Project ADAPT: Defining the Mission

Early in his term as president, Neil L. Rudenstine asked his staff, "How many people work at Harvard?"

But they could not answer. The University's ancient information systems could not produce that kind of report.

According to Assistant Provost Daniel D. Moriarty, the University's chief information officer, unanswerable questions like Rudenstine's prompted the administration to consider sweeping system reform.

"The alternative of not doing something was nonviable," says Provost Harvey V. Fineberg '67.

From those discussions, Project ADAPT was born.

"This project is not just about technology," said then-Provost Albert Carnesale, in his announcement launching ADAPT in 1996. "It's about fundamental changes in the way we conduct the business of the University."

Though many users of the financial information system are up in arms about its current flaws, the potential upside--once everything works--will be to dramatically increase the kinds of information at administrators' fingertips.

"ADAPT will enable us to make use of technological developments that are on the drawing board and likely to emerge over time," Kim B. Clark, dean of the business school, told the Harvard Gazette in 1996. "Without ADAPT, Harvard would not be in a position to take advantage of important new capabilities."

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