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Senior Tutor Role Discussed

With House Appointment, Junior Profs Could Stay Longer

By Jonathan A. Lewin and Sarah J. Schaffer

Members of the Faculty Council yesterday backed a recommendation to attract junior faculty to serve as senior tutors in the houses, but said the suggestion may not be realistic.

The recommendation came from the recently issued Report on the Structure of Harvard College, which calls for increased faculty involvement in College governance and student life.

Council members said that without special incentives, getting junior professors to work more closely with the College won't be easy. Professors seeking tenure may not have time to be senior tutors, they said.

To draw faculty to the College posts, council members discussed allowing assistant' professors who serve as senior tutors to extend their time at Harvard, according to Associate Professor of German Peter J. Burgard. Such a proposal would bend Harvard's rigid eight-year maximum term for untenured faculty.

"It seems to me the most likely way of getting ladder-ranked faculty," said Peter J. Burgard, associate professor of German.

Junior faculty members said the suggestion could work.

"There are certainly people who would prefer a lengthier time before being considered for tenure," said Assistant Professor of Government Eva Bellin.

The council also considered offering departments a free junior faculty position if the new professor could also work as a senior tutor half the time.

But even the extra benefits may not actually get professors into the houses.

"I wish them good luck finding assistant professors who would be willing to spend a minimum of 30 and more like 40 hours a week on a half-time job while they're also teaching and trying to publish so they can get tenure," said Gregory Mobley, senior tutor in Winthrop House.

Council members were also skeptical. A professorship and a senior tutor position can both be full-time jobs, faculty members said.

"Under current expectations, it is a full-time half-time job to be a senior tutor and a full-time half-time job to be a faculty members, and most people find it very hard to hold down two jobs," said Professor of Government Kenneth A. Shepsle.

House masters are also concerned.

"The Masters... worry that [the senior tutorship] is more than a half-time position and not comfortably balanced with teaching and research," the report says.

Ten or 15 years ago, according to Secretary to the Faculty Council John B. Fox '59, it was the norm for senior tutors to have Ph.Ds, and the report advocates a return to that ideal.

"It is a concern of the committee that important qualities of academic experience and worldliness cannot be as fully represented in pre-doctoral senior tutors as in senior tutors who have earned their doctorates and have had some additional academic employment," the report says.

But some question whether that ideal is possible nowadays.

"In olden times, I think senior tutors were typically members of the faculty, and that was a very nice thing," Shepsle said. "The question is whether in this modern world that is practical.

"Under current expectations, it is a full-time half-time job to be a senior tutor and a full-time half-time job to be a faculty members, and most people find it very hard to hold down two jobs," said Professor of Government Kenneth A. Shepsle.

House masters are also concerned.

"The Masters... worry that [the senior tutorship] is more than a half-time position and not comfortably balanced with teaching and research," the report says.

Ten or 15 years ago, according to Secretary to the Faculty Council John B. Fox '59, it was the norm for senior tutors to have Ph.Ds, and the report advocates a return to that ideal.

"It is a concern of the committee that important qualities of academic experience and worldliness cannot be as fully represented in pre-doctoral senior tutors as in senior tutors who have earned their doctorates and have had some additional academic employment," the report says.

But some question whether that ideal is possible nowadays.

"In olden times, I think senior tutors were typically members of the faculty, and that was a very nice thing," Shepsle said. "The question is whether in this modern world that is practical.

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