PBHA Reacts To Dean Choice

News Analysis

With a new assistant dean for public service scheduled to arrive on January 1, the outlook for Phillips Brooks House is murky, key players said yesterday.

Judith H. Kidd, currently a vice president of Boston's City Year program, will assume the deanship and become director of Phillips Brooks House (PBH), replacing long-time PBH Executive Director Greg A. Johnson '72.

In his first interview since the decision was announced Tuesday, Johnson said yesterday that he was disappointed with the choice.

"I did share with Harry [Lewis] that I thought he made a mistake," Johnson said of his Tuesday meeting with Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis, who chose Kidd as dean.

Johnson said he thought too many of his interview questions had focused upon loyalty to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), rather than "how the job could best be carried out."


He referred to a 1993 incident when he recommended more staffers for the burgeoning program in the face of an FAS deficit and was told by the administration to "muddle through."

Student members of the Phillips Brooks House Association, Inc. (PBHA) and adult members of its Association Committee were in nearly unanimous agreement that Johnson should have been chosen as the new dean.

"I feel that the students, the programs and the communities were let down [with the choice of Kidd]," said Elizabeth C. Finger '96, a central coordinator for Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND). "I don't feel that they picked the person who was best qualified."

PBHA Vice-President Eric D. Dawson '96 said last night that the organization has received many phone calls from concerned elected officials, alumni and members Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

"They're concerned that the students aren't being listened to and that they're not being listened to, "Dawson said. "They're just as upset as we are."

Members of the search committee, however, said Lewis had made a good choice from a strong candidate pool.

"I think the person [Lewis] chose has very strong qualities that fit well with the needs of the job," said Daniel Steiner, the committee's chair. "I think there were a number of strong candidates, and Judith Kidd was certainly one of them.

The committee submitted to Lewis as candidates Kidd, Johnson, PBH Assistant Director Ken Smith and another outside candidate.

"[Kidd] is a person with strong experience, great energy, good judgment and excellent management skills," Steiner said. "She also relates well to students and other volunteers."

Professor of Sociology Theda Skocpol, who chairs the faculty-student committee on public service, also defended the choice.

"I was involved in the interviews for all the candidates, and I read the very thorough documentation that was provided by the search committee and talked it over with Dean Lewis," Skocpol said Tuesday night.