Smith’s plans were announced at yesterday’s Faculty Council meeting, where the members of the Faculty’s 18-member governing board discussed measures that are underway to address the worst economic crisis in decades.
The increased correspondence comes during a global economic crisis that has affected even the Ivory Tower. In the past few weeks, University President Drew G. Faust and FAS Dean Michael D. Smith have been sending out letters detailing news in Harvard finance—Tuesday, Faust announced a 22 percent drop in the endowment in four months from its June 30 value of $36.9 billion.
A committee has been named to review staff openings and to determine those that are “critical,” a term used by Smith in a letter last week to refer to positions that FAS is willing to fill and finance as it cuts expenses elsewhere.
Smith is still in the process of devising criteria for cost-cutting in programs and positions within departments.
Over the next few weeks, Smith also plans to conduct a town hall meeting for junior faculty. He wrote in the letter that reviews for promotion within the tenure-track system would continue as scheduled.
Despite the heavy focus on finance, the council found room to discuss proposals for language reform. Romance languages professor Virginie Greene, the co-chair of the ad-hoc committee advising Smith on foreign languages, gave a presentation before the council concerning foreign language requirements.
The first proposal would increase the minimum SAT II score necessary to place out of the language requirement from 600 to 700. Compared to its peer institutions, Harvard has the lowest SAT II, yet the highest AP score requirements to place out of taking a language, the committee found.
The second proposal would extend the deadline for fulfilling the language requirement from the end of freshman year to the end of sophomore year, in order to address complaints of over-crowded freshmen year schedules, according to Greene.
The ad-hoc committee is scheduled to present its final recommendations to the Council in January for a vote.
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