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Faculty To Grow Beyond Forecast

Dean of the Faculty Kirby pushed to exceed plans laid out by predecessor

By Laura L. Krug, Crimson Staff Writer

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences will grow more rapidly than expected, according to Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby.

In 2000, former Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles put forth the goal to expand the Faculty 10 percent in 10 years, and Kirby has not only adopted that goal but pushed to surpass it.

“What Dean Knowles had suggested is that when we were at a Faculty of 635, we would aim to add 60 professors, to wind up with about 700,” Kirby said. “We are moving more quickly toward this goal than he had anticipated.”

The Faculty measured 676 at the beginning of the year, a leap beyond last year’s 656 and the previous year’s 636. This rate of growth makes Kirby confident that the Faculty will soon outstrip older growth goals.

“It is clearly my aspiration to go beyond the original target of 700,” he said.

Kirby said he has been meeting with the divisional deans and department chairs in order to identify areas in need of growth.

Dean of the Physical Sciences Venkatesh “Venky” Narayanamurti said he is extremely pleased about the ability to enlarge departments like engineering, which he said have received less attention than they should have had over the years.

“I’m convinced we have been underinvested in the sciences, especially in engineering,” Venky said. “I think it’s very good that [Kirby]’s making investments at the University level in the sciences and engineering.”

Venky added that the physical sciences departments are particularly interested in making hires in interdisciplinary areas.

“I see this as a wonderful opportunity to bring in groups of Faculty [members] who will work on interfaces between departments,” he said.

He mentioned that there is specific interest in collaborations between astronomy and physics, math and the social sciences, and between the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences (DEAS) and the earth and planetary sciences.

In Feburary, DEAS expects to submit a report calling for aggressive growth in engineering research and study. The plan, which could cost up to $1 billion and take up to 10 years to implement, would expand the department from its current 62 full-time equivalent members to about 100.

Despite the specific attention given to the sciences, Dean of the Humanities Maria Tatar said she believes that departments like English and American languages and literatures and the various foreign languages will also be able to benefit from Faculty growth.

“The emphasis on international experience and the importance of language and culture will provide opportunities for growth in the humanities as well,” Tatar said. “We certainly expect that we will grow along with everyone else.”

Both Tatar and Venky said that plans are currently in their embryonic stages.

“We’re really doing the intellectual work now,” Tatar said, adding that specific needs and numbers will begin to be fleshed out at the first meeting of the new Humanities Advisory Committee, which is charged with determining where junior- and senior-level Faculty should be added.

Kirby has also said that he hopes the coming years will see growth that goes beyond the departmental or divisional level.

He said at a Faculty meeting in October that he wants the number of female professors to increase, and later in an interview, that Harvard will focus on attracting young blood and tenuring from within the University.

“We’ve been trying to increase the size of the Faculty for a number of reasons,” he said. “[We want] to improve undergraduate education, and also to make sure that we are well represented in new areas of research and areas of knowledge.”

Kirby said he hopes to share specific plans with the full Faculty by the end of the year.

—Staff writer Laura L. Krug can be reached at

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