Zipser Named To Oversee Faculty Affairs Office

Nina Zipser, the founder and director of the University’s institutional research division, will be moving to the Yard in May to oversee the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Faculty Affairs, according to a statement issued by the Faculty yesterday.

The wife of economics professor David I. Laibson ’87, Zipser will be working primarily to coordinate faculty appointments, searches, and promotions. She described her role yesterday evening as one of support and planning.

“It’ll be a mixture of providing whatever data that the Faculty and the deans feel that they need, and helping with the timing of when to bring tenure cases to Mass Hall,” Zipser said. “There’s a variety of data and process and procedure that needs to happen in the background to make sure that the Faculty can proceed in a timely way.”

Zipser will be stepping in for the Faculty’s outgoing Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Brian W. Casey, who in addition to dealing with Faculty appointments, took on duties involving data collection and analysis, Dean of the Faculty Michael D. Smith said yesterday.

Zipser, who took a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard in 2000, will continue these tasks. She will also assist the Faculty’s three cross-departmental “divisional” deans in dealing with the affairs of several of Harvard’s research centers and institutes.

Zipser will take office at the beginning of what Smith has called a “prototype year” for the Faculty. In a series of proposed reorganizations presented to professors last month, the dean outlined plans to add administrative positions, increase the power of the divisional deans, and institute a year-long slowdown on Faculty hiring to allow for further planning.

With the administration growing, Zipser—who in her current post helped Senior Vice Provost Evelynn M. Hammonds design and analyze a University-wide faculty survey focused on gender and ethnicity—pledged to be a voice for professors.

“The most important thing for me to do when I get there is to really listen to the Faculty and to understand what their needs are,” she said. “I want to be of assistance to them in planning Faculty appointments and searches. It’s very important that those things are led by the Faculty, and I just want to assist them in that process.”

Smith praised Zipser in an e-mail yesterday for her management of Harvard’s institutional research outfit, which Zipser described as having gone from “one person doing date processing to a really vibrant group of researchers” under her watch.

Before coming to Harvard to run the unit in 2003, Zipser, who graduated from Columbia, was a mathematics instructor at MIT and a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group.

—Staff writer Christian B. Flow can be reached at

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