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The Fate of Byerly Hall


Within the ivy-covered red brick walls of Byerly Hall dwells the admissions and financial aid offices of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and the administrative offices of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

But not for long.

Harvard's 25-year lease on Byerly Hall, owned by Radcliffe College, expires June 30. A newly-negotiated two-year deal extends the lease until 2000, but falls far short of what FAS hopes for: stability.

The trustees of Radcliffe have decided to "maximize income, and that's fine," says Nancy L. Maull, administrative dean of FAS. "But we really need a long-term commitment."

Negotiations with Radcliffe that began more than a year ago have shown Harvard that the two institutions are moving in different directions, says FAS planning analyst Sharalee M. Field.

"We needed a long-term deal, and it became clear that Radcliffe wanted something no longer than five years," Field says. "That was unacceptable because we needed something much more stable."

With all the mailings that are sent out each year to prospective students around the globe, a consistent address label is necessary.

"It wouldn't look good to change addresses all the time and have to insert little flyers saying that we had moved once again," Field says.

Plans are in the works to convert Hemenway Gymnasium, a recreational building owned by FAS, into an admissions and financial aid complex for the College and GSAS, according to Field.

Though Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles has yet to make a final decision to go ahead with the project, the Boston-based architectural firm of Finegold Alexander & Associates Inc was asked in December to draw up preliminary options for Hemenway.

Architects at Finegold declined to comment on the state of the Hemenway plans beyond the fact that they are currently on hold.

The gym now houses about a dozen squash courts, a weight room in the basement and basketball courts on the top floor. If Hemenway's parquet floors and iron weights are transformed into a gathering ground for ambitious high school students, Law School students may lose access to their only athletic facility.

Students from both the College and the Law School are now able to work out at Hemenway, and the Law School pays for half of the facility's operating costs.

Decisions regarding Hemenway plans have to be made at the highest echelons of the University, says Field, because the situation involves two different schools within the University.

Field says Finegold was contacted only after talks with Radcliffe led Harvard to believe that the office needed to find a new permanent location.

Although called the Harvard-Radcliffe Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, the department--headed by Dean William R. Fitzsimmons '67--is funded solely by FAS, and FAS officials make all admissions decisions. Radcliffe contributes a percentage of the tuition funding for undergraduate women each year, though Harvard provides the bulk of financial aid.

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