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Faculty Growth Plan Expected This Winter

By Jessica E. Vascellaro, Crimson Staff Writer

A blueprint for the Faculty of the future, reflecting Harvard’s new academic priorities, will likely appear by the end of the semester, Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby said yesterday.

As part of his promise to increase the size of the Faculty and Arts and Sciences (FAS) by 10 percent in 10 years, Kirby met with the newly appointed divisional deans yesterday to discuss a systematic way to allocate Faculty resources.

Over the summer Kirby named Maria M. Tatar dean for the humanities, David M. Cutler dean for the social sciences and Venkatesh “Venky” Narayanamurti dean for the physical sciences.

Since they began work this fall, Kirby has made hiring across departments one of their primary responsibilities.

Kirby said such careful long-term planning is imperative, as the Faculty’s costs continue to rise while their annual endowment payout remains steady.

“We need to rethink where to make appointments and what areas need to grow,” he said.

Since 1999, FAS has grown by 52 professors—a 12 percent increase that is in keeping with the administration’s commitment to increasing the Faculty’s ranks.

But Kirby continues to emphasize growth and listed rethinking the type and number of appointments across the Faculty as one of his major goals for the year.

He cited external reports on the strength of a department, student interest and a general sense of the direction of a field as factors that would effect his decisions.

Cutler said that increased student enrollment often signals a need for expansion.

“The students are often a good indicator of what areas there is interest in knowing about,” he said.

But Cutler said the best way to decide how to make new appointments was through conversations, not formulas.

“You do it in collaboration with colleagues, find out what areas they think are exciting, put them together and look for common themes,” he said.

Kirby declined to mention where he felt growth was most necessary, although he has frequently pointed to FAS’ need to keep up with the pace of growth in the sciences. During his deanship he has approved the appointment of several new professors in the life sciences, such as 10 new slots for a new Center for Systems Neuroscience over the next few years.

History, on the other hand, has no current plans to expand.

“At this point our primary responsibility is to replace the people who are leaving,” said Chair of the History Department Akira Iriye. “We are very close to being satisfied with where we are now.”

In addition to reviewing prospects for growth, Kirby is working with his Committee on Appointments to revise tenure procedures. The recommendations of the committee are currently being reviewed by the professors on the Faculty Council before they will be discussed by the full Faculty on Oct. 21.

—Staff writer Jessica E. Vascellaro can be reached at

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