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Plan to Make Major Donors Harvard Officers Draws Fire

March 22, 1988

BOSTON (AP) _ A senior administrator of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government has criticized a plan to bestow Harvard positions on a Texas couple in exchange for a $500,000 donation.

Executive Dean Richard Cavanagh praised some aspects of the school’s ″entrepreneurial style of raising money″ but complained about the tentative deal in a confidential report based on a two-month study of funding efforts.

″It is clear that this was an unusual, unhappy, and unfortunate incident - the product of misunderstanding, inexperience, sloppy handling and hasty processing,″ said Cavanagh.

The Harvard Crimson student newspaper in November published parts of a draft agreement between the school and Charles Cameron Dickinson 3rd and his wife, Joanne, calling for their appointment ″to appropriate positions in the School of Government.″

The agreement had been approved tentatively by Kennedy School Dean Graham T. Allison.

Only full-time instructors and administrators normally are appointed Officers of the University - academic, administrative or advisory positions.

University and Kennedy School officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no decision had been made on whether to make the agreement final. One of the officials suggested that the controversy surrounding the deal was the reason for putting it on hold.

Cavanagh’s comments were carried in the latest edition of the weekly Harvard Gazette, published by the university administration. University officials confirmed the accuracy of his statements but declined to release his report.

Cavanagh was appointed in December and asked to examine the school’s fund- raising methods. Other Harvard institutions conducted similar surveys on orders of Harvard President Derek Bok.

The Crimson also published a in-house memo by an Allison aide stating that Mrs. Dickinson wanted to know the most presitigious title she could buy for $250,000 and asking how much it would cost to be on an advisory committee. Kennedy School officials confirmed the existence the memo.

Allison described the deal as a mistake shortly after it came to light. Kennedy School spokesman Steven Singer declined requests Tuesday for telephone interviews with Allison or Cavanagh.

Dickinson, a 1980 graduate of Harvard Divinity School, comes from a wealthy Texas oil family. No one answered the telephone at the Dickinson residence in Wichita Falls.

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