OPO director Andy Harvard steps down
By Allyson Bennett, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Andy Harvard, director of the Outdoor Programs Office, stepped down on Friday, according to an e-mail sent by acting Dean of Student Life Joe Cassidy. Several students and alumni associated with the Dartmouth Outing Club, however, said they were confused about the suddenness of Harvard's departure and believed that Harvard likely did not step down voluntarily. Earl Jette, who served in the position before he retired eight years ago, is serving as interim director during the search for Harvard's replacement.
Harvard could not be reached for comment by press time.
Beyond Cassidy's e-mail announcing that Harvard had decided to step down, the College declined to comment on Harvard's departure.
Several current and former members of the DOC told The Dartmouth that they believe College administrators may have asked Harvard to step down. Andrew Palmer '10, DOC president, said he could not be certain that Harvard was asked to leave, but had heard rumors circulating among members of the DOC to that effect. He added that Harvard's excitement about planning the DOC's 100th year anniversary indicated that Harvard had likely intended to remain at the College.
"It's been a rumor for some time that his job was in danger," said Chris Polashenski '07 Th '11, who helped lead the effort to build Harris cabin and served as summer crew leader in 2007. "And just in the last several days, we found out that he has actually been asked to leave."
Polashenski said he could not reveal who had told him that Harvard had been pressured to resign.
Put Blodgett '53 Tu '61, chair of the Moosilauke Advisory Committee, also said in an interview that Harvard had been asked to leave, although he declined to comment further because he said he was not familiar with the reasons motivating the College's and Harvard's decisions.
Palmer and Polashenski said many members of the DOC were "shocked" by Harvard's departure and upset by the secretiveness surrounding the resignation, regardless of whether Harvard left the College voluntarily. Administrators responsible for his departure had not adequately solicited student opinion about Harvard, they said, or informed them about Harvard's impending resignation.
"I think that there could have been a little more dialogue about it early on before the decision was made," Palmer said, acknowledging that the College could not legally give students many details. "It just seemed like it was all done behind closed doors. For a decision that affects so many people, there could have been a more upfront way to do it."
Students were also not informed about why Harvard left, members of the DOC said, which contradicts the DOC's tradition of openness.
Before the announcement of Harvard's resignation, approximately 76 percent of DOC and member club officers had written to Dean of the College Tom Crady in support of Harvard, Palmer and Polashenski said.
Harvard's departure was particularly perplexing, DOC members said, given his popularity among students.
"[Harvard] really defended student leadership, and he really pushed the Outing Club to new levels," Polashenski said. "[Harvard's] handling of programs has been very highly thought of, and a lot of people have very much respected the progress that the DOC has made."
Polashenski said this encouragement of a greater role for students in managing the DOC made him different from many other College administrators and may have made his vision of the DOC "incompatible" with that of others.
Cassidy said the College greatly values students' role in the DOC.
"Dartmouth has a longstanding history of student leadership and responsibility with the Dartmouth outing clubs," Cassidy said. "[The DOC] is just kind of unparalleled in the college and university environment."
Cassidy and Jette, who said he did not know why Harvard decided to leave, said it was too soon to know how long the search process for Harvard's successor will take or what that process will entail. Jette said he hoped his stint as interim director would be short.
"They have to have somebody there, so I really want to help them out, but I don't want to stay on for a long period of time, so hopefully the search will move along quickly," Jette said. "I said [to the College], when you're thinking about times, think months, not years."
Like previous searches, Cassidy said, the current search will likely include numerous stakeholders within the DOC and outdoor programs, including students, staff members and alumni. Cassidy said he and Jette had not yet discussed whether Jette would be involved with the process, but Jette said he would like to be able to answer candidates' questions and explain the complexities involved in the director's role.
As interim director, Jette said his main tasks will be overseeing the day-to-day operation of the office, preparing for the DOC's 100-year anniversary, overseeing the review of the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge and supervising fundraising efforts.
"I have no goals for the future of the office," Jette said, adding that he had pledged not to hire any new staff or start any new programs. "That would be out of step for me to do that."