Harvard may be about big things--big names, big buildings, big endowment--but the College is a fickle beast when it comes to accommodating any physical growth.
The number of students concentrating in computer science (CS) and psychology has increased by more than 50 percent in the last several years.
Both departments have experienced growing pains, and both have made hiring new faculty members a priority.
For CS, the process has been eased by Maxwell-Dworkin, the campus' new $20 million computer-science building, and by $5 million in endowed professorships from Bill Gates, Class of '77. And as part of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science (DEAS), CS has also benefited from Dean Venkatesh "Venky" Narayanamurti's leadership and his position on the Council of the Deans.
But just as the CS department gets room to expand, the psychology department faces a space crunch inside of William James Hall.
Because there is no space to house new faculty, the department can't hire any. And administrators and faculty in the department say that their time and resources are being stretched to the line--there are too many students per faculty members, too little laboratory space for professors and students and too few advisers for senior thesis writers.
RAM'ed into classes
The explosion of interest isn't limited to Harvard, says John W. Hutchinson, associate dean of academic programs in DEAS.
"It's going on all over the country, and it's pretty obvious that it's driven by the excitement of the computer world and the Internet," he says.
Students "with a flare for math" flock to computer science, says Hutchinson, to hone their skills for lucrative careers in the field.
CS Director of Undergraduate Studies Steven J. Gortler says the concentration has had to compensate for bloated courses, some of which have doubled in size over the last four years.
"We're having to cope by having lots of teaching assistants and by adjusting the way we're teaching the courses," Gortler says.
Concentrator growth has left its mark on CS seminars.
"When you have a growth from 12 to 30 people [in a seminar}, it changes the flavor of the course," Gortler says.
Demand for more courses has been an impetus for hiring new faculty
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