In the most significant structural change to the University’s central administration since 1991, President-elect Drew G. Faust announced her intention on Monday to create the post of executive vice president of the University.
The new vice president will oversee the central administration’s financial, administrative, and human resources arms as the University continues its expansion in Allston, renews its efforts in University-wide science initiatives, and attempts to encourage more collaboration across Harvard’s 11 schools.
The move brings Harvard’s administrative structure into line with many of the nation’s other powerhouse research universities, including Princeton, Columbia, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania. It is the most substantial addition to Harvard’s central administration since the position of provost was created in 1991.
Adding the new position “can help us achieve greater coherence and capacity within the central administration, as well as greater clarity and effectiveness in the center’s administrative dealings across the University,” Faust wrote Monday in an e-mail obtained by The Crimson. She added that the job description is still subject to change.
The idea of adding an executive vice president to Mass. Hall’s ranks was seriously considered during the final months of the presidency of Lawrence H. Summers. Summers, who was forced to step down nearly a year ago, said that he interviewed a number of candidates for the post in late 2005 and early 2006.
“It is overdue for Harvard given its scale and complexity,” he wrote in an e-mailed statement to The Crimson.
“It is not tenable for [the] president to have nearly 3 dozen direct reports as in [the] current structure,” he added.
Former Kennedy School Dean Robert D. Putnam said the new position would allow Faust to “free herself” from the day-to-day management of administrative operations.
“Harvard needs to work together more effectively as one single institution,” he said in a phone interview Monday before Faust's decision was made public. Putnam said that “further administrative centralization in Mass. Hall would not necessarily serve the interest of making Harvard work together more effectively.”
The new executive vice president will likely oversee three of the University’s seven vice presidents—Vice President for Finance Elizabeth Mora, Vice President for Human Resources Marilyn Hausammann, and Vice President for Administration Sally H. Zeckhauser. Faust wrote in her e-mail that Vice President for Public Affairs Alan J. Stone, University General Counsel Robert W. Iuliano ‘83, Vice President for Policy A. Clayton Spencer, and the incoming vice president for alumni affairs and development, whom Faust has not yet appointed, will continue to report directly to the president.
Faust “surveyed the experience of numerous peer institutions, most of which include a position of this type,” as part of her decision to create the position, according to her e-mail.
Some members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences have been critical of recent central administration expansion—most recently in Provost Steven E. Hyman’s office—and have questioned the value of newly created posts.
Hyman said yesterday that he and the new executive vice president could act as “twins,” advising Faust from the academic and administrative perspectives, respectively.
“We have very talented vice presidents but we don’t have a figure within the central administration who can bring them together,” Hyman said, adding that an executive vice president could “serve as a good interlocutor for me as I sort of oversee University-wide academic issues.”
Former President Neil L. Rudenstine, who resurrected the position of provost as one of his first acts in office in 1991, called the new executive vice president post a “natural evolution,” given the large number of administrators that report directly to the president. He said the new position would likely give Faust valuable time to focus on other duties, even if it may appear to be “another layer” of administration to some.
“I think there’s no question that in most large institutions, inefficiencies can begin to be created by having too few people and too little integration rather than the other way around,” he said. “It’s always a question of finding the right balance.”
“If you look at Harvard compared to 98 percent of major research universities, most places would say ‘Good heavens, how can you run such a large and complicated institution with so few people?’ ” he added.
The search to fill the new position will begin immediately, according to Faust’s letter, and will be conducted by an informal advisory group designed to help the president-elect “think through the structure and function of the position.” The group includes Law School Dean Elena Kagan, Business School Dean Jay O. Light, Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Evelynn M. Hammonds, Allston leader Christopher M. Gordon, Chief of Staff Katarzyna E. Lundy ‘95, Board of Overseers Vice Chair William F. Lee ‘72, former Vice President of Finance Ann E. Berman, and Spencer.
—Javier C. Hernandez contributed to the reporting of this story.
—Staff writer Claire M. Guehenno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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