For the first time this year, Faculty of Arts and Science members cleaned up an entire tray of cookies before exiting University Hall after yesterday’s faculty meeting.
The semester’s last meeting drew the largest crowd since last December, when the courses of Harvard Summer School instructor Subramaniam Swamy were removed from the catalogue.
Late attendees lined up against the walls of the meeting room, and some professors even found themselves taking seats on the floor.
Some came to question the University’s recent decision to discontinue the University’s Financial Planning Group, while others came to discuss the administration’s handling of the ongoing library transition.
A contingent from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences was also present to support the passage of two new concentrations: Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.
Still, others—including students, lecturers, and teaching fellows—were invited as recipients of a number of teaching, advising, and mentoring awards announced by Dean of FAS Michael D. Smith.
In addition to dealing with a packed hall and a packed agenda, the administrators present handled an intense introductory question period. University President Drew G. Faust even recognized more than the two “extemporaneous” questions normally permitted by parliamentary procedure.
“We have a very full docket, and we need to address academic issues that are relevant to summer school and next year,” she said.
Faust emphasized the need for faculty members to keep their questions brief, and had to interrupt multiple professors attempting to discuss the closure of the Financial Planning Group, which offers retirement and investment advice to Harvard employees.
“You are a brilliant literary scholar,” Faust said jokingly to one long-winded faculty member. “A question ends with a question mark.”
By the time University Librarian Robert C. Darnton was poised to take the microphone and explain the Faculty Advisory Council’s opinion on open access, administrators at the head table were getting restless. It was 5:30 p.m., and in keeping with procedure, the Docket Committee would have to call a motion to extend the meeting another fifteen minutes—an unprecedented request this semester.
Only a few faculty members raised their hands in the traditional vote. Instead, more than half “voted with their feet,” as Faust described—leaving the Hall as Faust agreed to let the meeting continue.
While faculty members continued to debate the treatment of library employees and restructuring efforts by the administration, their discourse would not further exceed the afternoon’s allotted time.
The meeting was adjourned promptly at 5:45 p.m.
—Staff writer Radhika Jain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Staff writer Kevin J. Wu can be reached at email@example.com.