Charges of Harassment Fly As Dean Ends Six-Year TenureBy Josh Hartmann
Associate Dean for Student Affairs James R. Tewhey resigned yesterday afternoon amid charges and countercharges of harassment, as well as claims of mismanagement in his office.
"He has some problems I think he needs to address at this time," said Provost Mark S. Wrighton, who accepted Tewhey's resignation. "I think he has made the commitment to resolve them. I think he has done the right thing for himself and for MIT."
Tewhey is involved in a court battle with Katherine M. Nolan, associate director of student financial aid, with whom he had an 18-month affair. Tewhey is currently under a restraining order preventing contact with Nolan and her 9-year-old daughter. The order was issued after both parties exchanged affidavits claiming harassment.
Wrighton also praised Tewhey for his six years of service at MIT. "He's been in a very difficult administrative position at MIT," Wrighton said. "He has executed his responsibilities well."
President Charles M. Vest said last night he had "no personal comment." Tewhey did not respond to messages left last night.
Eisenmann assumes duties
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Andrew M. Eisenmann '75 was handed Tewhey's day-to-day duties as head of the residence and campus activities section yesterday, according to Kenneth D. Campbell, director of the news office. While Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith is on vacation, Associate Dean Robert M. Randolph will assume overall responsibility for Tewhey's department.
"This is a difficult situation for all of us," Randolph said in a statement to housemasters. "Jim has made major contributions to the MIT community that have made this a better place."
Management style questioned
Tewhey's resignation and allegations surrounding his affair with Nolan will undoubtedly fuel the controversy over the Institute's handling of sexual harassment complaints.
"I think the students will be well-served in the future as I think they have been in the past," Wrighton said. "I hope we can continue to provide the services we have in the past."
Past and present employees who worked under Tewhey offered conflicting opinions of Tewhey's managerial ability before news of yesterday's resignation spread.
Humanities lecturer Ann Russo has dealt with Tewhey on a number of occasions as a lecturer in the Women's Studies Program. "There's been a number of students and staff who have come to me with a number of problems they've had dealing with Tewhey," she said, adding that she felt many harassment cases were not handled properly.
"He did some inappropriate management things," said Adam Goodie, a former Dean's Office assistant who worked in the Undergraduate Asssociation office. "He had very little contact with me, which bugged me."
But Mary Ni, assistant dean for student affairs, tells a different story. "I did hear from some people that he wasn't a good boss," she said. "My personal assessment is that I think he's pretty good. I have found him to be very fair and thoughtful. His managerial style is loose, but I don't find it terribly problematic."
Although sources said formal complaints were made regarding Tewhey's management procedure, Wrighton said he was not aware of those concerns and would not comment on personnel matters.
"I suspected MIT's plan was to get him out as soon as possible," said one source who has worked with Tewhey. "It looks better for him to resign than be fired. I don't think he stands any chance of getting a student affairs position in Boston. It was a fait accompli that he was going to leave," said the source, who requested anonymity.
(Editor's note: Hyun Soo Kim contributed to the reporting of this story.)