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Lewis: Students' Role in Searches Is Threatened

Dean Probes Disclosure of HDS Finalists

By Todd F. Braunstein and Andrew A. Green

Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 is warning that the role of students on administrative search committees may be scaled back in light of The Crimson's recent publication of the list of finalists for Harvard Dining Services (HDS) director.

Acknowledging that he has no direct evidence that a student leaked the information, Lewis said the incident may nonetheless jeopardize student involvement in these committees.

"I fear that the publication in The Crimson of the names of all the finalists for the dining services position has undermined, in the eyes of some, confidence in the wisdom of giving students sensitive information," Lewis wrote in an e-mail obtained late last night by The Crimson.

The statements trouble some who want to see students participate in administrative searches. The dean of the College has either overseen or been heavily involved in every recent search committee that has included students, so opposition from Lewis would likely be fatal to student participation.

A source close to the search told The Crimson last week that the list of finalists consists of acting HDS Director Leonard D. Condenzio, as well as dining services directors from Stanford University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Maine and Middlebury College.

Although Lewis admitted to The Crimson and in e-mails that he did not know the source of the information (even suggesting that it may have come from "wastebasket espionage"), he hinted strongly that he believed a student was the source.

"[T]he publication of the names, not that long after the students got the dossiers and immediately after publication in The Crimson of complaints from students about the way they had been involved, suggests to some that the source may have been a student," Lewis wrote.

The dean wrote that he does not want to "wreak retribution" on "the leaker," but said he is "genuinely concerned only to restore confidence where it has been lost."

One student on the committee, Rudd W. Coffey '97, said he was disturbed by the implications of Lewis' remarks.

"The faculty toward the end of the year was moving away from students and student input," Coffey said. "Students have a valuable role on the search and I would hate to see it damaged."

Lewis noted in an e-mail to The Crimson last night that he has served on previous committees with students in which leaks did not occur.

The 1992 search for a dean of first-years was the first to include students. The practice continued in certain searches--including last November's selection of an assistant dean of public service--without any major leaks of information.

Strange Bedfellows

In the meantime, Lewis has recruited sometime-antagonist Marco B. Simons '97, chair of the Undergraduate Council's Student Affairs Committee, to help him ferret out the source of the leak.

Lewis asked Simons in an e-mail if he would investigate and provide him with the information.

"...I wonder if there is some way you can help," Lewis wrote to Simons, "perhaps by finding out yourself and confiding in me, on my pledge not to do anything with the information except to provide (if appropriate) necessary reassurances to others."

Simons said last night that he had contacted all three students on the committee and was confident that none of them leaked the information.

The partnership between Simons and Lewis is curious in light of previous tension between the two. Simons has been highly critical of Lewis over the last several months, referring to the dean as someone "who consistently undervalues student input" in decision-making processes.

Simons said he agreed to help Lewis because he wants to ensure that the hard-won concession of student involvement on these committees is not lost.

"I would appreciate if this person [who leaked the information] would confirm or deny if he or she is a student to allay any suspicions that might hurt student credibility," Simons said

"The faculty toward the end of the year was moving away from students and student input," Coffey said. "Students have a valuable role on the search and I would hate to see it damaged."

Lewis noted in an e-mail to The Crimson last night that he has served on previous committees with students in which leaks did not occur.

The 1992 search for a dean of first-years was the first to include students. The practice continued in certain searches--including last November's selection of an assistant dean of public service--without any major leaks of information.

Strange Bedfellows

In the meantime, Lewis has recruited sometime-antagonist Marco B. Simons '97, chair of the Undergraduate Council's Student Affairs Committee, to help him ferret out the source of the leak.

Lewis asked Simons in an e-mail if he would investigate and provide him with the information.

"...I wonder if there is some way you can help," Lewis wrote to Simons, "perhaps by finding out yourself and confiding in me, on my pledge not to do anything with the information except to provide (if appropriate) necessary reassurances to others."

Simons said last night that he had contacted all three students on the committee and was confident that none of them leaked the information.

The partnership between Simons and Lewis is curious in light of previous tension between the two. Simons has been highly critical of Lewis over the last several months, referring to the dean as someone "who consistently undervalues student input" in decision-making processes.

Simons said he agreed to help Lewis because he wants to ensure that the hard-won concession of student involvement on these committees is not lost.

"I would appreciate if this person [who leaked the information] would confirm or deny if he or she is a student to allay any suspicions that might hurt student credibility," Simons said

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