Approximately 17,700 high school students applied for the 1,620 spots in next year's entering class, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67 said at yesterday's faculty council meeting.
The number represents an increase of approximately 2,000 applications over last year's record.
The council, which celebrated its 25th anniversary yesterday, invited Fitzsimmons to provide a general discussion about the state of undergraduate admissions.
"It's always nice to touch base with Dean Fitzsimmons," Professor of Government Kenneth A. Shepsle said after the meeting. "It reassures the faculty that he is doing a superb job."
"I do literally over 100 of these kinds of discussions every year," Fitzsimmons said. "With professors, in departments, in the Houses, we are very happy to answer all the questions we can."
Faculty were primarily interested in hearing about the admissions process.
"It was a fairly standard conversation," Shepsle reported. "The sheer enormity of the task of trying to assemble the class each year."
The council briefly discussed whether the admissions committee would benefit from a review, Fox said.
"I don't think that a comprehensive review at this point would be worthwhile," said Baird Professor of Science Gary J. Feldman, a member of both the faculty council and the admissions committee.
"They've been doing an excellent job," Feldman said. "They themselves always put themselves through scrutiny to see how changing conditions affect them."
"We're happy to be reviewed. We're always being reviewed," Fitzsimmons said with a laugh. "And because we are a committee of the Faculty, we are in a sense being constantly reviewed."
The council was "very pleased," with the appointment of McKay Professor of Computer Science Harry R. Lewis '68's as the next Dean of the College, the Secretary of the Faculty, John B. Fox '59 said.
"It's a sterling appointment," Shepsle said. "A real credit to Dean Knowles to have managed to persuade an important member of the faculty, who has also been an important administrator and a graduate of the college, to take on the enormous administrative responsibility."
The council was also pleased with Acting President Albert Carnesale's supplement to President Neil L. Rudenstine's statement of last November, Fox said.
"The ROTC statement is superb," Shepsle said. "It takes various faculty opinions into account. Carnesale worked hard to accommodate the faculty."
In other news, the faculty council discussed the creation of a University wide committee on the use of animals, humans and bio-hazards in research experiments.
There are currently both Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) and Harvard Medical School committees which ensure compliance with federal law on these matters.
"The Medical School does a lot of this business," Fox said. "And [FAS] does very, very little, so it makes sense to have one, University-wide committee." The creation of a University committee would probably require the consent of the Corporation, Fox said.
Last year, then-Provost Jerry R. Green named an ad hoc committee to review human subject research at the University. The decision to establish the committee followed revelations that Harvard scientists in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s had participated in experiments in which human subjects were unknowingly subjected to radiation.
Green appointed Professor of Medicine Emeritus Walter H. Abelmann to head the ad hoc committee. The panel's findings, however, have not been made public by the University.