Several employees who have served the Harvard community for 25 years expressed disappointment that the University will no longer hold an annual event honoring long-serving workers.
Since the 1950s, the University has celebrated employees—ranging from custodians to professors—who reach 25 years of service. The event, usually held in the fall at the Harvard Faculty Club, included a speech by University President Drew G. Faust.
But without notice human resources did not hold the event last fall as they had in previous years.
“The reception had faded in popularity in recent years, with only about half of the honorees attending,” Mary Ann O’Brien, the director of planning and program management in human resources, wrote in a statement. “Additionally, some local units recognize service milestones locally so we are trying to reduce duplication.”
Some employees, however, said they thought the reception had previously been well-attended.
Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers Director Bill Jaeger said that employees who attended the event in previous years have described it as “full” and “lively.”
“I think the friends of mine and other members who have been involved in the past years thought it was a joyful, energetic event,” Jaeger said.
Several employees who recently reached the 25-year milestone only realized last December that an annual University-wide recognition event had not been planned. The University never notified employees of the discontinuation.
“They’ve generated so much ill will by people who are baffled or frustrated,” Jaeger said.
Catherine M. Lehar, an assistant at the Bureau of Study Counsel, was more ambivalent about the cancellation event.
“I never realized that there was a party for the whole of the University; I thought just different departments had one.” Lehar said. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what I would have been missing.”
Several employees said they were skeptical that the University canceled the event solely due to lack of attendance.
“I think they were trying to cut back,” Lehar said.
Jaeger said that he was not sure whether the University canceled the event in order to save money or to “save an hour of the President’s time.”
“In either of those cases, it’s so not worth it,” Jaeger said of the cancellation.
According to O’Brien, the University plans to reconsider how to best recognize employee service milestones and move towards a “more contemporary, meaningful and effective for employees at all stages of their career at Harvard.”