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Knowles Misses Some Deadlines: Overworked?

News Analysis

By Jonathan A. Lewin and Sarah J. Schaffer

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.

If Knowles waits too long, it may be difficult to find someone in time to fill the deanship for the 1995-96 school year.

Columbia College is currently looking to fill the same position. An advertisement in Sunday's New York Times listed the application deadline for the Dean of Columbia College and Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Education as February 15. The dean would have to start by July 1, the ad said.

Harvard's new dean would have to move into University Hall by a similar time. Traditionally, newly hired Harvard administrators have begun their jobs on July 1.

Budget Letter

Finding a dean of the College--and deciding what he or she will do--is not the only overdue item on Knowles' agenda.

The dean's budget letter, which outlines the state of Faculty of Arts and Science finances and is traditionally sent in the first days of December, was not ready for the mid-December faculty meeting.

At that meeting, Knowles apologized for not having written the letter and said he planned to write it over winter break.

But Monday, he said he had written "one pathetic paragraph" of the letter and was not sure when he would complete it.

If Knowles, a known workaholic, tries to find enough time to catch up with all his overdue work as well as complete his new, Rudenstine may not be the only administrator feeling fatigued

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.

If Knowles waits too long, it may be difficult to find someone in time to fill the deanship for the 1995-96 school year.

Columbia College is currently looking to fill the same position. An advertisement in Sunday's New York Times listed the application deadline for the Dean of Columbia College and Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Education as February 15. The dean would have to start by July 1, the ad said.

Harvard's new dean would have to move into University Hall by a similar time. Traditionally, newly hired Harvard administrators have begun their jobs on July 1.

Budget Letter

Finding a dean of the College--and deciding what he or she will do--is not the only overdue item on Knowles' agenda.

The dean's budget letter, which outlines the state of Faculty of Arts and Science finances and is traditionally sent in the first days of December, was not ready for the mid-December faculty meeting.

At that meeting, Knowles apologized for not having written the letter and said he planned to write it over winter break.

But Monday, he said he had written "one pathetic paragraph" of the letter and was not sure when he would complete it.

If Knowles, a known workaholic, tries to find enough time to catch up with all his overdue work as well as complete his new, Rudenstine may not be the only administrator feeling fatigued

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