A Harvard University dean apologized to faculty members for deciding to present a medal to Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III without adequately consulting them, the Harvard Crimson reported today.
"I explained that I have obviously failed to think through as carefully as I could have how such a reasonable instinct could be misinterpreted," Graham T. Allison, dean of the Kennedy School of Government, told the student newspaper about his remarks in the private meeting Thursday.
Allison said he personally made the decision to give the medal to Meese, did not regret it and had no plans to withdraw the offer.
Meese is scheduled to accept the award and give a speech at the school Wednesday.
The planned award touched off a controversy that included U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a Harvard Law School graduate who lectures at the Kennedy school, declining an invitation to represent the school at Harvard's 350th anniversary celebration in September.
Critics questioned Meese's understanding of the U.S. Constitution, charged that he tried to dismantle civil liberties by opposing affirmative action and women's rights to abortion, and alleged that his personal financial conduct did not meet the ethical standards that the school should impart to students.
Allison said he intended for the Kennedy school's 50th Anniversary Medal for Distinguished Public Service to be a gift of thanks to Meese for agreeing to take part in the anniversary celebration of the school, which was renamed for John F. Kennedy after the President was assassinated.