In a the midst of debate over the merits of distance learning and Internet colleges, the University unveiled a new "Statement on Outside Activities" that spells out what professors can do with their time when they are not teaching and prohibits faculty members from teaching online courses.
The statement is the first comprehensive overhaul of the rules regarding outside activities since 1948.
Though the guidelines have been amended over the years, many of the rules were outdated and did not address modern problems, said Pforzheimer University Professor Sidney H. Verba '53, a member of the faculty committee that developed the new statement.
"A lot of the stuff dated back to the '60's and was piecemeal patched over the years," he said.
New technology and its potential effects on teaching were the major impetus behind the replacement, said Dean for Research and Technology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Paul C. Martin.
The statement, which has also been updated with gender-neutral language, says that faculty members must devote their efforts primarily toward Harvard students and that they may not teach any part of a course at another institution--even via electronic communication.
The new restrictions apply to teaching and research in the summer and also prohibit paid consulting for educational institutions or organizations without permission from the dean of faculty.
Some faculties already had that policy, but the new guidelines make it a University-wide rule.
The new policy lessens some restrictions, though. Research activities at another university now require only the approval of the dean of the faculty, instead of the Harvard Corporation.
Associate Provost Dennis F. Thompson drafted the new statement with advice from the Faculty Council, the FAS Committee on Research and the Council of Deans. The Corporation approved the policy in June and it took effect July 1.
According to Thompson, the changes do not mean that professors will have to stop their current activities, but will merely have to report more outside work than before.
Verba said there has been little reaction from faculty members since the changes were made, but he said those who worked on the statement are happy with it.
"I think that it's good because no one has a lot of experience with all these new media," Verba said. "I think you want to set out some principles and then specify what they mean in relation to real activities."
"It straddles the line nicely between being very vague--and useless--and very specific--and useless. It's somewhere in between," he said.