Credit Issue a Summers Focus

Efforts at cooperation in fundraising extend beyond campaign planning, to a push by University President Lawrence H. Summers for reform on the seemingly esoteric issue of class credit.

Class credit is the recognition alums are given within their reunion class for having donated to Harvard. Traditionally, not every donation has counted.

For College alums to be listed as having donated, they need to have given to FAS. A donation to other schools within the University does not count. Nor does a donation count if it is given to FAS, but not to one of the dean’s priorities.

Provost Steven E. Hyman says class credits are seen as a powerful fundraising tool to encourage donations targeted at deans’ determined priorities. But to smaller schools looking to reap the benefits of University-wide fundraising, class credits are a serious constraint.

Hyman’s predecessor as provost, Harvey V. Fineberg ’67, pushed hard to have the system changed. But ultimately nothing came of his proposal to loosen the system.

Now again, Summers has raised the issue, Hyman says, and is in the process of negotiating with Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby for liberalization.

“[Class credits] should not be a tool so narrow as to excessively limit the apparent priorities of the University,” Hyman says. “President Summers, I and the Corporation are working with Dean Kirby to not do away with class credit policy, but to increase its flexibility.”