Fewer Faculty To Be Hired

At meeting, professors question whether Allston should be top priority

Concerns about faculty hiring dominated the semester’s first full meeting of the Faculty yesterday, overshadowing a potentially contentious discussion of Conrad K. Harper’s July resignation from the Harvard Corporation.

Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby announced that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) will hire fewer new faculty this year.

Sixty-five professors have been hired in the last three years, part of a broader FAS effort announced in 2000 to increase the size of the Faculty by 10 percent in 10 years.

Kirby said FAS is a year ahead of where it planned to be by this time in terms of faculty growth.

“This year we are slowing down a bit...to allow our financial resources to catch up,” Kirby said. “I’m not talking about a freeze of any kind, but a more modest pattern of growth.”

Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity and Development Evelynn M. Hammonds then discussed her plans to implement the recommendations of last year’s two task forces on women faculty, designed to increase FAS diversity.

At the meeting, professors raised concerns that their departments were taking a back seat to Allston planning and undergraduate services, while others questioned the wisdom of devoting so many resources to gender diversity rather than the Faculty as a whole.

Professor of Anthropology and of African and African American Studies J. Lorand Matory ’82, who called for the vote of no confidence against University President Lawrence H. Summers last March, led the discussion of Harper’s resignation.

He said the resignation suggests that the secretive Corporation, which is Harvard’s highest governing body, is indifferent to faculty concerns and has shied away from confronting difficult questions regarding Summers’ leadership.

He also criticized the board’s lack of diversity, saying that “the Corporation now looks more like Harvard in the 19th century than in the 21st century.”

Several professors who spoke at the meeting acknowledged that they hoped the Corporation in the future would be characterized by greater transparency.

Romance Languages and Literatures Department Chair Christie McDonald, speaking with Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Department Chair Andrew A. Biewener, said she hoped Harper’s replacement would share his “breadth and culture” and would have an “independent mind [and] deep knowledge of, and a close affiliation with, the academic world.”

Kenan Professor of Government Harvey C. Mansfield ’53, long known for sparking debate at Faculty meetings, added levity to the afternoon by offering Matory—whom he called a close friend—suggestions concerning his addresses at faculty meetings.

“What you have, Professor Matory, is brashness, I’ll call it courage,” Mansfield said. Nevertheless, he advised Matory to temper the personal nature of his attacks and instead infuse them with humor.

Summers added that he deeply regretted Harper’s resignation, saying, “I will miss his counsel.”

PULLING THE PURSE STRINGS

During the meeting’s question period, Music Department Chair Ingrid Monson challenged FAS’s budgetary priorities and Kirby’s decision to decrease faculty hiring this year.

Monson said her department has recently been forced to postpone a faculty search due to financial cuts and asked Summers if faculty hiring is taking a backseat to Allston planning and new student life initiatives.

Last week, the College announced that the Office of the President will provide millions of dollars for new student spaces, including a pub in Loker Commons and a cafe in Lamont Library.

“It is difficult to escape the impression that perhaps some departments are being squeezed to save money for Allston,” Monson said.

Kirby responded that the undergraduate services were “overdue” and that the funding for those services is separate from the hiring budget. He also stressed that Faculty hiring has been one of FAS’s highest priorities over the past few years, as indicated by its recent growth rate.

Hammonds’ plans to implement the task force’s recommendations were well received by most of the Faculty, though Mansfield and Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature Ruth R. Wisse expressed their disappointment with what they called affirmative action-style policies designed to achieve “numerical parity.”

Dean of the Graduate School Theda Skocpol concluded the meeting by presenting her plan for a Graduate Policy Committee (GPC), which she called the Graduate School’s version of the College’s Educational Policy Committee.

She said the GPC will “review graduate programs run by departments, interdisciplinary programs, and interfaculty committees.”

—Staff writer William C. Marra can be reached at wmarra@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Sara E. Polsky can be reached at polsky@fas.harvard.edu.