Fixing the Faculty

Departments look to grow their faculty after years of budget cuts

In 2009, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith said the size of the faculty would shrink as it faced a sharp drop in hiring.

In the wake of the financial crisis, FAS spending had screeched to a halt, and an unprecedented ten-year period of growth that had produced a 20 percent jump in the size of the Faculty came to a close.

Two years later, as the School recovers and the deficit slims, departments are evaluating the state of their faculties and identifying the holes that have appeared.

Administrators hope that they will now have the flexibility to fill the gaps and nurse their faculty back to health.



As the severe budget cuts of the financial downturn recede into the past, department chairs have expressed hope that FAS will prioritize hiring in their departments in the years to come.

“I think that Government hiring will be a priority because so much of what we do is a linchpin for those working in other fields,” said Nancy L. Rosenblum, who served as Government Department chair from 2004 to 2010. “Harvard cannot have a superior program in Middle East Studies, for example, without a political scientist expert in the area, languages, and approaches to political problems there.”

Meanwhile, Sociology hopes for three to four more faculty members to remedy a student-to-faculty ratio that has been increasing as more undergraduates trend toward the concentration.

The Economics Department, the largest concentration in the College, hopes its size and its perennially high student-to-faculty will push it to the top of the FAS priority list, according to Economics Department Chair John Y. Campbell.

“I hope and expect that course enrollments and faculty-concentrator ratios will have a strong effect on the allocation, although of course there are many factors that the FAS administration must take into account,” Campbell said.

Meanwhile, the History Department, in the humanities, has also suffered at the hands of budget cuts.

“In every respect the History Department at Harvard in 2011 is not what it was in the spring of 2008,” James T. Kloppenberg wrote in an April email to The Crimson. “We still have first-rate faculty, graduate programs, undergraduate students, and staff, but we all hope that the austerity measures of the last few years—necessary as we know they were—will not be permanent.”


Back in 2007, FAS announced a plan to grow the Faculty by 25 percent, an ambitious projection to build on the previous decade of growth.

But still unaware of the impending financial crisis, some departments missed out on the window of opportunity.


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