Administrators and faculty are poised to consider changes to the daily academic schedule following the announcement this February that Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will move to Allston in as little as five years.
Three task forces on class schedules, transportation, and SEAS concentrator life were recently established to “mitigate problems that may arise from the physical distance [between Cambridge and Allston],” said Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 in an interview with The Crimson last month. Garber will oversee the committees in order to facilitate cross-University discussions, according to SEAS Dean Cherry A. Murray.
To help students get to class on time, the Task Force on Class Schedules—co-chaired by Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris and Deputy Provost Peggy Newell—might consider altering class times or lengthening the seven-minute window between classes, according to senior administrators.
“There will be more and more cross-school teaching in the future,” Murray said. “That means scheduling of classes needs to change, even if SEAS didn’t move to Allston.”
In an interview with The Crimson in February, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith said that course schedules were a concern even before the SEAS move was announced.
“We already have a problem today in that our campus is... larger than seven minutes between classes,” Smith said. “This is an issue, and we have an opportunity as we think about expanding our campus further to say, ‘Alright, what should the academic day look like?’”
Current students agreed that the issues addressed by the task forces are particularly important for SEAS to maintain growing student interest.
“If you know you’re going to miss the first 10, 15 minutes of lecture because your lecture is far away, you will be naturally inclined to try to find something that would fit your schedule better,” said David A. DiCiurcio ’15, a member of SEAS’ Space Steering Committee. “If Harvard doesn’t work this properly... you will have people deciding to try to go into concentrations that are not SEAS-based.”
Computer science professor David C. Parkes, a co-chair of the Transportation Task Force alongside Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp, wrote in an email that while the task force has not yet convened, it will eventually investigate a “multimodal transportation solution” to connect Cambridge and Allston.
The third task force, chaired by Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds and Area Dean for Bioengineering Robert D. Howe, will look to ensure that the experience of SEAS students is not diminished in any way by the move, Garber said.
Earlier this year, SEAS also announced a Space Steering Committee composed of SEAS faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate concentrators that will consolidate input on the Allston planning process. Yet despite the efforts of administrators, Katherine T. Cagen ’14, one of the students on the committee, said that many SEAS affiliates may still feel that their opinions are underrepresented.
“I think a lot of faculty still feel like their input may not be considered, that they may be wasting their time by expressing these things.” Cagen said. “The fact that they were not consulted before the decision to move SEAS was made was I think a huge error on the part of the administration, and I think that’s something they’re going to have to overcome for the rest of this process.”