Knowles Misses Some Deadlines: Overworked?

News Analysis

During a late-afternoon interview Monday, the secretary to Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles stepped into his office, bearing an envelope.

"I'm not here," she said in a stage whisper, smiling at the dean and quickly tiptoeing out.

"I'm not here either," the dean said, giving her a sigh and a wry smile.

The dean may well wish he weren't here, given the pressures of the past month.

Knowles has had little time lately to attend to routine matters. He's been busy with President Neil L. Rudenstine's surprise leave of absence last November, the demands of a University-wide capital campaign and professors' outrage over changes to their benefits and a proposed ROTC compromise.


And the crisis overflow may be causing delays.

For instance, Knowles said last September that he expected to announce the new structure of the position of the dean of the College in October. But he did not do so, saying that he needed more time to collect input.

Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 announced his decision last May to retire at the end of this spring semester.

At bi-weekly interviews from October to December, Knowles repeatedly said that he was still soliciting faculty opinion and had not yet decided on the structure for the position.

And in a late-December interview, Knowles said that he expected to make a decision on the structure of the Dean of the College between Christmas and the new year.

But in an interview Monday, the dean declined to comment on whether he had decided, saying only, "I do not anticipate having anything helpful to say for a week or two."

The options outlined in September's massive Report on the Structure of Harvard College include keeping the current single dean structure, combining the post with the position of dean of undergraduate education (the "superdean" structure) and creating a number of divisional deans to run the College.

Everyone has an opinion on what Knowles should do with the position which most directly impacts Harvard's undergraduates.

According to a presentation by Undergraduate Council President David L. Hanselman '94-'95 at November's Faculty meeting, students strongly oppose the "superdean" idea.

Some faculty members have argued that the post should be held by an academic. Jewett is a lifetime member of Harvard's bureaucracy, not a professor.

Some administrators have touted the advantages of putting a career administrator in the position.