Harvard undergraduates have long been accustomed to trekking across Cambridge to reach upperclass dorms in the Quad or the first-year Union Dorms far removed from the Yard.
Now once self-contained graduate schools are sending their students from the banks of the river to Mass. Ave.--class commutes longer than these students are accustomed to.
Space has long been at a premium in Cambridge, and schools do not have the luxury of constructing neatly self-contained campuses but instead must take class and office space where it becomes available.
With more and more applicants, schools have begun to accept greater numbers of students. And, as a consequence, these students must trek further and further from their home base.
The John F. Kennedy School of Government has resorted this year to placing a large map in its lobby showing the locations of the half-dozen buildings that are housing Kennedy School classes and research programs.
"The school has expanded dramatically over last 4 or 5 years," says Jesus Mena, spokesperson for the Kennedy School. "This is really making it clear to everybody that this is the campus. We're still one community."
Thirty percent of the Kennedy School students and faculty work outside of the main courtyard, bordered by the Taubman and main Institute of Politics building, said Bonnie J. Newman, the Executive Dean of KSG.
"[Classroom space] is certainly a challenge for us," Newman says.
But the school has plans to build a new building in the courtyard area. Newman said no definite plans have been made and no funding has been set aside.
"I see a need for more classroom space and upgrade of existing space," she says. "We would certainly hope it could happen in this decade."
The space crunch, in addition to being inconvenient, is also costly.
Five years ago, the Graduate School of Education (GSE) spent $200,000 renting extra space in Cambridge. This year the school is spending is close to $1.2 million.
"We don't have any space to build. We're renting a lot more off-campus space than we were ten years ago," says Joel C. Monell, dean for administration and academic services.
"Obviously it becomes a financial issue. How much more can we afford to rent?" Monell says.
"For the most part we've been moving off research projects and special programs," he says. "We've tried not to move off core academic activities."
According to Newman, money is less of an issue for the Kennedy School. The research programs contained in many of its outlying buildings have grants, which fund their rental.
Space concerns also affect the Harvard Law School (HLS) and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. HLS is currently is the process of planning space use for the future but refused to comment on what they are discussing and on potential expansion.
"I think every part of Harvard on the Cambridge side of the river is crunched for space," says Michael A. Armini, director of communications at HLS.
Across the River
This summer, the University purchased $151 million of land across the river in Allston from the Massachusetts Transit Authority. They earmarked the land for expansion to alleviate the crowding problems in Cambridge.
Residents in the Allston area are more open to the possibility of development in their area, which is currently industrial and under-developed, than Cambridge residents have historically been.
Some of Harvard graduate schools have entertained the possibility of moving to Allston. But, despite the space crunch, Newman says she does not see a reason for the entire school to abandon its courtyard buildings and move across the river.
"I don't see that happening" she says.
However, she says, the school would not mind sharing some of the potential extra space across the river
"We are working very closely with
Harvard on that," she says.
Monell says GSE has also eyed that new land.
"Way down the road, the property over in Allston, might be a candidate," Monell says.
The Allston land, however, is not ideal, administrators say, because they force students to walk further and further from their home base.
"We don't really have any choice because we can't build," Monell says. "We're getting more spread out. We're literally land-locked."
In the past, Monell says, the GSE has tried to rent space as close to its headquarters on Story Street and Mount Auburn Street.
And Newman says student worries about the distances between buildings were "not an issue that has come to my attention."
"Students are in and out of these [the outlying] buildings," Newman says. "They are really not that far."
As for the signs in the Kennedy School lobby, they are meant to "provide a service to members of the K-school and visitors. We have a lot of visitors in and out of the school," she says.
"Our space needs are not unlike
many or most of the other Harvard schools," she adds.
Newman spoke for all of the schools when she concluded that space needs will not lessen over time.
"Given the mission of the Kennedy School and the globalization of the world, I would expect the Kennedy school will continue to grow," she says.