University Braces for More Cuts

Allston construction likely to slow, as Harvard looks to trim budgets

University officials advanced budget cutting measures at yesterday’s meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, suggesting a likely slowdown in Allston construction and preparing to distribute long-awaited guidance for budget reductions to departments and centers later this month.

“Although it is clear that Allston is Harvard’s ultimate future, that future is going to be arriving a lot more slowly than we’d thought,” University President Drew G. Faust said.

Faust’s comment was the first public suggestion that construction in Allston will slow due to the financial crisis.

The Allston project has become a point of contention in recent months due to its hefty price tag and long-term nature, which some argue should make it subordinate to more immediate expenditures.

Faust said the administration hopes to make decisions “soon” regarding the specific timeline for Allston.

Cuts based on proposals submitted by departments and centers in January could make up approximately 77 percent of the $100 to $130 million shortfall in expenses for the next fiscal year, FAS Dean Michael D. Smith said yesterday.

Smith said he will not publish specific department or center cuts to avoid any “premature or uninformed” announcement, but he reiterated his commitment to cut expenses by 15 percent across FAS over the next few years.

“I hope we can offer one another the benefit of the doubt and recognize that there will be more sacrifices,” said University President Drew G. Faust. “This institution and all it has represented for so very long is more than worthy of those sacrifices.”

Though the administration is projecting a higher spending level in the mid-six percent range—up from 4.6—for this year and next, according to Smith, even a far higher rate could mean flat or even reduced overall payouts from the endowment, depending on its value at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Harvard’s endowment has already dropped an estimated 22 percent from its June 30 value of $36.9 billion as of Oct. 31, and administrators have repeatedly said to plan for a 30 percent fall in value by the end of the fiscal year.

The Faculty has yet to learn the exact payout rate for the fiscal year starting next July.

While Harvard waits for news of the endowment’s performance, the University must prepare various contingency plans to steel itself for an uncertain fiscal future, Faust said.

The Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences will reduce its number of accepted Ph.D. students by nine percent. Approximately 600 to 610 Ph.D. students—as opposed to the 660 accepted last fall—will be accepted for the next academic year, GSAS Dean Allan M. Brandt said.

Harvard’s move to reduce the number of graduate school fellowships mirrors similar measures taken by Northwestern and Stanford’s graduate schools to help alleviate the financial burden.

—Staff writer Bonnie J. Kavoussi can be reached at kavoussi@fas.harvard.edu.
—Staff writer Esther I. Yi can be reached at estheryi@fas.harvard.edu.