Six months ago, when the Faculty turned down a proposal to give all junior faculty members the title of assistant professor, Harvard was left in a weak bargaining position in the competition for young teachers. Many promising scholars have been lured away from Cambridge by the label "assistant professor" attached to the salary and duties of a Harvard instructor.
Now the Faculty has decided to attack the problem in a better way. Instead of dressing up the post of instructor with a more prestigious title, the Faculty has changed the post itself. By a unanimous vote last week, the one-year limit on instructorship appointments was discarded; departments were given the power to recommend instructors to the Corporation for appointments of up to three years.
Not everyone who turns down a Harvard instructorship simply wants a flashier title. A longer appointment obviously makes the job more attractive by offering greater security. Also, Dean Ford has promised periodic pay increases to instructors appointed for more than one year, and even the base pay of $7,000 per year may rise. Most important, instructors will be eligible for foundation and government grants spanning two or three years. (A University rule bars faculty members from accepting grants which extend beyond the end of their appointments.)
The Faculty's decision will increase the instructorship's appeal and raise its prestige without harming the status of present assistant professors. Important-sounding titles have a way of beguiling young men; but job security and foundation money will probably prove more enticing.