Refreshments served at Faculty meetings may no longer include cookies, but at today’s Faculty meeting—the first of this academic year—Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith may offer sunnier news in his report on the school’s finances over the past year.
Although predictions made in the spring state that the school continues to face a $35 million deficit, Smith said last month that he will be able to turn to some of his academic priorities after nearly two years of budget-strapping measures. He plans to close the deficit gap in FAS—Harvard’s largest school—by the summer of 2012.
The University endowment’s 11 percent investment returns over the course of the last fiscal year has also led FAS members to hope for an increased endowment payout—and thus higher spending capabilities—in coming years.
At today’s meeting, Smith will discuss the Dean’s 2010 Annual Report, which outlines FAS revenue and spending policies as they were over the course of last academic year. The draft is available online to some Faculty members and will be made public later in the month.
Dean’s Reports have traditionally been published in the spring semester, but Smith said he wants the information to be available to departments at the beginning of the budget planning process for next year. The official budgeting season does not begin until the spring, but departments have already worked on their preliminary requests to the Dean.
At today’s meeting, Smith will also discuss the planning for a new capital campaign. Harvard’s last capital campaign, which ended in 2001, raised $2.6 billion ($3.2 billion in today’s dollars). But in recent years, the University has repeatedly decided to postpone a new campaign.
“It’s been 10 years since Harvard ended its last campaign,” University President Drew G. Faust said in an interview last March. “That’s a very long time to go between campaigns.”
Although the past years in FAS have seen budget cuts and slimmed hiring, formulating plans for a capital campaign may be one indication that the University believes that its donors are once again prepared to give.
And across FAS, faculty members and administrators alike are hoping that the school can turn away from a discourse of budget cuts.
“I know that this year will be difficult,” said English department chair W. James Simpson. “But with the endowment looking up and with the markets looking up, there may be some light at the end of the tunnels.”
—Staff writer Noah S. Rayman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Elyssa A.L. Spitzer can be reached at email@example.com.