OCS May Cut July Advising

Extent of budget cuts hinges on the success of early retirement initiative

For students looking for personalized, one-on-one career counsel in July, the Office of Career Services may not be the place to go.

Amid sweeping budget cuts across the University, OCS is considering the option of slicing operation costs by cutting one-on-one advising for the month of July, according to Interim Director Robin E. Mount.

In early April, the University will assess the expected figures for next year’s budget based on the number of eligible staffers­ that have accepted the retirement incentive package. Eligible employees are those over 55 years of age who will have worked at the University for at least a decade by June 30.

According to Mount, if a substantial number of employees accept the package, then the University-mandated budget cuts will be less drastic for offices within Harvard, such as OCS.

Currently, six OCS staffers would be devoted to counseling undergraduate students on an individual basis in July, among other duties.

These employees—and additional OCS staffers—may be expected to take extended unpaid vacations in July, while OCS is in “sleep mode,” according to Mount.

In past years, OCS employees have tended to take their vacations during July, in part because they are in high demand during the academic year, the interim director said.

But Mount also emphasized that students who depend on certain OCS resources during July—including the Harvard Business School 2+2 program applicants, students on fellowships expecting checks in the mail, and graduate students writing dissertations—would still receive these services.

Additionally, undergraduate interns who unexpectedly find themselves without a summer job could still rely on OCS for impromptu bailouts.

But what OCS does not anticipate doing, according to Mount, is laying off employees.

Instead, she has spearheaded an effort to seek consensus among the OCS staff to determine how to best cope with expected budget cuts.

Mount referenced the president of Wheaton College, who she said reduced his own annual salary by 7 percent, saying that she is open to the possibility of taking a direct hit from budget constraints herself.

”All leadership [at Harvard] is going to do it. It’s our way of responding together,” she said, noting that budgetary belt-tightening is required across the board in a recessionary economy. “We’re a team.”

Mount added that OCS has already “trimmed the fat” in its expenditures, reducing food, travel, and the purchase of paper products.

Other, more long-term alternatives to cutting back on operation costs included closing OCS on Fridays during the academic year, but Mount said that this wasn’t even a viable option for her.

“From the students’ perspective, we want to be fully staffed during the year,” she said. “We want to be the best for students.”

­—Staff writer Bita M. Assad can be reached at bassad@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Ahmed N. Mabruk can be reached at amabruk@fas.harvard.edu.