The Faculty of Arts and Science held an open discussion to update the name of the Harvard Extension School at yesterday’s Faculty meeting in an effort to align the name with that of peer institutions and with the century-old program’s current mission.
The Committee on Continuing Education recommended renaming the Extension School to the “Harvard School of Continuing and Professional Studies,” and discussed the possibility of removing “Extension School” from the school’s degree names.
Professor of Computer Science Harry R. Lewis ’68, who represented the committee at the meeting, said that the name “would reflect modern uses and accurately portray that students study today at the Extension School in pursuit of professional training as well as a liberal arts education.”
Lewis said the name changes would serve to better identify between the professional and academic degrees offered by the school.
In addition to an associate degree, the Extension School currently offers a “Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies” and a “Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies.”
The committee recommended that the former be renamed “Bachelor of Liberal Arts” and the latter be split into a “Master of Liberal Arts” and a “Master of Professional Studies.”
At the meeting, English Professor Elaine Scarry voiced concerns that the degree titles might be too similar to degrees offered by the College and Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Science.
Those schools offer a “Bachelor of Arts” and a “Master of Arts,” respectively.
Lewis replied that he is aware of concerns that degrees without the labels could be used by graduates to pose as alumni of the College or GSAS.
“There’s always been the possibility, if someone is bent on deception,” he said after the meeting. “It’s never really caused us any reputational problems.”
Lewis chose to delay a vote until the next Faculty meeting at the end of the month.
Many professors were not surprised by these developments.
“I always thought there should be a change,” said Extension School Professor Robert C. Benfari, who has taught in the Masters in Management Program for 25 years. “It’s an evolving organism; it goes beyond just a pure extension school. It’s more for professional development.”
Due to the evolving nature of the program, many did not believe that the term “extension” properly reflected the school curriculum’s professional nature.
Harvard is one of the only schools that continues to use this term.
Ian Lamont, who graduated from the ALM program in 2008, said a change to the name would clarify the program’s position within the University.
“In my class, there were more graduating masters students than the Medical or Divinity schools,” he said. “Yet, we’re still considered an ‘extension’ of Harvard? That’s not right.”
—Staff writer Noah S. Rayman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Bonnie J. Kavoussi and Lauren D. Kiel contributed to the reporting of this story.