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Two Visions of Public Service Program Clash

By Sarah J. Schaffer

The College and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences are imposing upon the Harvard public service program fundamental and controversial changes.

These changes are the result of a College report last fall that recommended creating a new position and a faculty committee to oversee Harvard's public service programs and organizations, the largest of which is PBHA (Phillips Brooks House Association), Inc.

But those closest to the public service programs--the students who work every day with under-privileged Boston communities, the alumni who advise PBH and the community activists who support PBH through their money and their time--say these changes, culminating in a search for a new assistant dean for public service, are misguided.

PBH has reached its highest point ever in its number of staff members, range of programs and student involvement, according to person after person interviewed.

And in light of uncontested increases in the services provided by PBH and the number of staff who volunteer, nearly every member of the Phillips Brooks House Association, PBH's student board, is asking the same question: If we aren't broken, why fix us?

Even the report recommending change conceded that its committee was "impressed by the range and variety of programs that have devel- oped under these structures, making Harvard'sinvolvement in public service a source of localpride and national recognition."

An Eye on Safety

One possible reason for administrators' suddeninterest in regulating public service may be astring of accidents involving the PBHA's vans lastsummer.

In the summer of 1994, PBHA began impeachmentproceedings against Harvetta E. Nero '96,secretary of its board of directors. She wascharged with three alleged violation ofassociation driving policy in the summer of1994--driving a PBHA van while uninsured,authorizing an uncertified driver to transportPBHA campers and ignoring the association's policyon insurance deductibles.

Nero and a number of other PBHA staffers wereinvolved in a series of accidents whichjeopardized the association's insurance policy.According to then PBHA President John B. king'96-'95, Harvard would not renew insurancecoverage of the approximately 18 vans PBHA rentsduring the summer without prompt action by theassociation's board.

After a four-hour emergency session, the PBHAcabinet voted not to remove Nero. In the wake ofthe driving infractions, PBHA passed a Newvehicles policy. According to the policy, PBHAdrivers found at fault in an accident in anassociation van since January 1, 1993 would havetheir certification revoked but could berecertified after two hours of classroom training,four to six hours of road training and successfulcompletion of written and road tests.

Nero's problem was only one of a series ofcases over the years that have pitted PBHA againstthe University administration. According to asource in PBHA, FAS administrators did not back upPBH Assistant Director Kenneth G. Smith's requestthat Nero be submitted to disciplinary action bythe Administrative Board. Many students in PBHAwished that the Ad board had taken action,according to the source.

Whether administrators turned their attentionto public service because of these high profileaccidents or whether they were primarilyinterested in streamlining the public servicestructure is a question of considerable debate.

Streamlining or Safeguarding?

When Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles wasasked why the college and the Faculty have paid somuch attention to changing the public serviceprogram, he pointed to the list of goals inAppendix 1 of the Maull-Lewis report on thestructure of the college.

Over the past decade, there have been at leasthalf a dozen such investigations of public serviceat Harvard.

"We've been reviewed by `review committees'since day one," said Andrew J. Erlich, PBHA'streasurer.

The Maull-Lewis report lists five reasons forthe changes:

Public service programs have grown very rapidlyrecently, but their support systems vary greatly.

The dual structure of PBH and the Office ofPublic Service "creates confusions ofcommunication and responsibility."

The greater complexity of the programs leads togreater concerns about safety, liability andresponsibility.

Representatives of the Faculty have had littlevoice in directions or priorities among publicservice activities."

All programs under Harvard sponsorship mustproceed with "appropriate Faculty andadministrative oversight," the report reads.

Ehrlich maintained, however, that the reasonsthe Maull-Lewis report gives for the restructuringare specious.

"I think this whole search process isillegitimate," Ehrlich said. "They say the searchis necessary to find accountability. this isn'tabout accountability; it's about control," Ehrlichsaid.

Of course, after events earlier this year,control is something the FAS might well like tohave. But public service leaders say they havereacted to accidents appropriately--by institutinga new vehicles policy and having more staffinvolvement.

But whatever the reasons for the changes, onething is clear: under-graduates don't like theresults.

The Report and the Search

Last September, the controversial Report on theStructure of Harvard college recommended creatinga new position--the assistant dean of publicservice and director of PBH--and constructing afaculty standing committee on public service.

The committee will have oversight of all publicservice and volunteer programs authorized andsupported by the Faculty of Arts andSciences(FAS)," according to the report,co-authored by Administrative Dean of FAS Nancy L.Maull and Dean-elect of the College Harry R.Lewis.

In December, Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R.Knowles approved the recommendations and--as aconcession to public service leaders'protests--stipulated that the new structure wouldnot go into place until July 1996.

A search committee for the assistant dean,appointed by Jewett, began accepting applicationsin March. Although members of Phillips BrooksHouse were asked for recommendations for thesearch committee and submitted them, Jewett chosenone of their candidates for the committee.

"I never got an explanation of what happened,"said Professor of Psychiatry and MedicalHumanities Robert Coles '50, one of those thestudents suggested. "I've wondered out loud, andit has never been explained to me."

As of last week, the search committee hadreceived about 250 applications, according toformer vice-president and general counsel DanielSteiner, chair of the committee. A few are stilltrickling in after the mid-May deadline, he said.

Steiner said he has talked about the searchprocess over the past two months with the PBHAboard, the PBH staff, Director of PBH and Directorof the Stride Rite Program Greg A. Johnson, '72,Director of Public Service Programs for theCollege Gail L. Epstein and some members of the26-member PBH advisory committee.

Many members associated with PBH, however, saidthe current system is more than adequate and thesearch itself is unnecessary.

"We [did have] a period of time when thevarious social action and community serviceprograms that existed beyond Phillips Brooks Housecaused some organizational problems for theUniversity," said City Councillor Francis H.Duehay '55, a member of the advisory committee.

Those problems, Duehay said, resulted in thecreation of the Office of public Service, underEpstein's leadership. Separate from PBH, theoffice oversees all public service activities atthe College, including Citystep, House andNeighborhood Development (HAND), Circle K,Education for Action and PBH.

But Duehay said that although PBH and theOffice of Public Service may have been redundant afew years ago, they are not now.

"I think over the last several years, thatoffice and PBH have worked very carefully andclosely together to eliminate overlap andduplication," Duehay said. "The Maull-Lewis reportassumed that duplication was still there, and Idon't think it is."

Indeed, PBHA and HAND leaders worked togetherthis year to coordinate a student protest againstthe College report. Leaders of both groups wrotein a memo to Knowles, Jewett and Maull last fallthat their primary concerns were with a reductionin staff or the elimination of the senior staffpositions.

The letter, authored by King. PBHA board memberEric Dawson '97 and Central HAND CoordinatorsJenna McNeill '95 and Kelly Yee '95, described anapparent under-standing between the administratorsand the student leaders.

"We believe that Greg Johnson and Gail Epsteinshould remain in these positions with theappropriate changes in their job descriptions,"the student leaders wrote. "We do not think asearch process for new applicants would beanything but disruptive and unnecessary."

Despite the students' protests, Knowlesdetermined that there would be a new positioncreated. In addition, Knowles stipulated thatthere would be no increase in the number of fulltime employees in the present service structure.thus, if Epstein or Johnson is not appointed tothe dean position, it seems likely that somesupport or director position would be eliminated.

According to a PBHA source, Epstein will notenter the search process, but Johnson and PBHAssistant Director Kenneth A. Smith will.

With the two student service groups apparentlycooperating to maintain their separate directors,some say the question of a bulky or unmanageablepublic service structure seems irrelevant.

Chair of the advisory committee Anne Peretzsaid there has been some "anxiety" in PBH about"changing something when it doesn't appear to bebroken."

Given that there is a search despite the wishesof PBH, Peretz said she would like to see anassistant dean who responsive to all of PBH'sconstituencies--especially the students whoorganize and staff the programs.

"I think that the director of public serviceand the director of PBH needs to be someone whocan really relate to several differentconstituencies, the Faculty of Arts and Sciencebeing one of them, but they also have to be ableto relate to students, to the staff, to thecommunities in which we work," Peretz said.

Out With the old?

Every PBH affiliate interviewed expressednothing but admiration for Johnson's work over his15 years at Harvard. Robert Bridgeman, programdirector at PBH, said that every staff membersupports Greg Johnson for the Assistant deanship.

Many members of PBH said he would be theperfect choice for assistant dean because of hisexperience at Harvard and his outreach work withlocal and national service programs.

But Ehrlich said that the entire search is anattempt by FAS to rid the College of Johnson andreplace him with an administrative flunky.B-9SERVICECrimson File PhotoCity Councillor FRANCIS H. DUEHAY '55

An Eye on Safety

One possible reason for administrators' suddeninterest in regulating public service may be astring of accidents involving the PBHA's vans lastsummer.

In the summer of 1994, PBHA began impeachmentproceedings against Harvetta E. Nero '96,secretary of its board of directors. She wascharged with three alleged violation ofassociation driving policy in the summer of1994--driving a PBHA van while uninsured,authorizing an uncertified driver to transportPBHA campers and ignoring the association's policyon insurance deductibles.

Nero and a number of other PBHA staffers wereinvolved in a series of accidents whichjeopardized the association's insurance policy.According to then PBHA President John B. king'96-'95, Harvard would not renew insurancecoverage of the approximately 18 vans PBHA rentsduring the summer without prompt action by theassociation's board.

After a four-hour emergency session, the PBHAcabinet voted not to remove Nero. In the wake ofthe driving infractions, PBHA passed a Newvehicles policy. According to the policy, PBHAdrivers found at fault in an accident in anassociation van since January 1, 1993 would havetheir certification revoked but could berecertified after two hours of classroom training,four to six hours of road training and successfulcompletion of written and road tests.

Nero's problem was only one of a series ofcases over the years that have pitted PBHA againstthe University administration. According to asource in PBHA, FAS administrators did not back upPBH Assistant Director Kenneth G. Smith's requestthat Nero be submitted to disciplinary action bythe Administrative Board. Many students in PBHAwished that the Ad board had taken action,according to the source.

Whether administrators turned their attentionto public service because of these high profileaccidents or whether they were primarilyinterested in streamlining the public servicestructure is a question of considerable debate.

Streamlining or Safeguarding?

When Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles wasasked why the college and the Faculty have paid somuch attention to changing the public serviceprogram, he pointed to the list of goals inAppendix 1 of the Maull-Lewis report on thestructure of the college.

Over the past decade, there have been at leasthalf a dozen such investigations of public serviceat Harvard.

"We've been reviewed by `review committees'since day one," said Andrew J. Erlich, PBHA'streasurer.

The Maull-Lewis report lists five reasons forthe changes:

Public service programs have grown very rapidlyrecently, but their support systems vary greatly.

The dual structure of PBH and the Office ofPublic Service "creates confusions ofcommunication and responsibility."

The greater complexity of the programs leads togreater concerns about safety, liability andresponsibility.

Representatives of the Faculty have had littlevoice in directions or priorities among publicservice activities."

All programs under Harvard sponsorship mustproceed with "appropriate Faculty andadministrative oversight," the report reads.

Ehrlich maintained, however, that the reasonsthe Maull-Lewis report gives for the restructuringare specious.

"I think this whole search process isillegitimate," Ehrlich said. "They say the searchis necessary to find accountability. this isn'tabout accountability; it's about control," Ehrlichsaid.

Of course, after events earlier this year,control is something the FAS might well like tohave. But public service leaders say they havereacted to accidents appropriately--by institutinga new vehicles policy and having more staffinvolvement.

But whatever the reasons for the changes, onething is clear: under-graduates don't like theresults.

The Report and the Search

Last September, the controversial Report on theStructure of Harvard college recommended creatinga new position--the assistant dean of publicservice and director of PBH--and constructing afaculty standing committee on public service.

The committee will have oversight of all publicservice and volunteer programs authorized andsupported by the Faculty of Arts andSciences(FAS)," according to the report,co-authored by Administrative Dean of FAS Nancy L.Maull and Dean-elect of the College Harry R.Lewis.

In December, Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R.Knowles approved the recommendations and--as aconcession to public service leaders'protests--stipulated that the new structure wouldnot go into place until July 1996.

A search committee for the assistant dean,appointed by Jewett, began accepting applicationsin March. Although members of Phillips BrooksHouse were asked for recommendations for thesearch committee and submitted them, Jewett chosenone of their candidates for the committee.

"I never got an explanation of what happened,"said Professor of Psychiatry and MedicalHumanities Robert Coles '50, one of those thestudents suggested. "I've wondered out loud, andit has never been explained to me."

As of last week, the search committee hadreceived about 250 applications, according toformer vice-president and general counsel DanielSteiner, chair of the committee. A few are stilltrickling in after the mid-May deadline, he said.

Steiner said he has talked about the searchprocess over the past two months with the PBHAboard, the PBH staff, Director of PBH and Directorof the Stride Rite Program Greg A. Johnson, '72,Director of Public Service Programs for theCollege Gail L. Epstein and some members of the26-member PBH advisory committee.

Many members associated with PBH, however, saidthe current system is more than adequate and thesearch itself is unnecessary.

"We [did have] a period of time when thevarious social action and community serviceprograms that existed beyond Phillips Brooks Housecaused some organizational problems for theUniversity," said City Councillor Francis H.Duehay '55, a member of the advisory committee.

Those problems, Duehay said, resulted in thecreation of the Office of public Service, underEpstein's leadership. Separate from PBH, theoffice oversees all public service activities atthe College, including Citystep, House andNeighborhood Development (HAND), Circle K,Education for Action and PBH.

But Duehay said that although PBH and theOffice of Public Service may have been redundant afew years ago, they are not now.

"I think over the last several years, thatoffice and PBH have worked very carefully andclosely together to eliminate overlap andduplication," Duehay said. "The Maull-Lewis reportassumed that duplication was still there, and Idon't think it is."

Indeed, PBHA and HAND leaders worked togetherthis year to coordinate a student protest againstthe College report. Leaders of both groups wrotein a memo to Knowles, Jewett and Maull last fallthat their primary concerns were with a reductionin staff or the elimination of the senior staffpositions.

The letter, authored by King. PBHA board memberEric Dawson '97 and Central HAND CoordinatorsJenna McNeill '95 and Kelly Yee '95, described anapparent under-standing between the administratorsand the student leaders.

"We believe that Greg Johnson and Gail Epsteinshould remain in these positions with theappropriate changes in their job descriptions,"the student leaders wrote. "We do not think asearch process for new applicants would beanything but disruptive and unnecessary."

Despite the students' protests, Knowlesdetermined that there would be a new positioncreated. In addition, Knowles stipulated thatthere would be no increase in the number of fulltime employees in the present service structure.thus, if Epstein or Johnson is not appointed tothe dean position, it seems likely that somesupport or director position would be eliminated.

According to a PBHA source, Epstein will notenter the search process, but Johnson and PBHAssistant Director Kenneth A. Smith will.

With the two student service groups apparentlycooperating to maintain their separate directors,some say the question of a bulky or unmanageablepublic service structure seems irrelevant.

Chair of the advisory committee Anne Peretzsaid there has been some "anxiety" in PBH about"changing something when it doesn't appear to bebroken."

Given that there is a search despite the wishesof PBH, Peretz said she would like to see anassistant dean who responsive to all of PBH'sconstituencies--especially the students whoorganize and staff the programs.

"I think that the director of public serviceand the director of PBH needs to be someone whocan really relate to several differentconstituencies, the Faculty of Arts and Sciencebeing one of them, but they also have to be ableto relate to students, to the staff, to thecommunities in which we work," Peretz said.

Out With the old?

Every PBH affiliate interviewed expressednothing but admiration for Johnson's work over his15 years at Harvard. Robert Bridgeman, programdirector at PBH, said that every staff membersupports Greg Johnson for the Assistant deanship.

Many members of PBH said he would be theperfect choice for assistant dean because of hisexperience at Harvard and his outreach work withlocal and national service programs.

But Ehrlich said that the entire search is anattempt by FAS to rid the College of Johnson andreplace him with an administrative flunky.B-9SERVICECrimson File PhotoCity Councillor FRANCIS H. DUEHAY '55

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