The Linguistics Department, which could lose one-third of its senior faculty if a professor accepts an offer in Vienna, has asked the University for funds to hire more professors.
The department, Harvard's fifth smallest by concentrators, "cannot possibly cover the things that have to be covered," said Department Chairman Calvert Watkins. The department currently has three full professors and one-half of a joint tenured appointment teaching linguistics, which is the study of the structure and development of language.
Former Chairman Jochem Schindler, on leave this semester, said he has been offered a professorship at the University of Vienna in his native Austria. He said he does not know when he will decide whether to leave Harvard, but his departure would leave Linguistics with only six faculty members.
How much money the department needs and how many appointments it should make remain under negotiation. Watkins would not specify the nature of the department's requests.
Phyllis Keller, associate dean for academic affairs, did not return repeated phone calls to her office this week.
Another ongoing debate is the proportion of junior to senior positions the department should create. Unlike nearly every other Harvard department, Linguistics is not included on the so-called Graustein chart, a long-standing faculty map indicating the years in which a given department is permitted to make a senior appointment.
The department currently has roughly 20 concentrators and two dozen graduate students. It last made a senior appointment, Schindler's, in 1978.
Since the mid-'70s, the department has lost three senior faculty members, Schindler said, adding that expanding the tiny department has been discussed informally for a long time