Knowles Defends Review Committee

Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles yesterday defended the composition of the faculty advisory committee that reviewed the Semitic Museum last year.

Several staff members who were fired last month as a result of the committee's recommendations have attacked the makeup of the committee and especially the selection of its chair, Dorot Professor of the Archaeology Lawrence E. Stager '65.

Knowles said he selected Stager to chair the committee to review the museum because he is the director.

"It would have been improper if the director had not led the effort to generate a museum statement and strategic plan," Knowles said yesterday.

Staff members charged last week that Stager and the other committee members began the review with a bias in favor of directing the museum towards a more academic focus at the expense of its public programs.


But Knowles supported the committee members, especially Ford Professor of the Social Sciences David Pilbeam and Professor of Fine Arts James Cuno, who are "directors of the teaching museums that serve both students and faculty and have public programs."

The committee's report recommended that parts of the Semitic Museum's ethnographic and photographic collections be transferred to the museums directed by Pilbeam and Cuno.

Knowles said the committee's revision of themuseum's mission and future priorities wasnecessary because of the S1 million debt that themuseum has accumulated since 1985.

"If we haven't got enough money for everything,we must develop a plan to decide what we canafford," Knowles said.

Knowles also defended the restrictions thatwere placed on museum fundraising during thecommittee's review. This ban, staff members havesaid, thwarted efforts to help curb the deficit.

"Fundraising was put on hold pending theoutcome of the strategic planning process,"Knowles said. "The deficit was nearly $1 millionand it was important to avoid taking on newinsufficient funding commitments," Knowles said.

Knowles also responded to a commentary byLecturer on Social Studies Martin H. Peretz inMonday's Crimson which blamed Stager for themuseum's financial difficulties and attacked therecommendations of the review committee.

"I think Dr. Peretz has been misinformed on anumber of areas, and I am writing to him privatelyto correct these," Knowles said