DEAS Dean Venkatesh “Venky” Narayanamurti said yesterday that if his department continues to grow, it will need more space than Cambridge can provide.
“We very well may have to have two parts of DEAS—we might have applied science right here and engineering in Allston,” he said.
Summers has also repeatedly championed the life sciences during his tenure, which he said yesterday will likely play an important role in the new campus.
Echoing what has long been one of the central concerns of FAS scientists, several professors at the meeting yesterday said they were worried that the plan would create divisions between faculty and students.
In response to faculty questions about the feasibility of holding science classes in Allston, Summers committed yesterday to keeping the “main science classes” in Cambridge. But he added that tutorials and lab work might take place in Allston.
Professor of Physics and Applied Physics Daniel S. Fisher, who had a testy exchange with Summers at the meeting, said that the plan could threaten to break bonds between FAS science departments.
“For many years, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering and applied sciences have been close together in Cambridge, but their interactions have been limited,” Fisher said in an interview following the meeting. “But over the last five years and even more over the last two or three years, the interactions between them have grown extensively, and the potential for taking advantage of those interactions is now enormous.”
“Yet the energy to do so is in danger of being dissipated” by the focus on Allston, he added.
Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences Douglas A. Melton said that minimizing divisions was “certainly a concern” for the task force that will plan scientific activity in Allston, of which he is a member.
He pointed out that the University’s biology research is already split between FAS’s Cambridge campus and HMS in Longwood.
“Wherever you use the scalpel, some people will be uncomfortable,” former Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles said of the potential division in an interview yesterday.
At the meeting, professors did not discuss what Summers said was the element potentially most important to the move: the presence of undergraduate life in Allston.
Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby did not mention the possibility of new Houses in Allston in a letter he sent to the Faculty yesterday about the science aspects of the announcement.
He said in an e-mail yesterday that he made the omission because “the possibility of undergraduate housing in Allston is in the rather more distant future.”
Summers indicated that neither of the possibilities for undergraduate housing in Allston, either expanding the student body and building entirely new Houses or simply relocating the Quad, could be enacted within the next decade.