Weary Knowles Eyes FAS Budget Shortfall

Jeremy R. Knowles--Harvard insider, leading enzymologist and Dean of the Faculty--is tired.

Gazing out on soon-to-be renovated Weld Hall, the thin, wiry Briton who sported shades at President Neil L. Rudenstine's inauguration and who prefaced a budget discussion with a story about a snowdrop, laments his lack of rest.

"I have done more of many things this year," he says. "I have done considerably less of one thing, and that's sleep."

When he accepted he deanship, Knowles says, he suspected what he was getting into--severe financial problems and the need for major renovations in Yard dormitories. In addition, this year Knowles faced a sensitive situation with faculty activity reporting, the imminent uncapping of the mandatory retirement age and a race relations crisis in the College.

It's a job, he says, that "lies some where between exciting and frenetic,"


Knowles' appointment as Houghton Professor of Biochemistry was the first made by Geyser University Professor Henry Rosovsky when the latter assumed the deanship in 1973. Knowles moved into the mauve dean's office immediately after Rosovsky's one-year stint as acting dean last year.

And in Knowles' first year on the job, many professors note, the biochemist's performance as dean resembles the early years of Rosovsky's reign.

Both faced financial constraints from the outset. Rosovsky broke University Hall precedent when he addressed 1973-74 budget woes with a 34-page letter to the Faculty.

Knowles followed Rosovsky's example with his own budget letter, though the current dean notes, "Mine was shorter and had pictures."

In his 10-page letter, Knowles tried to provide a lucid picture of the budget situation--an $11.7 million deficit and a widening gap between expenditures and income. Knowles says that when he moved into University Hall last summer, his first task was to gain an understanding of the budget crisis, and to find a way to ex press it clearly to faculty, students andstaff.

The dean used he first full Faculty meeting ofthe spring semester to further outline the budgetsituation and to answer questions about financialissues facing FAS. And at their final full meetingof the year, Knowles thanked faculty members fortheir support, urging them to "continue totolerate the two-letter word: the frequency of'no'."

"Dean Knowles added to what Dean Rosovsky hasdone," says Administrative Dean of the GraduateSchool John B. Fox Jr. '59. Fox calls Knowles'approach "an attempt to bring the faculty into theproblem."

Knowles says collaboration helped to avert someof the upheaval that surrounded financial crisesat a number of other American universities.

At Yale University this winter, a committeerecommended that the school lose 114 facultypositions by attrition and eliminate two academicdepartments and its social policies researchcenter.

Knowles strove to address the Faculty's budgetwoes without cutting any programs, and withouttouching areas that were central to thecurriculum.

In his letter to the Faculty, Knowles urged theprofessors to consider moderating growth insalaries and benefits; consider "economies" in theLibrary, athletic departments and the College; andreview growth in financial aid packages.