With Space and Personnel at a Premium, SEAS To Increase Faculty by Nearly 30 Percent

Facing constraints in manpower and space, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is set to make twenty new tenure-track hires and is preparing for its building projects in Allston, SEAS Dean Cherry A. Murray told The Crimson in an interview this week.

The $450 million that SEAS seeks to raise in its portion of the Campaign for Arts and Sciences, which launched last weekend, will fund the new hires, Murray said. The new construction projects, which are slated to begin in the coming months, will receive funding from other money raised in the Harvard Campaign, the University-wide capital campaign that encompasses all of the fundraising drives for individual schools and faculties. The overall Harvard Campaign, launched in September, aims to raise a total of $6.5 billion.

Because it is affiliated with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the SEAS fundraising goal was announced along with the total FAS goal last weekend. According to SEAS spokesperson Caroline M. Perry, SEAS has already raised $100 million.

The fundraising drive comes at a critical time for SEAS, which has seen enrollment grow at a rapid pace in the last five years. In the 2012-2013 academic year over 5,000 Harvard College students took a SEAS class, compared to almost 2,000 in 2008-2009, according to fundraising materials. The number of SEAS concentrators has also grown consistently in recent years.

“Until really the last decade [the SEAS concentrations have] been considered [subjects] that [weren’t] quite proper for gentlemen and gentleladies to be studying,” computer science professor Harry R. Lewis '68 said. “Now [they are] much more central to the Harvard stream of thought than it used to be.”

But that increase in enrollment has created issues within SEAS. Most notably, faculty and administrators say the school is running out of space, and that research labs and classrooms in buildings like Maxwell Dworkin, Pierce Hall, and the Science Center are too crowded.

“We need, not surprisingly, more lecturers and space,” Murray said, citing the growing flow of undergraduates through SEAS programs. “Undergraduates are demanding to be taught.”

Lewis, who told The Crimson that he has 43 undergraduate advisees, echoed Murray’s sentient that SEAS has run out of manpower and space.

“We’re just strained in every direction... it is not clear that if we actually hired somebody that [we would] be able to give them an office,” he said.

When the move to Allston was announced in the spring, many SEAS faculty were surprised and upset, with some dubbing the announcement “the Allston Bomb.” Now, with space and manpower limitations pressing and the vision of the building projects more clear, faculty members say the move is a solution to an important problem, Lewis said.

“There’s been more time for people to understand what might be possible,” he said, explaining that administrators seemed to share the vision of creating “a real Harvard campus, a real Harvard study, work, research and hangout environment,” across the river.

“Since we’ve had that dialogue with the faculty, I think a lot more have gotten excited about [the move],” Lewis said.

Murray also expressed excitement and said that more SEAS faculty seemed to be coming on board to the idea of relocating.

“Faculty are adamant that they want great teaching spaces in Allston, and that will bring students and other faculties to teach there because there will be really great spaces,” Murray said. “There will be faculty intermixed between different schools, which would be wonderful for students, and it will be a liberal arts environment plus a professional school environment.”

—Staff writer Christine Y. Cahill can be reached at christine.cahill@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @cycahill16.

—Staff writer Matthew Q. Clarida can be reached at matthewclarida@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattClarida.

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