Harvard Tightens Faculty Policy

A Matter of Freedom?: The University is cracking down on professors who want to work outside of Harvard. Some say they're justified. Others say their freedom is being restricted.

Harvard is reining in even its most famous. Despite the increasing temptation to expand their playing field through the Internet, University faculty must abide by rules set by the center that determine what outside activities--like academic web sites and online lectures--are and are not acceptable.

Offering some free online information is fine; giving periodic guest lectures at other universities is also fine; offering an online course is not.

The University is now in the process of revising and clarifying the regulations written over half a century ago in what some faculty members call "The Gray Book," updating them to modern trends in technology.

The University hopes that the Harvard Corporation will approve a revised copy of the draft by the end of May.

But Bromley Professor of Law Arthur R. Miller at Harvard Law School (HLS)--who was forced to remove his online lectures from the web-based Concord University School of Law late last fall-- is not pleased with the new policies. He says the new policy will further restrict professor's academic freedom.

"I've been on their faculty for over 29 years, and I've never had to ask permission to go speaking or to give lectures to any organizations, for profit or non profit," Miller says.

And even the current revision of the old rules leaves some questions unanswered.

Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Jeremy R. Knowles calls the draft, which is intended to apply to the entire university, an "umbrella statement." Some specific decisions have been deferred to the deans, others will be determined through "case law."