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SEAS Dean Calls for Innovation, Growth

By Radhika Jain, Crimson Staff Writer

Innovation was the mantra at School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ semesterly All-Hands meeting on Friday afternoon.

“Our aim [is] integrating innovation and entrepreneurship into all that we do,” said SEAS Dean Cherry A. Murray, outlining SEAS’ efforts to foster creativity and entrepreneurship.

New facilities, including the iLab in Allston and renovated design space in Maxwell Dworkin, will provide more opportunities for student-initiated projects and design-based courses, Murray said.

And programs such as the I3 Competition, College Entrepreneurship Forum, and HackHarvard—and courses like ES 20: How to Create Things and Have them Matter and CS 179: Design of Usable Interactive Systems—are pushing students to embrace their own ideas.

Murray also noted the creation of new academic programs, including concentrations in electrical and mechanical engineering, a secondary field called Innovation for the Social Good, and a Ph.D. program in Bioengineering in conjunction with Harvard Medical School.

Additionally, the school is looking to strengthen relationships with industry to provide students with more diverse internship opportunities, she said.

And as SEAS plans for new construction and looks to increase the number of faculty and course offerings, Murray pointed to industry as a potential source of funding.

“We are looking at a future where federal funding is not going to be increasing,” she said.

Citing the SEAS budget for fiscal year 2012, which was submitted in June 2011 and includes approximately $104 million in expenses and $95 million of income, Murray said that the school is fully prepared to dip into its reserves to help fund the difference. She added that the capital campaign will be another critical source of financial support.

“[We’re] focused on bringing administration to the school,” she said. “Staff needs to be at critical mass.”

A newly organized administrative team composed of Executive Dean for Education and Research Fawwaz Habbal, Associate Dean for Development Linda Fates, and an Executive Dean for Administration still to be hired, will help facilitate many of these changes. They also hope to develop joint student projects with engineering universities across the globe—a goal Murray has already discussed with deans of engineering institutions in India, China, and Brazil.

Murray’s ambitious vision for the future of SEAS reflects a rapidly growing interest in engineering and the applied sciences at Harvard. Enrollment in fall undergraduate SEAS courses has increased by more than 500 students since last fall, to around 1,900 students.

“Our progress has been remarkable, if you look at the students voting with their feet,” Murray said.

Murray holds the All-Hands meeting twice a year to update staff and students on SEAS’ upcoming challenges and goals.

—Staff writer Radhika Jain can be reached at

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