After two years of delay, President Neil L. Rudenstine has made a decision on University funding for the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Harvard.
Rudenstine, who is now taking a leave of absence for health reasons, wrote his recommendation on ROTC policy in a report completed this weekend, according to acting President Albert Carnesale.
Rudenstine's decision, the gist of which is unknown at this time, will likely not affect admissions material distributed to early action applicants in December. Whether information on ROTC will appear in admission letters will "depend entirely on the timing," according to Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '66.
Rudenstine's recommendation will be presented at a meeting of the full Faculty of Arts and Sciences December 13.
"His recommendation will be contained in a document that will be distributed to the Faculty," Carnesale said. The document was "just completed," he said, but the acting president was not sure whether he would be responsible for presenting it to the Faculty.
Rudenstine's recommendation to the Faculty must be approved by the Corporation, the University's seven-member governing board, before it can become University policy.
Rudenstine presented a rough draft of his report to the Faculty Council on November 16, and he wrote the final report based on reactions and criticisms of his initial presentation.
In 1992, a faculty committee chaired by Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney Verba '53 recommended that the University cut funding to MIT's ROTC chapters. The report has been endorsed by the Faculty.
Verba said he was relieved that a decision had finally been made, but he was still worried about the content of the final recommendation.
"Right now, I think I better suspend my happiness until I see what happens next," Verba said. "I am still worried, but I always worry."
Harvard currently pays MIT about $130,000 in compensation for about 80 students participating in MIT's ROTC program.
Rudenstine's recommendation to the Faculty will come two days before Harvard sends out early admissions letters to applicants, probably too late to change University admissions materials.
The decision on ROTC will likely have an effect on Harvard's admissions.
"If the University made any decision regarding ROTC the admissions office would communicate the decision to applicants and to admitted students," Fitzsimmons said.
The decision really doesn't need to be made until the spring, Fitzsimmons said.
"I think that students would like to know the decision on ROTC by the time they have to reply to other colleges' offers of admission, which is May 1st," he said. "That's when most students need to know, so that they can make plans for next year."
Fitzsimmons refused to speculate on the effect of each possible option that Rudenstine could endorse for ROTC.
"It would simply be impossible to speculate about the effects of such a decision without knowing all the details that such a decision would entail," Fitzsimmons said.
He acknowledged, though, that cutting the ROTC program altogether might have a negative effect on Harvard admissions.
"It is possible that students could decided to go elsewhere next year if ROTC scholarships in the ROTC program in general were not available," Fitzsimmons said.