Faust Denies Rethinking Allston Plans

President says 50-year campus expansion is not 'slowing down,' contrary to Globe report

University President Drew G. Faust refuted reports today that suggested she was broadly rethinking aspects of the largest campus expansion in Harvard history.

Faust’s comments came after The Boston Globe published a page-one story today titled “Harvard rethinks Allston.”

The article stated that key parts of the Allston vision, including plans to build four undergraduate dorms and relocate the Graduate School of Education and the School of Public Health across the river, will be reviewed by Faust.

“It’s not a reversal. It’s not a slowing down,” Faust told The Crimson in a brief telephone interview today. “It’s moving to the next stage of a plan that is 50-year Allston development.”

The Globe reported that Faust is looking to “slow the process and review the overall Allston plan.”

The article quoted her as saying, “We’re looking at everything again.”

In an unprompted phone call to a Crimson reporter this morning, Faust said that while there were no factual errors in the Globe’s story, it mischaracterized her approach to Allston as “a dramatic change of direction.”

“I was really surprised to read this story because the way it’s framed—as a rethinking or change of direction—is explicitly not the case,” Faust said.

Faust said that Harvard is now “moving from a phase where we were setting a big framework into a stage where we are refining those aspirations.”

The Globe article noted that construction of the first piece of the University’s 350-acre Allston campus—a $1 billion science complex—will remain on schedule and begin next spring.

Although Faust said she has not committed the University to a dramatic change in planning, she appears to be taking a more consultative approach to the expansion compared with her predecessor, Lawrence. H. Summers.

Faust has emphasized hearing from stakeholders on both sides of the river before committing Harvard to development projects, something critics of Summers say he failed to do.

“We get a lot of e-mails about what’s happening now,” said Harvard sociology professor Orlando Patterson. “There’s no longer a sense that the decisions have been made and then you have a formal meeting.”

Summers was traveling and could not be reached for comment.

In January, Harvard unveiled its 50-year Allston master plan, which envisioned the relocation of the three Quad Houses, the School of Public Health, and the Graduate School of Education to the other side of the Charles River.

The report was submitted in conjunction with more detailed plans for the 589,000-square-foot science complex, which is slated to house the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and an art center which would showcase the University’s contemporary and modern art collection.

But after a series of contentious meetings between Harvard officials and Allston residents, the University decided to focus on the science complex and put the art center on the back burner.

Harvard will submit a revised 50-year plan to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) for approval next spring.

BRA spokeswoman Jessica Shumaker said that Faust’s emphasis on spending ample time to flesh out the details of the University’s growth would ease town-gown tensions.

“For the community to be able to hear from the top person that they want to do it the right way and they want to hear from everybody is the right way,” she said. “But I don’t think people should get the feeling that [Harvard is] not committed to developing in Allston.”

Harvard Provost Steven E. Hyman told The Crimson that rigorous discussion of proposals was necessary even if the plans for the expansion ultimately do not change.

“I think we’re reaching a phase where we’re going to commit to very substantial projects,” he said. “I think its natural that we consult more broadly with the...Allston community, with deans, and really make sure we have very full planning before we actually break ground on new projects.”

—Javier C. Hernandez contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Laurence H.M. Holland can be reached at lholland@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Laura A. Moore can be reached at lamoore@fas.harvard.edu.