FAS Finance Chief Steps Down

In a Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) roster shake-up, chief financial officer Cheryl Hoffman-Bray has left her post managing an $800 million budget to take on an advisory role within the FAS administration.

The departure of Hoffman-Bray, who served as associate dean for finance since March 2000, was announced in an Aug. 30 memo to staff in the FAS Executive Dean’s Office. The memo offered no reason for the change and did not indicate what responsibilities Hoffman-Bray would assume as a senior adviser to Executive Dean Nancy Maull, said Maull’s assistant Stephen Coady.

Maull declined to comment on the reshuffling because it was a personnel matter.

Hoffman-Bray wrote in an e-mail that “there’s no story here” and that she was simply looking for something new.

“I just wanted a change and I thought this new role as Senior Advisor to the Dean would be interesting,” she wrote. She did not reply to questions about her responsibilities under the new position.

According to one FAS administration official, Hoffman-Bray’s departure came as a surprise—not only because there was no warning, but because she seemed to be involved in ongoing projects in the weeks preceding the announcement.

FAS Communications Director Robert Mitchell said he did not know whether a search committee to replace Hoffman-Bray had been formed.

Gail Pisapio, one of the three assistant deans who worked under Hoffman-Bray, said the vacancy has been posted online, and she expects an appointment to come soon.

Whoever is chosen, according to the online job posting, will report to Maull and Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby, administering capital project financing, financial aid, fundraising and FAS salaries. The new associate dean will also be responsible for balancing the school’s budget, as well as designing the Faculty’s “long-range financial plan.”

FAS has faced severe budget constraints in recent years, with ambitious projects in Allston leaving it with a heavy tax burden and a stagnant economy hurting donation numbers. In 2003’s annual letter to the Faculty, Kirby referred to a “period of greater financial constraint,” which has seen budget cuts and layoffs across the University.

Kirby has echoed those warnings since, calling on the Faculty to “exercise care in spending and make prudent use of our resources” in his 2004 report. Hoffman-Bray told The Crimson last February she was confident that FAS would not run a deficit this year, emphasizing that a concentrated effort from the Faculty to limit expenses would be required to avoid such an outcome.

Jones Professor of American Studies Lizabeth Cohen, a member of the FAS Physical Resources Committee, said Aug. 31 that she had not heard about Hoffman-Bray’s departure, but speculated that the intensely demanding nature of her position may have contributed to the decision. Other members of the Resources Committee said they could not comment on the matter due to confidentiality rules.

—Staff writer Leon Neyfakh can be reached at neyfakh@fas.harvard.edu.