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Faust Renews Call for Service

By Athena Y. Jiang and June Q. Wu, Crimson Staff Writers

Marking the start of the University’s Public Service Week on Monday, University President Drew G. Faust called upon the Harvard community to renew its commitment to service, as administrators seek to strengthen connections to career opportunities in the federal government.

Though it is unlikely Harvard will be committing new funds to promote public service initiatives given current fiscal constraints, Faust said in an interview earlier this week that the University has been in discussions with the federal government to improve its recruitment process at Harvard.

“We’re not looking at vast expansions of financial commitments,” Faust said. “It’s a time where we are thinking about other instrumentalities rather than expanding costs.”

Faust pointed to the Harvard Kennedy School’s efforts to work with the White House—in particular, the Office of Personnel Management—to improve its graduates’ prospects of working for government organizations at the national level.

According to the Kennedy School’s chief of staff Sarah E. Wald, roughly 60 percent of graduates each year choose careers in public service, whether in the federal government or at a non-profit organization.

Currently, students applying for federal government jobs are often left in limbo as they may have to wait for months before hearing back from potential employers, Wald said.

By contrast, many financial services companies that recruit at the College allow students to apply through a stanMarking the start of the University’s Public Service Week on Monday, University President Drew G. Faust called upon the Harvard community to renew its commitment to service, as administrators seek to strengthen connections to career opportunities in the federal government.

Though it is unlikely Harvard will be committing new funds to promote public service initiatives given current fiscal constraints, Faust said in an interview earlier this week that the University has been in discussions with the federal government to improve its recruitment process at Harvard.

“We’re not looking at vast expansions of financial commitments,” Faust said. “It’s a time where we are thinking about other instrumentalities rather than expanding costs.”

Faust pointed to the Harvard Kennedy School’s efforts to work with the White House—in particular, the Office of Personnel Management—to improve its graduates’ prospects of working for government organizations at the national level.

According to the Kennedy School’s chief of staff Sarah E. Wald, roughly 60 percent of graduates each year choose careers in public service, whether in the federal government or at a non-profit organization.

Currently, students applying for federal government jobs are often left in limbo as they may have to wait for months before hearing back from potential employers, Wald said.

By contrast, many financial services companies that recruit at the College allow students to apply through a standardized online form and then notify students of their progress after each stage of the process. So far, no formal agreements have come out of Harvard’s discussions with the White House, but administrators said they hope to streamline the recruitment process for government employers.“We’re working on trying to make the connection between students and public service careers smoother,” Faust said.

Last year, Harvard Law School went a step further in promoting public service careers as an attractive option for graduates by offering tuition waivers for third-year students who commit to working in public service for five years. This fall, according to Law School Director of Student Financial Services Kenneth H. Lafler, 58 third-year students have signed up for the initiative, which will be run for five years as a trial program, with a budget of $3 million per year.

Because the University is no longer in a position to fund such large-scale programs, Faust’s current focus is instead to draw positive attention to student projects and opportunities in public service.

In a Monday e-mail to the University community, Faust urged students, faculty, and staff to participate in service activities such as volunteering at the Greater Boston Food Bank.“Harvard students do so much with public service,” said Amanda S. Glynn, coordinator of the Center for Public Interest Careers. “To be able to shine a spotlight on that, to have that validation of public interest careers from the president of Harvard, is very exciting.”

Luci Yang ’11, administrative director of the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, said she appreciated Faust’s support of service activities.“Especially in a down economy, it’s hard for nonprofits to get the funding they need,” Yang said. “It’s totally understandable she might not be able to commit to financial help.”

—Staff writer Athena Y. Jiang can be reached at ajiang@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer June Q. Wu can be reached at junewu@fas.harvard.edu.

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