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In his first term as dean of the College, Harry R. Lewis '68 has become one of the most prominent--and least liked--administrators on campus.
But a contentious first term for a new dean of the College is hardly unusual.
Past deans, including Fred L. Glimp '50, Ernest R. May and John B. Fox Jr. '59, each had tumultuous first semesters. Only L. Fred Jewett '57, the man Lewis succeeded, had a comparatively uneventful first term.
Glimp, who was dean from 1967 to 1969, was faced with serious labor strikes during his first term that threatened to cripple the campus.
The Buildings and Grounds Maintenance Association, a union which represented 256 employees, held a two-week-long strike that threatened the well-being of the University's facilities. As a result of the work stoppage, police officers put fighting crime on the back burner and began collecting the trash.
In the same week, the Federation of Teaching Fellows fought Harvard for a pay increase.
Labor strife made Glimp's first semester difficult, but his final semester was the most memorable of all.
Glimp stepped down as dean in the wake of the April 1969 student takeover of University Hall, leaving his successor, Ernest R. May, to face the aftermath of one of the most explosive semesters in Harvard's history.
In his first semester as dean, May faced a campus that was severely divided.
The events of the past spring had forced a redefinition of students' role on campus, while the group most responsible for the April demonstration continued to hold protests.
Faculty infighting, unrelated to political views, further exacerbated May's difficulties.
Of course, the 1969 unrest would have made the first term difficult for any dean taking over that year.
But the legacy of 1969 also managed to affect Fox's first term eight years later.
The new dean wanted to enhance the diversity of student and faculty interests, strengthen the education offered to under-graduates and recreate as much as possible the sense of community he believed was lost in the turmoil of the late 1960s.
The main issue facing Fox during his first term was the restructuring of the house system.
The so-called "Fox Plan" made the Yard the exclusive domain of first-years and cleared the 12 residential houses for upperclass students only. Previously, the Quad houses had been home to some students for all four years of college.
At the time, 700 Quad residents raised objections to the plan and some attacked Fox for being overly officious and distant.
Fox was also criticized for his decision to fine students a quarter of a semester's board for failing to inform the College of their intention to take a leave of absence before the start of classes.
Fox remained dean until 1985, when Jewett was named his successor.
During Jewett's first term, Hurricane Gloria seemed to cause more of a stir on campus than did any of the new dean's decisions.
That July, the same month as Jewett's appointment, then-President Derek C. Bok had urged the Congressional leadership to place sanctions on South Africa.
The most significant divestment protest, however, did not occur until April 1986, when 200 students built a shantytown and a 16-foot ivory tower in the Yard.
With the exception of Jewett's first term, deans of the College have had to overcome a significant amount of controversy. Their success, consequently, has not been measured as much by the events of their first term as by how they dealt with its legacy.
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