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Wilson Done, Dunn Assumes Helm

COMINGS AND GOINGS

By Adam A. Sofen, CRIMSON STAFF WRITERS

University officials hope Mary Maples Dunn will prove to be the perfect choice to head the post-Radcliffe Radcliffe.

In an interview in 1997, Dunn argued that women's colleges still had an important mission: to secure equal access for female undergraduates in higher education.

But she added, "The best thing that could happen to us, in a way, is that they're no longer needed."

Radcliffe's decision to merge with Harvard would suggest its officials believe they have reached just such a plateau. And the two institutions have called upon the 68-year-old Dunn, director of the Schlesinger Library and former president of Smith College, to guide the unusual transition from focusing on undergraduate women to concentrating on research and advanced study.

Meanwhile, outgoing Radcliffe President Linda S. Wilson is at a momentous crossroads of her own. After 10 years at the top-a period of consolidation but also of confusion about the college's proper role--Wilson is ready to hand over the reins and embark on a new life path.

At a press conference yesterday, Wilson said she planned to "move aside and allow a new leader with strong energy" to take over after she steps down on June 30.

During the conference, one reporter asked Wilson why she was leaving Radcliffe after negotiating the broad strokes of an agreement but without seeing the deal to completion.

A source close to the administration posed a similar question.

"She celebrated Radcliffe through one of its most difficult periods, and she can't stick around to go the party?" the source asked.

Wilson defended her decision by saying she had served as president for almost a decade.

"It is a rigorous role," Wilson said. She added that her 10-year term was "longer than I intended to stay when I came." Wilson's tenure will be the shortest of Radcliffe's seven presidents.

After stepping down as president, Wilson will enjoy a one-year paid sabbatical. According to Radcliffe Vice President for College Relations Bonnie R. Clendenning, Wilson's sabbatical has been delayed for more than three years because of the institution's lengthy "strategic planning process."

However, Clendenning said she did not think Wilson would retire from working altogether.

"She has at least one more job left in her," Clendenning said.

Wilson's husband, Paul, is retired, and thecouple owns a vacation retreat in Maine.

Dunn said Wilson's impact on Radcliffe will befelt long after her departure.

"When she came here 10 years ago, Radcliffe wasa college of highly independent units, each actingfor itself," Dunn said. "She has been an activeforce in getting these units...to see themselvesas one institution."

Stepping Up

When Dunn takes over as acting dean of the newRadcliffe Institute, she will be no stranger tothe Garden Street institution. Head of theSchlesinger since 1995, Dunn is popular aroundRadcliffe Yard.

"[The staff] love Mary," Clendenning said."She's one of us."

Dunn said she has no intention of making heracting deanship a permanent post.

"When they find the dean of their dreams, I'llretire again," Dunn said. "I'm getting ready tosow my oats."

Dunn will be integral in choosing her permanentreplacement, assisting Harvard President Neil L.Rudenstine and an advisory committee whose memberswill be chosen by both Harvard and Radcliffe.

Dunn said "it's essential" that the dean of theinstitute be a woman, though she added that "ofcourse, it has to be an open search."

"My instinct would be to have an academic,someone who could participate in the intellectuallife of the institute," Dunn said. While refusingto name names, she said she has a list ofpotential candidates in mind.

Like Wilson, Dunn also has experience incollege administration, serving as president ofSmith from 1985 to 1995. Before that, she was deanof Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

White-haired and genteel, the two women seemsimilar on the surface.

Just as Wilson helped found the RadcliffePublic Policy Institute and launched a $100million capital campaign, Dunn is a builder.

She presided over a huge boost in Smith'sfinances, raising more than $300 million anddoubling the value of the college's endowment.

But in other ways Dunn and her predecessor area study in contrasts.

Wilson's background was less academic thanadministrative--before coming to Radcliffe she wasa vice president of the University of Michigan.

The author and editor of several volumes onWilliam Penn, Dunn is an expert in colonialAmerican history. She is a tutor for the Committeeon Degrees in History and Literature and has alsotaught first-year seminars. As head of theSchlesinger Library, she has directed one of thenation's most important collections on the historyof women.

Unlike Wilson, who resisted sharing detailsabout the negotiations with the public, Dunn saysshe wants to create a climate of openness atRadcliffe.

"I really dislike the culture of secrecy andconfidentiality this past year," Dunn said, thoughconceding that she understood the rationale forthe closed-door talks. "It's really been very hardto work with."

As Dunn gets ready to open communications--shesaid she expects a huge volume of calls fromstudents and alumnae in the next few weeks--shesaid she is thrilled to lead Radcliffe at such asignificant moment.

"There's a little sadness in that, but also avery excited look ahead," Dunn said

Wilson's husband, Paul, is retired, and thecouple owns a vacation retreat in Maine.

Dunn said Wilson's impact on Radcliffe will befelt long after her departure.

"When she came here 10 years ago, Radcliffe wasa college of highly independent units, each actingfor itself," Dunn said. "She has been an activeforce in getting these units...to see themselvesas one institution."

Stepping Up

When Dunn takes over as acting dean of the newRadcliffe Institute, she will be no stranger tothe Garden Street institution. Head of theSchlesinger since 1995, Dunn is popular aroundRadcliffe Yard.

"[The staff] love Mary," Clendenning said."She's one of us."

Dunn said she has no intention of making heracting deanship a permanent post.

"When they find the dean of their dreams, I'llretire again," Dunn said. "I'm getting ready tosow my oats."

Dunn will be integral in choosing her permanentreplacement, assisting Harvard President Neil L.Rudenstine and an advisory committee whose memberswill be chosen by both Harvard and Radcliffe.

Dunn said "it's essential" that the dean of theinstitute be a woman, though she added that "ofcourse, it has to be an open search."

"My instinct would be to have an academic,someone who could participate in the intellectuallife of the institute," Dunn said. While refusingto name names, she said she has a list ofpotential candidates in mind.

Like Wilson, Dunn also has experience incollege administration, serving as president ofSmith from 1985 to 1995. Before that, she was deanof Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

White-haired and genteel, the two women seemsimilar on the surface.

Just as Wilson helped found the RadcliffePublic Policy Institute and launched a $100million capital campaign, Dunn is a builder.

She presided over a huge boost in Smith'sfinances, raising more than $300 million anddoubling the value of the college's endowment.

But in other ways Dunn and her predecessor area study in contrasts.

Wilson's background was less academic thanadministrative--before coming to Radcliffe she wasa vice president of the University of Michigan.

The author and editor of several volumes onWilliam Penn, Dunn is an expert in colonialAmerican history. She is a tutor for the Committeeon Degrees in History and Literature and has alsotaught first-year seminars. As head of theSchlesinger Library, she has directed one of thenation's most important collections on the historyof women.

Unlike Wilson, who resisted sharing detailsabout the negotiations with the public, Dunn saysshe wants to create a climate of openness atRadcliffe.

"I really dislike the culture of secrecy andconfidentiality this past year," Dunn said, thoughconceding that she understood the rationale forthe closed-door talks. "It's really been very hardto work with."

As Dunn gets ready to open communications--shesaid she expects a huge volume of calls fromstudents and alumnae in the next few weeks--shesaid she is thrilled to lead Radcliffe at such asignificant moment.

"There's a little sadness in that, but also avery excited look ahead," Dunn said

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