Four Years After Trying Term, Lewis Content to Work Behind the Scenes

Plan for deanship nearly all checked off after four years

Harry R. Lewis '68 burst into the position of dean of the College four years ago with a series of sweeping plans that led some to dub him a bold innovator and others to demonize him.

But in the three and a half years since that tumultuous first semester, Lewis has become much less visible on campus.

He no longer provokes angry protests--as he did when he announced his intention to reorganize the Phillips Brooks House (PBH)--and he doesn't grab the headlines.

But a few things have remained the same. Lewis still has the same purposed, direct leadership style. And he has maintained a focus on educational issues to the partial exclusion of the quality-of-life issues championed by outgoing Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III.

In fact, it seems that Lewis came to the deanship with an agenda that he has roughly stuck to throughout. By now, the dean has brought most of the issues on his agenda to the fore and so sees little reason to court controversy.


Lewis' remaining plans are more gradual and less controversial--and when Lewis eventually leaves his post, he may well be remembered as a low-profile dean.

The Man With a Plan

Unlike any other dean of the College in recent history, Lewis came to his office with a clear plan of action: the 78-page "Report on the Structure of Harvard College"--known as the Maull-Lewis report--produced by a committee he co-chaired and co-authored with Administrative Dean Nancy L. Maull.

Lewis began his job convinced that several big changes to the College structure were necessary.

His predecessor, L. Fred Jewett '57, was a former dean of admissions who was renowned for building consensus.

"One could argue that what my style would lead to is [10] years of never doing anything," Jewett, now quips.

But unlike Jewett, Lewis was committed to accomplishing change quickly--consensus or not.

The new dean oversaw the randomization of the Houses--a decision announced by Jewett but strongly endorsed by the Maull-Lewis report--and reorganized PBH, bringing in a new associate dean who reports to him and oversees the organization.

"It was reasonable that he should be activist at the outset," says Secretary of the Faculty John B. Fox Jr. '59, who has also served as dean of the College. "He had just spent an enormous amount of time inquiring into every nook and cranny of the College." These two initiatives--both of which were protested for impinging upon on student autonomy--were the proposals in the report with the most radical, controversial impact on student life. The alcohol crackdown Lewis pursued during his first semester also drew protests.

But since then, Lewis has made no decision that touches so deeply on students' lives.

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