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Lewis Defends Kidd Against Critical Letter

By Lisa N. Brennan-jobs

In a letter circulated among administrators and students associated with Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 rebuked outgoing PBHA officials who criticized Assistant Dean of Pubic Service Judith H. Kidd in a March 3 letter.

Lewis affirmed his support for Kidd and called the earlier letter an unwarranted "personal attack."

The March 3 letter questioned whether Kidd should remain at her post and charged that she made "attempts to attack" the PBHA "culture."

Calling her an essential part of the relationship between the College and PBHA, Lewis said Kidd's work is critical for upholding law and safety.

In addition to responding to the March 3 letter, Lewis also criticized current PBHA leaders, claiming they breached a July agreement with the College.

"PBHA...is making decisions without consulting appropriate University officials, and is consequently making grave mistakes," Lewis wrote.

"The Agreement between PBHA and the College specifically calls for College oversight in [the areas of law and safety]; we urge PBHA to adhere to this part of the Agreement," he continued.

He cited two recent examples of cases in which PBHA officials did not consult Kidd when they should have. He claimed their failure to consult Kidd created problems for the University.

In the first instance Lewis cited a letter PBHA issued on official stationary calling for a new "relatively young" employee.

"Had Dean Kidd reviewed this letter, she would instantly have pointed out this problem [of illegal age discrimination]," Lewis wrote.

Roy E. Bahat '98, current president of PBHA, said that at the time the help-wanted letter was sent, it wasn't clearly a safety and liability issue. Obvious safety issues are always referred to Kidd, he said.

"It's difficult to involve her in every letter that goes out of the building. We will certainly strive to involve her in the future," Bahat said.

Lewis said PBHA also bypassed Kidd in their effort to create minimum safety standards. He called PBHA's failure to consult Kidd "extremely problematic," because of concerns with insurance standards and the safety of people served by PBHA programs.

"By insisting on Dean Kidd's involvement in such matters, the College is not trying to control every out-come, but to be helpful in having PBHA avoid mistakes that are inevitable when inexperienced persons handle important matters," Lewis wrote.

Marc H. Katz '98, co-chair of programming for PBHA, said PBHA students, professional staff and trustees have always cooperated with the University on safety issues.

"We realized we were in need of professional assistance. We actively sought their help," he said.

Responding to Lewis' letter, Andrew J. Ehrlich '96-'97, former the president of PBHA and co-author of the March 3 letter, reaffirmed his earlier opinions yesterday.

Ehrlich said he did not object to Kidd overseeing issues of safety and legality at PBHA, a role outlined in last July's agreement between PBHA and the College.

But he said Kidd's management style, and not the July agreement, was the source of his concern.

"I personally am committed to the Agreement's success but have deep concerns about the current environment. My letter was about the direction in which Kidd is leading public service and the manner in which she is doing so. I still have concerns," he said.

Both Lewis and Kidd said they were surprised by the March 3 letter.

Lewis called his relationship with PBHA prior to the letter "friendly and solicitous," and called the letter a case of "inconsistent behavior."

Kidd said yesterday she is optimistic for her future with PBHA.

"I'm just going to continue to cooperate with the group and the students as much as I can," she said

Ehrlich said he did not object to Kidd overseeing issues of safety and legality at PBHA, a role outlined in last July's agreement between PBHA and the College.

But he said Kidd's management style, and not the July agreement, was the source of his concern.

"I personally am committed to the Agreement's success but have deep concerns about the current environment. My letter was about the direction in which Kidd is leading public service and the manner in which she is doing so. I still have concerns," he said.

Both Lewis and Kidd said they were surprised by the March 3 letter.

Lewis called his relationship with PBHA prior to the letter "friendly and solicitous," and called the letter a case of "inconsistent behavior."

Kidd said yesterday she is optimistic for her future with PBHA.

"I'm just going to continue to cooperate with the group and the students as much as I can," she said

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