committee, which included three Near Eastern Language and Civilization (NELC) professors, gave too much weight to the academic needs of the NELC department and too little to the "public component" of the museum.

The staff members also called Dorot Professor of Archaeology of Israel Lawrence Stager, the museum's director, an unfit choice to chair the committee.

"Professor Stager's lack of management, lack of communication with the staff, total neglect of fundraising and other duties expected of a director contributed greatly to the difficulties which the museum faces," said Monday's letter to Knowles.

Stager could not be reached for comment last night.

Several of the staff members dismissed said they believed Knowles falsely led them to believe their response to the report was important in his final decision.

"The Dean has been lying through his teeth," said William Corsetti, curator for educational planning. "We have a feeling...it was a faitaccompli."

Rosovsky, who resigned her position at themuseum the day the report was released, echoedthis sentiment, saying, "The conclusions were madelong before our response to the report was made."

Knowles had invited comments on the report fromstaff members and NELC professors earlier thismonth. He said yesterday that he has receivedmixed responses.

"I have had comments...many supportive and somecritical of it," Knowles said. He could not bereached for a response to the staff members'criticism last night.

Staff members also say they wish they had beenincluded in the review of the museum's structurethroughout last year.

"I think if a year ago, we had been called andtold, 'We can't support you,' it would have beeneasier to understand and accept," said Rosovsky."All of a sudden there's a committee which says,~'Goodbye.'"

"I think there were other issues involved...thedeficit was just a part of it," Rosovsky said.

In addition to Corsetti and Rosovsky, thestaffers dismissed are Carney Gavin, curator andexecutive director; Elizabeth C. Carella, curatorfor the history of photography; Linda ChristianHerot, financial administrator; Gary Pratico,curator for archaeological collections; Mary EllenTaylor, archivist; and Elizabeth C. Thyne,coordinator for public programs.

Some staffers said they believed their pastcommitment to the museum had been slighted.

"We are just shocked at the disregard for humanfeelings," Thyne said. "The people affectedrepresent a total of 150 years of experience inthe museum.

Rosovsky, who resigned her position at themuseum the day the report was released, echoedthis sentiment, saying, "The conclusions were madelong before our response to the report was made."

Knowles had invited comments on the report fromstaff members and NELC professors earlier thismonth. He said yesterday that he has receivedmixed responses.

"I have had comments...many supportive and somecritical of it," Knowles said. He could not bereached for a response to the staff members'criticism last night.

Staff members also say they wish they had beenincluded in the review of the museum's structurethroughout last year.

"I think if a year ago, we had been called andtold, 'We can't support you,' it would have beeneasier to understand and accept," said Rosovsky."All of a sudden there's a committee which says,~'Goodbye.'"

"I think there were other issues involved...thedeficit was just a part of it," Rosovsky said.

In addition to Corsetti and Rosovsky, thestaffers dismissed are Carney Gavin, curator andexecutive director; Elizabeth C. Carella, curatorfor the history of photography; Linda ChristianHerot, financial administrator; Gary Pratico,curator for archaeological collections; Mary EllenTaylor, archivist; and Elizabeth C. Thyne,coordinator for public programs.

Some staffers said they believed their pastcommitment to the museum had been slighted.

"We are just shocked at the disregard for humanfeelings," Thyne said. "The people affectedrepresent a total of 150 years of experience inthe museum.

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