Ex-Officer Criticizes PBHA Board

Johnson Letter to Donors Decries Loss of Autonomy

In a letter sent Friday to hundreds of donors and supporters of Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), Gregory A. Johnson '72, former executive director of PBHA, charged that the public service organization's Board of Trustees is being "tentative and slow" in fulfilling its mission and accused some board members of "deliberate sabotage."

The letter also accused College administrators of undermining the effectiveness of the Board of Trustees by creating an "atmosphere of intimidation."

PBHA Vice-President Michael W. Ma '98 said "the letter does raise a lot of concerns that are present" and said that the letter could deter potential donors to Harvard and PBHA.

"[Johnson is] a sharp, strategic man," Ma said. "He's aware of what the implications of a letter like this would be."

Johnson, in an interview yesterday, said the purpose of the letter was to "communicate [his] analysis" of the state of affairs at PBHA since his departure last July.


"It was incumbent upon me to tell them what I thought of the situation," he said.

In the letter, Johnson called upon the Board to resolve "basic structural inconsistencies" that he said resulted from PBHA's compromise with the College last summer.

"Who is ultimately responsible for the administration and governance of programs functioning under the 501(c)3 structure of PBHA Inc.?" he asked, referring to last July's agreement.

" upon the PBHA Board to move to address these lingering and glaring 'fault-lines,'" he said.

Ma acknowledged that the Board, which was created in last summer's compromise between PBHA and the College, is not without its challenges.

"I don't think anyone would say that things shouldn't happen to the Board, or that the Board shouldn't evolve," he said.

"It's not a sign of incompetence," he said. "This Board is only a year old, and as such it will need to go through growth and evolution in the upcoming years."

In the interview, Johnson said that the Board of Trustees "must take responsibility for its own actions."

"I believe it is only ethical that PBHA Inc. govern itself as is expected of a non-profit corporation--that is, with a Board of Trustees openly responsible for overseeing the best interests of the corporation," he said in the letter.

At a PBHA Board of Trustees retreat last weekend, concerns about the ability of some Board members to represent PBHA student leaders were raised and acknowledged, according to PBHA President Roy E. Bahat '98.

"The ex-officio members are in a very difficulty position," he said. "They're not elected by the [PBHA] Cabinet."