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FAS Deficit Expected To Shrink to $16 million This Fiscal Year

By Gautam S. Kumar and Julia L. Ryan, Crimson Staff Writers

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences deficit is expected to shrink to $16 million from $35 million by the end of the current fiscal year, FAS Dean Michael D. Smith announced at Tuesday’s Faculty meeting.

The progress, Smith said, keeps FAS on track to balance its structural deficit by the end of the 2012 fiscal year—a budget reduction he hopes to accomplish by tapping into FAS reserves, he wrote in an email to faculty and senior staff members.

Beyond discussion on the budget, the Faculty debated a new University-wide Faculty Advisory Council on the Harvard Library, the new centralized system that will oversee the management of Harvard’s 16 million volumes. Faculty also approved the list of

Courses of Instruction for FAS and the Extension School for the next academic year and updates to the Handbook for Students. As part of their report on the Standing Committee on Public Service, Sociology Professor Christopher Winship and Social Studies Director of Studies Anya Bernstein implored the faculty to participate more actively in encouraging their students to partake in public service.


After notifying the faculty and senior staff members by email early morning Tuesday, Smith announced positive developments in the reduction of the budget deficit by $19 million in the meeting.

“It’s good news,” Smith said.

Cookies even made their way back to the tables, Smith noted.

But the reductions have taken time. FAS has struggled over two years to reduce the deficit, which originally stood at $220 million, quickly reducing it to $110 million by the end of the 2009 fiscal year and down further to $35 million by the end of the 2010 fiscal year.

But the remaining cuts for the past academic year have been “the most difficult yet,” with reductions coming from the centers, unrestricted alumni donations, and larger savings in the College and Athletics.

Smith especially praised centers for doing the “yeoman’s work” in cutting their respective budgets.

Smith said the most recent announcement keeps FAS on track to balance its budget by the end of the 2012 fiscal year—a promise he made at the beginning of the crisis.


Presenting the nominations to the University-wide Faculty Advisory Council to the Harvard Library, Director of the Harvard University Library Robert C. Darnton ’60 received some criticism from several faculty members, who expressed concern about the small size of the committee.

“I think the new committee will be too small, and I think that the centralization doesn’t need to be balanced by the clear individuals of the stakeholders in the committee,” English Professor Nicholas J. Watson said.

Watson continued to argue that a loss of “diversity of faculty” would compromise the committee’s capacity to express the full opinion of FAS. To prevent this outcome, Watson argued that the committee members should create a website to solicit faculty opinion.

East Asian Languages and Civilizations Department Chair Wilt E. Idema expressed a larger concern that with a line-up of mainly “Western-centric” thinkers, collections on other parts of the world might go neglected.

“I have great confidence in the members listed,” Idema said, “but some opinions from someone outside from the Western opinion might be useful in developing our collections.”

No one responded to Watson’s or Idema’s concerns, and when the motion for the committee members was taken to vote, no one voted against the proposal.


On behalf of the FAS Standing Committee on Public Service, Winship asked for “more faculty involvement.”

Winship said the committee, which provides oversight for over 130 undergraduate public service programs, requires more faculty members to join.

“The workload is light, but its importance is substantial,” Winship said.

Faculty otherwise approved criteria for the next academic year, passing the Courses of Instruction for the next academic year and changes in the handbook policy.

In particular, Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris moved to formally adopt policies on the honors system—which the faculty voted on before and will relax the system and better define regulations—into the student handbook. Smith also called for the faculty to approve the courses of instruction for tomorrow.

Smith also awarded teaching awards to members of FAS, recognizing others for any national recognition also won.

—Staff writer Gautam S. Kumar can be reached at

—Staff writer Julia L. Ryan can be reached at

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