The walls of Judith H. Kidd’s new office in University Hall are bare.
Kidd, who is the new acting associate dean of the College for student affairs, moved into her new office only a couple of months ago after Dean of the College Benedict H. Gross ’71 named her to the post.
Much like her office walls, Kidd’s term as associate dean is a blank slate. With fresh faces sitting in some of the most powerful seats in University Hall after the exit of several prominent deans last year, and with the College on the brink of a sweeping review of the undergraduate curriculum, she appears to have plenty of room to make her mark on student affairs at Harvard.
But that imprint may be far from permanent.
With a potentially brief term—Gross has dubbed her an “acting” dean whose future role depends on the outcome of the curricular review—Kidd has a limited ability to effect long-term change.
For now it seems that Kidd, lauded for her managerial experience and know-how, has been put into place to keep the student side of the administration running smoothly while Gross spearheads the curricular review.
Topping her agenda as she embarks upon this unclear mission is streamlining administration of student activities while making sure individual student groups are kept in check.
According to many who deal with her, Kidd is a good choice for the job.
Her years as a College administrator and director of Philips Brooks House (PBH), a post she has held since 1996 and will continue in this year, have primed her for a role that will demand considerable efficiency and creativity.
“I think she cares a lot about students at Harvard,” says Daniel A. Michalow ’04, a director of Harvard’s Habitat for Humanity. “I think she’s been really awesome. She’s been really great to Habitat, she’s extraordinarily reasonable and helpful to us. I think she is really supportive of students working hard todo something well.”
“I was not surprised that she was picked,” he says.
While she is still a fledgling presence in University Hall, Kidd has at least one general goal: keeping a closer eye on student groups—and the administrators who work with and for them.
A main goal is increasing the frequency of the meetings of the Committee on College Life (CCL), a student-faculty body charged with making sure student groups abide by College rules. As a committee member herself, she says she had a sense that the committee did not meet often enough to catch potential issues before they became problems.
CCL had a turbulent last year under the leadership of Kidd’s predecessor David P. Illingworth ’71, when a provision in the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship’s constitution sparked widespread debate on whether student groups—particularly religious organizations—should be allowed to require certain doctrinal beliefs of their leaders.
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