In a move to further centralize University activities in Mass. Hall, Provost Steven E. Hyman said last week that three vice-provost positions will be created in order to ease the burden on the Provost’s office, with two of those positions possibly being filled by September.
The three positions, which will be filled by current faculty members, are in the areas of international affairs, research policy, and faculty development and diversity, a role whose creation was announced last week with the release of a report by the Task Force on Women Faculty.
Hyman said that the search for the vice-provost for research has been completed, but that Mass. Hall is awaiting Corporation approval of the nominee.
University spokesman John Longbrake said yesterday that “there are still a few more steps” to go before an announcement of the selection is made.
“Because of new federal laws and regulations, the most pressing [area] was the area of research policy,” Hyman said last week.
The position will deal with Harvard’s response to federal laws and regulations and will work with the Office of Sponsored Research and the General Counsel to coordinate policy on such matters as human subject protections, stem cell regulation compliance, and technology export laws.
Though the University has recently come under fire for the administration of two multi-million dollar federal research grants, Hyman said that the creation of the new research post is not in response to these difficulties.
Hyman said that Mass. Hall has promised the Task Force on Women Faculty that the new position to oversee faculty development and diversity will be filled by the start of the next academic year.
“It may be very difficult, but at least having a name and somebody who is thinking about the area is very important,” Hyman said. “There’s a lot of momentum from the task forces and we can’t have a lag implementing them.”
Chair of the Task Force on Women Faculty and Professor of the History of Science and African and African American Studies Evelynn M. Hammonds did not return repeated requests for comment.
The search for the vice-provost for international affairs will most likely not begin until the fall, Longbrake said Friday.
In line with numerous public comments by University officials, most notably University President Lawrence H. Summers, about the push for the internationalization of Harvard and the undergraduate experience in particular, the new vice-provost will be in charge of coordinating the international activities of all of Harvard’s schools.
“The issue is...how to build consensus on what the University wants to get involved in,” Hyman said. “We want our undergraduates to have valuable experiences abroad. Sites and projects operated by our professional schools could provide terrific experiences, but without additional help, they might not be compatible with undergraduate needs.”
Dillon Professor of International Affairs Jorge I. Dominguez, director of Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and chair of the curricular review’s task force on international education, declined to comment Friday. Jane Edwards, director of Harvard’s Office of International Programs, could not be reached over the weekend.
The creation of the three posts was recommended by a report commissioned last spring by Hyman and Summers and was written by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
In an interview last fall, Hyman said that the increasingly complex functions of the Provost’s office had become too great for the office’s small staff.
The office already has four associate provost positions, including one for science policy.
After interviewing a number of deans and faculty members, the study concluded that the new vice-provost positions should be filled by faculty members.
“In areas such as regulation you need some faculty sensibility so that rules do not seem arbitrary or punitive,” Hyman said. “If a non-faculty person held this position, a faculty member might feel that their views would be less well represented.”
Though the McKinsey study was complete in December, Hyman said he slowed down the implementation of the recommendations in the spring in anticipation of the task force’s own recommendations.
The original McKinsey report called for a senior position for faculty development similar to the position ultimately recommended by the task force to spearhead the hiring of more female and minority faculty.
“The senior vice-provost position [recommended by the Task Force on Women Faculty] dovetails nicely with what would have been a position overseeing faculty affairs,” Hyman said.
—Staff writer May Habib can be reached at email@example.com.