PBHA Grads Criticize Search

Six recent graduates expressed concerns about the future of public service at Harvard in a letter faxed yesterday to Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 and other College officials.

The letter criticizes the search process for a new assistant dean and director of Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA). It contends that students and community members have not been consulted enough in the process.

"By focusing so much attention on the highest levels of administrative control,...the University has ignored the more important needs of...student volunteers and the residents of Boston and Cambridge," the letter reads. "Public service simply cannot be governed from the top down."

Last year, Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles decided to create an assistant dean position and a committee on public service, which would govern both PBHA and the House and Neighborhood Development program (HAND), per a recommendation by the Report on the Structure of Harvard College, coauthored by Lewis.

After months of deliberation by a search committee, Lewis has on his desk the names of four candidates for the assistant dean post. Two of the people are internal, current Director of Phillips Brooks House Greg A. Johnson '72 and current assistant director Kenneth G. Smith and two are from outside Harvard.


The letter, signed by alumni who were actively involved in public service while at Harvard, advocates two options: either "suspend the current selection process and convene a more balanced review committee" or hire one of the internal candidates.

Author Timothy P. McCarthy '93, central coordinator of the HAND program in 1992 and 1993, said the graduates wrote the letter because they "have some leverage as alumni," and they hope to influence the administration's decision on a dean.

The proposed centralized community service program will not work, McCarthy said in an interview last night.

"Lewis is a computer scientist, and Knowles is a scientist and Rudenstine is an English professor. They are tremendous administrators, but they are not people who know a lot about public service," McCarthy said.

Lewis wrote in an e-mail message yesterday that he had not received the letter and therefore could not com- ment on it.

Professor of Government Theda Skocpol, chair of a faculty-student committee on public service, said last night that she has seen written opinions from search committee members and believed that students were consulted adequately.

"I think all of that was very thorough," said Skocpol, who had not yet received the letter.

"A great deal of the documentation is from students, more from students than from any other category of people," she added.

Skocpol's committee has not yet met.

"I think that the committee is going to be a place where all views can be heard on issues about public service at Harvard," she said.

And Skocpol said she disagrees with the letter's proposal to suspend the current selection process and appoint a new committee.