Smith Names Mass. Budgetary Chief As FAS Finance Dean

Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith announced Friday the appointment of State of Massachusetts finance official Leslie A. Kirwan ’79 to the post of FAS dean for administration and finance, effective Nov. 2.

In an e-mail announcement, Smith prominently referred to Kirwan's "strong background" in financial management, including a two-year stint as secretary of administration and finance for the commonwealth of Massachusetts, as a crucial quality she brings to her post in an FAS now facing a $110 million deficit.

As the secretary of administration and finance under Mass. Governor Deval L. Patrick ’78, Kirwan was responsible for developing the state capital budget and overseeing budgetary activities across the state government, according to Friday's announcement sent to FAS faculty and staff.

Kirwan took the helm of the Massachusetts state budget when it was in crisis. She has helped Patrick close a series of daunting deficits in the past two years, including a $1.4 billion shortfall in October and another $1.1 billion deficit in January, according to the Boston Globe.

“Leslie will lead our administrative functions and will be a key member of the University-wide administrative team,” Smith wrote in the announcement. “Working closely with the academic deans, she will also help me continue to address the unprecedented financial challenges.”

The appointment follows news in July that then-FAS dean for administration and finance Brett C. Sweet would leave for Vanderbilt after less than a year at Harvard.

Until a replacement could be found, Catherine Gorodentsev—formerly the executive vice president’s chief of staff—assumed the interim role of FAS dean for administration, and Deena Giancotti—associate dean for finance—took up Sweet’s financial responsibilities.

Kirwan, who graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School in 1984, is not unfamiliar with the terrain of fiscal management and administration, as evinced by her years of service to the state. Prior to her role on the governor’s cabinet, Kirwan spent seven years as director of administration and finance at the Massachusetts Port Authority. She also served as deputy commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, which required her to manage the activities of over 2,500 state employees.

—Staff writer Bonnie J. Kavoussi can be reached at

—Staff writer Esther I. Yi can be reached at