As FAS Grapples with Budgets, SEAS Continues ‘Measured Growth’

SEAS
The John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences sign stands in front of Pierce Hall.
As the Faculty of Arts and Sciences struggles with budget constraints, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences—the recently-endowed wing of FAS—is continuing with “measured growth” and plans to partner with outside firms to generate additional revenue.

After the value of Harvard’s endowment plunged by almost $2 billion in fiscal year 2016, the University has had to tighten its budgets. In FAS, the number of graduate students admitted next year has been cut 4.4 percent and faculty and graduate students will only receive a 1.5 percent pay bump next year.

Despite the financial turbulence at the rest of FAS, SEAS is continuing with plans for expanding the size of its faculty and student body. In an interview last week, SEAS Dean Francis J. Doyle III said the “school within a school” has focused on keeping expenses low—rather than cutting back.

“We operate on our own budget, we are an independent school in that regard, so consequently we, too, have to worry about balancing a budget,” Doyle said. “We have a growth plan even through the next few years of uncertainty that we will stabilize that number, and then the hope is that I will be able to improve that number as well.”

The number of students at SEAS has ballooned in recent years. At the time of its inception in 2007, there were 291 SEAS undergraduate concentrators. After SEAS welcomed 320 new sophomores in November, it now has a record-high 943 total concentrators.

“I am deeply concerned about things like student faculty ratio, and I endeavor to at least hold the line on that,” he said.

Doyle said that SEAS is considering partnering with industry firms as a new way to generate revenue. He pointed to current practice at Harvard Business School, where in October 2010 Ratan Tata—chairman of the Indian conglomerate Tata Group—gave the largest international gift to date to the school. The $50 million was used to build Tata Hall, the new home for the Executive Education program.

“We’re wrestling with the budget just like Mike Smith, and the other schools around Harvard, and we are trying to be creative with new revenue and very disciplined approaches to expenses,” Doyle said.

In addition to Harvard’s budget, Doyle said “uncertainty in Washington” is something he is keeping an eye on.

He also said the number of graduate students remained the same this year, despite the fact that FAS student admissions is being cut.

“We actually kept the same number of grad students this year. My thought on that is that the number of grad students will more or less float with the number of faculty because the faculty bring in the grants that pays for the students, so if the faculty are increasing and bringing in more research revenue then we will have to have a commensurate increase in the number of grad students,” Doyle said.

Hedge fund magnate John A. Paulson endowed SEAS with a $400 million gift in 2015, renaming the school.

—Staff writer Julia E. DeBenedictis can be reached at julia.debenedictis@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @julia_debene.

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