A s soon as he became president, Bok set out to modernize Harvard's central administration. His first move, recruiting a core of professional administrators, met with universal approval. In principle the administration simply provided services: financial, legal, health, information technology, food, real estate, personnel, development, government relations. But in practice this meant replacing Conant's and Pusey's low-keyed central “holding company” with a much more assertive, take-charge body of managers. As the number and agendas of the new bureaucrats grew, so did the tension between the faculty and the administration, between the more centralized direction of the University's affairs and the venerable each-tub-on-its-own-bottom Harvard tradition.
When Bok took office, the Harvard Corporation consisted of two recently elected academics, Charles Slichter of Illinois and John Morton Blum of Yale; two lawyers, Bostonian senior fellow Hooks Burr and Hugh Calkins of Cleveland; Socony-Mobil executive Albert Nickerson of New York; and Harvard's treasurer, State Street banker George Bennett. By the time he left in 1991, all of them were gone, replaced by a heterogeneous mix ranging from Boston-New York businessmen (Gillette CEO Colman Mockler, Time publisher Andrew Heiskell, venture capitalist Robert G. Stone, Jr.) to Henry Rosovsky, the Corporation's first Jewish fellow and its first Harvard faculty member since 1852, and Washington lawyer Judith Richards Hope, the first female fellow. Brahmin Boston had no representative on the Corporation that Bok bequeathed to his successor. During this time, too, three new