New Provost Defines Agenda On First Day

Hyman to address study abroad and interfaculty initiatives

Crimson/joyce Varughese

Former professor and new provost STEVEN E. HYMAN returned to Harvard's campus yesterday, his first full day in his new role.

New Provost Steven E. Hyman’s arrival yesterday brought with it signs that the central administration’s organization may be up for serious discussion later this academic year.

In an interview yesterday, Hyman said that in several months, he and University President Lawrence H. Summers plan to “take a thoughtful look at how the provost’s office is structured.”

“Things are not broken,” he said. “They seem to have grown organically and historically rather than by planning.”

The provost’s office, revived under Summers’ predecessor, Neil L. Rudenstine, currently has one associate provost and four assistant provosts who oversee different areas.

The office has already seen some change this fall, as Summers began with his installation to put forth his agenda. Assistant Provost Sean T. Buffington ’90 is now in charge of what he called “the international agenda,” which includes study abroad, one of Summers’ pet projects.

Buffington is also the assistant provost in charge of interfaculty initiatives, a hallmark of the provost’s office.

Hyman said “reviewing and getting a handle on interfaculty initiatives” will also be one of the first items on his agenda.

“The main thing for me is that it’s not clear that these interfaculty initiatives are thriving,” he said.

And in an echo of what Summers has explicitly presented as his agenda, Hyman also cited working with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to think about science education, and exploring expansion into Allston as top priorities.

“If you think about Allston, the issue should really be driven by academic programs,” he said.

The selection of Hyman as provost in late October marked Summers’ first major administrative appointment, and the provost will play a key role in shaping Mass. Hall policy. But all this planning will have to wait for Hyman to find his footing.

The former director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) officially began his tenure as the University’s fifth provost with a series of high-level administrative meetings in Mass. Hall, Loeb House and Holyoke Center.

“Today and the coming days are about meeting people and getting briefed,” Hyman said in an interview last night. “It’s not the sort of thing you learn about in a minute,” he said.

Hyman was upbeat after his intense day of meetings with Harvard adminstrators, including Summers, the acting deans of the Graduate School of Education, members of his office, administrative deans and FAS officials.

Programmatic issues at GSE and information echnology across the University were focal points of the day, Hyman said.

Today, Hyman will meet with the University’s vice presidents and with additional staff from the Office of the Provost, he said.