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Kidd Named Public Service Dean

Leaders Outraged by Selection, Consider Increasing Independence

By Marios V. Broustas

More than a year after the search began for an assistant dean of public service, Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 yesterday appointed Judith H. Kidd, currently a vice president of Boston's City Year program, to fill the new post.

"I am extremely excited for the opportunity," said Kidd, who will assume her position as dean and director of Phillips Brooks House (PBH) on January 1. "It has been a very long and arduous search process which has been difficult for everyone."

Lewis' decision, however, has already come under attack from public service leaders and faculty members, who charge that Kidd is the wrong choice for the job.

"The individual selected by Dean Lewis in no way reflects our opinions or recommendations to him," PBHA President Vincent Pan '95-'96 and Central HAND Coordinator Elizabeth Finger '96 said in a statement released yesterday. "It is evident that our input did not receive the consideration it deserved."

Lewis chose Kidd from a list of four finalists presented to him by a search committee, which included two student representatives--one from Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), the governing body of PBH, and the other from Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND).

Despite this effort at inclusion, PBHA members and public service leaders said yesterday that Kidd was widely regarded as being one of the least-qualified candidates presented to Lewis because she lacks experience working with students.

"It is quite remarkable that the University chose not to listen to the pretty much unanimous opinion of the students and staff as to their views of the candidates," said Anne Peretz, chair of PBHA's Association Committee, the board of alumni and community leaders which oversees PBH.

PBHA directors, HAND coordinators and the Director of Office of Public Services Gail Epstein, who will be replaced by Kidd, wrote a letter to the search committee head on October 6, recommending Greg A. Johnson '72, the current executive director of PBH, for the job.

Johnson was among four names recommended to Lewis by the search committee.

The writers of the October letter said Kidd lacks experience in "direct service outside of fundraising." The letter also charged that "[Kidd's] management style seemed inflexible and unsuited to collaborative work with students."

But last night, Lewis dismissed criticisms of his choice for the deanship.

"I chose [Kidd] because of her experience, her outstanding commitment to public service activities," Lewis said. "She is a very good communicator, [and] she'll be very good in working with students in support of their objectives."

One of those who interviewed Kidd and wished to remain anonymous, said yesterday that Harvard chose her for the post because she represents the College's interests and will put an end to PBHA's decision-making autonomy from the College, which grew under Johnson's leadership.

"[Kidd] seemed very clear that has allegiance was to the dean, in no uncertain terms," the interviewer said. "If the concern is about getting PBHA under control, she is certainly the hatchet person."

The controversial Report on the Structure of Harvard College, which was co-authored by Lewis in 1993, recommended among other things creating Kidd's position, consolidating the College's two public service programs under a single dean and establishing an oversight committee on public service.

Lewis said he has confidence in Kidd's abilities to preserve the integrity and independence of the College's public service programs.

"I am completely confident that this will be an excellent appointment," Lewis said. "The most important thing here is to stabilize, promote and make as effective as possible the kind of public service activities that our undergraduates are involved in."

Undergraduates involved in the selection process, however, said that during the interviews, Kidd did not impress them with her ability to deal with students.

"[Kidd] demonstrated an alarming lack of sensitivity to the student run nature of PBHA," said PBHA Treasurer Andrew J. Ehrlich '96, who interviewed Kidd.

And PBHA vice-president Eric D. Dawson '96 agreed that Kidd may not be able to work well with students.

"The thing that worries me is [that] she sees herself as the CEO of public service...and that's not the role that an assistant dean could and should play, because these programs are run by students," said Dawson, who also participated in the interview process.

Kidd denied the charges that she lacks experience working with students, citing her work teaching a graduate course in fund-raising and philanthropy at Radcliffe College.

"My interest in working with students is extremely strong," Kidd said. "I really believe in fundraising as an active social change... the skills to be a good fundraiser are the skills you want working with students and faculty."

Lewis' decision has also come under fire from faculty and students who claim that it was predetermined.

"The students have been telling me for months that they knew [Johnson] wasn't going to be appointed," said Robert Coles '50, professor of psychology and medical humanities, and a member of PBHA's association committee. "They have been telling me for several months that [Kidd] would be getting the appointment."

Pan said he believes Lewis' decision was the product of a false process, aimed entirely at getting rid of Johnson.

"I view [the decision] as the director of PBH being fired rather than an assistant dean for public service being hired--the director of PBH being fired through an extremely insulting, disgusting and underhanded process," Pan said.

But administrators defend the restructuring of Harvard's public service programs, saying it brings together the College's service organizations as a single, cohesive unit.

Peretz, however, agreed with Pan that the College sought mainly to fire Johnson.

"They had reasons for trying to get rid of [Johnson] and they did not do it in a straight forward manner," Peretz said. "Realistically this isn't a new position...not only have they hired some body, [but] they have fired somebody without sufficient cause."

Students and faculty alike supported Johnson because of his work at building up the various PBHA service programs since he became director in 1980.

"I worked closely with student leadership in a collegial-type fashion because I'm used to that, [having come] out of this very idiosyncratic institution," Johnson said in an interview last spring.

Johnson could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In that interview last spring, Johnson said the program has increased from 150 students to 1,500 students during his tenure.

"I thought [Johnson] did a very fine job for many years," Coles said. "I've never met [Kidd], and I hope and pray that this will work out for the very important PBH programs."

Peretz credits Johnson with building the program to its current stature and even initiating the involvement of professional staff.

"PBH is an organization that existed for 85 years without any professional staff," Peretz said. "Johnson came along and developed a good infrastructure which the students have now bought into and have established something that's a...national model."

Lewis attempted to address these concerns, saying Kidd will serve to stabilize this strong tradition of public service at the College.

"The most important thing in my mind is to preserve the integrity of the programs that we have," he said.

Lewis added that he is grateful to both Johnson and Epstein for their years of service to the College. "Johnson and Epstein have played a very important and very meaningful and very successful role in developing our undergraduate public service activities to the state that they are in now."

Ehrlich said he hopes that the choice of the new dean was made based on the quality of the individual candidates and not on the basis of political agendas.

"I hope that the criteria making this decision was not loyalty, but who could maintain the best public service experience for undergraduates," Ehrlich said. "If that was the criteria, I can't see how a decision other than [Johnson] could have been reached."

Johnson and Epstein have been offered the chance to remain at their posts through June in order to aid Kidd during the period of transition.

Kidd is currently the vice president for development and acting co-chief operating officer of City Year, Inc., a Boston based national service program.

A 1964 graduate of Williams College, she has also worked as a manager of corporate contributions with the Bank of Boston and as Boston University's director of public information.

Kidd sat on the board of directors of the Associated Grantmakers of Massachusetts from 1987 to 1992. She worked for the Brookline Council for the Arts and Humanities in her hometown from 1988 to 1989.

Currently, she is the founder and a member of the board of directors for Project STEP, an educational program for minority students

The writers of the October letter said Kidd lacks experience in "direct service outside of fundraising." The letter also charged that "[Kidd's] management style seemed inflexible and unsuited to collaborative work with students."

But last night, Lewis dismissed criticisms of his choice for the deanship.

"I chose [Kidd] because of her experience, her outstanding commitment to public service activities," Lewis said. "She is a very good communicator, [and] she'll be very good in working with students in support of their objectives."

One of those who interviewed Kidd and wished to remain anonymous, said yesterday that Harvard chose her for the post because she represents the College's interests and will put an end to PBHA's decision-making autonomy from the College, which grew under Johnson's leadership.

"[Kidd] seemed very clear that has allegiance was to the dean, in no uncertain terms," the interviewer said. "If the concern is about getting PBHA under control, she is certainly the hatchet person."

The controversial Report on the Structure of Harvard College, which was co-authored by Lewis in 1993, recommended among other things creating Kidd's position, consolidating the College's two public service programs under a single dean and establishing an oversight committee on public service.

Lewis said he has confidence in Kidd's abilities to preserve the integrity and independence of the College's public service programs.

"I am completely confident that this will be an excellent appointment," Lewis said. "The most important thing here is to stabilize, promote and make as effective as possible the kind of public service activities that our undergraduates are involved in."

Undergraduates involved in the selection process, however, said that during the interviews, Kidd did not impress them with her ability to deal with students.

"[Kidd] demonstrated an alarming lack of sensitivity to the student run nature of PBHA," said PBHA Treasurer Andrew J. Ehrlich '96, who interviewed Kidd.

And PBHA vice-president Eric D. Dawson '96 agreed that Kidd may not be able to work well with students.

"The thing that worries me is [that] she sees herself as the CEO of public service...and that's not the role that an assistant dean could and should play, because these programs are run by students," said Dawson, who also participated in the interview process.

Kidd denied the charges that she lacks experience working with students, citing her work teaching a graduate course in fund-raising and philanthropy at Radcliffe College.

"My interest in working with students is extremely strong," Kidd said. "I really believe in fundraising as an active social change... the skills to be a good fundraiser are the skills you want working with students and faculty."

Lewis' decision has also come under fire from faculty and students who claim that it was predetermined.

"The students have been telling me for months that they knew [Johnson] wasn't going to be appointed," said Robert Coles '50, professor of psychology and medical humanities, and a member of PBHA's association committee. "They have been telling me for several months that [Kidd] would be getting the appointment."

Pan said he believes Lewis' decision was the product of a false process, aimed entirely at getting rid of Johnson.

"I view [the decision] as the director of PBH being fired rather than an assistant dean for public service being hired--the director of PBH being fired through an extremely insulting, disgusting and underhanded process," Pan said.

But administrators defend the restructuring of Harvard's public service programs, saying it brings together the College's service organizations as a single, cohesive unit.

Peretz, however, agreed with Pan that the College sought mainly to fire Johnson.

"They had reasons for trying to get rid of [Johnson] and they did not do it in a straight forward manner," Peretz said. "Realistically this isn't a new position...not only have they hired some body, [but] they have fired somebody without sufficient cause."

Students and faculty alike supported Johnson because of his work at building up the various PBHA service programs since he became director in 1980.

"I worked closely with student leadership in a collegial-type fashion because I'm used to that, [having come] out of this very idiosyncratic institution," Johnson said in an interview last spring.

Johnson could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In that interview last spring, Johnson said the program has increased from 150 students to 1,500 students during his tenure.

"I thought [Johnson] did a very fine job for many years," Coles said. "I've never met [Kidd], and I hope and pray that this will work out for the very important PBH programs."

Peretz credits Johnson with building the program to its current stature and even initiating the involvement of professional staff.

"PBH is an organization that existed for 85 years without any professional staff," Peretz said. "Johnson came along and developed a good infrastructure which the students have now bought into and have established something that's a...national model."

Lewis attempted to address these concerns, saying Kidd will serve to stabilize this strong tradition of public service at the College.

"The most important thing in my mind is to preserve the integrity of the programs that we have," he said.

Lewis added that he is grateful to both Johnson and Epstein for their years of service to the College. "Johnson and Epstein have played a very important and very meaningful and very successful role in developing our undergraduate public service activities to the state that they are in now."

Ehrlich said he hopes that the choice of the new dean was made based on the quality of the individual candidates and not on the basis of political agendas.

"I hope that the criteria making this decision was not loyalty, but who could maintain the best public service experience for undergraduates," Ehrlich said. "If that was the criteria, I can't see how a decision other than [Johnson] could have been reached."

Johnson and Epstein have been offered the chance to remain at their posts through June in order to aid Kidd during the period of transition.

Kidd is currently the vice president for development and acting co-chief operating officer of City Year, Inc., a Boston based national service program.

A 1964 graduate of Williams College, she has also worked as a manager of corporate contributions with the Bank of Boston and as Boston University's director of public information.

Kidd sat on the board of directors of the Associated Grantmakers of Massachusetts from 1987 to 1992. She worked for the Brookline Council for the Arts and Humanities in her hometown from 1988 to 1989.

Currently, she is the founder and a member of the board of directors for Project STEP, an educational program for minority students

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