An Understanding Dean

Letter To The Editor

To the editors:

From my perspective as a Harvard parent, Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 has done an exceptional job (Editorial, “Lewis Deserved Better”, March 18). I have been impressed with his sensitivity to the particular needs of Harvard students and to both the upside and downside of the relentless pursuit of excellence which characterizes the current student body. I think he has been an effective advocate for trying to keep student life relatively sane: sleep more, take time off, try to focus on one or just a few extracurriculars, in short, don’t go crazy. I am just a bit leery of the tone currently emanating from University Hall, which seems to be pushing for ever greater academic rigor while letting the emotional chips fall where they may.

As the tasks of the Dean of the College are merged with those of the Dean of Undergraduate Education, I hope that someone in that office will continue to take singular responsibility for all those hours each week besides the few that students actually spend in class. I would like to be able to keep telling the eager high school seniors whom I interview each year as they apply to the College (and the parents of admitted students) that Harvard is a humane place that takes seriously its task of educating the whole student through its wonderful House system and extraordinary range of extracurricular activities.

Stephen M. Senter ’68

Mar. 19, 2003