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HAND Alumni Defend Director In Notes to Dean

Epstein's Record Praised; Choice of Kidd to Head Public Service Is Attacked

By Valerie J. Macmillan

Several past leaders of the Housing and Neighborhood Development program (HAND) wrote to Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 this past week to defend the public service program and its director in light of the recent restructuring of public service at the College.

Lewis' recent decision to hire Judith H. Kidd as dean of public service essentially eliminates the positions held by Greg A. Johnson '72, director of Phillips Brooks House, and Gail L. Epstein, director of public service programs for Harvard College, who is responsible for programs such as HAND.

Kidd has been called "unqualified" by student leaders, most of whom support Johnson and Epstein and feel betrayed by the administration. And HAND alumni have expressed their support for the students.

"I wrote a nine-page memo, and I got all of these wonderful letters [and] reassurances [from various Harvard administrators]. They assured me they were as committed to public service as I was," said Timothy P. McCarthy '93, who coordinated HAND in his senior year. "They have hired a fundraising marionette."

"I wrote in a letter to Harry Lewis last night that I have never been more embarrassed and disappointed in my alma mater than I am right now," said McCarthy. "The students are fighting and I will continue to fight."

In a letter dated this Thursday, Jessica D. Steigerwald '90, who has been involved with HAND for six of the past eight years, both as an undergraduate volunteer and as a public service tutor, also defended Epstein and expressed her support for the student volunteers.

"The bottom line is that without student volunteers, there is no public service at Harvard," Steigerwald said. "As long as students believe that HAND's unique programs will be destroyed by the abrupt removal of Gail... I believe the students."

But this week, in a letter to The Crimson, Lewis expressed support for HAND.

"I want to endorse strongly the HAND program as it is now operating, to praise and thank everyone who has made it the success that it is, and to express every intention that it remain as strong a program in the future or indeed become even stronger," Lewis wrote.

He also wrote in his letter that he hoped the HAND programs would continue operating without change for the remainder of the academic year, with Epstein remaining to aid in the transition to the new public service dean structure.

"I have invited Gail Epstein to remain fully employed and with full responsibility for the operation of the HAND programs for the remainder of this academic year," he wrote.

But according to McCarthy, Lewis has not extended any formal employment offer to Epstein.

"[Lewis] met with [the HAND coordinators] and basically told them and postured and assured them that Gail would be kept on to the end of the year. He has not yet drafted an agreement with Gail Epstein," McCarthy said. "Gail is not sure if she's going to be there. These agreements have not been drafted legally."

Epstein confirmed that no final agreement has yet been reached between Lewis and herself that would allow the Office of Public Service programs to continue providing its current level of service to HAND, Phillips Brooks House Association or other public service programs after December 31

"I have invited Gail Epstein to remain fully employed and with full responsibility for the operation of the HAND programs for the remainder of this academic year," he wrote.

But according to McCarthy, Lewis has not extended any formal employment offer to Epstein.

"[Lewis] met with [the HAND coordinators] and basically told them and postured and assured them that Gail would be kept on to the end of the year. He has not yet drafted an agreement with Gail Epstein," McCarthy said. "Gail is not sure if she's going to be there. These agreements have not been drafted legally."

Epstein confirmed that no final agreement has yet been reached between Lewis and herself that would allow the Office of Public Service programs to continue providing its current level of service to HAND, Phillips Brooks House Association or other public service programs after December 31

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